We all know that most Bonsai Trees need a very specific amount of water to stay alive. Too little water can result in brown leaves and a dried, wilted trunk. Too much water can become trapped, rotting the roots of the tree and causing the leaves to turn brown. And we do know that different breeds of Bonsai Trees rely on different environments to stay alive.
However, the majority don’t flourish in direct sunlight. This doesn’t mean that they’re indoor plants. A lot of them do better outdoors. If you don’t know what type of Bonsai Tree you have, and what kind of sunlight it likes, keep it outdoors in indirect sunlight as a rule of thumb. It is often very possible that you Bonsai Tree simply needs more room to grow. If it’s been a long time since you’ve repotted your tree, consider doing it now. Most new bonsai tree owners are not equipped to grow it. Oftentimes, they see the plant, think, "Wow, how cool!" and bring it home, knowing nothing about how to take care of it. It's not difficult to grow a bonsai, but it does require that you understand the fundamentals about how to take care of them. You need to learn about bonsai if you want a happy, healthy plant. If you take the time to learn, your tree will bring you years of joy.
Identify the Problem
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Next, check for signs of disease, over-watering, or under-watering. Foliage spots, wilt, browning
leaves, soft roots and/or trunk, or creases in the trunk are all signs of disease.
Signs of Under-watering:
If when you stick a finger into the soil, it feels hard and dry.
An extensive root system may indicate that the roots have been venturing far and wide, trying to find water.
Signs of Over-watering:
The roots appear to be rotting and the trunk is soft.
A shallow root system may be a sign that the roots have not had to search for water.
Root-rotting bacteria love moist environments and feed on dead roots. As roots die as a result from over-watering, bacteria spread.
You may see tiny white things in the soil. This may be a sign of fungus gnat larva, which like soil that is kept too moist for too long and also feed on the smallest, finest feeder roots.
The plant looks tired and no longer vibrant and healthy.
An excessive number of leaves turn yellow and fall off.
The smaller branches shrink and die away.
Eventually, the roots may not be sufficient to hold the plant up, and it may fall to one side.
As you can see, it's much easier to recognize the signs of too much water; a lack of water is much harder to detect.
You’ll want to trim away parts of the tree that are dead to encourage future growth. Pinch away brown and/or wilted leaves from the stem, and use pruning shears to trim away any dead stems or branches (a branch is dead if it crumbles, or snaps away with ease). Treat the Tree with a Gentle Insecticide
If you’ve determined that your Bonsai is infested with pests or fungi, spray it with a light insecticide or fungicide spray. Determine your tree’s symptoms before you choose the spray, to ensure that you buy the correct treatment. Lightly spray the foliage of the tree to ensure that every area is lightly coated in the chemical.
Check the Moisture Levels
Before you doing anything else, check the moisture levels in the soil. To do this, stick your finger 1-2 inches into the soil. If it feels dry, the browning leaves may be caused by dehydration. These next steps will help the plant to recover from this common problem.
Take Care of the Roots
Remove the Bonsai Tree from the container and look closely at the root system. With pruning shears, cut away any dead or rotten roots. These roots may be preventing the Bonsai Tree from receiving the nutrients it needs. Cut them back to the root mass, and be careful not to cut any healthy roots.
Place the Bonsai in a Temporary Container
Let the Bonsai rest in a clean container filled with tepid water. While it’s resting, clean out its former container thoroughly, and begin preparing a new soil mix. The soil should be loose, and able to retain water efficiently. The best soil mixture will depend a lot upon the type of Bonsai Tree you have, so choose carefully. Create a mixture with a good fertilizer, and nutrient rich potting soil. Place wire mesh around the drainage holes, and fill the container a third of the way with soil.
Let it Soak
Take the Bonsai out of the water, and place it in the center of you container. Fill it the rest of the way with soil. Afterwards, place it in a large container of water (like a sink or a bucket) while it’s potted. The water should reach about 1 inch over the surface of the container. Let it sit in the water until the soil is free of air.
Remove the tree from the water, and allow the water to drain from the drainage holes.
A Warm, Shaded Area
Choose a well-ventilated, warm, and partially shaded location to place your Bonsai until it heals.