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Do Bonsai Trees Need Water? (How Frequently?)

Since bonsais are such small, ornamental plants, you may be wondering if they are real trees and need water. 

And, if so, how much water do they need?

Bonsais are real trees, so they need water to survive and thrive.

And different species need varying amounts of water on differing schedules. 

Watering practices also change depending on whether you keep your bonsai inside or outside and the season.

Keep reading as I share the specifics of watering, such as how to know when it’s time to water your bonsai. 

How Often Do Bonsai Trees Need Water?

Depending on the type of bonsai you’re shaping, the amount of water the plant needs differs. 

Watering frequency also varies based on the time of year and whether you have an indoor or outdoor bonsai.

For example, indoor bonsai trees grow throughout the whole year. 

Thus, the watering frequency for these trees will stay pretty constant.

The water intake needs of an outdoor bonsai may change, though, depending on the species and weather. 

Also, remember that most bonsai varieties will need a watering session once a week or every few days if the humidity is especially low. 

Knowing When to Water Your Bonsai

I suggest checking the soil of your indoor bonsai trees for signs of dryness or lack of moisture to be more precise with watering frequency. 

You can do so by using a soil moisture meter. 

Or, you can simply insert your fingertip no deeper than the top layer of soil (about 1 inch). 

If the soil meter registers anywhere from 0-3, or your fingertip comes out dry, it’s time to water your bonsai. 

Watering Frequency by Bonsai Plant

Based on the type of plant you have bonsai-ed, the watering frequency may differ due to biological differences. 

So, here are the watering needs of some of the most popular bonsai plants: 

Japanese Maple BonsaiDaily watering during the growing season or multiple times daily during hot growing days
Ficus BonsaiAs needed when the topsoil dries. Water less often in cold temperatures
Juniper BonsaiAs needed when the topsoil is slightly dry. Mist regularly
Azalea BonsaiCheck soil moisture regularly with a meter to determine when you need to water
Olive BonsaiAs needed when the topsoil dries 
Japanese Holly BonsaiWater thoroughly as soon as the topsoil begins to get dry
Hibiscus BonsaiThoroughly water as soon as the soil gets dry 

How Do You Water Bonsais? 

In general, though, you should give your bonsai tree enough water to soak its roots thoroughly. 

2 Methods to Water a Bonsai 

Root Immersion Watering

The ideal way to water a bonsai is to provide it with a water “bath” in your sink. 

You can set this up by putting the plug in your sink drain and setting the bonsai pot in the basin. 

Start to run cold water into the sink so that it isn’t pouring directly onto your bonsai or its soil. 

Then, watch the water level rise until it gets to about halfway up the plant container, making sure that the water doesn’t flood over the top. 

Finally, set a timer for about 10 minutes, and let your bonsai drink up the water it’s sitting in through the pot’s drainage holes. 

This method is beneficial since it helps you avoid underwatering or unevenly watering the roots and soil. 

Just be sure not to immersion-water your bonsai too often as it could damage the roots. 

Shower Watering (Traditional Watering)

The other method of watering a bonsai is to use a watering can or sprinkler attachment on a hose. 

Water your bonsai as necessary until the soil becomes moist but not overly wet. 

Be careful to get an even spread of moisture throughout the soil and let the water drain out from the roots thoroughly. 

Final Thoughts

Many bonsai growers want to know whether or not bonsais need water. 

Well, you will need to water most bonsai varieties once or twice a week, though this frequency could increase depending on climate, season, and other factors.

Overall, pay attention to soil dryness, as well as the watering guidelines for your bonsai plant variety, to know when it’s time to water.

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