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Why Is My Bonsai Tree Losing Leaves?

Bonsai Tree Leaves Falling Off: If your Bonsai tree is losing leaves rapidly, it might be due to common Overwatering, Underwatering, Pest Attacks, Root Rotting, or insufficient sunlight. 

Summing up all the reasons, you might notice that they are related to nutritional imbalance (pest attack is an exception). Thus, we could say this plant’s health is not up to the mark and needs to be monitored, so it is important to understand the cause in detail.

Now, without wasting much time, let’s get started!

Some Reasons for Losing Leaves For Bonsai Tree

bonsai tree leaves falling off

Every beginner bonsai enthusiast is most worried about the recovery of bonsai after the plant shows negative growth. In simple terms, the answer to the question is, that for medium to moderate problems, you can recover a plant’s health, but it is hard for extreme problems.

1. Lack Of Sufficient Light 

Indoor and outdoor, both species of bonsai need a sufficient amount of sunlight or artificial light. Plants and trees perform photosynthesis with the help of light.

Some species of bonsai need extreme amounts of light but not direct sunlight. On the contrary, some species need a lesser quantity of sunlight but need to be placed under the sun at its peak. So ill-treating your bonsai in regards to sunlight or artificial lights can be a reason that your bonsai is losing leaves. 

2. Improper Drainage

Drainage is a factor to be considered while choosing the right pot and soil for your bonsai. Stagnant water can indirectly be responsible for overwatering of your bonsai. Overwatering is again a reason for plants losing leaves. 

Drainage holes in the container of your bonsai need to be in sufficient quantity (based on the size of your plant), and the soil you choose for planting should retain less water. 

Because of improper drainage in the pot or container, the roots are likely to be damaged by moisture retention. Root problems can also turn leaves yellow and gradually fall off. 

3. Underwatering

Due to fear of overwatering, sometimes it happens that unknowingly you restrict a plant’s growth due to insufficient watering. If the bonsai tree doesn’t get enough water or feeds water improperly, it can lead the plant to lack nutrients, and the leaves start falling. 

As far as differences between indoor and outdoor bonsai are concerned, outdoor bonsai can adjust with less water supply once or twice, but indoor plants dry up quickly, and falling leaves can occur within a few days. 

Outdoor bonsai can absorb water out of humid air, but indoor plants don’t have that privilege. Hence indoor plants need to be watered regularly and sufficiently as per the season and climate. 

4. Overwatering

Overwatering can be another reason for the falling leaves of your bonsai. Overwatering can make your plant roots weaker and force the malfunctioning of roots. The nutritional cycle, from roots, breaks and directly can cause falling or leaves. 

Overwatering can also be in the form of watering the soil with enough moisture. In the dry season, the upper layer of soil might seem dried out, but there are chances that the soil beneath the surface contains enough water.

Besides all, the soil with high water retention properties can be a villain to the growth of bonsai plants. A balanced soil quantity is responsible for avoiding overwater or water retention problems, which is a direct reason for falling leaves. 

5. Pests And Disease 

One more reason for the falling leaves of your bonsai is pest attack. Pests can damage the plant’s organs and can be responsible for restricting the growth of your plant. 

Just like humans, plant diseases are also due to unwanted external parasites, or we can also say microorganisms. There are a few pests that can cause your plant sick that are, 

  • Aphids
  • Blackspot
  • Canker Disease
  • Caterpillar
  • Chlorosis
  • Mealybugs, etc.

You can get rid of such pests using pest control sprays. 

6. Recent Repotting

bonsai tree leaves falling off

Repotting is not as simple as it seems to be. From Bonsai’s perspective, repotting is one of the most stressful processes. For us, we can be highly careful while repotting, but there are several post-repotting factors that need to be taken care of. 

Early spring is the favorable season for repotting. The temperature should be around 10 degrees Celsius and should be kept around 18 degrees Celsius for the next few weeks. 

At the time of repotting, check the health of the roots of the plant as well. Dark black roots should be trimmed out of it at the time of repotting. Also, organic fertilizer should be used to boost the growth of foliage. 

Keep bonsai in the shade or places with no direct sunlight for two to three weeks after repotting and water and mist regularly. Watering should be in limited quantity as the soil properties will also be changed after repotting. 

7. Weather Condition

The reason for fall could be due to changes in season. How? Let’s know here:

  • In Summer 

If you notice the falling of leaves in summer, the primary reasons could be 

  1. Inadequate watering
  2. Excess heat to outdoor bonsai
  3. No heat to indoor bonsai
  4. Over Feeding
  5. Needs repotting
  6. Your bonsai is suffering from pests attack or any diseases. 
  • In Winter

When we talk about the fall of leaves in winter, the possible reasons could be

  1. Reduced daytime in winter. Plants are sensitive to seasonal change is why. Shorter daytime can be a reason for falling leaves.
  2. Temperature below zero degrees for more than 48 hours. It is termed overwintering and is a reason for bonsai’s falling leaves.

So as we saw many reasons for your bonsai losing leaves, considering the species of bonsai, you can rectify the right reason and can solve the problem accordingly.

Also, Read How Long Do Bonsai Trees Take To Grow?

Will Your Bonsai Leaves Grow Back? 

