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New to Bonsai? Here's 4 Tips to Water Your Trees The Right Way

My sister & mom have recently discovered the art of bonsai. I guess they're regular readers of the blog! Interacting with them over the last few weeks has taught me how far I've come in my bonsai journey. I take for granted so many lessons I've learned.


I'm going to make an effort to share some bonsai 101 posts for those PLB readers that might be new to the amazing hobby we call bonsai. Today, let's tackle watering.


It's often said that watering is the hardest thing to learn when it comes to bonsai.


At first glance, that might sound absurd, yet after 7 years of practicing bonsai, I can tell you it's harder than it looks. If you are new to bonsai, watering your trees properly is very important to the health of the tree. Here are 4 tips to help you succeed in the most important aspect of caring for your tree.


#1 Use a Gentle Stream of Water

When I travel, I usually have one of the neighbor kids tend for my trees. I always spend the most time training my new bonsai host on understanding the proper stream pressure. It should be gentle, like a spring shower. Pay attention to your soil, it shouldn't move. Too often, newbies will spray their soil right out of the pot! Here's a short video, hopefully it will help.



#2 Water Till it Drains From the Bottom

You will know that you've watered enough when the water drains from the bottom of the pot. To be honest, knowing exactly how much water your tree needs is one of the hardest parts of the gig. Use your finger or a chopstick to feel the soil. You don't want it to become too dry, and if it's too saturated, you don't need to water.


Bonsai Soil
Bonsai Soil is Mostly Rocks

#3 In Proper Soil, it's Better to Overwater Than Underwater

If your bonsai is in proper bonsai soil (i.e. made up of mostly inorganic materials), then it's better to overwater than underwater. The reason is that the inorganic material (think rocks) are not super absorbent, which means they dry out quickly.






Ficus Bonsai soaking up water
Willow Leaf Ficus Soaking Up H2O

#4 Use the Bottom Up Approach for Certain Situations

For small trees and/or trees that might not be draining properly, using the bottom up approach can make sense. In this case, fill a bucket or a sink with water. Set the pot in the water and let it soak. The larger the tree, the more it can soak. Ideally, it shouldn't take more than a minute or two.



Bonsai is much harder than it looks. You need to look after them almost daily. Knowing when and how much to water is the first step towards growing trees successfully. If you have further questions about watering, leave a comment below and be sure to subscribe to my monthly newsletter for all my bonsai related updates. Until next time, Peace Love Bonsai!

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