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Watering Bonsai Trees: How To Water A Bonsai The Right Way

Watering bonsai trees may not seem like a big deal–it’s just a plant after all, right?  This is true, they are just miniature trees that have been placed in pots for display.  It is also true that you can just grab a watering can and water it if you know what you are doing.

The key to take from this article though is to ensure that ALL of the dirt has the opportunity to absorb some water.

If you take a watering can and pour a little water on one side of the pot and walk away, the roots on the other side will die.  This will leave you with a dead plant and not a clue why it happened.

For this reason, I am posting this blog about the two most common methods of watering bonsai trees to demonstrate how to do it correctly.

Soaking Method

How to Water a BonsaiThis is the preferred method of most bonsai trainers.  It takes a little more time and effort, but your trees will truly appreciate it.

In this method, you fill a large container with water to just above the height of your pot(s).  You then place the pot in the water so that the entire pot is submerged in the water.  Let your tree sit there for three to five minutes before you remove it and let the excess water run out.  Then return the tree to its original location after it has stopped dripping to avoid a mess.

We prefer this method because it is a dummy-proof way to ensure the whole pot gets wet.  By letting it soak, we know that all the dirt in that pot has had ample time to absorb water.

Watering Can

If you do not have the means or time to let the tree soak, you can use a watering can if you know what you are doing.  With a watering can, water the entire surface of the soil and let it soak in.  After a few seconds, pour in some more to ensure that everything is soaked.  Repeat this until you see water dripping from the bottom of the pot.  If you do not see water, then the soil is not completely soaked.

The most common mistake is the owner splashing some water on the tree and walking away.  This prevents the tree from being able to expand the root mass because of dry areas.  Dry roots will die off quickly as the tree attempts to focus all its energy on the area that does have moist soil.

About The Author

I am an avid bonsai grower with over 2500 bonsai trees growing in my backyard at all times. I was born and raised in Boston, MA where I returned after 6 years in the US Army.


  1. Rebecca Witt

    I am panicking a little bit here. My Mother-In-Law bought me a little Bonsai Tree as a present – it’s a Chinese Elm and it’s beautiful! I love it – and I really don’t want it to die! I am hopeless at plants (she obviously does not know this yet!?) and I would really love some tips about how to keep it happy. I have heard that you are supposed to water Bonsai trees a lot – but how do I know I am not overwatering it? Should I soak it once a day, like you say? Or is that overkill? Also – at the moment it is in a sunny window in the living room… so it gets the sun almost all day. Will it like that? Or should it be half in the sun and half out? So confused! Please help me! 🙂

    • Josh Stockton

      Welcome Rebecca,
      The best way to ensure that you don’t overwater your bonsai is to check it every day. Don’t created schedule and rely on the, water only as needed. Junipers prefer full sun, so that spot is perfect for your new bonsai!

  2. Pamela S Sowers

    Thank you for your info on watering. I see how to but not how often??

  3. william maier

    I have seedlings of a Norway spruce. 2inches in height growing so slow. tips on watering and where should I keep in in the house.

  4. Danny

    You can buy a aeration watering system of ebay that has a pump to water automatically for you or you can fill a bucket up to your bonsai pot rim and let it soak for 15-20 mins every day when its super hot normal indoor temp every other day aslong as the soil is kept moist itll be fine feed with a bonsai feed every 2 weeks. Let branches grow a little to thicken trunk but this is not urgent. Personal preference


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