How to Repot a Bonsai for Beginners Complete Solutions

If you’re familiar with the art of bonsai, you’ll know that bonsai trees require regular care and attention in order to grow and thrive. One of the most important aspects of this care is repotting, which helps your bonsai shift its root system and achieve its full potential. In this article, we’ll walk you through the steps of how to repot a bonsai for beginners and explain the benefits of doing so.

What do you need in a Bonsai repotting kit to get the job done right?

The perfect Bonsai repotting requires a few basic tools that aren’t too costly. It’s simple to get the all items in your local shop. The most important equipment for this job is listed below.

  • One Piece Root Rake
  • Two pieces chopsticks
  • One Piece large-sized high-quality Scissors.
  • One-piece Pruning shears- (Optional)
  • One Piece Wire cutters/ root cutters

Read More: Bonsai Clippers Vs Bonsai Scissors -Which Is Best For Trimming Your Bonsai Tree and Why?

Why is bonsai repotting important?

Bonsais are living beings. Both above and below the surface, they’re constantly changing. They need energy (produced by photosynthesis in the leaves and storage of sugars) and nutrients, which they derive from the substrate to flourish and thrive.

They need a large number of roots in order to absorb nutrients. They constantly create new roots in the substrate.

The entire bonsai substrate in the pot will be full of roots after a while because there is only limited space available in the pot. This poses a difficulty since new roots can no longer be added.

When should you repot a bonsai?

Above all, a bonsai must be repotted when the substrate becomes too compact. Substrate compaction increases mainly due to root growth and slow decomposition of the bonsai substrate. Accordingly, depending on the speed of root growth and the type of bonsai substrate, a bonsai should be repotted after about 3 to 5 years.

Young plants of fast-growing tree species (most maple, elm, and apple bonsai ) often need to be repotted after 1 or 2 years. Older bonsai (which have largely been shaped) of slow root-growing tree species (e.g. pine, larch, or juniper bonsai ) can often be left in the same substrate for 1-2 years older.

Bonsai that have been repotted in a thin or rapidly decaying substrate (eg peat, potting soil, reused akadama) should be repotted sooner than bonsai that are in a structurally stable substrate (eg, expanded shale, akadama of high quality, Kiryuzuna ).

Sometimes salinization of the bonsai substrate (eg after over-fertilization with mineral nutrients) or an excessive infestation of the substrate by pests can be a reason for repotting. However, these two phenomena are very rare

There’s another more significant issue: the substrate’s macropores are filled with roots, which is much worse. However, for the roots, the atmosphere in these macropores is crucial.

Root cells, like all cells, require oxygen to survive. Oxygen delivery into the substrate may be challenging despite the fact that it is readily accessible in the air above. There is no oxygen in the absence of air in the substrate. Eventually, the bonsai and its roots die as well.

The deterioration of the bonsai substrate over time adds to the problem. An excellent bonsai soil has a granular structure when it is freshly repotted.

The earth’s structure becomes finer and finer over the course of two to three years as a result of organisms’ influence on the substrate and “frost” during winter.

The space for macropores in the substrate is limited, and the newly formed roots compact it down as the substrate becomes finer. The substrate eventually runs out of necessary oxygen. Bonsai has a major difficulty.

When the root cells breathe oxygen, it is used up, and carbon dioxide is produced, another difficulty emerges with a compressed bonsai substrate.

Carbon dioxide dissolves in water, producing carbonic acid if the substrate in the pot is thick and wet. As a consequence, the medium acidifies at a steady rate, which many trees don’t prefer.

Regular bonsai repotting is the only way to fix all of these issues. A new, more granular substrate replaces the fine, decomposed earth. In some instances, the roots are trimmed away to allow for new development.

A bonsai will grow weaker and weaker over time if it is not reported on a regular basis. It will perish, sooner or later. It shouldn’t go that far, no.

Moreover, the more difficult the procedure will be for the tree and for the bonsai site if you wait longer before repotting. Removing the old bonsai substrate is frequently very difficult and unpleasant.

