Unfortunately, we get these cries for help quite often on our forums. Taking care of a Bonsai tree can be a bit overwhelming for beginners, but with this guide you should be fine. We'll investigate the causes of your tree losing leaves and the remedies!


Why does a Bonsai drop its leaves?

There is a difference between indoor Bonsai and outdoor bonsai.



Indoor Bonsai

Indoor Bonsai should be kept above 60°F (15°C) throughout the year, meaning that in most climates they need to be kept indoors during winter time. Most indoor Bonsai species (Ficus, Carmona, etc) do not drop their leaves, unless there is a problem:

Overwatering is a common reason when the indoor Bonsai is planted in poor soil that retains too much water. A few months of overwatering will lead to root-rot, only visible in the tree losing strength and dropping its leaves. You should water only when the soil gets slightly dry and once the tree does better, repot it in better soil.

Under-watering is also common. A Bonsai is placed in a tiny pot and therefore doesn't have much reserves. If you forget to water your tree, the roots die off and the tree will die. While with overwatering the tree would slowly lose strength, with under-watering the tree will drop its leaves within days. There is no cure unfortunately, so make sure you keep an eye on your tree and don't forget to water it.

Another problem, especially when a Bonsai is placed indoors, is poor light. Place your tree right in front of a window, preferably facing south. The tree needs lots of light!



Outdoor Bonsai

Outdoor Bonsai need to be kept outside, year round. Typical outdoor Bonsai species include the Juniper and the Chinese Elm. The Juniper is an evergreen, while the Elm is a deciduous tree that drops its leaves (or at least part of it) during autumn and winter. Assuming your tree is losing leaves not because of the season, but due to a problem, this is what you should be looking at:

Again, overwatering is a common issue. Watering too often, while the tree is planted in a soil mixture that retains too much water, will lead to root-rot and the tree dropping its leaves. Make sure you only water when needed; when the soil gets slightly dry.

Another reason could be that your tree has a pest or disease, which should be visible on your tree.

Finally, too much or too little fertilization will lead to your tree losing strength and dropping leaves.


Juniper bonsai plant

A popular size and shape of Juniper Bonsai.


How can I prevent my Bonsai dropping its leaves?

As discussed above, a Bonsai drops its leaves as a result of improper care. What you need to do is establish what tree species you have, and read about its specific care guidelines. Simple as that!