Bonsai Care Mistakes

Bonsai trees are not common houseplants. They require different care and handling to regular household plants and indoor plants.  While they’re not difficult to care for, as long as we follow bonsai care guidelines, here are 5 of the most common bonsai care mistakes.

Bonsai Care Mistakes

1. Choosing the Wrong Bonsai Tree

You don’t choose “Difficult” on a video or computer game when you know your skills and experience aren’t fit for that level. The same thing goes for choosing the right bonsai tree. Here are 5 trees I have written about that are some of the easier species to care for:

  • Juniper bonsai
  • Baby Jade
  • Dwarf Schefflera
  • Chinese Elm tree
  • Ficus bonsai

What happens when you choose another more difficult tree? There’s a higher chance that the bonsai tree won’t last. Some species are more difficult to care for and maintain than others such as the Japanese Black Pine and Spruce. . In order to save yourself time and effort, choose a tree that will thrive in your local climate and personal skill levels.

Particularly if you plant to keep the bonsai indoors, chose a suitable species which include: Baby Jade, Weeping Fig, Schefflera and most succulents. Bonsai Boy of New York has quite a selection for those who are looking for indoor varieties.

Indoor Bonsai                               Baby Jade                                                                               Willow Leaf Ficus                                                                     Umbrella Tree

2. Over/Under Watering

This is one of the most common bonsai mistakes that can kill you’re bonsai. We all understand that plants need water to survive. However, you may not know giving a bonsai too much water will kill your bonsai just like as lack of water will.

Bonsai have different watering requirements to that of a normal plant or tree. These requirements will differ by the bonsai species, size, soil type and your local climate. Some trees may be contented with daily watering and others once every two or three days, or even once a week only. The ultimate goal is to not let the soil dry out completely otherwise your tree will suffer from diseases and die.

Another factor that can influence your tree’s watering requirements is the seasons. For example, during the summer, your tree may need more frequent watering than usual because the hot temperature renders the soil to dry out faster. Bonsai growers can use certain methods and signs in order to know when the trees need watering, such as follows:

  • Check if the surface soil in your bonsai pot is dry. You will observe the soil is a lot lighter in colour then when it is dry.
  • Use your finger to check the soil and observe if it’s feels moist and cool. Dip your finger around 1cm.
  • Simply press you palm onto the soil, if it feels damp, no need to water
  • Lift your tree when you have just watered it. Lift again when it is dry. You will usually notice a different in weight. Some enthusiast will even use scales to check the weight.
  • Remember to let the soil dry out somewhat before watering again, otherwise you risk overwatering and causing root rot which may kill your tree

3. Incorrect Bonsai Placement

Ordinary gardeners and those new to bonsai may mistake bonsai as houseplants. While some tree species will tolerate being kept indoors under the right conditions, outside is their natural habitat.

Ensure your tree species is suited to your local temperature. For example, tropical / sub-tropical species such as Baby Jade, Ficus species and Hawaiian umbrella tree will not do well outside in cold and snowy climates. Trees that like the cold and snow include Maples, Elms and Spruce.

bonsai care mistakes - position

If you intend to keep a tree indoors, make sure first that it is a species that thrives in an environment with limited exposure to sunlight, wind and rain. Place the bonsai tree on top of the table or window sill beside the window where it can absorb sunlight. Ensure, particularly during summer months the trees on the window sill do not receive too much sun and heat through the glass. Also be sure your bonsai is not above a heater.

4. Incorrect Type of Soil

The quality of the soil used for your bonsai impacts the health of your bonsai tree. Potting your bonsai in normal garden soil or potting mix is another of the common bonsai care mistakes. Whilst it probably won’t kill the tree, it won’t be provide the qualities a bonsai requires in a soil:

  • Good water retention
  • Drainage
  • Aeration
  • Nutrient Control


5. Lack of Patience

As with any form of art, coming up with your own masterpiece takes patience! Successfully growing and maintaining bonsai will often be a series of trials and errors particularly as we learn. Thus, you must understand that patience is key to successful bonsai gardening.

Lack of patience often leads to rushing or neglecting your bonsai work which can be bad for your bonsai’s overall state of health and design. For example, you’re going to attempt to create a style that will take several seasons, however you lose interest over time. Unfortunately, it’s difficult and will take time to “revise” a bonsai tree design so believing in the “patience is a virtue” adage can go a long way.

There you have it, 5 bonsai care mistakes. If you haven’t done so already, grab a copy of my free eBook: “Bonsai How To – Avoid These 5 Common Mistakes Killing Your Bonsai

Happy Bonsai Gardening !


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Introducing: Bonsai - The Beginners How To Guide

When you’re ready to learn how to grow and care your own bonsai trees, what you need is a resource full of bonsai tips and useful information to help new bonsai enthusiasts:
• Build bonsai knowledge
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About Matthew Meehan

My aim with this website is to provide people who are new to bonsai information they need to know in order to successfully grow and care for a bonsai tree in a simple and easy to understand way. Whether you have just bought or are planning to buy a starter tree or a preexisting bonsai tree, or you may have received a bonsai as a gift, Bonsai Creations will be a valuable source of information.

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