Bonsai Loses Leaves? How To Save It

Last updated on October 23rd, 2023 at 08:37 pm

Your bonsai is losing leaves and you don’t know how to help the plant? We present you the most common causes of leaf loss and helpful measures against it.

Bonsai is a very demanding plant. If you care for it inappropriately, it will react with a warning signal: the bonsai will lose its leaves. Then you should act promptly, investigate the cause and take necessary measures to save the plant.

Bonsai Loses Leaves? How To Save It

Bonsai loses leaves: Possible causes

Bonsai Loses Leaves? How To Save It

If you notice that the bonsai is losing leaves, you should first take a closer look at possible causes. These include:

  • Too much water: if the soil of the bonsai plant is permanently too wet, the roots will start to rot. Once this happens, it is almost impossible to save the bonsai.
  • Too little water: Even if you water the plant too little, the bonsai can lose leaves.
  • Too little light: For a bonsai you should choose a sufficiently bright location. However, you should protect the plant from direct sunlight and the blazing midday sun. If the bonsai gets too little light, it can no longer photosynthesize sufficiently and will drop leaves, which cost it a lot of energy.
  • Too much fertilizer: In moderation, organic fertilizer can be helpful. However, if you use mineral fertilizers or nutrient salts regularly in an overdose, too much salt will accumulate in the soil. This leads to the roots no longer being able to absorb sufficient water. Also then the plant reacts accordingly: the bonsai loses its leaves.
  • Pests and diseases: Both occur rather rarely in bonsai. However, if you suspect that they are the cause of the loss of leaves, you should seek advice, for example, in a specialty store or garden center.

Note: The bonsai loses its leaves in winter? This is natural for some species: they shed their leaves (like native deciduous trees) during the cold season. Therefore, find out whether this could also be the case with your bonsai.

Bonsai loses leaves: what you can do

If the bonsai loses its leaves, you can help it with the right measures, depending on the cause:

  • If the reason is fluid balance, you should change your watering routine. Always water the bonsai when the top layer of soil is dry. This can vary depending on external conditions. In summer, you may need to water the plant several times a week. In winter, the intervals should increase, as the plant uses less water during winter dormancy.
  • A better method than traditional watering is to immerse the bonsai together with the planting tray in water and let it soak for a short time. Let the water drip off well afterwards. With this method you avoid waterlogging and still ensure a good fluid balance.
  • Perhaps you are using the wrong substrate. In this case, you should ask a specialist for a suitable soil that can store water but is still sufficiently permeable.
  • If you notice that the root ball is already permanently wet, you should repot the bonsai to save it. Then place the plant in dry soil and water it at longer intervals.
  • If the bonsai loses the inner leaves, this is an indication of lack of sunlight. Then place the plant in a brighter location. Especially in the fall and winter, you may need to adjust the location to the change in light conditions.
  • Is your bonsai losing leaves because you fertilized too much? Then stop fertilizing for a few weeks and then use only organic fertilizer. This is not only more environmentally friendly, but also does not contain substances that can accumulate in the substrate.
  • When the bonsai is already bare
  • If your bonsai has already lost all its leaves and it is not a natural leaf fall in winter, the chances of survival are poor. To check if the plant is still alive, you can carefully remove the top layer of bark in a small spot with a pointed object. If you see a green layer underneath, the plant is still alive.

Repotting and pruning should be avoided at this time. Just make sure that the plant gets enough water and light, but not too much. If the bonsai has still not sprouted by next spring, you will unfortunately have to say goodbye to it.


  • James Jones

    Meet James Jones, a passionate gardening writer whose words bloom with the wisdom of an experienced horticulturist. With a deep-rooted love for all things green, James has dedicated his life to sharing the art and science of gardening with the world. James's words have found their way into countless publications, and his gardening insights have inspired a new generation of green thumbs. His commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship shines through in every article he crafts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *