Should You Mist A Bonsai Tree?


Time and time again I have seen people misting indoor plants, even bonsai trees! In this article I break down how effective misting is and whether or not you should be misting your bonsai tree!


Misting an indoor bonsai tree is relatively pointless, as it only gets the desired effect of increased humidity for about 30 seconds. A better option to increase the humidity is to use a humidity tray under your bonsai pot. Misting can actually cause some negative side effects such as pests and fungus. Keep reading to find out more… 


Is Misting A Bonsai Tree Effective?


It’s no secret that Bonsai trees are very indifferent from normal trees, the only real difference being the restricted growth and constant pruning. All trees, in theory, thrive growing in an outdoor environment, opposed to indoors like some bonsai are grown. One of the big factors in why trees will thrive outdoors is due to the humidity levels that cannot be found indoors, for the most part.


It’s due to the lower humidity indoors that leads a lot of newer bonsai tree enthusiasts into giving their trees a misting every few days with a fine spray bottle. Frankly, it’s a complete waste of time. Besides potentially removing some of the dust settling on the tree, it’s only going to get the desired increase in humidity for around 30 seconds, before it has little to no positive effect. A much more effective route to go down is using a humidity tray, under the bonsai pot.


There is some merit in misting bonsai trees that are flowering for a few weeks in the growing season as some people believe this keeps the flowers looking nicer. This is commonly used on the Crab Apple bonsai, in an effort to enjoy the flowers for the few weeks every year you will get them. Is it worth it? I see no harm in doing it during the growing season if that’s something you want to try but I would strong advise in stopping as soon as the colder temperatures start coming in.


Why Do People Like To Mist Bonsai Trees?

Bonsai trees need relatively speaking the same conditions as the tree needs out in nature. If a tree is grown in a colder climate, it will be able to survive growing outdoors as a bonsai tree all year long. But what if the tree is tropical or subtropical? Tropical trees are originating from places such as East Asia, areas with high humidity levels. Bonsai owners often try to recreate the high humidity every day by spraying the foliage with a fine mist.


Misting is only really done on indoor tropical or subtropical bonsai trees as the outdoor, hardy bonsai don’t need to live in high humidity to thrive. With some species of bonsai it can be really beneficial to increase humidity as they will actually start producing the most amazing aerial roots when the air moisture is high enough. As amazing as that is, it’s extremely hard to achieve in the wrong environment and misting it sadly won’t help that process.


Using A Humidity Tray Instead Of Misting


The tray that is usually found underneath a bonsai pot, normally mistaken for a drip tray, is actually a humidity tray. The idea of this tray is that when the water in it evaporates, it is going to provide the bonsai that well needed, extra humidity. How much of an impact it actually makes is very hard to answer, however if you have a humidity tray it’s definitely worth doing. Beyond anything, it’s going to keep the moisture levels higher in the bottom of the bonsai pot. You may find that there are small roots coming out of your pots drainage holes, these roots will be taking up a lot of water from the humidity tray, which is very healthy for the tree. No matter how rigid you are with watering, there is the potential that the bottom layers of soil are still going to be bone dry – which can be remedied with the use of the tray.


It’s important to not let roots sit directly in the tray as being constantly in water like that can cause root rot. Personally I am filling up my humidity tray about once every two days through-out the year, in addition to the normal watering routines that my indoor bonsai trees get.


Problems With Misting A Bonsai Tree 

Not many people think about the possible negative side effects of misting a bonsai tree but they’re very worth thinking about. When an area is moist or damp for a long time, from misting for example, it creates a perfect fertile area for insects, aphids, scale pests and disease to live. There’s no guarantee this would ever happen to your bonsai just from misting it but the likelihood of creating a more fertile environment for pests is there.


Due to general bad care routines, a lot of beginners will over-water bonsai trees. If you combine the now rotting root system with a moist top soil, foliage and trunk you’re more than likely going to start getting fungus on your bonsai tree as well. For more information on this, have a read of my article: Help! Fungus On My Bonsai.

In Summary


Misting a bonsai tree is more or less pointless, potentially causing a fertile environment for nasty things like aphids and mites. A fine misting once or twice a week will suffice, removing any small bugs or dust that has settled on the foliage since the last mist.


Using a humidity tray underneath your bonsai pot is a much better solution to achieving a higher level of humidity. Keeping the tray filled up is going to provide the bottom layers of soil and roots with more moisture, potentially leading to a healthier tree. It’s important to not let the bonsai tree or any roots actually sit in the tray though as this will cause rot – a few centimetres above will be perfect.


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