The Ultimate Guide to Watering Your Mini Bonsai


Watering a mini bonsai tree could be tricky because mini bonsai pots keep a very small amount of soil; its water retention is poor and soil dries very quickly.

As a general rule, a mini bonsai tree needs to be watered once a day in spring and fall; twice a day in summer; and once every three days in winter.  The soil should maintain an appropriate moisture level, and in any event, must the soil be completely dried out.

Here is the guide to knowing everything about watering your mini bonsai tree.

How Often Do I Water My Mini Bonsai Tree?

Factors Affecting the Frequency of Watering

The frequency of watering your mini bonsai tree depends on several factors as follows:

  • Frequency of the rain in the region,
  • Temperature,
  • Amount of sunlight,
  • Age of the tree (the younger, the more water),
  • Species of the tree (flower and fruit bonsai need more water than coniferous bonsai),and,
  • When it is last repotted (the longer, the more water retention due to the development of the roots).

It also depends on how fast you want your mini bonsai to grow; watering in abundance helps to grow a mini bonsai rapidly.  But be careful, it may result in over-growth of its branches, which is not desirable to the aesthetic of a mini bonsai tree.

Watering a Mini Bonsai

The general rule of watering a mini bonsai is

  • Once a day in spring and fall,
  • Twice a day in summer, and,
  • Once every three days in winter.

But this general rule should be altered depending on the factors mentioned above.  You need to observe your mini bonsai tree carefully and water them when the soil is half dry.  You can touch the surface of the soil (if it is not covered with moss) to check the soil moisture.

Watering in spring

Spring is the time when a mini bonsai starts to grow new leaves and it needs water as well as nutrients to do so.  If you repot your mini bonsai early in the spring, keep the watering slow until the root system is developed.

Too much water in this season tends to over-grow the branches, so the watering once a day should be adequate.

Watering in summer

You should water your mini bonsai twice a day in the morning and evening in the summer season.  Watering in the middle of the day is not good for a mini bonsai as the water on the leaves acts as a lens and leaves could get “tanned” – i.e. their color turns yellow or brown.

Watering in fall

You should start to lessen watering in the fall.  Depending on the temperature and sunlight, once or twice a day should be adequate.

Watering in winter

Mini bonsai does not need much water in the winter, but its root still needs to be kept moisturized.  Watering once in three days in the middle of the day should be adequate.‎  If the temperature gets below freezing, the amount of water should be enough to moisturize the soil but not any more so that the water in the soil would not freeze at night.

How Much Water Does My Mini Bonsai Tree Need?

Mini bonsai trees need to be watered thoroughly, to the extent that the water runs out of the base of the pot.

If your mini bonsai tree is covered with moss, pouring water from the top using a watering can might not give enough water to the soil.  Rather than giving a lot of water at once, give a bit of water and see if the water runs out of the bottom of the pot.  Repeat the process several times until the soil gets enough moisture.

There is a saying in Japan about watering a bonsai tree.

Mastering to water a bonsai takes 3 years of experience.

This saying shows watering a bonsai is difficult, and it needs careful observation as well as experience to water a bonsai properly.

Remember that a mini bonsai needs an adequate amount of water; too much water or too little water can damage or even ruin your mini bonsai.

How Should I Water My Mini Bonsai Tree?

There are two ways to water your mini bonsai tree: the overhead watering method using a watering can and the immersion method using a bucket to soak your mini bonsai.

Overhead watering method

The overhead watering method uses a watering can to spray water to the soil and from above the tree.  Make sure to use the watering can with a very fine watering nozzle.  Strong water pressure can easily push your mini bonsai to tumble or allow soil to wash out of the pot.

The watering nozzle must be kept upward with an appropriate distance from the mini bonsai and never downward so that the water is sprayed gently.

How to water mini bonsai using watering can

You can also use a hose with a watering nozzle if you have a lot of mini bonsais to water.‎  Again, make sure the watering nozzle is kept upward and the water pressure is adequate.

Immersion method

Immersion method uses a bucket or container to soak your mini bonsai tree.  Steps involving this method are as follows:

  1. Fill a bucket or a container with water.
  2. Gently submerge the pot until the water gets slightly above the bottom of the trunk.  You will see the bubbles coming out from the soil.
  3. Leave the pot in the water until the bubbles stop forming.  This may take a couple of minutes depending on the soil’s moisture level.
  4. Take the pot out of water and check if the water is running out of the drainage holes.

Immergion method of watering mini bonsai

This method is especially useful when a mini bonsai is completely dried up or the root system is fully developed in the pot, and the water cannot get through the pot using a watering can.  Immersing the pot in the water gives enough pressure to the soil to absorb water even under these situations.

How Do I Know If My Mini Bonsai Needs Water?

Feel the soil

The easiest way to tell if your mini bonsai tree needs water is to feel the soil.  If you do not feel much moisture when touching the surface of the soil, it is likely the time to water it.  Mini bonsai pot is very small, so do not stick your fingertip into the soil, which will disturb the soil and the root.

feel the soil

Watch the moss

If your mini bonsai is covered with moss, observe the condition of the moss; if the moss changes color or looks dry, it is time to water.

Weighing by hand

The other way to tell the timing of watering your mini bonsai is to measure its approximate weight by hand.  Every time after watering, you measure the approximate weight of your mini bonsai.  When having your mini bonsai feels lighter in weight, it is time to water.

weighing by hand

Should I Mist My Mini Bonsai Tree?

You do not need to mist your mini bonsai tree if you keep it outside.  Instead of misting, leaves of your mini bonsai tree should be watered in abundance using a watering can to wash away dirt and prevent mite infestation.

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