How To Care For a Bonsai Tree In Winter

So, do you know how to care for a bonsai tree in winter? Well, depending on your location, the strength of winter affects the plants differently, which changes how you care for different plants during this period. However, let’s talk about the care for a bonsai tree. 

Care For a Bonsai Tree In Winter

Some areas receive winter with mild temperatures below 30 degrees Fahrenheit, and other areas have a temperature drop too low. Once you notice these temperature changes, you will likely have more problems with your plant if you don’t protect it. 

The bonsai tree is a tropical or subtropical plant that grows well in summer. Other subtropical trees include ficus, premna, jade, and serissa. These trees grow well indoors and outdoors. If you have your tree indoors, you don’t have to worry about the cold conditions. 

How To Care For A Bonsai Tree In Winter. 

Having a plant is one thing, and knowing how to care for it is another. Understanding that the plant can’t withstand cold weather is the first step to solving the problem. The easiest way to care for a bonsai tree is to move it indoors in the cold season and bringing out after the frost has passed. 

However, if you don’t have enough space indoors, you can place them in heated patios, sunrooms, or greenhouses. The areas whose winter temperatures don’t drop below 35 degrees Fahrenheit are safe to leave the plant outdoors. The bonsai tree has its safety measures: it drops leaves and becomes dormant until the weather is warm again. 

Care For a Bonsai Tree In Winter

So, how do you care for a bonsai tree in winter?  

Move the plant indoors.

Sometimes it’s good to care for a bonsai tree enough to take it indoors. But, some bonsai species are hardy plants that can survive outdoors during winter. If your plant is a normal bonsai tree, move it indoors or into a greenhouse where it can receive warm temperatures all winter. 

Care For a Bonsai Tree In Winter

Stop watering the plant.

During winter, there is a lot of rain and water from melting ice. Adding water to the plant will only make the soil soggy and wet. The bonsai plant requires a minimum amount of water to moisten the soil. So, excess water will result in the plant dying due to stress on the roots. 

Also, the plant is dormant at this time and doesn’t need any water during the dormancy period. However, you can water it if you feel that the soil is dry. Using the finger test or a moisture meter, you can check the soil moisture content. 

The finger test involves using your finger and putting it into the soil about 1 inch deep near the roots. From there, you can feel whether the soil is dry or moist. Only water the soil when it is dry. We use this test because the soil is usually dry at the top but moist near the roots. 

In some instances, the soil on top might be wet due to snow, but the soil underneath is dry because the topsoil has frozen, and no water is seeping into the soil. So, it’s always best to check the soil near the roots to ensure you know the exact measures to undertake.

Stop fertilizing

Don’t fertilize your bonsai tree during the winter period. The best time to fertilize is during the warm season. Fertilizing your bonsai tree is another way to prepare your plant for winter. The nutrients contain sugar and carbohydrates that protect the plant from freezing.

The more nutrients, the better the chances of surviving outdoors during winter. Most of the sugar and carbohydrates are stored in the leaves. Once it starts to shed leaves at the start of winter, the nutrients are sent to the roots. 

So, the roots contain all the requirements to keep them safe. It’s advisable to take extra care of the roots when you care for a bonsai tree in winter. 

Provide the tree with light

The plant receives enough sunlight in the summer to grow, but there is no sun in winter. Place the plant indoors and provide it with grow lights to ensure it continues to grow. You can move the plant with a window that can access sunlight to avoid using too much grow light. However, during the winter, you must use a grow light to supplement light. 


Repotting is not for every plant. It happens for specific reasons; if you don’t need that, you can leave it in the original pot. Some of the reasons include a smaller container, moving it outdoors into the garden, or moving it into a pot from a garden. 

For instance, during winter, a normal bonsai tree can’t survive the weather outdoors, so the best thing to do is repot it and move it indoors or into a greenhouse. This way, you can provide the required conditions to keep it healthy. 

On the other hand, as the plant grows, the roots enlarge, and the pot holding the plant starts to become small. To ensure the roots continue to grow, transfer them into a large pot, preferably a wooden box. Or move it to the garden outdoors. Outdoor gardens provide maximum protection because the soil covers the roots completely. 

How to care for bonsai tree during winter

As you know, the plant is dormant during winter, so the best thing to do is move it to a cool, unheated area to enjoy its dormant period. If you want it to continue growing, move it indoors before winter starts, so it doesn’t activate its dormancy. 

Indoors, ensure that you provide it with enough light. You can purchase a grow light here. If the room temperatures are between 30 and 50 degrees, you don’t have to use a grow light. 

If the plant is in a small pot, or it has overgrown the pot, repot it or add soil to cover the roots.  The best thing is to move it to a big pot to provide enough space for the roots. Also, remember to check the roots for any damage. Winter is the best time to remove dead or rotten roots because the plant is not growing. Once you have all fresh and healthy roots, the plant can continue to grow without damage.  

Some people prefer to have a dormant bonsai tree during winter. In that case, let the plant experience freezing to trigger its cold mechanism. This way, it becomes dormant and stops growing. 

Care For a Bonsai Tree In Winter


Once you know how to care for a bonsai tree in winter, you don’t have to worry about the plant’s survival. I know it feels good to have a plant survive during harsh conditions. You can also feel good knowing that all your time didn’t go to waste during a cold season. 

A point to note is that ensure you know the species of bonsai tree you have at home. It will help you determine which method to care for a bonsai tree to undertake and which to leave out. Generally, the main things to look for are hardy and soft species. You can determine what to do to your bonsai tree during winter. 

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