January 18, 2022

bonsai tree sunlight

Do Bonsai Trees Need Sunlight?

Bonsai trees do not require direct sunlight in order to grow, as opposed to other trees. In fact, they may even develop in low-light situations. That said, if you want your bonsai tree to reach its full potential, it must be exposed to direct sunlight every day for approximately 4-5 hours.

Just be sure not to expose it to harsh sun rays for too long, or the leaves will get burned. So, in that, the question may arise: how much time do I need to put my bonsai tree in sunlight?

So, in this blog post, we’ll discuss when and how long to put your bonsai tree in sunlight for the perfect growth and disease management for your plant.

Sunlight can be filtered. Can bonsai trees be in direct sun?

Bonsai trees indeed need sunlight, and it’s a crucial factor in their growth, development, and overall health. Sunlight is the primary source of energy for plants, and through a process called photosynthesis, they convert sunlight into sugars and other essential compounds needed for various metabolic functions. While bonsai trees require sunlight, the specific sunlight requirements can vary depending on the type of bonsai species and other factors.

Here’s a deeper look at why sunlight is essential for bonsai trees and how to provide them with the right amount of light:

1. Photosynthesis: Sunlight is vital for photosynthesis, the process by which plants produce energy in the form of sugars from carbon dioxide and water. This energy is used for growth, maintenance, and overall metabolic processes. Without adequate sunlight, bonsai trees would struggle to thrive.

2. Leaf Health: Sunlight is instrumental in maintaining healthy leaves on bonsai trees. Leaves are the primary sites for photosynthesis, and they need a sufficient amount of light to function optimally. Inadequate light can lead to pale or yellowing leaves, reduced growth, and overall stress on the tree.

3. Growth and Vigor: Bonsai trees require sunlight to grow and maintain their vitality. Adequate light promotes strong, robust growth, and ensures that the bonsai remains vigorous. In particular, during the growing season, which varies depending on the species and climate, bonsai trees benefit from increased sunlight to support active growth and development.

4. Branch Structure: Proper exposure to sunlight is essential for the development of a balanced and aesthetically pleasing branch structure in bonsai trees. Sunlight influences the direction and strength of branch growth, allowing bonsai artists to shape and style their trees over time.

5. Flowering and Fruiting: For bonsai species that produce flowers and fruits, sufficient sunlight is critical for flowering and fruiting. Sakura (cherry blossom) bonsai, for example, require proper sunlight to produce their iconic cherry blossoms.

6. Species Variation: Different species of bonsai may have varying sunlight requirements. Some bonsai, such as tropical varieties, may thrive in bright, indirect light, while others, like deciduous or coniferous trees, may require full sun to maintain their health and appearance. It’s essential to understand the specific needs of your bonsai species.

7. Seasonal Adjustments: Bonsai trees‘ sunlight requirements can change with the seasons. In temperate climates, they often benefit from increased sunlight during the growing season (spring and summer) and may require protection from harsh sunlight or cold temperatures during the winter.

8. Indoor Bonsai: For those growing bonsai indoors, providing adequate light can be a challenge. In such cases, artificial grow lights designed to mimic natural sunlight spectra can be used to supplement natural light.

When to Put Your Bonsai Tree In Sunlight?

Even if you provide direct sunlight or indirect light, it’s important that you don’t expose your bonsai tree to the sun for too long when it’s in its early stages of growth. Scalding will damage the leaves beyond repair. Sunburned leaves will die and drop off the bonsai tree.

If you want your bonsai tree to thrive, provide it with direct sunlight for around three hours in the morning when it’s young.

As time passes by, you can increase the amount of sunlight exposure depending on your health. However, be sure to gradually increase the exposure time so you can adapt your bonsai tree in order for it not to suffer from too much sunlight.

Why Do Bonsai Trees Need Sunlight?

As stated above, bonsai trees don’t necessarily need sunlight to grow. However, if you want your bonsai tree to be healthy, it’s important that you provide it with some exposure to direct sunlight every day. This allows the leaves of your bonsai tree to produce energy through photosynthesis.

It also helps in the development of your bonsai tree. When the leaves are exposed to direct sunlight, they open up and produce various healthy phytochemicals that promote overall plant growth.

However, if you live in cold climates, you can provide indirect light without exposing it directly to the sun since cold temperatures will slow down plant development.

How Much Time Should I Put My Bonsai Tree in the Sunlight?

When your bonsai tree is young, you shouldn’t put it in direct sunlight for too long. A few hours of exposure every day is more than enough during its early stages of growth. As time passes by and your bonsai plant grows (which will take years), you can increase the amount of sunlight exposure depending on its age and your discretion.

5 to 7 hours of direct sunshine is required for a healthy bonsai plant, but if they are subjected to less light for years, they may develop signs of stress. To avoid this, it’s best that you increase the exposure slowly over time.

If your bonsai tree is growing in its pot indoors or inside a greenhouse, make sure it can’t be affected by overly hot temperatures by placing the container in a spot where it can receive shade. If it’s placed outdoors, use an automatic water timer so you don’t have to move it every time you water your plant.

How Much Sunlight Do Different Types of Bonsai Trees Need?

Different types of bonsai trees need different amounts of sunlight exposure every day. For example, if you put your bonsai tree in direct sunlight for several hours per day, it’ll be fine since they can thrive in direct light.

On the other hand, if you’re growing a variety of bonsai tree that needs indirect light, it’s best to put your plant in a location where it can still get some exposure to the sun but not directly.

However, since different types of bonsai trees need a specific amount of sunlight exposure every day, pay attention to the type of plant you have in order to maximize your health.

What Happens if I Expose My Bonsai Tree to Too Much Sunlight?

Exposing your bonsai tree to too much direct sunlight can result in the burning and death of leaves as well as stunted growth. If you’ve been exposing it to direct sunlight for several hours per day and notice its leaves starting to curl up and die, move it towards a location where there’s indirect light.

If that doesn’t work, water your plant with tepid water to reduce the stress caused by overexposure. If the sunlight exposure is only limited to a few hours during the day, then you can just wait for its leaves to heal and grow back again.

However, if you notice that some of your branches are dying off as well due to prolonged exposure to direct sunlight, you can remove it immediately before it spreads. Although bonsai trees are resilient, they still need the right amount of attention and care so they can continue growing healthy and strong.

Is There a Substitute for Sunlight in the Bonsai World?

In the bonsai world, there are no substitutes for sunlight. In order to ensure that your plant gets enough exposure, you have to put it in a location where it can receive indirect light during the day so it can produce energy through photosynthesis.

However, if you don’t have a spot right under a window or in an area where you can put a plant stand, you can use an automatic watering system instead. As long as it gets enough water and sunlight, your bonsai tree will stay healthy and strong even if it’s exposed to limited amounts of sun every day.


In conclusion to the article, it’s best to put your bonsai tree in a location where it can receive indirect sunlight during the day instead of direct sunlight so that you don’t have to worry about dead branches and leaves.

If you need to water it at night, make sure to set an automatic watering system so that it gets the right amount of exposure even if you’re not around. Also, check on your bonsai tree regularly and watch out for signs of stress due to exposure such as dying leaves and branches.

About the author 

Greg Reed

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