How are indoor bonsai cared for?

It is possible to take care of a bonsai indoors

Bonsai are trees that are kept in trays and are cared for to make them look pretty. Often such a good job is done with them that it is easy to want to have one inside the house to give an oriental touch to its decoration. But, The problem is that no one tells us that these plants usually have a hard time adapting to the conditions in homes.

Therefore, we want you to know how to take care of an indoor bonsaiassuming that “indoor bonsai” do not exist, since there is not a single tree that grows anywhere. What happens is that there are many that do not resist the cold, and these are the ones that must be kept indoors during the winter. And yes, with a bit of luck, you can also enjoy them the rest of the year in your home.

What are the bonsai that are labeled as “indoor”?

The ficus retusa is an indoor bonsaiThe ficus retusa is an indoor bonsai

Image – Wikimedia Commons / Greg Hume

The truth is that it is a question that does not have a single answer, and it will depend a lot on the climate in the area. But, in general, and as we said at the beginning, any tree that is not able to withstand the cold will be labeled as ‘indoor’as it happens with other plants.

Of course, sometimes mistakes are made, since there are those who take into account the climate that usually exists in the country and not so much that of a specific region. For this reason, it is easy to find, for example, citrus bonsai as “indoors” in the Mediterranean, even though they can (and should) be perfectly outdoors in those places.

However To give you an idea, in Spain they have the following as indoor bonsai:

  • Carmona: evergreen, it is very sensitive to low temperatures. It should not be kept outside if it drops below 10ºC. See file.
  • Citrus (orange, lemon, etc.): all are evergreen and withstand light frosts. They should be kept indoors only in those areas where temperatures drop below -4ºC.
  • Rubber plant: the vast majority are evergreen, except for some such as loaded with figs. The latter resists frost down to -7ºC and must be kept outdoors; but evergreen varieties such as cut figs they are more delicate and it is preferable to have them inside the house in winter if the temperature drops below 0 degrees. Here you have the file of F. retusa.
  • sage: it is an evergreen tree that does not resist the cold.
  • serissa: another evergreen tree, perhaps the most demanding. It needs high temperatures throughout the year. See file.

If you ever come across any elm (Ulmus or Zelkova), holly (Holly aquifolium), or maples labeled as »indoor bonsai», keep in mind that if you keep them indoors they will soon die. And it is that these trees are able to resist frost and even snowfall. Keeping them inside the house would be a mistake, since they need to feel the passing of the seasons, the wind, the rain, the sun…, that’s why they don’t live long if they are kept in the houses.

How are indoor bonsai cared for?

Once we know which bonsai can be kept indoors, it is time to see how to take care of them to keep them healthy:


These plants they must be kept in a room where there is a lot of lightas they need (natural) light. In addition, it is important that they are placed as far as possible from where we have the fan, the air conditioning device, and also from the windows if we usually have them open, since the air currents dry the leaves.


Indoor bonsai are delicateIndoor bonsai are delicate

Image – Wikimedia Commons / David J. Stang

Should they be watered by the tray method, that is “from below”, or from above by wetting the soil? I recommend always watering directing the water to the groundalthough there would be no problem if a tray or plate is filled and the bonsai is placed inside to absorb it. Now, after about 30 minutes we have to remember to drain said tray or plate, otherwise we would run the risk of the roots rotting.

How often to water the bonsai? Indoors, the soil takes a long time to dry out, so we have to water a few times a month. More or less, in summer it will be done about 2 times a week, while the rest of the year once a week.

You must use rainwater or water suitable for human consumptionsince if it has a lot of lime it could cause damage (for example: yellow leaves due to the lack of some nutrient such as iron or manganese, or obstruction of the root pores due to excess lime).


Like the rest of the indoor plants, the bonsai that are kept inside the house are, in general, tropical trees that need high humidity, such as the one on the islands or near the coast, for example. But when you live further inland, away from the sea or rivers, this humidity is usually low.

And that is a problem for these bonsai, since immediately we would see that first the tips of the leaves turn brown, and finally they fall off. Luckily, it can be avoided if they are sprayed with rainwater or distilled water daily in summer, and every 2 or 3 days the rest of the year.


Indoor bonsai are difficult plants to care forIndoor bonsai are difficult plants to care for.

Image – Wikimedia/Tom Kehoe

In order for it to look really pretty, it is advisable to fertilize it with a specific liquid fertilizer for this type of plant, such as Battle, which you can buy here! following the instructions specified in the product packaging. The time to do it will be from spring to late summersince that is when it is most active.


Pruning will consist only of trim back any branches that are overgrowing. This will be done with previously disinfected scissors at the end of winter.


It is advisable to transplant to bonsai every two or three yearsin spring. To do this, a specific substrate will be used for these plants, such as the one from the Flower brand that you have. here!, or if you want you can mix peat with 30% perlite.

Thus, we hope that you can greatly enjoy your indoor bonsai.

How are indoor bonsai cared for?

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