Therefore – there is no rule without exception: all development slows down over time if you do not repot. In a shoot, the distances between leaf nodes (internodes) are reduced. Even when the trees are blooming, they typically perform better.

This has the potential to make trees appear to be older. As a result, slowing down the development of mature trees for a year or more may be advantageous under certain circumstances.

How do you know if the bonsai substrate is compacted?

The best way to be sure is to carefully lift the bonsai out of the pot. If only the roots can be seen outside the root ball, it is usually high time to repot.

If the bonsai was properly anchored in the pot with bonsai wire when last repotted, it is difficult to lift. However, there are other methods for determining if repotting is necessary.

  1. If a deciduous tree has not been repotted for 3 years and a conifer for 5 years, it is usually high time to change the substrate.
  2. If you purchased a tree that was just imported, it has usually been in the same substrate for at least 2 years. As long as most imported bonsai are in an export nursery, they are regularly checked and are usually never repotted during this time.
  3. If the tree grows more slowly than is typical for the tree species or variety, repotting the bonsai may be necessary.
  4. If the substrate barely absorbs water when the bonsai is watered, the bonsai substrate is often heavily compacted.
  5. If the root ball grows slowly out of the pot, the bonsai’s root ball was not properly anchored with wire and too many roots have already formed. Repotting is usually helpful.
  6. If despite good fertilization and watering, the bonsai placed in an optimal location has yellowish leaves, the substrate is usually compacted.

However, not all of the listed arguments, even if at the right time, should be implemented in a generalized way. That is to say, do not repot just because a point is filled.

Observe your bonsai trees carefully, analyze their growth and only decide after weighing all the important points.

Repotting too frequently may have negative effects. All the symptoms mentioned above are basic indications to give beginners the necessary elements so that they can make a decision. Just because a deciduous bonsai tree hasn’t been repotted for 3 years doesn’t mean it should be repotted.

The right season for repotting a bonsai might be seen as a question as well.

What is the Right Season to repot a bonsai?

Late winter is the ideal season to repot bonsai. Most bonsai species are usually repotted in mid-February, and they can be repotted again if needed during the growing season.

Bonsai trees are dormant throughout the winter, and they are resting and preparing for spring. Juniper bonsai are evergreen trees and do not shed their leaves. Junipers go through a dormant phase in a similar way.

Transplanting and root pruning can be quite stressful for bonsai trees. Bonsai root pruning should be done before the start of the growing season because this is when the ends of the cut roots begin to mend. During this period, the roots are more prone to root rot and other diseases.

Why is early spring the best time to repot most tree species?

The plants are then still in winter dormancy and let little water evaporate without leaves. They, therefore, survive the repotting phase better with partial loss of their roots. Root wounds that occur during repotting can heal better.

And most importantly, new root hairs can form until the leaves emerge, which ensures the supply of the tree in the summer. If you repot too early, the healing of cuts is slowed down, if you repot too late, the water and nutrient supply of the tree may suffer

When should you not repot bonsai?

The most important advice is this: do not repot a bonsai tree before you have informed yourself and weighed all the arguments for and against it.

There is always a week left to document yourself, ask a bonsai dealer, or take the tree to a meeting of a bonsai working group to analyze it together. A bonsai tree lasts for many years in a bonsai pot.

With the exception of heavy over-fertilization with nutrient salts, we know of no reason why a bonsai should be repotted immediately. One or two weeks are always necessary to clarify everything.

When repotting bonsai, the following situations should not be used:

  • Don’t repot when it’s the wrong season. Repotting in the Midsummer, as well as winter, is not advised.
  • Bonsai taken from the wild ( Yamadori ) should not be repotted until they have shown significant growth during the previous year.
  • Do not repot several times a year. Even with very fast-growing bonsai species, this is not necessary.
  • Don’t repot simply because it’s been three years. If the bonsai substrate is not full of roots but is otherwise in good condition, you can repot the pot.
  • A recently purchased bonsai does not necessarily need to be repotted immediately. It’s best to determine once you’ve seen the tree during one growing season.

How often should I repot a Bonsai?