If your plant is alive, you can help to make recovery happen, but if your plant is harmed beyond a limit it will make it tough for the revival.

If you identify the problem at an early stage, it would be easy to retain the health and improvise eventually. You just need to have a considerably good understanding of the needs of your bonsai species, in terms of sunlight and water. 

How Can I Prevent My Bonsai From Dropping Its Leaves?

bonsai tree leaves falling off

The fundamental reason for your bonsai losing leaves is malnutrition, and the revival of your plant is based on getting the nutritional balance back. Let us see them one after another. 

1. Water your Bonsai Regularly

An adequate amount of water supply at a time, if necessary, is what your plant demands for better health. Watering regularly isn’t the right method for bonsai plants. Checking the moisture of soil and dryness of leaves is the right method to determine if your bonsai needs water. 

Water your bonsai in intervals at a time. Let the water be absorbed by the soil properly and then water it again. Keep the loop continuing till the soil stops absorbing water.  

2. Improvise Soil Quality

While repotting, change the soil and increase the amount of organic soil and fertilizer as per the need of the plant, which again is based on the species of plant. Keep a balance of water-absorbing soil and water-draining soil as well. 

3. Balanced Sunlight

As per the species of your plant, the climate, humidity, and temperature, make sure your plant gets enough sunlight. Balanced sunlight also refers to direct and indirect sunlight, and most indoor plants don’t need direct sunlight. So, keep your bonsai indoors and outdoors as per its necessity.

4. Proper Fertilization 

The plant needs proper repotting, which consists of changed soil and fertilizer. Thoroughly mixed fertilizers and soil boosts the growth of the plant and is directly responsible for preventing the loss of leaves of the plant.

5. Pests And Disease Control

You should regularly monitor the health of your plant to make sure there is no termite or pest attack. Pests and termites can severely harm your plant, and pest control should be done often.

While repotting, also monitor the health of the roots of the plant. Trimming the damaged roots helps in reducing damage to other tissues and organs of the plant. 

Check More Does Bonsai Need Sunlight?

Why Indoor Bonsai Tree Droppings Its Leaves?

Among many species, the most common indoor species are ficus bonsai, snow rose bonsai, sageretia (sweet plum), dwarf pomegranate bonsai, etc. Indoor bonsai needs temperature to be maintained at around 15 to 27 degrees Celsius throughout the year. If failed to maintain the necessary environment and temperature, the plant shows negative growth.

Indoor bonsai are plants that generally are sensitive to direct sunlight and heavy winds. Humidity is not an important factor in indoor bonsai. However, not too much sunlight, but even indoor bonsai need adequate sunlight.  Indoor bonsai have limited reasons for falling leaves but overwatering and not adequate sunlight are among the main reasons.

A few other reasons are.

  • Inadequate quantity of fertilizers.
  • The nutritional value of soil has fallen to a minimum
  • A lesser amount of Fertilizer is present in the soil. 
  • Under watering of plants. 
  • Artificial lights are not enough, and plants need UV rays. 

Care Requirements Of Indoor Bonsai

  • Place indoor bonsai in sunlight for some hours a day in winter. 
  • If your bonsai is sensitive to sunlight, use shady places where sunlight is available. It can also be placed on window sills with closed glass windows.
  • Water your plant by measuring the moisture level of the soil
  • Report bonsai at regular intervals to let the roots grow dynamically and properly.

Why Does The Outdoor  Bonsai Tree droppings Its leaves?

bonsai tree leaves falling off

Outdoor bonsai are among the plants that can resist direct sunlight and high temperatures. Humidity is the best suitable thing for them compared to indoor plants. Now, falling leaves for outdoor bonsai like Chinese elm and junipers are common during autumn and winter. The offseason falling leaves could be a matter of concern and should be dealt with as soon as possible. 

Common reasons for falling leaves for outdoor bonsai is 

  • Underwatering,
  • Damaged roots, 
  • Pests attacks,
  • Excessive sunlight. 

Care requirements of Outdoor  Bonsai

  • Get your bonsai plant indoors in summer when the sun is at its peak. 
  • Check the soil moisture regularly and water the plant accordingly.
  • Take appropriate pest control measures to keep your plants safe from parasites.
  • While repotting your plant, check the health of roots and ensure no damage is caused due to pets or worms. 
  • Change fertilizer and soil as per the growth of plants.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How often should I water my bonsai tree?

As per the season, climate, and humidity, you should water miniature bonsai twice to thrice a week. For fully grown bonsai, the requirement could be twice to thrice in one day. 

2. How do you bring a bonsai tree back to life?

The most important damage control is through getting the nutrients balanced. Watering plants, pest control, and adequate sunlight matter the most. 

3. What does an overwatered bonsai tree look like?

Shriveling of smaller branches and leaves turning yellow are the signs of an overwatered bonsai tree. Also, during watering, the water will drain out quickly.

4. Can Under Watering a bonsai cause dropping leaves?

Yes, underwatering a bonsai can cause dropping leaves. 

5. Can Overwatering cause bonsai trees to drop leaves?      

Yes, overwatering can lead the plant to root rotting and can be a reason for falling leaves.

Read More Bonsai Trees for Cats: A Guide to Feline-Friendly Growing


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