When Do Bonsai Trees Turn Brown?

Bonsai trees turn brown when they are not kept in the environment that is best for them. Indoor and outdoor Bonsai require different environments. Bonsai trees usually have specific conditions that they do well within. It is important to adhere to these conditions when possible.

Bonsai trees can turn brown for a number of various reasons. It has the ability to happen due to a variety of reasons and mishaps while taking care of the tree.

There are two categories of Bonsai trees that exist, outdoor and indoor bonsai trees. Bonsai trees that grow outdoors are usually able to withstand harsher climates than those that grow indoors before turning brown.

Bonsai trees can also turn brown because of lack of provision of water or the over-provision of water. Both categories of plants thrive differently and need to be maintained by the facilitation of water.

It is essential to know how much water is necessary for these categories of trees to care for them properly. Keep reading to learn about when bonsai trees turn brown and how to address this issue. 

When Bonsai Trees Start Turning Brown

Outdoor and indoor Bonsai plants need to be kept in specific environments which agree with their chances to grow and thrive. They will only survive when proper sufficient care is supplied. If these requirements are not met, the tree will turn brown. This is caused and determined by:

  • Environmental impacts on outdoor Bonsai trees
  • When Bonsai trees receive an insufficient supply of water

Like all living things, Bonsai trees must receive proper care to stay healthy. If their care is not maintained due to changing the plants’ habitual environment, the likeliness of the plants to survive are none and will cause damage and loss to the plants branches and the leaves will develop brown spots, eventually leading the entire plant to turn brown. 

It is important to pay attention to your Bonsai tree to be aware early if it is beginning to turn brown. The more quickly you notice, the easier it will be for you to identify the problem and create a healthier environment for your plant.

What Environments Make Bonsai Trees Turn Brown? 

How Long does it Take for a Bonsai Tree to Fully Grow

Indoor Bonsai trees need to be kept out of environments which are frosty or freezing. They are more in need of environments which provide them with partial sun as it helps them grow, if it is not supplied to them, the leaves start to develop brown spots on their leaves which leads to browning of the whole plant.

It is necessary to protect the plants from seasonal elements that are incompatible with their natural environments. If they are kept in the freezing weather for too long, they will turn brown and inevitably die.

However, if only small parts of the plant are affected and there is minimal damage, there is a chance that the plant will survive as a new season starts to approach which will lead the plant to recover and grow. 

Some types of Bonsai Plants grow better in tropical or subtropical environments. These types of Bonsai need at least partial sunlight exposure to help them receive their nutrients. Too much sunlight exposure can lead to a number of problems such as dehydration of the leaves, which causes them to be dry and leads to their browning 

Bonsai trees may turn brown for many reasons. Outdoor and indoor bonsai trees need and require different types of observation, supervision, and care. Every species of plant has unique requirements which need to be fulfilled in order for it to stay healthy. This is based on where it is native and how it has evolved over time. 

Indoor plants usually require partial access to sunlight and need to be watered every two to three days, but an outdoor plant needs five to six hours of sunlight.

Indoor plants are almost always unable to withstand dramatic climates, but outdoor plants are more likely to endure occasional cold temperatures or extended hours of sunlight. When you purchase your Bonsai, you should familiarize yourself with its ideal care routine.

A bonsai tree that is not being fertilized properly, regardless of where it is growing, will not receive the essential nutrients that are needed to survive. If an outdoor or indoor Bonsai does not receive enough sunlight, it will cause a restriction of Vitamin D which is essential for it to remain healthy.

Although there is some variance by region, many outdoor Bonsai require more sunlight than indoor Bonsai. 

When Bonsai Trees Receive Insufficient Water

Recommendations for a Beginner Tree

Bonsai trees need strong soil and ingredients to survive, so they can be given water. The ingredients of the soil should include pumice, fine gravel, an inorganic mixture of lava rock, organic potting compost and a soil similar to clay which goes by Akadama. 

Bonsai trees cannot be given too much water. Using these ingredients will make it easier and faster for the plant to grow as the specific bonsai mix will permit the water to drain out so it does not become compressed.

Both indoor and outdoor plants require different amounts of water. For an outdoor plant, it is necessary that the plant must be watered every day during hot weather because of lack of rain. However, an indoor bonsai plant mostly needs water every 2 to 3 days, comparatively less than an outdoor bonsai plant.

Infections and Pests That Negatively Affect Bonsai

Pests usually can unnoticeably infect the Bonsai Plant very easily. This can cause the plant to turn brown and become infected as it will lead to holes in the trees. The weakening of roots and branches will cause the plant to destruct. 

  • These pests are usually spider mites and aphids which make way into the stem of the plant and consume the water in it, leading to lesser liquid nutrients in the stem
  • The laced bug as well as scale insects, which are small bugs, are easier to detect due to the webs they make on the plant
  • These will consume and suck the sap out of the leaves and feed on the leaves

To resolve this, there are several types of product you can use to save your plant. These include horticultural oils, predatory mites, and assassin bugs. These should be released into the bonsai plants which will kill the insects and provide protection. 

Nutrients Needed for Bonsai Plants to Grow

Nutrients Needed for Bonsai Plants to Grow

A good way to prevent the plant from turning brown is making sure that it is receiving all its essential and vital nutrients. Too less or too much of these nutrients will cause damage to the plant.

Usually, bonsai plants require iron, nitrogen, and magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and many other fertilizers to develop in a healthy manner. If they are deprived of the mentioned nutrients, your plant may form a nutrient deficiency. 

What Occurs if The Plant Is Deprived of Nutrients

If the plant is deprived of these nutrients, the same problem will occur. The leaves will start to shrivel and the branches and stems will die very quickly. Improper facilitation and provision of these nutrients will harm your plant and excessive fertilization can lead to a condition called root burn where the plant is unable to absorb its required nutrients through the root system. 

Recommended Article: Growing A Pinus Aristata Bonsai From Seed


These plants need extra attention and care that includes a sufficient supply of water, nutrients, prevention of infections, and avoidance of infestation. Different Bonsai thrive in different environments, so it is important to be aware of the needs of your specific plant. 

If you have a Bonsai plant that is turning brown, there are many factors that could be the culprit. It is essential that you understand these different factors in order to assess and fix the root of the problem. 

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