Watering Our Mini Bonsai Trees

Mar 2nd, 2010 | By | Category: Bonsai How To


Watering bonsai trees as small as shohin bonsai or mame bonsai can be a challenging task. We can easily overwater our bonsai trees, as well as underwater them. Because the bonsai pot sizes are so small, it often becomes difficult to gauge the exact amount of water required by these bonsai trees. In places of dry climate, mini bonsai trees should be watered as much as three times daily, if not more on some hot summer days, since the two or three tablespoons of soil can dry out very quickly. Just like our normal-size bonsai trees, the water requirement depends on the temperature, humidity, and air current.

To create a moist atmosphere for our mini bonsai trees, we can keep the bonsai pot buried in damp sand. This will help our bonsai trees from completely lacking of water. Another easy way to water our mini bonsai trees is to immerse our bonsai trees in water until no more air bubble rises to the top.

In addition, all foliage of our min bonsai trees should be sprayed daily. When we first have our mini bonsai tree potted, we should place our mini bonsai tree somewhere in the shade for about a week. After that, we can introduce our mini bonsai tree to the sun. Mini bonsai can be placed both indoors as well as outdoors. But we should never keep these mini bonsai trees in a confined and shaded location. Mame bonsai and shohin bonsai needs sunlight to grow properly just like normal bonsai do.

The location we choose for our mini bonsai tree is the same as for normal bonsai tree and the instructions regarding the care and cultivation are no different as well.

8 Comments to “Watering Our Mini Bonsai Trees”

  1. Gaanyesh says:


    I am from Bombay (India). Can you please explain as to how should I make Penjing Bonsai? What is the white plate made of which is used as a base tray? What about drainage? where does one get such beautiful rocks as shown in Guangzhou Penjing (Bonsai) Exhibition on your site? And how can i develop lush green moss?

    Please guide. Thanks

  2. Sandy Sandy says:

    Hi Gaanyesh,

    I am more than happy to share what I know of penjing (or bonsai in Japanese) with you, yet penjing/bonsai can neither be explained and understood in just a few paragraphs or pages, nor in days or weeks. Penjing/bonsai is a living art form that takes years of time and patience to learn and experience. If you are a bonsai beginner, I would suggest you to first read and learn as much as you can, both online and books, about bonsai as well as horticulture. While some prefer to start growing a tree from seeds or cuttings, I would suggest a beginner to start from buying a small bonsai tree. Buy the very cheap ones, maybe in a bonsai shop or even a grocery store. Let me say it again — Buy the cheapest ones! Frankly, these trees are not good bonsai, if not junk. But they can serve as the guinea pigs for you to test and play around while you just start learning bonsai.

    I think the white plate you are referring to is humidity tray, you can read more about it in this post – Bonsai Pots and Humidity Trays.

    As for drainage, you can read this post – Bonsai Pot Drainage – A Must for All Bonsai Trees.

    As for the rocks, many of us (bonsai lovers in Hong Kong) travel to China to shop for rocks.

    Lush green moss will develop naturally if the soil is rich and weather is suitable. But sometimes when I want moss right away, I will just search around and dig some moss up from a garden and transplant it into my bonsai.

    But anyways, I would suggest you to learn the basic of bonsai first before worrying about moss and rocks 😉

    Happy bonsai!

  3. Jeff says:

    Hi Sandy,

    Maybe Gaanyesh is thinking of the marble suiban I’ve sometimes seen online? It seems to me that the rock plantings are intended to be placed in the suiban and then excess water just runs over the sides of the suiban. Since the trees don’t stand directly in the water, there isn’t a problem with overwatering. I’ve thought about purchasing one of these suiban – they are quite beautiful. I do have one made from zisha clay, which is nice, but I really like the white marble. I’ve seen Japanese suiban, but none made of marble.

    I agree with you about the amount to be learned…and definitely buying a cheap tree is probably a good way to start learning. There are so many available. I actually just picked a few of the best ones I could find, and they are turning into really nice bonsai, despite the fact that I didn’t expect much from them!

    I would highly recommend visiting public displays of penjing/bonsai whenever possible. There is a good one here in Canada in Montreal at the botanical gardens. I’ve visited some gardens/nurseries in Japan, but hopefully one day, I’ll be lucky to get to China where it all started!



  4. Sandy Sandy says:

    Hi Jeff,

    Thanks for your comment. Yes, maybe you are right. Maybe Gaanyesh was talking about those marble suiban (you mean those marble slab right?) They are perfect for rock bonsai and forest bonsai. And yes, as you said, as the marble slab can hold very little water and soil, there is no problem of overwatering but only underwatering 🙂

    I have never visit any bonsai nurseries in Japan yet, despite that I have already visited this country for so many times… And I am planning to do so in late Feb / early Mar next year. Would you please give me some suggestions of the nurseries that I should visit? Are these nurseries open everyday? Do I have to make appointment for the visit ahead of time? Are they free of charge?

    Sorry for having so many questions 😛


  5. Jeff says:

    Hi Sandy,

    The ones I visited were all in the Bonsai Village in Omiya… it’s pretty easy to get to it by train from the JR Tokyo Station. I think the stop is Omiya Koen – and you’ll have to transfer once – if I remember correctly it’s on the Tobu Noda line. The nurseries are all clustered together within walking distance. I don’t recall seeing a sign right at the train station but we had a map, and it wasn’t long before we started seeing signs for them. I remember most are closed on Thursdays. We visited about 4 of them, and only one charged a small entrance fee, but we got this back in the form of a discount on merchandise purchased (I bought a few small pots). Hopefully this helps…if you’d like more information, please let me know and I’ll send your the website URLs for some of the nurseries from the brochures I collected while there.

    There is also a bonsai museum there that you’d probably really enjoy – with some truly incredible trees on display! 🙂

  6. Sandy Sandy says:

    Thanks Jeff for your helpful information. I surely will ask you for more details if I need so when I do my research later 🙂

  7. Tom Reich says:

    Hi Sandy,
    I have been around other peoples Bonsi trees for a long time and
    now have two at home. Question: Went to the Redwood Forests
    near Fort Brag, CA. and got 2 Redwood Burls. Have them sitting
    in water They are growing fast !! Is it possible to grow Bonsi trees
    from these ? Ideas where to get more info.?

  8. Sandy Sandy says:

    Hi Tom,

    Bonsai / Penjing is an art. Are you cultivating your trees with aesthetic elements in mind? Seems like your trees enjoy very much the environment you provide them. Sure you can grow your trees this way. Yet, whether or not they are counted as bonsai or penjing depends on how you cultivate them. It will be awesome if you grow your trees in the water and reproduce a redwood forest scene in a pot.

    Happy Bonsai!

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