Reviving Bonsai Trees: 5 Tips for Saving and Restoring Your Bonsai Plant

Bonsai is a loanword originated from China in 1123AD, but the Japanese claim its originators. It is used to express in miniature the beauty of natural tree forms. The word “Bonsai” comprises two words, “Bon,” which means a tray or shallow container, and “sai,” which means to grow. 

The two words combine to mean something growing in a shallow container or a tree in a pot. The tree reached a height in popularity in Japan in the 17th century and is considered part of the domestic, artistic life of fellow citizens. Bonsai is a living art, and the most common misconception is that the plants used are genetically dwarfed plants.

Furthermore, Bonsai trees are typical plants propagated like any other plant. They are trained using sophisticated techniques to keep them miniature with their styling, which involves essential techniques like regular pruning and wilting.

How Do I Know If My Bonsai Tree Is Dying?

Bonsai is a gift of life, and just like pets and children, the trees are highly susceptible to diseases and a wide range of other health problems. Bonsai trees don’t have a good way of communicating these problems. Still, if you are observant and do check your bonsai tree regularly, you can spot any problems before they become a big issue and threaten your plants.

Bonsai Tree
Bonsai Tree.

Below is a quick guide to some of the reasons why your bonsai tree is dying.

1 . Yellowing Or Wilting Leaves

Like every other plant, yellowing leaves are one of the most frequent indicators of a dying Bonsai tree. As mentioned above, if you do well, check on your Bonsai tree regularly, you will notice that a healthy Bonsai tree is a bright green, and its trunk is thicker at the base.

2. A Loose Or Wiggling Tree

If your Bonsai tree moves around freely, it indicates poor root growth, and rotten roots tend to suffocate a tree. If you are a reasonable observer, you will notice that a healthy Bonsai tree will cling slightly to its soil and remain firm when you try to move the trunk.

3. Root Abnormalities

A healthy Bonsai tree maintains a healthy root system because it is the engine that powers the tree. The roots are mostly hidden under the soil and are often overlooked, so you must examine the roots at least once a year.

If the roots are examined and you find out that they are discolored, brittle, or broken, this could indicate a problem with the water uptake of nutrients from the soil. If they are crushed and have compacted too much, it could mean that they have outgrown their pot, so they need to be upgraded to a larger pot, and most importantly, they need to have a change of soil.

4. Visible Spots On The Leaves

The appearance of visible spots, usually red, brown, or black, indicates a fungal infection and needs to be treated immediately. Any affected leaves should be pruned and treated with an antifungal medication.

5. Leaves Dropping Off

A tree will lose its leaves when it cannot afford the energy to maintain them. If your Bonsai tree loses its leaves, it could signify mold or fungal infection. Be sure to act quickly and treat with a round of fungicides because if left untreated, such infections can spread quickly to other nearby plants.

Ways To Revive A Bonsai Tree

Before you try to revive your dying Bonsai tree, keep in mind that whether a Bonsai tree has been infected or neglected requires immediate attention if you want to save it. Although it could take some time to revive a dying tree, and most times, not all Bonsai trees can be saved from a dying state, if you follow the basic care processes carefully, your Bonsai tree might have a chance.

1 . Pruning Dead Sections

The first way to revive a dying Bonsai tree is to prune away the dead and severely damaged areas. Use sharp, sterile pruning shears to remove any areas of the Bonsai tree that cannot be saved, such as broken or dead branches, wilted foliage, and stems.

After pruning away the dead parts, lift the tree from its containers, rinse the roots off and cut away the yellowing and already brown roots. This way, your tree will be directed towards establishing new growth and reviving.

2. Place In Water

The second step is to place the Bonsai tree in a clean glass container and fill it with tepid water so it can reach past the root system. While cleaning your potting container, allow the Bonsai to rest and go-ahead to create your soil mixture. Make sure you remove any particles that are stuck to the insides of the container and create an open, porous soil mixture that has good water retentive qualities.

3. Repot Your Bonsai

One of the main reasons that cause a near-death situation in Bonsai trees is poor soil content. Bonsai trees need extremely quick-draining soil with a rocky bottom. 

Line the bottom of the container with gravel and a thin layer of sand on it. Remove your Bonsai tree from its leisurely soak and replant it with a well-draining soil mix on the sand and gravel.

4. Relocate Your Bonsai Tree

Another reason for the dying Bonsai tree is its poor location. If the Bonsai tree is placed in a poor location, it will keep dying slowly unless you change the location. 

Bonsai trees require exposure to sunlight as much as possible; that’s why a well-ventilated location with morning sun and afternoon shade with up to 4 to 6 hours of sunlight each day is considered best.

5. Water Your Bonsai And Give It Time

After following the above steps correctly, the last thing to do is water your Bonsai tree and give it time. Watering your Bonsai tree depends on the size of the container it grows in and the size of the roots.

Most Bonsai trees need three to four waterings per day and are more complicated than other houseplants. However, you must learn the amount of water each tree requires and cater to the exact needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

1 . What Does An Unhealthy Bonsai Tree Look Like?

Identifying an unhealthy Bonsai tree is straightforward. They exhibit yellowing and wilting leaves, poor anchorage of roots and left dropping, etc.

2. What Does An Overwatered Bonsai Tree Looks Like?

An overwatered Bonsai tree looks like its roots are drowning in water and are deprived of oxygen. The symptoms include yellowing of leaves and wilting of smaller branches.

3. How Do I Know If My Bonsai Needs Water?

Like every other plant, the only way to know if your bonsai needs water is to feel the soil by sticking your finger half an inch into the soil. If you do not feel much moisture in the top half-inch of the soil, it’s time to water your Bonsai tree.

4. What Temperature Is Too Cold For Bonsai?

Temperature between 40 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit is too cold for Bonsai trees.

Leave a comment