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Why Is My Bonsai Dying? 5 Probable Reasons

Of all trees I’ve come across, Bonsai trees are one of the most delicate and exceptional since they require constant special care if you want them to succeed.

As such, if you’re an amateur gardener or Bonsai owner, chances are you’ll make lots of simple mistakes early own, some of which will result in your bonsai trees dying.

When that inevitably comes to fruition, I’d like you to remember that it’s nothing out of the ordinary for newbie gardeners. Better yet, sit back, and remember the details I’ll share with you today regarding “Why Is My Bonsai Dying”.

Why Is My Bonsai Dying
HELP! My bonsai is dying (or is already dead) – via Reddit

Why is My Bonsai Dying?

To heal your bonsai or prevent future bonsai seedlings from dying as well, you’ll need to understand the reasons behind your bonsai dying in the first place. This information should, in turn, give you a great idea of what proper care and conditions are essential.

Sometimes, Your Bonsai Dying is Normal

First of all, keep in mind that trees going through a phase where their leaves are dying is a natural part of any plant’s life, and bonsai are no exception. When that happens, remember it doesn’t mean you’ve been doing anything wrong or that your bonsai is necessarily dying.

As a Bonsai tree grows, it creates new leaves, and the older ones die. Therefore, if you notice crispy leaves only at the bottom of the plant and nowhere else, chances are the bonsai tree is going through its normal phase. If these dry leaves start getting unsightly in your home, gently pluck and dispose of them.

While removing the flowers, be careful not to disturb the roots of the bonsai.

You Underwatered Your Bonsai

While spotting leaves at the bottom of your Bonsai tree is perfectly healthy, leaves dead on the tree’s upper part are a sign of a bigger problem, usually under or overwatering. Let’s first expound on the under-watering issue.

I don’t know about your case, but Bonsai trees are usually planted in smaller pots, which implies they do not have large water and nutrient reserves at their disposal. For that reason, if you forget to irrigate your bonsai in regular intervals, the soil might dry completely and eventually starve out the roots.

As the leaves dry out and die, you’ll start to notice the leaves dying as well and falling off.

If, for some reason, you forget to water your bonsai for an extended period of time, start by inspecting its roots. If you notice the roots haven’t completely dried out, chances are you can save the tree by adopting a regular watering routine and sticking to it. Adding bonsai food to the pot’s soil improves your chances of success even more.

That said, if the roots have completely dried out, there isn’t a lot you can do to save the plant. In this case, all you can do is say goodbye to the tree and use the lesson to better care for future bonsais.

Why Is My Bonsai Dying 2
My bonsai started losing its leaves – via Reddit

Overwatering

Too much of anything is poisonous, so chances of your bonsai tree dying from overwatering are just as high as it dying from underwatering. One of the easiest ways to determine if your bonsai tree is suffering from overwatering is to check if the leaves appear yellow and transparent.

In extreme cases, signs of overwatering in bonsai trees are soft black spots on the bonsai’s leaves or stem. If all these signs are also accompanied by leaves falling off in a bunch, then chances are your bonsai is beyond saving, and it will eventually shrink and die.

So, how do you avoid overwatering your bonsai? Well, first, come up with a good watering program. What’s the universal rule on how often a bonsai tree should be watered, you ask? There isn’t one. Your watering regiment should depend on the type of soil your bonsai tree is planted on.

Early on, while trying to come up with a watering program, check the soil every day or two to see how long it takes it to dry out. After repeated confirmation, you should be able to create a reliable watering program.

Infection or Disease

Trees, just like humans, can contract diseases that can really damage and sometimes even kill them. Also, just like with humans, the way to deal with these diseases ranges in severity. Some will only lead to minor requirements like repotting, while others are impossible to salvage, and your bonsai has to die.

With that in mind, if you notice at any step that your bonsai tree might have caught a disease, try contacting a local nursery or bonsai club right away for advice. Educating yourself on the vast amount of infections that might plague bonsai trees could come in handy in the future.

Terrible Growing Conditions

If I received $1 for every time a reader told me they thought bonsai trees were solely indoor trees, I’d already be retired on a private island. I understand that some tree species can be grown indoors, but that isn’t the majority.

In regards to Bonsai trees, they need the exact same conditions they would get if they were growing out in the wilderness. What does this imply? The humidity, temperature, and sunlight that the tree receives need to mirror the world outside.

What’s more? Note that taking subtropical bonsai trees that in nature would grow in high humidity and warmth and growing them in a cold rainy country will be extremely hard to do successfully.

Likewise, taking a tree that would thrive in the cold outdoors and placing it in warm indoors will be pretty much impossible.

What do I recommend? Do some research on all the different species of bonsai trees you’d love to grow in your home and understand their diverse requirements.


Final Thoughts

If you don’t have the time, dedication, and gardening patience, then bonsai tres are not your cup of tea. Growing these plants not only requires effort and care but will also need you to be willing to fail sometimes and get back up.

I hope this guide has provided an answer to your question: why is my bonsai dying?