How To Revive A Bonsai Tree With Brown Leaves

How To Care For Bonsai Trees With Brown Leaves


Bonsai Trees are tiny versions of full-sized trees, and have gained a lot of popularity over the years. However, if they aren’t cared for properly, they could wilt or even die. Brown leaves could mean that your Bonsai is having a hard time. Regardless of why your Bonsai has brown leaves, it will need immediate attention. Recovery is not guaranteed, but this article will introduce some steps to take that might save your Bonsai Tree.

Why Your Bonsai has Browning Leaves

Knowing why the leaves on your Bonsai Tree are browning is the first step to take when trying to save it. If these problems are left unattended, the condition of your Bonsai could get worse; it could even die. Here are some things to look out for:

1. Watering Schedule

Most Bonsai Trees need a very specific amount of water to stay alive. Too little water can result in brown leaves and a dried, wilted trunk. Too much water can become trapped, rotting the roots of the tree and causing the leaves to turn brown.

2. Proper Environment

Different breeds of Bonsai Trees rely on different environments to stay alive. However, the majority don’t flourish in direct sunlight. This doesn’t mean that they’re indoor plants. A lot of them do better outdoors. If you don’t know what type of Bonsai Tree you have, and what kind of sunlight it likes, keep it outdoors in indirect sunlight as a rule of thumb.

3. Pests

Pests are a problem that often goes unnoticed, and can cause a Bonsai Tree’s leaves to brown. If you’re concerned about Pests, spray a light pesticide on the tree, and pinch off any brown leaves to encourage new growth.

4. Growth

It’s possible that you Bonsai Tree simply needs more room to grow. If it’s been a long time since you’ve repotted your tree, consider doing it now.

5. Proper Nutrients

Nutrient deficiency could very well be the cause of all your problems. The leaves might be browning because of a lack of iron, magnesium, or nitrogen; nutrients that are all essential for a healthy growing Bonsai.

How to Revive Your Bonsai Tree

Here are some steps you can try to revive your Bonsai Tree:

1. Identify the Problem

First, you should look closely at your Bonsai tree to identify what the problem is. Look for signs of insect infestation, such as wilt, mites, and webs (they may be difficult to spot, especially on an indoor tree.)

Next, check for signs of disease, over-watering, or under-watering. Foliage spots, wilt, browning leaves, soft roots and/or trunk, or creases in the trunk are all signs of disease.

2. Trim the Dead Spots

You’ll want to trim away parts of the tree that are dead to encourage future growth. Pinch away brown and/or wilted leaves from the stem, and use pruning shears to trim away any dead stems or branches (a branch is dead if it crumbles, or snaps away with ease).

3. Treat the Tree with a Gentle Insecticide

If you’ve determined that your Bonsai is infested with pests or fungi, spray it with a light insecticide or fungicide spray. Determine your tree’s symptoms before you choose the spray, to ensure that you buy the correct treatment. Lightly spray the foliage of the tree to ensure that every area is lightly coated in the chemical.

4. Check the Moisture Levels

Before you doing anything else, check the moisture levels in the soil. To do this, stick your finger 1-2 inches into the soil. If it feels dry, the browning leaves may be caused by dehydration. These next steps will help the plant to recover from this common problem.

5. Take Care of the Roots

Remove the Bonsai Tree from the container and look closely at the root system. With pruning shears, cut away any dead or rotten roots. These roots may be preventing the Bonsai Tree from receiving the nutrients it needs. Cut them back to the root mass, and be careful not to cut any healthy roots.

6. Place the Bonsai in a Temporary Container

Let the Bonsai rest in a clean container filled with tepid water. While it’s resting, clean out its former container thoroughly, and begin preparing a new soil mix.

The soil should be loose, and able to retain water efficiently. The best soil mixture will depend a lot upon the type of Bonsai Tree you have, so choose carefully. Create a mixture with a good fertilizer, and nutrient rich potting soil. Place wire mesh around the drainage holes, and fill the container a third of the way with soil.

7. Let it Soak

Take the Bonsai out of the water, and place it in the center of you container. Fill it the rest of the way with soil. Afterwards, place it in a large container of water (like a sink or a bucket) while it’s potted. The water should reach about 1 inch over the surface of the container. Let it sit in the water until the soil is free of air.

Remove the tree from the water, and allow the water to drain from the drainage holes.

8. A Warm, Shaded Area

Choose a well-ventilated, warm, and partially shaded location to place your Bonsai until it heals.


Give your Bonsai Tree some time to recover, and hopefully it will begin to thrive. These steps should ensure that your Bonsai Tree begins the healing process, but be sure not to dehydrate it or over-water it. If your Bonsai is in the right conditions it will do well.

Visit Our Shop

Related Articles