Depending on a number of factors, the time changes. Their size, pot size, and other characteristics. For younger bonsai, you should repot them at least once a year.

Every three years, you should repot older, more mature bonsai. To know if repotting is required, it’s vital to check the roots. If you can get the bonsai out of its pot, and the bonsai’s root ball comes out in one piece, that’s the perfect time to repot it.

How to choose the right bonsai pots?

It is important to learn about bonsai pots as well, although repotting is about replacing the soil and not necessarily the pot. Healthy roots can be maintained and reduce repotting by choosing the right pot for your bonsai.

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

Types and materials of bonsai pots

It’s also essential to get the appropriate bonsai pots when repotting. The depth and overall scope of your bonsai’s requirements must be taken into account. Good bonsai pots should have good drainage holes.

Ceramic or porcelain is the most common material used in bonsai pots. Some cultivators use plastic, concrete, metals, mica, clay, wood, and sandstone. Because metal pots might release harmful chemicals, consider alternatives.

Choosing the proper pot for your bonsai

Tip 1: It should be spacious and large enough for your bonsai so that the roots can stretch out a bit. The root tips play a crucial role in water and nutrient uptake.

Tip 2: Important factors to consider when deciding whether or not to repot in a larger pot depend on the age of your bonsai, its species, the presence of roots, and the size you want your bonsai to be. bonsai in the years to come.

Tip #3: The size of the bonsai pot does not have to be increased when repotting your bonsai. If your bonsai has developed and established roots, you can prune the roots regularly each time you repot, and you can also maintain the same size as the bonsai pot indefinitely.

Tip #4: The larger your bonsai will go without water if you use a bigger bonsai pot. Invest in pots meant for bonsai that are slightly larger.

Tip 5: The length of the bonsai pot should be 2/3 of the height of your bonsai. The length should be at least 2/3 of the width if the height is less than the wingspan or width. On both sides, the container’s width should be somewhat less than the space between each bonsai’s longest branches.

How to repot a bonsai for beginners step- by step:

As a beginner to advanced, you must have followed the below steps:

1. Choice of the bonsai pot

When we have decided that a bonsai needs to be repotted, choosing the right bonsai pot is the order of the day. In many cases, you will return to the same pot, as it was probably chosen the last time you repotted your bonsai.

For example, repotting a bonsai does not necessarily mean getting a new pot for the tree. If the bonsai pot fits the bonsai well, it will be cleaned and reused.

We are often asked how big a new bonsai pot should be compared to the old one. Our answer is usually surprising: in most cases, it doesn’t need to be bigger.

Only if your tree has grown significantly and needs to stay that way should you choose a larger bonsai pot. Otherwise, choose a pot of the same size.

Why? Bonsai pots are chosen based on aesthetic principles. If you choose a bigger pot each time you repot your bonsai without it having grown taller, it will end up looking odd.

A simple rule of thumb for pot size is: that the length of the bonsai pot should be about 2/3 of the height of the tree.

If the root ball is too large for a suitable pot, it will be reduced. That is, the bonsai root ball is made to fit the pot and a bonsai pot is not chosen to fit the root ball.

If the root ball cannot be reduced in one go, the bonsai should not yet be placed in the final bonsai pot.

Choosing the Right Bonsai Soil Mix

Bonsai soil combinations vary, You’ll need to examine the optimum soil mixture for your particular bonsai tree species.

For deciduous bonsai trees and coniferous bonsai trees. Pumice, akadama, and lava rock are used to make these mixtures, which provide excellent substrate structure, excellent water retention, and excellent drainage and aeration.

Soil mix for deciduous bonsai:

  • 25% pumice stone
  • 50% Akadama
  • 25% lava rock

Soil mix for coniferous and pine bonsai:

  • 33% Pumice (pumice stone)
  • 33% Akadama
  • 33% lava stone

Soil improvers for bonsai

  • An amendment is a material added to a soil to improve its quality.
  • Akadama, fine gravel, lava rock, pumice, and organic soil compost are all required soil amendments for bonsai trees.


