How often Do You Water a bonsai tree?Ultimate Beginners Tips

Watering is one of the key points in the success of growing a bonsai. But it is also the most difficult point to master. If you are a beginner in bonsai and do not know how to water a bonsai tree and how often do you water a bonsai tree. Discover in this article the total bonsai watering system and concepts yan can learn to understand how certain factors can influence the frequency of watering a bonsai.

Why do you have to water?

The simple reason you have to water bonsai is that plants die without water.

The plants that live in the field reach with the roots to the water stored in the depth of the soil. The plants that live in a pot do not find more water than what is in the pot, for this reason, all the plants that live in a pot, and of course, the bonsai, require more or less frequent watering.

How Often Do You Water a bonsai tree

Before Watering Your Bonsai tree you should know how to take care of a bonsai tree. Due to the coarse soil and shallow pots of bonsai trees, they dry out quicker than ordinary houseplants. Watering requirements might vary drastically depending on the type of bonsai tree.

When deciding how often you should water your bonsai tree, there are a variety of factors to take into account. To learn more about each of these aspects, read the following section in this article. You should spend a few weeks studying your tree and its watering needs before you start watching it.

There should be no set watering procedure for bonsai trees. Over- or under-watering may occur when water is applied daily without understanding the soil’s conditions. Only water your tree when the soil is somewhat dry. You’ll be able to tell when your bonsai tree is just a little dry without having to touch the soil as you gain more experience.

Many variables influence how quickly a shallow pot’s soil dries out, such as the time of year, humidity, soil makeup, and tree cultivar. You may be watering your tree twice a day during the summer and less throughout the winter months.

How Much Water Do Bonsai Trees Need?

Feel the soil to find out how much water your bonsai tree requires. When deciding how often your tree needs to be watered, there are a number of things to consider. By simply looking at the foliage and the weight of the container, you’ll be able to understand your tree’s needs over time. The drier a plant, the lighter it is.

You can detect if your tree is thirsty by touching the earth as a beginner gardener. Continue reading to learn about the different ways that soil moisture is measured.

The frequency with which you water your bonsai tree is affected by a number of factors:

Watering frequency and need to water a bonsai tree

Defining a precise watering frequency for a bonsai is practically impossible because there are so many soil drying factors.

Therefore, it is important to observe your bonsai regularly and to know some factors that can influence the watering cycle and the amount of water to give your bonsai.

But in general, the more the bonsai is exposed to the sun, to the light, and placed in a small pot, the more it will have to be watered. While taking into account the species, substrate, etc.

Check out some things that can influence the watering frequency and let you know when to water your bonsai

Different needs depending on the species

Each bonsai species has different needs. Outdoor bonsai plants such as jade bonsai, Juniper bonsai, etc. will need to be watered more often than tropical species grown indoor bonsai trees such as the ficus . Grown outdoors, the bonsai is exposed to direct sunlight, and wind, which dries it out more quickly. However, rain can change the frequency of watering. Learn about how do you water a bonsai tree indoors?

Consult our species guides to find out the specifics of your tree.

Seasonal watering

A tropical bonsai grown indoors will need to be watered more frequently in summer and winter when it is warmer due to the sun and dry air caused by heating.

Outdoors, it will be necessary for proper care to water a bonsai more frequently in summer, because the sun is stronger, the temperatures are higher, and exposed to drying winds. In autumn, winter, and early spring, the bonsai may be exposed to heavy rains, which can change the frequency of watering.

The sun and the light

The sun is an important element that influences the frequency of watering. Indeed, the light and the rays of the sun can heat the bonsai and its pot and thus increase the evaporation of water and plant transpiration, even in winter.

In a simplistic way, we can say that the more a tree is exposed to the sun during the day, the more the frequency of watering is reduced. However, you should also know that a bonsai receiving morning sun will dry less quickly than a bonsai placed in the sun during the afternoon.

Wind exposure

In addition to drying out the substrate on the surface more quickly, the wind can increase the tree’s plant transpiration in certain species, ie the evaporation of water from the leaves. And so, reduce the watering interval.

