Taking care of bonsai trees is a relaxing hobby. There’s something about planting them, shaping them, and watching them grow that gives you a sense of peace and achievement. They give your space a touch of life and the beauty of nature.

Bonsai are typically resilient and can tolerate a wide range of living conditions, but life can still get the better of them sometimes. Overwatering, underwatering, frost, the heat, pests, and disease—there are countless reasons they can die.

Sometimes, however, your tree may not be dead completely—just a part of it. Perhaps it may look like it’s gone, but it actually still has a chance at life. If you’re one of the unfortunate ones who are trying to figure out if their bonsai tree is dying, this is a guide for you. 

What Are the Signs of a Dying Bonsai Tree?

Many trees share some characteristic warning signs that they’re dying. Some of these signs can tell you what the trees need. Here are some important signs to look out for:

1 – The Leaves Are Discoloured or Dying

Some trees naturally lose their colour as the seasons change, but discolouration that happens suddenly or for no apparent reason can be a sign of trouble. If the leaves on your bonsai tree turn pale and dull, it may not be receiving enough light. Alternatively, the leaves can also have brown, dried-up spots called leaf burn. This is caused by too much exposure to the sun.

If the leaves dry out, become brittle, and fall off, you may be underwatering the plant. Yellowish-brown leaves that fall off can also be a sign of rotting roots, which happens if you overwater the tree.

2 – The Branches Are Brittle

If the branches change from pliable to brittle, it could be a sign that they are dying. However, you can cut off the brittle portion bit by bit towards the trunk to check if part of the branch is too far gone. 

If you see the colour green within the branch, then that branch is still alive. You can cut off dying branches from trees that are still alive, but some leave them as beautifying features also referred to as “deadwood”.

3 – There Are No More Signs of Life under the Bark

To confirm if your bonsai tree is dying, you should check for signs of life under its bark. Doing so does not require any special tools—just your fingernail! Use a single finger to lightly scrape off a small portion of the tree’s bark, keeping in mind to not do too much damage. Like with the branches, you’re looking for the colour green. 

If you find green underneath the plant’s hard surface, it’s an indication that your tree is still alive. You can keep scratching until you uncover the tree’s hardwood portion, and if you haven’t found green yet, the plant may have unfortunately passed (or perhaps a portion of it at least).

Take Better Care of Your Bonsai Trees

Dying bonsai trees typically show a variety of warning signs, and identifying these are an important step to bringing them back to life. If your tree has died completely, however, the signs can help you learn how to care for the next one you plant in your home. It’s best not to be discouraged by your plant’s death because even experienced hobbyists experience losses sometimes.

Taking care of your trees often requires you to invest in the best tools. If you’re looking for a bonsai tool kit in Australia, Bonsai Shop has you covered. We can provide you with all that you need in the hobby, from starter kits to pots and accessories. Our eBook will also teach you everything there is to know about growing bonsai, so check out our shop today!