Basic Bonsai CareEdit

Whether it is a bonsai tree grown in a greenhouse, or one that is grown inside your house, or an outdoor plant that was brought indoor every winter, bonsai trees have the same requirements. Although they are miniaturized trees, like any other tree, they need adequate sunlight exposure which is the primary concern for an indoor bonsai.

Most indoor bonsai trees come from species that are indigenous to subtropical or tropical regions. The plant should be placed in a well-lighted area of the house where there is enough light, usually near the window. Since it is the nature of the plant to seek where the light is coming from, it is important to rotate the plant so that the branches will grow equally and become easier to train. Although these trees can be grown and trained indoors all year round, it is advisable to bring tropical bonsai trees outdoors during summer and be kept strictly inside the house during winter.

Some people don't realize that the natural light entering their house is still not enough to stimulate the plant to synthesize its required energy. If you lack sufficient light for your bonsai, you can supply this need by placing a fluorescent lamp over it. The lamp should be about six inches above your plant. You can use an inexpensive twin forty watt bulb. To augment sunlight especially during winter, turn on the lamp for 12 hours.

Meanwhile bonsai trees that are produced from temperate species should be kept in a period of dormancy every autumn in order to survive. They should be kept in a cool and strongly lit room.

Another vital element of basic care for indoor bonsai is water. Knowing how often you need to water your plant is very crucial. You can determine if your plant needs water by scratching the soil using your finger. If it is still moist, then it doesn't need water. You can also plant a wooden stick in the soil and leave it there. To know if you already need to water your bonsai, pull the stick and check whether it is moist or dry.

Water your bonsai tree overhead. Allow the water to be absorbed by the plant for a few seconds before pouring another splash of water.

Giving your bonsai plant fertilizer is the third important part basic care. You can give feed in a schedule by following the manufacturer's directions. You may start fertilizing when your bonsai is actively growing to augment its increasing needs.

Follow these tips in taking care of your indoor bonsai. Choose a species that can easily be grown indoors.[1]


Growing trees in a dark corner of an apartment is doomed to failure. Over the last eight years, I have become convinced that the most critical element to long term success with indoor bonsai is strong, bright light. Given enough light many trees will grow indoors and become wonderful bonsai. In dim indoor light almost no trees will survive.

In most homes windowsill growing is at best a borderline solution, as window light is often dim and unreliable. For most indoor growers, supplemental artificial light is the best. Some reccommended typres are:

  • Fluorescent Lights-FL are inexpensive to purchase and to run. For example, at the local hardware store purchase four foot long fluorescent fixtures. Use simple chains to hang these over the bonsai growing area. Or use one of the compact fluorescent bulbs if you only have one or two small bonsai.
  • Incandescent bulbs,
  • Metal halides,
  • Halogen and
  • LED’s.

DO NOT leave the light too close to the leaves or it will scorch them.

Try these trees if you are growing bonsai indoors in a warm house/apartment.

  • Brassaia actinophylla - Schefflera
  • Carissa grandiflora – Natal Plum
  • Ficus microcarpa – Chinese Banyan
  • Hedera helix - English Ivy
  • Hibiscus rosa-sinensis - Hibiscus
  • Portulacaria afra- Elephant Grass
  • Sageretia theezans – Chinese Sweet Plum
  • Schefflera arboricola – Dwarf Schefflera

If you have an area that can be kept cool -typical British climate-try:

  • Buxus microphylla – Dwarf Box
  • Cotoneaster microphylla – Dwarf Cotoneaster
  • Myrtus communis – Common Myrtle
  • Punica granata ‘Nana’ - Dwarf Pomegranate
  • Rhododendron – Dwarf Azalea
  • Ulmus – Chinese Elm
  • Serissa foetida – Chinese Snow Rose