  •  Akadama is produced specifically for bonsai purpose
  • Before using akadama, you’ll need to sift through it.
  • It will begin to break down after two years, reducing the right aeration quality.
  • It must be repotted or mixed with other soil components and better-draining qualities on a regular basis.
  • As compared to other soil amendments, it is more expensive.


  • Pumice is a lightweight, delicate volcanic product.
  • It’s an excellent absorber of nutrients and water.
  • It helps retain water
  • It also aids in the development of bonsai roots into healthy trees.

Lava rock

  • Water is effectively retained by Lava Rock.
  • When used in a bonsai substrate, it assists in making a strong framework.
  • It’s worth remembering that bonsai roots can’t grow into the lava rock.

Organic compost for bonsai

  • Peat moss, sand, and perlite are often used in organic compost.
  • Its drawbacks are high water retention and insufficient or poor aeration.
  • Other soil amendments may be made using organic compost.

Fine gravel or grit

  • It helps create soil that drains well.
  • It encourages bonsai soil that has been properly aerated.
  • It’s usually used in pots’ bottom layers.

Determine the best time for repotting

Repotting should be done in early spring when the bonsai is stressed to get and maintain full foliage. Your bonsai will experience less stress during repotting. Your bonsai begins to grow vigorously in the spring, which helps your bonsai recover and heal quickly from any damage caused by repotting.

Gather all the tools

Before you begin gathering your essential tools, For the convenient output, you’ll need new-looking root rakes, scissors, and chopsticks. Remove the cutting instruments from the work area. place the tools in a safe and protected location.

Cut Away the roots Or Roots pruning

Prune bonsai roots that are old and long, but keep those with small white hairs or new roots. After untangling the roots, you need to remove the bonsai’s old roots and rotten roots. Blackish, sticky roots are a sign of rot. Prune no more than 25% of your bonsai’s root mass, so that some roots remain for sufficient water and nutrient uptake.

Remove old soil

It is important to remove the old compost soil from the roots of the bonsai. You can do this with a root hook or with fingers. Remove strongly developed and thick roots without small white hairs.

Cover the drainage of the pot

  • Cut some of the Bonsai roots to cover the drainage hole. You should not cut off more than 30% by using pruners or scissors.
  • Use mesh to completely cover the drainage hole
  • To stabilize and support the tree in the chosen pot, attach an additional wire.
  • Add a layer of thick grain soil at the first move to make a layer. For better results, you should choose lava rocks. It is also acceptable to use grit or akadama.
  • After that, you’ll need to add soil. It prepares the layer for maximum success. Because the following procedure involves repositioning the Bonsai tree, you don’t have to flatten the soil.

Repositioning the Bonsai

Return the bonsai to its pot. Carefully reposition the bonsai in the bonsai pot. Add bonsai potting mix to the edge of the pot. You can avoid air pockets by properly working the soil and its root system.

Your bonsai will do well in a potting mix of gravel, akadama and potting soil. Akadama is a type of grainy clay produced specifically for potting and potting. Consider the proportion of potting mix depending on the species and location of your bonsai trees.

Do You Water bonsai after Repotting ?

As soon as the bonsai is repotted , it must be watered abundantly. Watering your bonsai should be done carefully, otherwise, the new bonsai substrate will slip out of the pot. A watering can with a micro-perforated sprinkler head is very suitable.

pear sprayer is also very suitable or the bonsai can be submerged. When submerging newly repotted bonsai trees in kanuma, care must be taken that the kanuma does not shift. It is very light. The same is true if you added a lot of pumice stone.

It must be watered until the pot’s bottom is wet. If the new substrate in the pot sinks a little, it is important to immediately add a little more substrate.

Read More :How To Water a Bonsai tree indoor Ultimate Indoor Bonsai Watering Solution

When to fertilize Bonsai after repotting? 

There are a number of fertilizing options for Bonsai after repotting. After repotting, we suggest waiting three to four weeks. Fertilizing the roots shortly after repotting may harm them. Burning the roots caused by fertilizing is the most common problem.

It’s possible that the roots may not be able to tolerate the mix of new soil and fertilizer. As a result, for a few days, let the roots in the pot adapt to their surroundings.