Temperature and humidity

A high temperature increases the transpiration of the bonsai and thus reduces the drying time of the soil, even if the weather is cloudy.

However, this is true when the air is dry. It is also necessary to take into account the humidity tray level which plays an important role in the watering cycle. Indeed, a high humidity rate reduces plant transpiration and water evaporation, thus reducing the drying time of the soil.

The size of the pot

The size and depth of the pot play an important role in how often you water a bonsai tree. Indeed, a bonsai placed in a small pot and of a shallow depth will dry much faster than a bonsai placed in a large pot.

A larger volume of the soil gives a greater reserve of enough water and thus increases the drying time. The drainage of the pot is also to be taken into account.

Read More: The Ultimate Guides on How to Make Bonsai pots from Clay?

The substrate or earthy mixture

Some components of the substrate or the soil mixture have better water retention than others, such as peat, vermiculite, sphagnum, clay, etc.

The more of these elements present in your substrate mix, the more the drainage will be reduced and the water holding capacity increased. Therefore, watering should be more frequent.

Similarly, other components have less good water retention such as, for example, pozzolan, river sand, etc. The higher the percentage of this type of component present in the bonsai soil mix, the lower the frequency of watering.

In addition to the composition of the substrate, the grain size must also be taken into account. Some components such as Akadama, river sand, gravel, or pozzolan have a granulometry favoring aeration and drainage. The larger the space between the grains, the more the frequency of watering is increased.

Rain or Normal Tap water?

Tap water

Normal Tap water is the easiest solution for watering your bonsai. Available 24 hours a day, regardless of the weather. But unfortunately, it has some disadvantages to be aware of.

Mains water is often rich in limestone and chlorine which can be harmful to certain species, such as the Azalee bonsai.

It is an acidophilic species that does not appreciate being watered with hard water. When using this water, it is also possible to see whitish spots appear on the foliage or white deposits around the base of the trunk.

If you have no other way than to use tap water, know that there are methods to neutralize chlorine and limescale.

Boil water

The first method is to boil water to neutralize the limestone and let it cool in an open container for a few hours. This technique is interesting but quickly becomes tedious if you have a few trees.

Filter the water

A second technique is to filter tap water using a Brita water filter jug ​​or a tap-mounted softener. This effective technique for a few bonsais quickly becomes expensive if you have more than ten.

Let the water stand

The cheapest and easiest solution is to let tap water sit in a container, watering can, or bottle for a few days.

This technique is interesting in order to allow the chlorine to evaporate from the water before watering your bonsais. The method also has the advantage of watering your bonsai with room temperature water.

Tip: If you have a few bonsais, consider storing one or two bottles of tap water at all times. Thus, you always have a reserve of ready-to-use water at the ideal temperature so as not to cause a thermal shock.

Rain Water

In addition to being economical, rainwater is natural, does not contain chlorine, and is rich in essential minerals for your bonsai.

We must not forget that a tree in its natural environment is fed with rainwater. If you have a house, a garden, or a terrace, you can collect rainwater in a container or through a water collection system.

How to water a bonsai?

When you receive or buy your first bonsai, there is a question that everyone asks. How to water it? Learn about some watering methods.


Drenching is the most commonly used watering technique in bonsai. Contrary to what its name may indicate, it does not consist of soaking the bonsai in a basin.

But, consists of watering the bonsai as a whole in fine rain above the foliage using a watering can be equipped with a fine head. Using the drench method also has the advantage of ridding the leaves of dust and mites.

However, this method is not recommended for trees prone to powdery mildew such as maple, oak, or even larch. The same applies to bonsais in the flowering period or fruit trees. For these species, water the substrate directly.


  • With the drench method, water abundantly until the water runs out of the drainage holes located below the pot.
  • Use a watering can with a fine-hole sprinkler head. This avoids disturbing the substrate.

