Why Is Your Fukien Tea Bonsai Losing Leaves?

When Fukien tea bonsai tree leaves turn brown and shed, there is a problem with the plant. Fukien tea bonsai are evergreen and should not lose their leaves. Your tree most likely suffers from overwatering, underwatering, low humidity, or it has been placed in a location that is too dark.

As its name suggests, you can brew tea from Fukien tea bonsai leaves. The leaves are emerald green with white dots paint-splattered on their tops and fine white hairs coating their undersides.

These trees have distinct leaves that never fall off unless something is wrong. So, what does it mean when your Fukien tea bonsai starts losing its precious leaves?

How do you know if you have overloved (or underloved) your plant? It is not like the bonsai tree can talk to you and explain its woes.

There are a few easy rules to follow to tell if you are overwatering or underwatering your plant. There are also guidelines for how much light your bonsai needs. You just need to follow them for a happy tree. Read on to learn why your bonsai might be shedding leaves and how to fix it.

You Overwatered Your Tree

You know all plants need water to survive and thrive. This is one of the first facts any plant owner knows. So, you watered your bonsai tree. Why are its leaves falling off now?

The roots of your Fukien tea bonsai tree need oxygen to survive. So when you overwater the plant, you are drowning it and preventing its roots from receiving the necessary oxygen.

Roots absorb things. The roots cannot take in enough oxygen, because water is taking up all of the air pockets in the dirt. So, instead, they end up absorbing the water.

The plant then sends that water up into the plant to the leaves, similar to the way the human circulatory system works with the heart pumping blood throughout the body.

The problem is, there is too much water in the system, and it ends up bursting the plant leaf cells, and killing the plant. Think of it as an overfilled water balloon.

Once this occurs, the dead leaves will begin falling off the plant.

Signs of Overwatering

How, exactly, do you know that you are drowning your Fukien tea bonsai? The signs that you are overwatering your plant are:

  • The dropping leaves are soft and limp
  • Leaves develop blisters and lesions on their undersides
  • The base of the tree will begin to rot away

All of these are happening because of the burst plant cells from too much water absorption. The popped open cell will eventually lead to lesions on the leaves and the soft base of the tree leaving the plant to decompose as it is still alive.

You Underwatered Your Tree

You Underwatered Your Tree

You figured that your plant had enough water. The instructions said to water it once every week and you did. However, that must have not been enough for your Fukien tea bonsai tree, because now the leaves are falling off your very expensive houseplant.

Your tree will soon die if the situation is not remedied. How do you know if its leaves are shedding because of underwatering? 

Houseplants do not have the room to grow their roots the way that a plant on the outside can. In the wild, even a miniature tree could spread its roots out to find extra water and nutrition away from its immediate vicinity.

Inside, the tree is bound to the area of the pot. Now, to get water, it has to compete with evaporation and the limited amount of water available in the pot. It sucks up every droplet in the soil if it has to, leaving it sitting in a pile of dust rather than dirt. If you feel the soil and it is bone dry, you know it is beyond dehydrated.

The key thing to note, if you think you have underwatered your Fukien tea bonsai tree, is the condition of the leaves when they fall. Are they soft or crispy? A crispy leaf, like you have tried to bake it in the oven, tells you that your tree has not had enough water.

The good thing about this is that you can probably revive it!

Put your dry Fukien tea bonsai tree in the tub or a large sink and soak the pot, until every ounce of the dry soil is sopping wet. Then, leave it in the tub for a while, so that the excess water can drain. Otherwise, it will drain on the surface you place the pot on.

The Perfect Balance of Water

Giving your Fukien tea bonsai tree the perfect amount of water does not have to be tricky. You just need to pay attention to the feel of the soil.

Watering on a routine is not recommended, this is a surefire way to either underwater or overwater your bonsai. Instead, water by the touch method.

Stick your finger about two inches into the soil near the base of the plant.

  • Is the soil dry? Then your plant is parched.
  • Is the soil wet and dripping? You are drowning your plant.
  • Is the soil moist, where your finger is a little damp? Then you have hit the sweet spot!

If you do this on a very regular basis, you will get to know your Fukien tea bonsai tree pretty well. You will be able to tell in no time whether your tree is thirsty or not.

It Is Dark in Here

sunlight shining on bonsai tree

Another reason that your Fukien tea bonsai tree might be losing leaves is light deprivation. Bonsais like full sun. Full sun is defined as eight hours a day of direct sunlight.

That is a lot of sunshine. It can be hard to get when you live in an apartment complex where other buildings are constantly shading you out. But it can be done.

To make sure that your bonsai is getting enough sunlight, make sure you have it near a window or on a balcony or porch.

Turn the tree occasionally to ensure that all sides of it are getting sun, and not just one. Otherwise, your tree will begin to grow lopsided. You would not want a one-sided tan, would you?

How Long Does It Take for A Bonsai Tree to Fully Grow might be an interesting article for you!

Your Bonsai Needs Humidity

A final thing that might make the leaves of your Fukien tea bonsai tree fall is humidity. This bonsai is a tropical tree, which means that in its native habitat, the air is very wet.

That kind of air that feels like you are swimming in it. If the air where you are is too dry, your tree will not like it. To show you that it does not like it, it will shed its leaves.

An easy fix for this is to mist your tree. Get a spray bottle of water and once or twice a day, depending on your climate, spray the Fukien tea bonsai’s leaves to mimic the water in the air of its native home in southern China.

Your tree will like it and the sound and feel of the spray, along with the smell of the bonsai, can be calming for you, too.


Whether it is because of water, sun, or humidity, no one wants their Fukien tea bonsai tree to lose its leaves when it is not supposed to.

Bonsai owners are renowned for how much they love their trees and will go to great lengths to save them. Now you are armed with the knowledge of how to help your tree keep its beauty (and its leaves) while you love it.

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