Why Is My Bonsai Dying? 5 Reasons & How To Save Your Tree

So you finally got that bonsai you always wanted, but despite all your preparations to care for this magnificent little tree, something went wrong and now you’re fearing for your plant’s life.

Caring for bonsai can be very difficult, but don’t despair just yet, it might not be too late.

Take a deep breath and read on, I’m here to help.

Top 5 Reasosn Your Bonsai Might Be Dying

There are a variety of reasons why your bonsai might be sick. Some of these reasons include the following:

Reason #1 : Watering Problems

The most common problems with bonsai often have to do with how they get watered. It is very easy to either overwater or underwater your plant. Overwatering is the most common culprit since bonsai keepers tend to worry too much and in the process accidentally kill their plants by giving them too much attention.

Overwatered bonsai usually have yellow or transparent leaves that fall unexpectedly. If the early signs of overwatering went unnoticed, you might start to see black spots on the leaves and stems of your plant. When it gets to this stage, saving your bonsai becomes very difficult and many don’t recover.

While underwatering isn’t as harmful as overwatering, it does happen. Some bonsai are more sensitive to underwatering than others and will develop wilted or dry leaves. Fortunately, giving these plants a bit of water should have them perking up in no time unless the drought spell went on for so long that the leaves appear completely shriveled and crispy.

Reason #2 : Not Getting Enough Light

Bonsai, like all plants, need sunlight to stay healthy and grow. If you place your tree indoors in full shade, it most likely won’t survive for long since most bonsai require full sun to survive. If you insist on keeping your bonsai indoors, make sure to place it near a window that receives sun all day long.

Reason #3 : Placing Outdoor Bonsai Indoors

Bonsai fall into two different categories, namely indoor and outdoor bonsai. Indoor bonsai are usually tropical plants that do well being kept in humid conditions with a stable temperature year-round. Outdoor bonsai, on the other hand, are usually those that require a dormant period during winter to stay healthy. Keeping an outdoor bonsai indoors year-round will prevent it from becoming dormant which will result in your plant getting sick and ultimately dying.

Reason #4 : Not Fertilizing Properly

Bonsai are grown in tiny pots with limited soil. If you over or under-fertilize your plant, you can damage it. Using too much fertilizer can burn the roots of your plant. You will notice yellow or brown discoloration of the leaves due to root damage.

Underfertilizing your plant will result in weak growth, loss of healthy coloration, and a generally sickly appearance.

Reason #5 : Disease Or Infestation

There are many plant diseases and pests out there that will also affect your bonsai. The easiest way to determine if your bonsai is affected by disease or pests is to carefully examine it. Sometimes you will be able to spot tiny bugs on the leaves and stems of your plant.

How To Revive A Dying Bonsai: Quick Guide

To revive your bonsai, make sure you know what kind of bonsai you have. Once you’re sure, use this guide to determine if your plant can be saved.

Step 1 : Determine Why Your Bonsai Is Dying

The most common problems with bonsai often have to do with how they get watered. It is very easy to either overwater or underwater your plant. Overwatering is the most common culprit since bonsai keepers tend to worry too much and in the process accidentally kill their plants by giving them too much attention.

Overwatered bonsai usually have yellow or transparent leaves that fall unexpectedly. If the early signs of overwatering went unnoticed, you might start to see black spots on the leaves and stems of your plant. When it gets to this stage, saving your bonsai becomes very difficult and many don’t recover.

While underwatering isn’t as harmful as overwatering, it does happen. Some bonsai are more sensitive to underwatering than others and will develop wilted or dry leaves. Fortunately, giving these plants a bit of water should have them perking up in no time unless the drought spell went on for so long that the leaves appear completely shriveled and crispy.

Step 2 : Remove Any Dead Parts

To give your plant the best chance of recovery, it is advised to remove any dead parts. Your bonsai will continue to try to revive any dead leaves, stems, and branches which puts your little tree under a lot of stress. By removing the dead foliage, you give your bonsai a chance to focus its energy on helping the living parts to recover.

If you want to know if your tree stands a chance of recovering, check the cambium. The cambium is the green growth tissue directly below the bark. If the cambium of the areas you cut appears fairly green and healthy, you have a good chance of saving your bonsai.

Step 3: Placing Outdoor Bonsai Indoors

Just like removing dead foliage, it’s a good idea to remove any dead roots. Part of nurturing your bonsai back to health is repotting it. You can use this opportunity to inspect the roots and remove any wilted, dead, or diseased roots. Doing so will slow the spread of diseases and give your plant the best chance of recovery.

Step 4 : Place Bonsai In A Temporary Container

While you clean and prepare your bonsai pot, it’s a good idea to place it in a temporary container only filled with tepid water. The water should reach just above the root system. Doing so will rehydrate your plant.

Step 5 : Watch Container And Change Soil

In many cases, the soil creates the perfect environment for pests and diseases to thrive. Remove the soil left in the pot and sanitize it with a mild detergent. Make sure to rinse the pot properly before refilling it with new soil.

To prepare the soil, mix equal amounts of nutrient-rich potting soil, perlite, and sphagnum moss together. Doing this will create a light soil mixture that drains well but still retains moisture for your bonsai.

Step 6 : Watch Container And Change Soil

Part of helping your bonsai recover and keeping it healthy is to make sure that it‘s placed in the right location. When you repot your bonsai, make sure the roots are covered in the soil and water it thoroughly by giving it a good soaking in tepid water. Once ready, relocate it to a sunny area that’s protected from the wind. If you have an outdoor bonsai, it will be best to place it outdoors where it can experience a range of temperatures. Indoor bonsai do well near a sunny window.

Step 7 : Watch Container And Change Soil

As the soil dries out, you will need to water your bonsai again. You can determine when to water by doing the finger test. If you stick your finger into the soil about one inch (2.5 cm) deep and the soil feels dried out, it’s time to water your bonsai. If the soil still feels moist, it is better to wait for a day or two before doing this test again. Take care not to overwater your plant.

Last Step: Be Patient!!

A sick bonsai won’t recover overnight. You will need to be persistent and patient to get your precious little tree back in shape.

It is all a learning experience so don’t be disheartened if your bonsai doesn’t make it. Learn from your mistakes and try again, that is the only way you’ll become a successful bonsai grower. Have fun and try your best, I’m rooting for you!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.