How to recover a dry bonsai?

It is sometimes possible to recover a dry bonsai

Is it possible to recover a dry bonsai? When we find it like this, we have to act quickly, because it is possible that it has a really serious problem, like a fungal disease as a result of excessive watering.

For this reason, it is important to know why it is dry, and also what we can do to recover it. In this way, there can be chances to save him.


Lack of water

Lack of water is a problem for bonsai: as it has very little soil, it dries out very quickly. If it is also summer and we are in the middle of a heat wave, the situation gets worse. And it is even worse if it has akadama or another type of sandy substrate as a substrate, because it loses moisture faster than peat or mulch, for example. Therefore, we cannot neglect irrigation.

But, How do we know if our bonsai is thirsty? For that:

  • The tips of the leaves will turn brown quickly, until they eventually drop off.
  • If it has flowers, they will abort and fall off.
  • The soil is dry, so much so that when you take the bonsai tray you realize that it is very light.
  • Parasites may appear, such as scale insects or aphids, which take advantage of the weakness of the tree.

However, although the lack of irrigation is a serious problem, it is the one with the simplest solution: simply place the bonsai box in a container of water for a few minutes. And then water more often. In general, you should hydrate an average of 3-4 times a week in the summer and 2-3 times a week the rest of the year, but this is only a guide and should be used as such. If you live in an area where it rains frequently, you will need to water less than in one where it hardly ever rains.

Excess water

If the bonsai is dry you can recover it

Do you think you overwatered your bonsai? Overwatering is another reason why these plants lose their leaves quite quickly. If before we said that since it has little soil, it can dry out quicklyif you water too much the roots will drown, literally. In extreme cases, there may be such an excess of water that the tree lacks oxygen.

For it, we will see these symptoms:

  • First we will see that the tips of the leaves dry out, then there comes a time when they fall off.
  • The soil will look moist and verdigris may appear if it is peat or another similar substrate.
  • It may have fungi in the soil and/or in any of its parts (roots, trunk).
  • When picking up the bonsai container, one will notice that it weighs.

What to do? I recommend treating it with a multipurpose fungicide which you can buy here, because fungi are microorganisms that not only love excess moisture, but also cause serious damage to plants.

Related article:

Overwatering in bonsai: how to avoid and solve it

Besides, you must remove the tree from the tray, and wrap its roots – without removing the substrate – with absorbent paper towels. If we see that it gets wet very quickly, we’ll take it out and put another one on top of it. Then, we will leave it like that all night, then we will replant it in its container the next morning.

And of course, from there we have to water less oftenby letting the soil dry out a little before rehydrating it.


Although there are many trees that need to be in a sunny location, such as elms or ficus, if we expose them to the light of the royal star without having accustomed them before, they will burn and their leaves will appear dry. For this reason, it is a mistake to put a bonsai out in the sun if it has always been kept inside the house, or to expose it on the first day if it was in the shade in the nursery.

And it is that the damage soon appears: the next day we will see brown spots (burns) on the leaves which are more exposed, while the rest remains green. In this situation, what should we do? Change the bonsai site. You must put it in a place where it does not receive direct sunlight so that it does not lose more leaves.

If it is a species that needs to be in a sunny area, such as fruit trees, elms, oaks, ficus or flamboyant trees, among others, we will gradually accustom it to it. Indeed, it must be exposed to the sun for no more than an hour a day, and increase the exposure time over the weeks.


Bonsai suffer from drafts

Is your bonsai indoors? To be like this It is important that you know that it should be as far as possible from air conditioning, fans, heaters and windows that you usually have open., since air currents dehydrate it. As a result, the leaves dry up and fall off.

So if that’s the case, don’t hesitate to put it somewhere else where it’s very bright, but where you don’t have to worry about drafts.

Hope you can get your dry bonsai back.

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