Bonsai Tree: Ultimate Care Guide

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Bonsai Tree Care: Ultimate Guide

Bonsai trees are one of the best types of plants to have in your home.  This plant is a great home accessory or decor that gives an ultimate beauty in just plain sight. For a beginner, taking care of bonsai trees is an intimidating task as they don’t have an idea of what to do. However, with some guidelines, it is possible to do so. Also, bonsai trees differ in their characteristics, so there are varieties that are easy to maintain but difficult to cultivate. Some of the easy and hard to take care of plants are the following.

Easy to cultivate bonsai

Ficus is one of the several types of bonsai and is the easiest one to cultivate and manage. As you will know, Ficus can grow in harsh climates, including locations where there is little sunlight and low humidity. Thus, it is an ideal choice for beginners to start with. But if you want to try other easy-to-manage bonsai trees, you can add dwarf jade, juniper, and Schefflera to your list.

Hard to cultivate bonsai

Cultivating a pine tree is quite difficult because of its growth pattern and to turn this into a bonsai you need to carefully study the factors (appearance, growth) affecting it.

With this, it is essential to learn bonsai tree care tips to keep it alive and healthy. Whether you want to take care of an easy or hard type of bonsai tree with dedication and patience you can maintain one. This article will give you the ultimate guide to help you grow a bonsai and discuss what bonsai trees are, how to maintain them, and what are some useful tips you can keep in mind when taking care of bonsai.

What is a Bonsai tree?

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Bonsai is a term used for a miniature tree or shrub that is grown in a pot or container. It is an art in an ancient form that originated in China and later spread to Japan. These trees can be either indoor or outdoor plants, and there are a wide variety of species to choose from.

One of the advantages of owning a bonsai tree is that it doesn’t require a lot of maintenance. However, there are still some important things you need to know to care for your bonsai tree properly.

How To Take Care Of Bonsai Tree

1. Regularly water your bonsai trees

You should first water your bonsai tree regularly and in a soft manner. Keep in mind that there are various factors to consider when watering your bonsai such as the type of tree, size of the bonsai, size of the jar or pot, a used mixture of soil, time of the year, and the climate.

In addition, you will most likely water the tree when it gets slightly dry.

You will know this by just looking and touching your finger at the soil mixture. By then you can handily tell if it already needs some water.  Besides if the soil shows a dark color and wet texture it doesn’t need more water but if it feels slightly moist and looks brown it now needs some water.

Also, be sure that the water drains from the potholes and goes to the tray, and the soil mixture changes from wet to damp. Similarly, take note to never let your bonsai dry out to avoid damage.

2. Add fertilizer 

Another important thing to remember is to fertilize your bonsai tree regularly. Fertilizing helps the plant grow healthy and strong. It is necessary because of the small amount of soil mixture in the pot.

You can use a general-purpose fertilizer or one that is specifically made for bonsai trees like Osmocote 19-6-12. This fertilizer is available in most gardening stores or even on Amazon. In addition, there are two types of fertilizers usually used in bonsai.

  • One is the liquid fertilizers which can rapidly be absorbed by the soil mixture because of their fast-acting nutrients. But, this fertilizer needs constant applications because every time you water the bonsai the nutrients are also washed away.

  • Second, is the granular fertilizers also known as solid fertilizers using this you can control your application in the right amount and check where it is placed. 

Keep in mind that you can apply the fertilizers when it is their growing season, it can be before spring through mid-fall depending on their group of species and growth of development. For the indoor bonsai trees, they can be fertilized all year round.

Be sure to always read the package instructions when applying, in most cases the recommended amount of fertilizers to use is only half of the suggested package instructions. 

 3. Prune your bonsai trees 

In order to keep your bonsai tree healthy and its size, you will need to trim it occasionally. Trimming helps the tree stay in shape and encourages new growth. Be careful not to over-trim, though, as this can damage the tree. In addition, always make sure that you use the right tool in trimming called bonsai shears, and not just an ordinary scissor.

