The most important part of taking care of your Bonsai trees is watering. How often a tree needs to be watered depends on several factors such as; species of the tree, size of the tree, size of the pot, time of year, soil-mixture, and climate. I can’t tell you how often you should water Bonsai without knowing what kind of tree you have. However, understanding a few basic guidelines will help understand and identify when a tree needs to be watered.

How often should I water my Bonsai?

As mentioned previously, how often a Bonsai tree needs to be watered depends on many factors, and providing an exact guide is not possible. Instead, you need to observe your trees individually. The following guidelines will teach you what to look out for and how to identify when to water your Bonsai:

  • Water your trees when the soil gets slightly dry
    Be sure not to water your tree if the soil is still wet, but don't let the tree dry out either. As a beginner, use your fingers at about one centimeter deep, (0.4") to check the soil moisture. If it's slightly dry, go ahead and water your tree. This will become more obvious as you gain experience. You'll be able to see, rather than feel when your tree needs watering.

  • Never water on a routine
    Keep a close eye on your trees individually to determine when each one needs watering. Avoid watering all of your trees on a daily routine, until you know exactly what you are doing.

  • Use the right soil-mixture
    The soil-mixture greatly influences how often trees need to be watered. Most Bonsai trees thrive on a mixture of akadama, pumice, and lava rock in a ratio of ½ to ¼ to ¼. However, if you are not able to water regularly, you can use a mixture that retains more water by using more akadama or even using compost in your potting. Read the Bonsai soil mixtures article for more information.

 

Potbound bonsai tree

Most of the water will flow right out of the pot when watering this tree. The roots are too compacted so the soil-mass won't be able to absorb much water. This tree needs to be repotted!

 

When?

It doesn't matter what time you water a Bonsai. Some experts do advise not to use cold water when the soil is warm from being in the sun because it cools the tree too. Although this is something that you should keep in mind, you should water your tree as soon as the soil gets slightly dry, no matter what time it is.

 

How to water Bonsai trees?

When you've determined that the soil is slightly dry and the tree needs water, make sure to thoroughly soak the entire root system. Keep watering until water runs out of the bottom drainage holes, and possibly repeat the process a few minutes later.

Pour water from above using a watering can with a fine nozzle to prevent the soil from being washed away. If you keep your Bonsai indoors, you can place your tree in your kitchen sink and water the tree thoroughly, before placing it back. The best water you can use is rainwater because it doesn't contain any added chemicals, but when this is not readily available there is no problem in using normal tap water. There are some good automated watering systems out there, but they are quite costly.

Watering Bonsai trees is one of the topics in our online Bonsai course, made specifically for beginners. For more information and a free lesson, see the Bonsai Beginners Course.

 

Video: Watering a Bonsai tree

 

 

Watering a bonsai tree

When watering, do so very thoroughly, make sure the entire root mass is wetted!