How to repot a bonsai in summer?

Since the possibility of failure is highest in the summer, repotting Bonsai isn’t a recommended strategy. However, you may achieve it if you use your talents properly. In the summer, repot your bonsai using these procedures.

  • Selecting the proper pot is the first step. When repotting a Bonsai, choose neither a pot that is too big nor one that is too small. Ceramic or high-quality plastic must be used to make the pot. Selecting a pot with bright colors and texture is gorgeous to look at.
  • Now, dealing with the drainage screens will prepare the pot for next time.
  • Then take the tree from the old pot and put it in the new one. Before you can separate the root ball, you must first cut it. Take your time with this one. If the root is damaged, the Bonsai tree may die.
  • Fill the replacement soil on both sides of the replacement pot. You can use it to add stones and compost if you wish. Fertilizing after a few days is reasonable, but it’s best to wait.
  • You need to water the Bonsai during the summertime when you are working. Keep watering until the soil becomes wet and muddy. The root of the Bonsai may be damaged by adding more water. Wait for repotting by carefully adding water. You should apply water until it appears clear for best results.

How to repot an indoor Bonsai tree?


The repotting of indoor Bonsai trees is similar to that of outdoor Bonsai. There are a few steps you should follow.

  • To ensure that the whole process works, choose a suitable location first. A location with excellent air and plenty of light is preferred.
  • Afterward, choose a suitable pot and begin preparing. Make sure the pot’s drainage system is clear. Bonsai trees may be killed instantly by a clogged drainage system.
  • Carefully cut the Bonsai from the old pot using scissors or pruners. Remove the roots from the soil with your fingers.
  • To create a layer in the new pot, combine the soil and rocks.
  • Fill the roots with water and begin planning the Bonsai tree inside it.

For better results, leave the pot in the sun for a few days.

Benefits of repotting your Bonsai tree

There are several advantages to repotting a Bonsai tree. Repotting a Bonsai tree may provide several of the greatest advantages listed below.

  • Repotting a Bonsai tree improves the soil’s nutrients. It is required because the plant’s development is totally reliant on nutrients.
  • The quantity of the corresponding soil is increased as a result of this procedure. As a consequence, holding more water becomes simpler.
  • If you don’t take care of your Bonsai properly, it might fade. It is extremely selectable as a long-living Bonsai since it is kept in the repotting process.
  • A Bonsai tree’s leaf count is greatly increased when repotting. The Bonsai will lose a lot of its leaves if it isn’t repotted.
  • Unless it’s grown in a pot, the root of a Bonsai is unpredictable. As a result, by repotting the Bonsai, you may easily bring it into a convenient form.

Frequently FAQ

Some common repotting Bonsai questions are answered in this section.

Can you repot and prune a bonsai at the same time?

The ideal time to prune is right now when the bonsai active growth. For the purpose of encouraging blooms, you can undertake branch pruning. Root prune and repot at the same time is a common practice. It is possible to repot and trim a Bonsai at the same time.

Should you fertilize a bonsai after repotting?

After repotting, you may fertilize Bonsai. however, Experts recommend waiting three to four weeks for better results. The Bonsai root is protected from fertilizer burns by this action. It also assists in the development of Bonsai trees.

After repotting bonsai, can I feed them liquid fertilizer?

Feeding a liquid fertilizer to your Bonsai after repotting is totally fine. Bonsai may die if you repot it in a dry state. As a result, Bonsai tree liquid fertilizer may be required.

What kind of soil does a bonsai tree need?

The soil should be made up of akadama, pumice, lava rock, organic potting and potting compost to have a neutral pH between 6.5 and 7.5. By using these ingredients the soil will become enriched which will help the Bonsai trees grow gradually.

At the Bottom Line

We hope this guide on how to repot a bonsai has been helpful for beginners. By following the steps outlined above, you should be able to successfully repot your bonsai without any problems. Remember to take your time and be careful when handling your bonsai, as they are delicate plants. With a little bit of care and patience, you can keep your bonsai healthy and thriving for years to come.

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