Bonsai shears are way sharper than normal scissors. They have small blades and a wider grip handle that help to trim with precision and give a wonderful bonsai while if you use the normal scissors which are not for sharp cuts there is a tendency that the tree branch will be damaged and result in poor development.

4. Place it in a good area

Sunlight is essential for a bonsai tree to grow, especially for an indoor plant. This is quite challenging for some households with less light. Still, if you are keeping your bonsai tree indoors, make sure to place it in a sunny spot or position it in the full-lit, south-facing window. However, not all indoor plants need a lot of sunlight so make sure to consider first its group of species and see where it fits. If you are keeping it outdoors, please make sure to protect it from direct sunlight and wind. 

Here is some additional advice for taking care of your bonsai tree:

  • Make sure the bonsai pot has adequate drainage so the soil doesn’t become waterlogged
  • Don’t over-water or fertilize your bonsai tree
  • Protect your bonsai tree from extreme temperatures
  • Repot your bonsai tree every few years or as needed.
  • Use wire to shape the branches of young trees

 Taking care of a bonsai can be a fun and relaxing hobby, and it doesn’t require too much of your time. Even if you don’t have a green thumb, with these tips and some patience, you can grow the perfect and healthy bonsai tree for your home or office.


Characteristics Of Plants That Make Good Bonsai

bonsai ficus
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Bonsai trees are small in size and need a snug fit when it comes to the pot or container. The plant is low-growing, which makes it perfect for indoor use. Usually, older bonsai trees have thicker trunks because there isn’t much pruning involved in their care.

In general, all bonsai species follow the same growing process:

Young plants – When young plants first grow out of their seeds and start to take root, they continue to grow until the height reaches approximately 12 inches. This stage takes around three years before you can see any changes in the shape or color of leaves and branches.

Semi-mature plants – Once your bonsai tree has reached this stage, you will need to start training it by pruning the leaves and branches. This will help to shape the tree into the desired style.

Mature plants – At this stage, your bonsai tree has reached its final shape and size. All you have to do right now is maintain its growth by occasionally trimming the leaves and branches.

Different Types of Bonsai Trees

There are many types of bonsai trees available on the market today; however, some of them tend to be more popular than others:

1. Ficus

Genus ficus or also known as fig trees with about 900 to 1000 species of shrubs, trees, and vines belongs to the family of Moraceae or mulberry plants. It also composes one of the biggest and hardest genera of flowering plants. Usually, they can be found on every continent in the tropic regions that are evergreen and some are deciduous.
In addition, Ficus is one of the most generally used plants in bonsais because they develop indoors and they look wonderful. They grow gradually, which makes them easy to manage and maintain. Some of the most popular types of Ficus are the following.
  • Ficus Retusa

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Ficus Retusa is one of the most famous bonsai with dark green oval leaves and frequently shaped with an s-curved trunk.
  • Ficus Ginseng

Ginseng Ficus Bonsai
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Ficus Ginseng is another prominent tree with a thick, pot-bellied trunk, identical to the Ginseng root.

2. Juniper

decorating with bonsai
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Genus juniper consists of about 50 to 70 different species and belongs to the Cypress family. The trees are very common for bonsai with evergreen coniferous or shrubs. This type of bonsai tree has a shallow root system, which makes it perfect for beginners. It is very easy to maintain and doesn’t require much pruning while growing.
Some may find its small pine needles quite prickly, but this is something that adjusts over time. In addition, junipers consist of two groups. The first is with needle-like foliage and the second is the scale-like foliage with that here are the popular easy to care juniper bonsai.
  • Japanese Needle Juniper (needle-like foliage)

needle type juniper bonsai
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Japanese needle juniper is a bonsai tree with pointed, dark green, pricking needles. It also has a narrow white line along its length. This tree is easy to form and care for and because of this, it is good for both beginners and enthusiasts.
  • Chinese Juniper bonsai tree (scale-like foliage)

Bonsai tree of chinese juniper isolated
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Chinese juniper is frequently referred to as the classic Juniper with scale-like foliage which is attractive but prickly. This tree is native to Asian countries with a sturdy and adaptable evergreen shrub or tree that can bring year-round color ranging from yellowish-green to silver-green or bluish-green and shading to a dry or windy location.


