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How Much Light Does A Bonsai Tree Need? Answered

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Bonsai plants are becoming more and more popular and it’s not hard to see why when you think about their great qualities. This little tree can make all the difference to your home’s feng shui, is a lifelong companion, and an artistic statement.

How much light does a Bonsai tree need? These plants need about 5 hours of direct or indirect sunlight a day. Some species do better in winter if they get their light from indirect sources.

That said, you’ve probably heard a few stories about friends accidentally killing them. Often, this occurs because beginners aren’t aware of what this little tree needs to thrive and grow.

A little bit of knowledge goes a long way here, especially when looking at the plant’s sunshine needs.

This post looks at bonsai tree care for beginners and answers the question of whether these plants need sunlight. You’ll find out where to position your plant inside and other ways you can cater for its lighting desires.

Do Bonsai Trees Need Sunlight?

Yes and no. Good light is vital for your bonsai’s health. The ultra-violet ray in sunlight affects their growth in a positive way. This means you should try to place your plant in a sunny location – the brighter the better.

How much light does a Bonsai tree need? These plants need about 5 hours of direct or indirect sunlight a day. Some species do better in winter if they get their light from indirect sources.

Something to keep in mind is that these plants can burn if they’re taken from a shady place to a sunny position. Rule of thumb is to gradually increase their light exposure.

An interesting question is: Do bonsai trees need sun in particular? Not necessarily. You can read about other forms of light further down in this post.

One of the biggest problems with keeping this plant inside is that they don’t receive the light intensity they need to grow. They won’t die instantly, but their growth will be limited and they will weaken.

A quick hack for beginners is to make sure you get an indoor-friendly species. To make things easier, you can always buy a bonsai beginner’s kit that contains species like Rocky Mountain Pine, Royal Poinciana, and Norway Spruce.

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Indoor Bonsai Tree: Where to Put It

As they need a fair bit of light, you have to be really particular with where you place them indoors. The best bet is to put your bonsai plant right by a south-facing window – this will really increase your chances of having a healthy tree.

Bright light is vital. The further you place your indoor bonsai trees away from a window, the slower it grows. This is because the light intensity drops quite drastically. As a result, your plant could perish.

Not all of these plants should be kept indoors. In fact, many of these species are more at home outside, where they can be exposed to the four seasons.

It’s mainly tropical and subtropical types of these plants that survive inside – where the temperature usually remains constant throughout the year.

Some of the best types of bonsai plants for indoors include:

  • Ginseng Ficus

  • Hawaiian Umbrella

  • Jade

  • Chinese Elm

The only thing that separates indoor bonsais from their outside counterparts is that they can tolerate a house’s interior conditions. This makes them a wonderful choice for someone who wants a beautiful miniature tree to decorate their home.

Of course, if you’re worried about the fussiness of this rather picky plant, you can always get a realistic-looking bonsai silk tree instead.

If you want the real thing but don’t have the perfect south-facing window, no worries. You can always use artificial light instead.

How to Take Care of a Bonsai Tree: Artificial Lights

As mentioned, these trees are quite tricky when it comes to their light needs. This is why it might be a good idea to try artificial lighting as part of your bonsai care regime. Lucky for you, anyone can discover how to use artificial light to grow this small tree. Your level of experience doesn’t matter.

There are three main types of artificial lights that are suitable for cultivating these plants. Each has its pros and cons.

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Fluorescent Lights

You can use CFL bulbs or T5/T8 fluorescent lights to shed some light on your plant. Fluorescent lights must be kept on for between 16 – 18 hours a day.

Try and place them near to the plant canopy – about 8-10 inches away. If you notice any singed leaf tips, move your light farther away from your plant.

A pro of fluorescent lights is that they don’t give off a lot of heat. This means you don’t need to worry too much about the room’s temperature control or drying out the soil. If you’re looking for a low-maintenance light, you’ll want to try out a fluorescent grow light system.

HID Lights

High-intensity discharge (HID) lights are a powerful source of light to use for nurturing your plant. These lights are great for encouraging flowering and also stimulate vegetative growth.

HID lights need to be placed about 20-24 inches from the plant as they run hotter than fluorescent lights. If you decide to go with HID lights, make sure your plant has proper ventilation. Otherwise, the hot air created by the lights can impact on your little tree’s health.

Another downside is that these lights have a high energy output, meaning they chow electricity.

LED Lights

This category of artificial light is a sort of hybrid of the other two categories. They are a strong source of light, similar to HID, but without the high energy consumption and heat output. The rule of thumb for 50 watt LEDs is to place them about 10 inches from your tree.

Good quality LED systems are the most robust artificial lights and they also offer a full spectrum, which is closest to sunlight’s natural spectrum.

They are also appropriate for owners who want to find answers for how to care for a bonsai tree on a budget. Find an adjustable LED light with the full spectrum to get the most out of your plant.

Bonsai Tree Care: Easier Than You Think

And voila, now you know the answer to the question, “How much light does a bonsai tree need?”

And, even better, you know what to do if you don’t have the sought-after south-facing windows required for these fussy plants.

All you have to decide is which type of light works best for your bonsai tree care approach. And just like that, you’re on your way to having a pretty and prosperous plant.

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