The watering can

A bonsai watering can imperatively be fitted with a finely pierced apple. This allows you to water your bonsai with the drench method in order to simulate a fine rain and not to expel the substrate from the pot because of a too strong jet.

Watering can head for bonsai are often narrower than classic watering cans to allow more precise watering, very useful for small subjects as well as for larger bonsai.

The capacity of the watering can depend on the number of bonsai you have. If you have a single bonsai, a 0.7 L watering can is enough, but it quickly shows its limits if you have a few bonsai.

In this case, prefer a 5L watering can. Obviously, this type of watering can is not restricted to watering bonsai, you use it to water your tulips, your roses, etc.

Garden hose

For a collection or several outdoor bonsai, you can water using a garden hose. However, it must imperatively be equipped with a lance or an adjustable pressure spray gun.

And must be set at low pressure (minimum) so that the water does not force the substrate out of the pot.

Tip: In the summer months when the garden hose has been exposed to the sun for a long time, before watering the bonsai, let the water run for a few seconds to cool it down.

Watering Lance


With a bottle of water

If you live in an apartment or don’t have an outdoor area, it is very difficult to water your bonsai with a watering can. In this case, prefer watering using a simple bottle.

But be aware that this solution has the disadvantage of not being compatible with drench. Indeed, the water pressure is too strong to be able to use this method. You will instead have to water only the substrate while being careful that it does not come out of its pot.

Vaporization or misting

Do not confuse watering with spraying. This technique, otherwise known as misting, does not replace watering, but it complements it.

It only makes it possible to increase the humidity level very occasionally. Spraying is more often used for foliar fertilizer applications or during treatments.

Tip: In summer, spraying or misting water on the foliage of an outdoor bonsai is not very effective, as the effect is not long-lasting. It can even be harmful in the event of a heatwave.

Automatic watering

This method of watering is particularly interesting during prolonged absences, or in periods of high heat, if you have a large collection of trees.

Automatic watering

What to do when you go on vacation?

This is a question that many bonsai owners ask themselves, once the departure on vacation is approaching. The ideal solution is to be able to entrust your bonsai to a close friend or family.

This person will be able to control and adjust the watering according to the different factors that influence the watering, such as the weather or the temperature. This is the most economical solution, especially if you have several bonsais.

A second solution is to have the bonsai kept by a professional. For a relatively affordable sum, he will water and take care of your bonsai with care during your vacation. As a professional, he will also be able to react to the unexpected.

Another solution that represents a blow and requires DIY skills is the installation of an automatic watering system.

Discover the maintenance tools for bonsai

How Do I Check The Soil Moisture Of My Bonsai Tree?

Never allow your bonsai tree’s soil to completely dry out. To determine when it is time to water your plant, you must check the soil every day. For monitoring the moisture in your bonsai’s soil, there are several options.

Use a Soil Moisture Tester

Whether you are an expert or a beginner, a soil moisture tester is an invaluable tool that will take the guesswork out of watering. This can prevent some over or under-watering.

How does it work?

Simply by inserting the probe into the root ball for a few seconds. Then watch the moisture level on the indicator and water if necessary, then remove the probe from the soil.

Tip: Clean the soil tester after each use and store it in a dry place.

soil tester

Use the finger method

The finger method consists of inserting your finger into the soil about 1 or 2 cm deep. The method generally works well, however, when it is cold or you have tested several bonsais, it becomes difficult to determine if the substrate is damp.

Use the toothpick method

The method consists of inserting and leaving a toothpick or a wooden stick in the ground for at least 10 minutes. Then remove the strip from the ground and check the humidity with the color of the wood.


  • Gently insert the toothpick or wooden stick so as not to damage the roots.
  • Use a different chopstick or toothpick for each bonsai to avoid contaminating another bonsai.
  • The rod should not be varnished or treated so that the water penetrates well into the wood.
  • To reuse the toothpick or wand for a future test, rinse and let dry.

Experience and observation

With experience and a little observation, there are a few tricks to help you determine if the soil is dry.

