How Often Should You Water Bonsai Trees?

Many people assume that bonsai trees are difficult to care for, but this is not true of every variety. 

This assumption is usually created when a bonsai tree isn’t grown in the right place for its species, as some are mislabeled as indoor trees when they should be kept outdoors.

Once you have the position right, the next thing that can be tricky is getting the watering schedule right. It can be difficult, as some bonsai trees won’t display signs of being unhappy with their care until a few weeks later.

So how often should you water a bonsai tree? How do you tell? It largely depends on the species.

Let’s take a look.

How To Tell If A Bonsai Tree Needs Watering

The first thing to know is what kind of bonsai tree you have, as this is one of the biggest factors in determining how much water it needs, next to the climate.

For example, a jade tree grown as a bonsai will withstand quite a long dry spell, as it is a succulent plant, and it’s happy in dry conditions. This is true of most succulents that are grown as bonsai trees.

However, bonsai trees that are tree species such as maples and pine trees don’t like drying out, and they will suffer when it gets to this point.

The best way to tell if a bonsai tree needs watering is to stick your finger into the soil, about 1cm deep. If the soil is drying out, and your bonsai tree is not a succulent, go ahead and water it. 

Avoid watering if the soil is still wet instead of damp, and check again in the next few days.

This gets easier the longer you keep a bonsai tree, as you will become more confident in when it needs water, and when it doesn’t. 

Eventually, you’ll be able to tell by the weight of the pot, when it feels light, it’s time to give the bonsai tree a drink.

Don’t assume that if the leaves are yellowing, your bonsai tree wants a drink. 

Unfortunately, this can also be a sign of disease, or ironically, too much water, so check the soil first to make sure that the yellowing is a sign of the soil being too dry, rather than being another problem entirely.

When To Water An Indoor Bonsai Tree

Typically, indoor bonsai trees don’t usually need that much water, as most types that are grown indoors are succulents.

But this isn’t true of every species grown as a bonsai tree, as ficus trees grown as bonsai (for example), will need much more water. 

Always check the soil, and if it feels dry, and you know the plant doesn’t like completely drying out, it’s time to give it a drink.

When You Should Water An Outdoor Bonsai Tree

Outdoor bonsai trees should be checked regularly, about once a week to see if they need water. 

Exactly how much depends on the species of bonsai tree, the soil, how much sunlight the plant gets, the temperature, and how big the pot is combined with how large the root system is.

You may want to use additional parts of akadama or water retaining crystals in your bonsai potting mix to lessen the frequency of how often you need to water.

How Long Can A Bonsai Tree Live Without Water?

How long a bonsai tree will survive without water depends on the species, the climate, and the soil mixture you use.

If you give them the right care and growing conditions, a bonsai tree should last a little while without water, which may be as little as a week, or as much as a few weeks.

Can You Water A Bonsai Tree Daily?

It depends on the species and the climate conditions. 

Not all bonsai trees will need watering this frequently, and it’s a better idea not to keep to a rigid routine, as growing conditions will change, especially with the seasons.

How To Avoid Overwatering A Bonsai Tree

Don’t keep to a routine, especially a daily one, and this will avoid overwatering your bonsai tree.

 There are many factors that affect how fast a bonsai tree will dry out, and if it’s been colder recently (for example), there will be more moisture in the soil.

Watering it anyway at this point means you risk overwatering your tree and killing it. 

You should also aim to have the right type of soil for your bonsai tree. 

There are many types of bonsai soil to go for, and the best comes from specialist bonsai sellers, designed to keep the growth compact and the roots from getting root rot.

If you have a succulent bonsai tree, you can get away with using commercial succulent and cacti compost, as this will have enough drainage.

When To Water A Bonsai Tree In Winter

Bonsai trees typically need much less water in winter, as most of them go dormant during this season. 

Always check the soil before you water, and this will help guard against root rot. 

Some species can go for months without watering in the winter – those with succulent leaves and trunks – while others will need watering every week or every few weeks, depending on the growing conditions.

Final Thoughts

Caring for a bonsai tree can be a steep learning curve, but once you master when to tell when your bonsai tree needs watering, this is a large part of their care that is sorted.

Never keep to a rigid routine when it comes to watering a bonsai tree, as the growing conditions can change, not just with the seasons, but randomly, and always check the soil regularly before you water.

This goes a long way in protecting your bonsai tree from root rot, as well as making sure it doesn’t get too dry.

Never water from overhead, and always let the water drain from the pot to stop it sitting in water.

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