Q. How and when do I water my bonsai tree?
Generally, bonsai like to be moist but not soggy. When the top half of the soil becomes dry, it is time to water. When hand watering, a soaking, gentle drench is best. Allow the water to flow out the drain holes, then wait a couple of minutes and repeat. To check the level of moisture in the soil, use a moisture meter, wooden chopstick, or pencil tip. A thorough way to water is the "dishpan method"--place the bonsai in a water-filled pan, with the water level above the soil; when the air bubbles stop, the plant has obtained sufficient water.
Mist-spraying foliage provides humidity and also washes dust off your tree. Avoid spraying a flowering bonsai plant, to prevent early flower wilting. Trays filled with gravel and water (humidity trays) add humidity around the bonsai.
Check the moisture requirement for each tree. Soil elements and watering may vary. Some species need to be kept on the drier side, while others favor dryness during certain times of the year. Check your plant daily for water needs; never use a watering schedule, but water when the tree requires it. Eventually, you will know when your bonsai needs watering. The smaller the pot, the more often your plant must be watered.
In summer (especially when outside), bonsai trees may need watering 2-3 times a day and protection from the intense light of midday and afternoon sun.
For tips on a variety of gardening topics, see our Plant Information Guides.
- Courtesy of NYBG Plant Information Service