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How to Care For a Bonsai Tree

Published on October 18th 2018
Bonsai tree in pot HDR by NicolasMcComber (All rights reserved)
A Bonsai tree in a fig brow pot
Bonsai Trees are famed to be difficult to care for. In reality, if you buy a trained Bonsai, they are surprisingly easy little companions to look after.
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What is a Bonsai Tree?

A Bonsai is just a little tree. They're trained from young saplings using careful pruning techniques which controls their growth, retaining a miniature size. So, in other words, a Bonsai will need similar care to a full-sized tree! Here are a few things to think about when caring for your Bonsai.


This will depend on the species of your tree, how much water it likes. Don't water on routine but check the topsoil every week. If it's dry, water and be sure to pour around the whole root system.


Living in a pot, a Bonsai doesn't have all the nutrients available to a full root system, so it'll need regular fertilisation in the growing period. Over winter, they won't need any.

Position and light

Your Bonsai can live inside or outside, depending on the species. If your plant is indoors, move it around according to the season (a great position in winter may have too much sun in the summer).

Repotting and pruning

As with any plant living in a pot, it will need to be re-potted at some point. This depends on the growth, keep an eye on the roots (are they coming out of the soil) and re-pot before it's looking really root-bound.

Growing your own bonsai

From a sapling, you could have a small trained bonsai within three to four years (depending on the species of the tree. Bonsai are trained with careful pruning and using wire to train the shapes.
Technically, any tree will work, but trees with smaller leaves and flowers work best. There's lots of online information to help beginners, such as Bonsai Empire, and societies such as the National Bonsai Society which run meetups in the UK.

Find Bonsai plants and everything you need here:

Here are some suitable trees to grow as Bonsai if you fancy having a go yourself...

Japanese Maple

Acer palmatum

Trident Maple

Acer buergerianum

A large Acer campestre tree

Field Maple

Acer campestre

Fagus sylvatica leaves

Common Beech

Fagus sylvatica

A bunch of green leaves from the tree Carpinus betulus


Carpinus betulus


Crataegus monogyna

Hawthorn 'Paul's Scarlet'

Crataegus laevigata 'Paul's Scarlet'

European Larch

Larix decidua

A close up of a Pinus sylvestris plant

Scots Pine

Pinus sylvestris

Malus sylvestris flower

Crab Apple

Malus sylvestris


Cydonia oblonga 'Champion'

A close up of a fruit hanging from a tree


Sorbus aucuparia

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