Visit my eBay Store to find unique Japanese stuff!

Do Bonsai Trees Need Sun?

do bonsai trees need sunlight?Japanese Life & Travel

Hi, it’s Junko from Japan. My grandpa was a Bonsai master. He grew various Bonsai trees in his garden, and I loved to watch the small beautiful world he created. Here are some tips about how to expose your Bonsai tree I learned from him. If you’re concerned about the proper care for your Bonsai plant’s sunbathing, this post will help you.

Basic Knowledge: Bonsai Trees Need Full Sun

The species of Bonsai trees are basically selected from the plants that prefer the full sun. That means you need enough light to grow healthy Bonsai trees. Usually, 3 to 4 hours of direct sunlight a day will be ideal.

It’s a very common misunderstanding that you try to treat them like indoor houseplants. However, Bonsai trees are different from indoor plants. They must experience seasonal changes in weather and temperature for healthy growth. If you keep placing them in an indoor environment where no sunlight comes, Bonsai trees eventually go wither in several days. The environmental change will make Bonsai trees stronger and more beautiful. They’ll go weak in an unchanged condition such as a living room with an air conditioner. You should treat them like wild boys, not like delicate babies.

I said “boys,” not “guys,” on purpose. Since Bonsai trees dwell in small pots, the water and nutrition they can get are limited. Therefore they sometimes need your help. Then how? I’ll write it down by places and types of trees.

For Indoor Bonsai Trees

picture: bonsai pot of cherry blossom tree placed at the window

It’s more desirable for Bonsai trees to grow in outdoor places. But you may not be able to do that for some reason. Then select a place with much sunlight such as a south-facing window or a window sill. The airflow is also an important element for Bonsai trees. So opening the window to let the wind come in or placing the tree out on a balcony would be a good idea for their healthy growth.

Even if you place them in sunny spots in your house, the window glass shut and weaken the sunlight. For natural trees, it’s almost equivalent to being in shade. Since the lack of sunlight directly harms the trees, you should consider using artificial lighting for plants if you can’t give them enough light sources and light exposure. Be sure to use LED for plant growth with special light intensity. Normal incandescent bulbs or fluorescent lights are too weak to work for plants.

Species of Trees Good for Indoor Growing

Some Bonsai trees can grow in shade. If you can’t put your Bonsai pot outdoors, choosing Bonsai species that are suitable for indoor locations would be one option. These are typical types of trees for shadowy places. They’re all beautiful trees with flowers and autumn leaves!

  • Cherry blossom
  • Wisteria
  • Maple

For Outdoor Bonsai Trees

picture: many japanese bonsai posts placed on a wooden shelf

When you place Bonsai trees outdoors, choose a sunny location with as much sunlight exposure as possible. But avoid setting them directly down on the ground. That will heat Bonsai pots and damage the trees. It would be best to put them on a shelf that is 50 cm (about 20 feet) high.

The best place is one that receives 3 to 5 hours of sunlight per day in the morning. The morning light is better than the afternoon sunshine. As a Bonsai pot is small, the excessive sunlight will dry the water inside and affect the tree. Therefore the soft morning light is preferable to the strong afternoon light.

In particular, the sunlight in the middle of summer is too strong for most Bonsai trees. A lot of heat may harm the leaves and deprive the beautiful color change of autumn leaves trees. You need to use a shading net that softens the sunlight during the summer months in areas where the summer heat is severe. Also, please pay attention to the soil surface of your trees. If the surface of the Bonsai soil started to dry, it’s a sign of watering.

The best location for outdoor trees is one where they can have the morning light, and they’ll be protected by shade in the afternoon.

Tips by Species of Tree

Deciduous Trees

Deciduous trees such as Chinese elm, maple, and zelkova are called ZOKI BONSAI (various trees Bonsai) or HAMONO BONSAI (leaves Bonsai) in Japanese. They are relatively easy to raise and frequently recommended for Bonsai beginners.

Deciduous trees prefer full sun. But under intense light and ultraviolet rays, they don’t turn their leaves beautifully. To enjoy beautiful autumn leaves, how to control sunlight exposure during the summer months is the key. Try to use the shade net or place them in the indirect sunlight location in the afternoon to keep their leaves healthy. Avoid leaving them in direct sunlight for a long time. That causes the leaves to be scorched.

Pine Trees

Pine trees such as five-leave pine and black pine are known as sturdy species. They can grow depending on the environment they are placed. Five-leave pine trees are particularly adaptive to the shadowy place. But the lack of sunlight makes pine leaves too long and damages the desired shape. Even if they’re durable trees, it’s no doubt that pine trees also prefer sunlight. The best way is to give them enough light during the morning!

Miniature Trees

Miniature Bonsai planted in smaller pots are getting popular among young Bonsai lovers in Japan. Many people try to raise them indoors, but miniature trees aren’t special species. What is different from normal Bonsai is just size, and most miniature Bonsai trees need sunlight too. Place them in an outdoor location such as a balcony and hallway as often as possible. That will keep miniature trees fresh and healthy.

How Did You Like It?