Water Jasmine Bonsai TreeLearning how to water your bonsai tree properly and provide it with the correct amount of water is an essential skill that every bonsai beginner must learn. Incorrect watering of a bonsai tree is the easiest way to undo all your hard work and can result in an unhealthy tree or even the death of your bonsai.

How & When to Water a Bonsai Tree
Bonsai trees should be watered regularly so that they remain healthy. Exactly how often they should be watered depends on many factors including species, size, the temperature of their environment and the dimensions of their pot. For this reason, the frequency of watering varies from bonsai to bonsai. Rather than watering to a schedule,you should only water when yourbonsai tree requires watering.

To ascertain if your bonsai needs watering, you need to check the dampness of the soil below the surface (because soil on the surface will be somewhat drier than that underneath). You can do this by digging a small hole (about an inch deep) or by poking your finger or a small stick into the soil. The ideal time to water is when the soil is very slightly moist (almost dry). If it is still very moist, you do not need to water your bonsai. If it is completely dry, you've waited too long and need to give your bonsai some water immediately.

Bonsai watering can sprinkler roseThe best way to water a bonsai tree is by pouring water evenly over the entire surface soil until it begins to drain out of the bottom of the pot. Then, wait around half an hour and water again in the same manner. Let all excess water drain out of the pot before returning your bonsai tree toits tray. The water should be applied at low pressure to avoid displacing the soil. A watering can with a sprinkler rose is ideal for this (see picture).

Both tapwater and rainwater are fine for bonsai trees. My personal preference is to use rainwater as it seems more natural and environmentally-friendly, although there are plenty of skilled bonsai enthusiasts that prefer to use tap water.  

Effects of Over-Watering
Overwatering occurs when you water your bonsai tree too regularly. The build-up of water in the soil suffocates the smaller roots, killing the and reducing the amount of water that can be carried up the tree's trunk to the branches and foliage. This results in the tree drooping and the foliage looking unhealthy. Over time, the dead roots will rot and this rootrot will spread to the other roots causing more damage and eventually killing the tree.

Root-rot can be repaired but it needs to be caught early enough. All rotting roots (easily identifiable, as they are black) must be cut off the bonsai tree and the tree must be re-potted.

Over-watering can also be caused by a build-up of moss around the base of your bonsai tree. Too much moss acts as a kind of sponge that holds water and prevents adequate drainage.

Effects of Under-Watering
Underwatering is a lot more obvious than overwatering as the effects are visible above the soil's surface in the branches and foliage. Leaves will go dry, change colour and generally look unhealthy, as will stems and the tips of the branches.

Again, if caught early enough the damage can be reversed however prevention is the best cure, so don't let your bonsai tree reach this stage. Check regularly (perhaps, once a day) to see if your tree needs watering.