3. Oak

Oaks are known to be strong trees but most of them are deciduous and some are evergreen, Also, oak can yield very characteristic fruits like acorns. As you will know there are various hundred oak species that thrive in North Africa, Europe, Southwest Asia, and North and Central America.
In terms of turning it into bonsai, the oak bonsai tree is one of the types that are hard to develop because it grows rapidly, which makes it tougher to train than other species. But, when you attain the desired shape, it will be well worth all your hard work in maintaining it. There are also two types of oak species.
  • English Oak

English oak Bonsai
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English oak (Quercus robur) belongs to the Fagaceae family generally known as pedunculate oak or common oak. This tree is native to places like Northern Africa, Western Asia, and Europe, with a short trunk and broadly rounded spreading pattern that grows quickly.
  • White Oak

White oak (Quercus alba) is native to places like central and eastern North America. It usually has dark green leaves ranging from slightly blue-green (summer), brown, and wine-red to orange-red (fall) with large horizontal limbs and a short stocky trunk. Its wide-spreading branches shape an upright, broad-rounded crown and its tree bark appears to be light ashy gray and scaly, constantly cracked into small and thin, rectangular blocks.

4. Sageretia

The Sageretia is also known as the Chinese sweet plum or bird plum. A subtropical evergreen shrub with small shiny light green oval leaves. The Sageretia’s interesting characteristics make them attractive plants for bonsai trees. When it comes to its tree’s bark it is quite smooth and expresses dark brown along with irregular patches peeling away that leave light brown spots of young bark.

This makes the trees bark very stunningly. In addition, they are still not commonly used among beginners as they cannot withstand frost and needs warm temperatures to be exact, and because their sensitivity to insufficient watering repeatedly causes dilemmas. Still, they are easy to care for and don’t require a lot of trimming, making them perfect for those who don’t have a lot of experience in taking care of bonsai trees.

What You Need To Know About Low Maintenance Indoor Bonsai

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Bonsai are great houseplants for indoor plants to keep. They come in numerous sizes and shapes and can be very low maintenance. There are a few things you should keep in mind when caring for your indoor bonsai, however.


Bonsai do not like to be over-watered or sit in wet soil for extended periods. Check the soil before watering and water thoroughly until the water begins to drain out of the pot’s drainage holes. Don’t allow the tree to sit in a saucer of water. Wait until the top inch or two of soil dries out before watering again.


You need to fertilize bonsai regularly to help them grow healthy and strong. Use a general-purpose fertilizer or one that is specifically made for bonsai trees. Fertilize once every two to four weeks during the growing season.


Bonsai do well in medium to low light conditions. Place your bonsai tree in a spot where it will receive bright, indirect sunlight. Do not place near windows that get direct sun or artificial lights.


Bonsai prefer cool to average room temperatures. Protect your tree from extreme heat or cold by placing it in a room where the temperature is comfortable for you. Do not place near heating vents, TVs, stereos, radiators, etc.


It is important to prune your bonsai regularly to keep it healthy and looking its best. Prune back long branches to the first or second leaf node. Also, remove dead or dying branches when you see them to keep the disease from spreading. Use sharp, sterilized pruning shears and cut at a 45-degree angle where the branch meets the trunk. New growth will sprout from these cuts if done correctly.

Basic Rules of Taking Care of a Bonsai Tree

1.) Watering your plant regularly is very important for keeping your plant healthy. However, overwatering can be fatal for your bonsai tree.
2.) A little bit of sunlight will make your tree happy, but make sure to protect it from harsh sunlight or it will get sunburned.
3.) Fertilize your tree regularly with balanced fertilizer; too much fertilizer can be harmful to your plant.
4.) Repot your tree every two to three years, or when the pot becomes too small for the tree.
5.) Prune your tree regularly to keep its shape and size in check.
6.) Protect your tree from pests and diseases by using pesticides or organic methods.

