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How To Water Bonsai When On Vacation (7 Methods)

Bonsai trees need frequent watering, and it’s really crucial to ensure your tree does not get dried out when you go on vacation, or it will die. 

And because the pots are so small, they do not hold much water, meaning your tree will dry quickly. 

Unfortunately, there are no perfect solutions to this problem, but you do have some excellent options available to you.

If you are going on vacation, the best way to keep your bonsai watered is to ask a neighbor to drop by. 

But, if this isn’t an option, you can try a few other methods, like putting damp newspapers on top of the container or burying the pot in wet sand. 

You should also put the tree somewhere cool and away from direct sunlight while you’re gone.

In this article, we’ll explore some different ways to ensure your bonsai stays watered while you’re away. 

7 Methods to Keep a Bonsai Watered While You’re on Vacation

Method One: Use an Automatic Watering System

An automatic watering system is a great way to keep your bonsai wet while you’re away.

Just make sure you keep your tree out of the hot sun and set the system to keep it damp.

It is also a good idea to try your system in advance so that you know which settings are best for your plant.

You can play with a few different settings to see which keeps your tree watered to the right degree. 

However, a lot of people don’t have automatic watering systems, and you may not want to set one up for a single plant. 

So, let’s look at other options.

Method Two: Cover the Pot With Wet Newspapers

One way to trap moisture in your bonsai tree’s pot is to cover the bottom and top of its container with wet newspapers. 

Then, wrap the whole thing in a plastic bag and tie the bag tightly at the top to encase the tree’s trunk. 

Now, move the tree somewhere out of the rain so that it won’t get waterlogged and die of root rot if the weather is wetter than you are expecting.

The newspapers should help to provide water to the roots gradually, and the plastic bag will trap the moisture.

This method may work for several days, but it isn’t a good long-term solution because the newspapers will eventually dry out, causing the plant to dry too.

Method Three: Bury the Pot in Sand

Another method to keep your bonsai watered is to get a large container with one small drainage hole and fill it with plenty of sand.

You can then soak the sand with water and bury your bonsai tree’s current container in the sand.

This technique will help keep the soil inside the bonsai’s pot damp because water will be absorbed from the sand when the soil dries.

The sand will also keep the pot cool, which will help it remain damp for longer, although not indefinitely.

Like the newspaper method, this will not last forever. 

However, it is another possibility if you are only going to be gone for a few days.

Method Four: Stand the Bonsai in Water

You are probably already aware that you shouldn’t leave your bonsai standing in water for an extended period because its roots will start to rot if the water suffocates them. 

Yet, it takes a while for root rot to become an issue, even for small plants. 

So, if you are only going away for a day or two, this solution should work.

It will ensure your plant doesn’t dry out, but you will need to make sure you remove the tree from the basin of water as soon as you get home.

Then, let it drain thoroughly before transferring it to a dry spot. 

Now, leave it there, and do not water it again until the soil’s surface has dried out.

Remember, though, that this strategy is high-risk. 

Thus, you should only use it if you are not going to be gone for more than a couple of days. 

Otherwise, the water will drown the plant and kill it.

Method Five: Have Someone Water Your Bonsai 

Perhaps the easiest course of action is to have someone stop by and water your plant every few days while you’re gone. 

But, if you are going to have a neighbor come round, check that they know how to water the bonsai properly. 

You can have them practice a couple of times so that you don’t return home to a dead plant in spite of their best intentions.

Method Six: Soak the Tree in Advance

Before you leave, you may want to give your bonsai tree a thorough soak.

Doing so will help reduce the risk of it getting dried out if you use one of the above methods, such as the newspaper.

Being consistent about watering in the weeks leading up to your vacation could also be beneficial because it will ensure the tree is happy and not stressed.

Overall, you’re ensuring that the plant has some water reserves in its system while you’re on vacation.

Method Seven: Use a Wicking System

You may have seen homemade contraptions that use strings and a bucket of water to keep a tree watered.

The idea is that the string will slowly soak water from the bucket and into the container a little at a time, keeping the tree damp but not too wet.

And you can certainly try one of these systems if you want. 

Some people do have success with wicking, but the results often are a little mixed, and it’s worth finding out how it works for you before you depend on it for days at a time.

So, set one up a few weeks before you plan to go on vacation and test whether it keeps your plant watered or whether you have to step in.


You can use various systems to keep your bonsai watered while on vacation. 

But you need to be aware that none are totally reliable, and there is always a risk of your plant getting dried out and dying.

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