That bonsai is very difficult to care for is a common thought that comes to mind when we consider starting in the world of bonsai. From our point of view and I think that of most amateurs, making bonsai is not difficult, it only requires some basic guidelines to follow and you will get a beautiful collection of trees.

If you are considering starting bonsai cultivation, or have even started recently and have doubts, we have prepared this guide with 7 basic tips to start growing bonsai.

Choose a resistant species

There are numerous species of bonsai, some of which are hardier and need less attention than others, such as the trees themselves in their natural habitat.

If you haven't bought a bonsai yet, we recommend starting with the ficus. It is a tropical species, very resistant that we can also have inside the house if we do not have a terrace or garden, but later we will tell you more in detail about this matter.

Many times we fall into the error of letting ourselves be carried away by sight, and although ficus for us are our favorite bonsai, it is true that in many cases they may not attract your attention and that your sight goes to fruit trees, pines or maples with its reddish leaves among others. These species are very beautiful, but they require more attention and care than the ficus, which a mistake can lead to the tree dying and falling into the error of thinking that bonsai is difficult when we repeat, it is not.

Learn and study the basic care to grow your bonsai

Each species is different and not all need the same care. A very common mistake that people usually make when they start is treating bonsai as they have been told or as they have read, in many cases occurring that what they have been told or read is of another species and not their own. This can lead to the bonsai dying from applying the wrong care.

Today we can go to YouTube, different forums on Facebook, websites where they can advise us on the basic care of our bonsai. We have many facilities to get off to a good start in this world, so let's take advantage of them.

Choose a good location for your bonsai

Location is one of the most important factors. As a general rule, all bonsai need to be on the street, in the open air and enjoy the clarity of the sun and the passing of the seasons.

During the summer, we will protect them from the peak hours of sun to prevent the leaves from burning and we will carefully watch the watering so that they do not dry out. In Madrid for example we water many days up to 3 times a day.

In winter it is important to protect them in case of strong hailstorms, winds or storms that can damage the trees. Here something that may sound strange to you if you are a beginner in the world of bonsai is that trees, especially deciduous ones and some fruit trees such as apple trees, need a lot of cold in winter. The colder they get during the winter, the more spectacular spring budding will be. Be careful, tropical trees must be put inside the house or in a greenhouse during winters, as they can die from freezing, as is the case with ficus.

For all those who do not have the possibility of having a garden or terrace where to leave the bonsai, then we recommend, as we mentioned before, the ficus. Although the ideal is for them to be outdoors, it is a species that supports the interior very well. You just have to keep these tips in mind:

  • Place your bonsai near a window so that it receives as much sunlight as possible.
  • Avoid direct contact with radiators or air conditioners so that they do not receive direct heat or cold.
  • Avoid placing the bonsai in drafts.

Watch the irrigation

There is no written rule of, you have to water your bonsai 1 or 2 times a day, no. Each bonsai is different and depends on the time of year they need more or less water. The important thing is to water every time we see the dry substrate. As we said before, in summer we get to water up to 3 times in the same day, however, in winter we usually water every 4 days, depending on the temperatures, humidity, state of the tree ...

Always remember, the bonsai will ask you for water when it needs it, we just have to observe and be careful not to over water or under water.

The substrate, an important factor for survival

In the cultivation of bonsai, porous substrates are always used, which drain the water very well to avoid puddling with the consequent rotting of the roots or even the appearance of fungi.

At this point we could go on a long time, but because some of the main substrates used are familiar to you, we are going to list them:

  • akadama
  • kiryuzuna
  • Volcanic gravel
  • Cheek

Each bonsai needs some types of soil or others, so at this point it is important to inform ourselves very well about the species that we have or are going to buy before doing anything.

These substrates will allow a greater aeration of the roots favoring a much healthier root system, with the appearance of finite roots which are what interest us in the cultivation of bonsai.

Normally the bonsai that we buy for the first time are planted in universal substrate, the typical flower soil, but of very poor quality or even in coconut fiber. This is used a lot because they are imported bonsai, usually brought from China and it is a much cheaper substrate. These substrates when they are very exhausted, in addition to not allowing the passage of water with the irrigations, they do not help the development of the roots either. This is why we must transplant the bonsai and put them in a substrate of those mentioned above, but beware, we should only transplant as a general rule in spring. We will tell you about it in the next point.


As a general rule, the transplant season is in spring, before sprouting. It is very important again to observe our bonsai and be very well informed about the transplant in each species. For example, in our case that we are in Madrid, the apple trees that we have begin to sprout towards the end of February, the beginning of March; this is the safest time to transplant, just before initial budding.

However, ficus, as a general rule, are later and are usually transplanted well into spring, usually around May when the heat begins to predominate.

As in many aspects, there is no written rule in the care of bonsai, only some basic principles to follow that our trees will ask and indicate from us.

Patience, the greatest art in bonsai cultivation

Perhaps this is a point that costs many of us when we start with bonsai, and I include the first. At first I went crazy for transplanting to remove that bad soil, wiring to try to get that shape that I had seen on the internet of a bonsai similar to mine, doing pruning, grafting ...

Over time, you realize that the rush is not good, and as you will see in many places, the patience of the bonsai is essential. Each time of the year requires some care and work in bonsai. If we try to run, we may be endangering our tree, for example, doing transplants at times of the year not indicated.

Our advice, don't run, be patient, train yourself and read everything you can about your species. To start, learn how to grow your bonsai in good soil, control the irrigation and the location and I guarantee that success will be assured.

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