How to Properly Manage Your Bonsai Tree

Watering tips for indoor bonsai

  1. First, water your bonsai plants early in the morning so the leaves have time to dry before nightfall. This will help prevent any diseases that might occur from wet leaves.
  2. Use a watering can or garden hose with a gentle spray to water the soil, please make sure not to get the leaves wet. 
  3.  Make sure the pot has drainage holes at the bottom so the excess water can escape. 
  4. After watering, wait a few hours before fertilizing your tree.

Fertilizing tips for indoor bonsai

  1. Use a balanced fertilizer that is specifically made for bonsai trees.
  2. Fertilize your tree every other week during the growing season (spring through fall).
  3. Avoid over-fertilizing your tree, as it can be harmful to its health.
  4. Stop fertilizing your plant in late fall or winter, as this is the time when the plant is dormant.

Repotting tips for Bonsai Tree

  1. When repotting, make sure you choose a pot that fits your tree properly so it will not get too large or outgrow its space.
  2. The soil should be loose enough to allow new roots to grow, but tight enough to hold the plant in place.
  3. Stop fertilizing your plant one or two weeks before repotting. If you do so, the fertilizer can burn the roots and prevent them from growing into fresh soil.
  4. Pinch off any dead leaves before planting in order to encourage new growth.
  5. Water thoroughly after transplanting. But do not fertilize until just before springtime. Too much fertilizer can harm the tree.
  6. Place your newly repotted tree in a shady spot for a few weeks to allow it to recover.

Pruning tips for indoor bonsai

  1. Make sure to sterilize your tools before pruning because this will prevent the spread of infection or infestation. 
  2. Prune your tree back by half in order to promote healthy growth and encourage an even canopy.
  3. Trim any long roots so they are just flush with the soil, but do not cut them off completely.
  4. Remove any dead or diseased branches at their point of origin to keep your plant as healthy as possible. You can also wire these branches into place if needed.
  5. Always use sharp, clean, sanitized tools when pruning to avoid injury to yourself or damage to the tree’s bark.

Wiring tips for indoor bonsai

  1.  You should only use wire on young trees, as it can damage the bark of older trees. 
  2. The wire you should use must be copper or aluminum and should be soft enough to bend easily.
  3. Wrap the wire around the stem or branch and twist it gently to secure it in place.
  4. Make sure not to wire the branch too tightly, as this can damage the bark and cut off the flow of nutrients.
  5. Check the wire regularly and adjust as needed so it does not pinch or cut into the bark.

What Is Inside A Bonsai Maintenance Kit?

bonsai pruner
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All bonsai trees need regular care and maintenance. This is why it is a good idea to invest in bonsai tree care kits that can help you keep your bonsai healthy and beautiful all year round. Some of the things included in such kits are:

  • Fertilizer
  • Plant spray liquid fertilizer
  • Insecticide liquid concentrate
  • Pruning scissors

You also need tools such as wire cutters, trunk bender, root rake, soil sieve, and tweezers for small pruning jobs. When choosing which kit to buy, make sure it contains everything you may need for your maintenance needs on your specific type of tree. These kits are available at most department stores or home improvement shops. Once the package has arrived, read the instructions carefully before using any of the items in your kit for the first time.

General Bonsai Tree Care Tips:

  • Make sure to keep your tree indoors at room temperature
  • Wipe off the dust from leaves and branches several times a week to prevent insects, pests, or fungi that may cause damage to your tree
  • Keep away from direct sunlight or strong artificial lights 
  • Do not place near heating vents, TVs, stereos, radiators, etc.



Bonsai trees are beautiful and delicate plants that require regular care and maintenance in order to stay healthy and look good. In addition, by following the bonsai tree care tips in this article, you can ensure that your bonsai tree will grow for years to come. For more information on bonsai tree care, please visit your local library or garden center. Thank you for reading!

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Bonsai Trees

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