  • Tap the pot: if the pot is plastic, the noise is different when the soil is wet.
  • Lift the bonsai: when the substrate of a bonsai is humid, it is heavier.
  • Soil color: Wet soil is generally darker than dry soil. Additionally, some substrate components like Akadama Lava rock change color when wet, which gives a good indication for watering.

A step-by-step guide to watering a bonsai tree

Step 1: Check soil moisture using a soil moisture probe, finger method, or wand method. Once you’ve determined if the soil is dry or slightly dry, move on to the next step.

Step 2: Prepare everything you need and fill with water: the watering can, canister, bottle, or garden hose.

Step 3: Water the bonsai preferably using the drench method (watering from above in fine rain) using a hose fitted with a finely pierced head or a garden hose fitted with a lance adjustable in pressure. Water until the entire substrate is moist and the water comes out of the drainage holes.

Step 4: Refill your watering can, can, or bottle for the next watering.

Watering tips and tricks

Two-step watering

Two-step watering is a method that can be used in summer when the bonsai soil is very dry in summer, a substrate is too compact, or when you forget to water.

The method consists in watering a first time with a little water, waiting ten minutes then water a second time, copiously this time. This allows the substrate to better absorb water and prevents water from leaking out of the pot from the sides, without fully irrigating the clod of soil.

Watch out for over-watering

If your bonsai is constantly waterlogged, the roots will suffocate. The first symptom is often the blackening or loss of leaves and may be followed by the death of the tree. If exposed to heavy rain, tilt the pot or place the bonsai in a shelter.

Recycle aquarium water

If you have a home aquarium, you probably change the water a few times a year. Do not hesitate to recycle it by watering your bonsais with it. It’s economical and in addition, you will be doing something for the environment.

Watering in case of frost

  • During periods of frost, leave the watering can aside and wait for the temperature to improve.
  • In winter, it is best to water in the early afternoon so that the soil is warmed up and to allow time for the water to be absorbed before the temperatures drop.
  • If the bonsai is exposed to rain during frost, monitor the root ball after the thaw.

Your bonsai is suffering from drought

If you have forgotten to water your bonsai for a few days and it is suffering from advanced drying out, you can use the soaking (bath) technique or two-step watering.

Soak and bath

Run water at room temperature in a sink about 4 to 5cm (the water should not exceed the height of the pot). Soak the bonsai until the substrate is wet at the top. Remove the water and allow the tree to drain for a few minutes to avoid drowning the roots.

Two-step watering

  • Water the bonsai once with half a glass of water and wait about ten minutes.
  • Give a second half glass of water and wait another ten minutes.
  • Then water your bonsai normally.

Bonsai Watering: Overhead Watering Method

The immersion method is another way to hydrate bonsai trees. Water immersion is a fast method to hydrate the roots of a tree that has been under-watered and the soil is completely dry. Because it is successful and cost-effective, this approach is particularly popular for indoor trees.

Following are the steps for watering your bonsai using the immersion method:

Water should be poured into a sink or a bucket. The trunk of your tree should be covered with water that is about an inch high.

Place your tree in the water and submerge it. When you immerse your tree, you’ll see bubbles. Pay close attention to the number of bubbles is possible to achieve the following goals: Your tree is extremely dry, and it needs a lot of moisture, as evidenced by a lot of bubbles. You’ll be able to tell whether you’re watering underwater or overwater.

Until the bubbles have stopped, keep your bonsai in water. It could take a few minutes to complete. The roots are completely hydrated when the bubbles have gone away.

After that, remove the tree and let it drain. After the procedure, check to see if you lost any soil or rocks. In the event that you need to replace something, have extra supplies on hand.

Although frequent water immersion is not recommended, it is an effective way to quickly hydrate a bonsai. Roots may be damaged by immersing a tree in water excessively. There may be a few problems if you find that you are regularly submerging your tree because it is always dry. It’s possible that your bonsai needs repotting. Your tree might need to be put in a fast draining and coarse soil mix, according to another theory.

So, you’ve decided to bring a bonsai tree home and you’re wondering how often to water it. Well, read on for our ultimate guide on how often to water a bonsai tree! By following our tips, you’ll be able to give your bonsai the best possible care and keep it healthy and thriving. Be sure to leave us a comment with your thoughts on our article!

What Kind Of Water Should I Give My Bonsai Tree?

Another aspect to highlight is knowing what is the best quality of water to water a bonsai tree. From the outset, we would rule out drinking water due to its high chlorine content and those from sources possibly contaminated by seeds, stagnant water, possible contamination by leachates or discharges, etc.

To have quality water we can choose to resort to mineral water if our needs are few, water from wells or cisterns with guarantees, and even through existing filtering equipment on the market.

Bonsai live in pots, tubs, and even on slabs, almost always with little substrate and also for a long time. Therefore, we must properly manage the form of irrigation so that it is the most efficient.

Of the different irrigation systems, we can establish two groups: automated irrigation and manual irrigation.

Automated irrigation for bonsai is the least indicated. They are those that rely on irrigation programmers and that are normally connected to a specific type of localized or sprinkler irrigation.

As we move forward, this option is the least indicated, except as a temporary emergency option for risks during vacation periods or during long absences.

Manual irrigation for bonsai is the most indicated since they allow to provide the necessary water at all times. As for irrigation tools we can mention the traditional watering can, to the hose or glass of water.

Flood irrigation would fall within the block of manual irrigation, but we treat it separately since it is a more elaborate technique. It consists of introducing the pot into a container with water that covers it totally or partially.

After several minutes we must remove the bonsai and let it drain. After drainage is complete, the bonsai substrate will contain as much water as possible. This irrigation technique is one of the most effective, although we must provide a light contribution of fertilizer on each occasion.

How to remove chlorine from water effectively?

To effectively remove chlorine from the water we can basically use two systems:

Water rest for a while.

  • It consists of filling a container with drinking water, such as a bucket, and leaving it uncovered for at least 12 hours. In that time, the chlorine or a large part of it evaporates and we will avoid damage to its roots and microbial fauna of the substrate.

Filter equipment.

  • In the market, we can find various filtering equipment, among which are reverse osmosis. They are the most sophisticated, although when eliminating all kinds of salts we must take into account adding a little more quantity of fertilizer.

What happens when a bonsai dries up?

The biggest problem that bonsai have in terms of access to water is that they do not have reserves from which to extract the moisture they need.

This means that if irrigation is missed and the soil dries out completely, the bonsai’s roots will too.

Although it seems that it is a process that will occur gradually, in reality, it can progress much faster than we might expect.

The first symptoms begin on the leaves, which will gradually wither and fall off. When action is taken in time and the watering failure is corrected, it is possible to rescue the bonsai, but you will have to be disciplined in the future. Learn about How to revive a bonsai tree?

Signs of Under-Watering A Bonsai Tree

A bonsai that is under-watered will start to lose leaves and die. It will also become more susceptible to disease, such as root rot.

Under-watering can be a problem with any new bonsai tree or house plant, but it can be especially problematic with bonsai that are commonly watered from an overhead watering system.

Water is necessary for a bonsai’s root system to develop. To determine if your bonsai is under-watered, check for leaf loss, soil, moisture, and overall health. An under-watered bonsai tree will show a number of symptoms right away.

  • Yellowing leaves
  • Brown or dying leaves

You’ll have to employ the immersion watering technique if you discover that your bonsai tree is under-watered.To learn how to use it, see the immersion watering method below. A fast solution for dry bonsai trees is the immersion method, It is, however, not recommended to employ it on a regular basis. You risk root rot if a bonsai absorbs too much water.

So, you’ve decided to bring a bonsai tree home and you’re wondering how often to water it. Well, read on for our ultimate guide on how often to water a bonsai tree! By following our tips, you’ll be able to give your bonsai the best possible care and keep it healthy and thriving. Be sure to leave us a comment with your thoughts on our article!

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