Do Bonsai Trees Need Sunlight (Here’s the Truth)

No matter what plant or tree it is, they all need sunlight to thrive, even if it is not direct sunlight. The sun helps them make their own food that sustains them for their entire life. If the plant or tree doesn’t receive enough sun, they will not be able to make their food and die early. 

If you have just begun Caring for Bonsai trees, you might wonder whether bonsai trees need sunlight. If you are, you are in the right place. So, do bonsai trees need sunlight?

Bonsai trees need direct sunlight to make their food. Without the direct sun, they will not thrive and might even be damaged, causing soft foliage and other issues. Bonsai trees like to receive 5 to 6 hours of sunlight per day when grown inside or outside.

Also see: How Should You water to a Bonsai Tree?

How Much Sunlight Do Bonsai Trees Need?

A bonsai tree needs at least five hours of direct sunlight each day. You will also notice that some species might do better in the winter when they are getting sunlight from an indirect source too. The key to helping your bonsai tree to thrive is to understand the lighting requirements. 

We recommend that you place your bonsai tree in a sunny location where it can easily have access to all the light it needs. Also, keep in mind that a bonsai tree can burn easily if you suddenly shift it from a shady to a sunny place. That is why you must gradually expose them to light so that they can adapt. 

Furthermore, keep your bonsai tree outdoors as much as possible. However, if the temperature falls too much, then we recommend that you bring the tree indoors and offer protection. How much light they will require indoors will depend on the species. 

You can place it indoors in a sunny location where it can receive light indirectly. It will enable your bonsai to stay healthy and grow in the best way possible. Remember that if you are new to bonsais, it will take you time to learn what works best for your bonsai tree. 

Can Bonsai Live In Artificial Light?

Bonsai trees can typically survive under fluorescent light as they are generally not too hot. However, avoid using incandescent lights because they are known to be too hot for Bonsai trees. Additionally, using an incandescent light can cause damage to your Bonsai tree leaves and stems because of the heat they generate.

Here are the top 3 artificial lights for Bonsai trees.

Also See: How To Take Care Of A Bonsai Tree (Here’s How)

3 Best Artificial Light For Bonsai Trees

Do you live somewhere there is not much sun, and you still want to grow a bonsai? Then, you can use artificial lights.

Here are the best artificial lights you can use for your bonsai trees:

1- LED Lights 

LED are one of the top artificial lights to use indoors for your bonsai. These grow lights have become popular in the last two decades. That is because they will reduce your energy cost, and you can grow your bonsai with it with ease. 

Keep in mind that any LED you buy for your bonsai tree must have a mix of blue and red bulbs. As a general rule of thumb, these lights should have a minimum power of 30 watts. You must leave them on for at least sixteen hours each day

The table below shows LED lights  characteristics for bonsai tree

Time to leave the Light OnBetween sixteen and eighteen hours each day
PlacementIf you have 50-watt bulbs, then the lights must be ten inches away from the bonsai. If your bulbs are weaker, you can place them closer
Best For All the species of bonsai trees

Table Displays LED Lights  Characteristics For Bonsai Tree

You should keep the lights away from the bonsai for at least eight hours each day to replicate the natural cycle of light. If your LED lights have a lower wattage power, you can leave them with the bonsai for at least eighteen hours. 

Here are some pros of using LED lights for your bonsai:

  • LED lights have a long life
  • Your bonsai will not get damaged or urn from the excessive light 
  • LED lights are energy-efficient and will help you save money
  • They have the full spectrum of light that will ensure optimum bonsai growth at each stage

Here are some cons of using LED lights for your bonsai:

  • They will offer less light coverage on your bonsai
  • It tends to change color during its lifespan 

2- Fluorescent Lights 

Many people don’t know this, but since the 30s,  Fluorescent Lights have been commercially used for plant growth. That is why they are one of the most popular artificial lights to grow bonsai indoors.

Fluorescent Light are ideal for emitting blue light, which is why you must not use them on bonsai trees that bear fruit or flowers

Time to leave the Light OnBetween sixteen and eighteen hours each day
PlacementBetween two to four inches away from your bonsai. If your leaves burn easily, then at least eight to ten inches away from the tree
Best For All the species of bonsai trees that don’t bear fruit or flower. Other species include Fukien tea, Ficus, and Chinese Elm

Table Displays Fluorescent Lights Characteristics For Bonsai Tree –

One thing to remember is that if you plan on using this artificial light, you will have to use it with a reflector or hanger. You must purchase this equipment separately to ensure your bonsai tree grows in the best way possible. 

Here are some pros of using fluorescent lights for your bonsai:

  • They are inexpensive to buy
  • It doesn’t generate too much heat, which is why your bonsai will not burn 
  • The lights are ideal for small spaces and keeping your bonsai indoors

Here are some cons of using fluorescent lights for your bonsai:

  • These lights are not ideal for bonsais that bear fruits or flowers
  • Fluorescent lights have the smallest yield per watt when you compare them to other types of artificial light solutions for bonsai

3- HID Light 

If you want the most powerful light for your bonsai tree, then it doesn’t get better than HID Lights. These lights have unparalleled penetration capabilities that you will not find in LED and fluorescent lights. However, this is not the ideal artificial lighting solution for all growers. 

That is because these lights emit a significant amount of heat, and they use a lot of power. That is why it can be inefficient for many people to use in the long run.

If you don’t have too much money and a lot of space in your home for this light, then you can stick to the other artificial lights we have discussed. 

Time to leave the Light OnAt least twelve hours each day
PlacementBetween twenty to thirty inches away from your bonsai tree
Best For Citrus bonsai

Table Displays HID Light Characteristics For Bonsai Tree –

We also recommend that you keep these lights at least twenty to thirty inches away from your bonsai. If you move it closer than twenty inches, your bonsai tree will dry out and burn. 

Here are some pros of using HID lights for your bonsai:

  • No other light can come close to the light penetration this offers
  • You can also use them outdoors in a greenhouse
  • It is inexpensive 
  • These lights are ideal for encouraging the leafy growth of your bonsai tree

Here are some cons of using HID lights for your bonsai:

  • The operating cost is high 
  • It can be exhausting to find the right size for your growing needs

Can Bonsai Trees Survive Without Sunlight?

Placing a Bonsai tree near north-facing windows is not recommended as they will generally receive only indirect light, which may be insufficient for many Bonsai tree species. Also, remember that the intensity and quality of light received from north-facing windows will vary as the angle of the sun shifts throughout the year.

When caring for your bonsai, remember that you are growing a tree, not a houseplant. And generally, most bonsai need about six to eight hours of light daily.

Depending on where you live, all bonsai trees thrive from living outdoors during the late spring, summer, and early fall.

However, if you can’t put your Bonsai tree outdoors, the second-best option is to place them in a south-facing window on a humidity tray for 14 to 16 hours daily to increase their chance of receiving adequate light.

Also see: Top 6 Bonsai Soil Alternatives You Should Try

Best Bonsai Tree For Beginners

If you decide to start growing bonsai trees, here are the best bonsai to get you started. Remember to thrive; bonsai trees require good location and watering. And generally, some bonsai species are easier to grow and care for than others.

The table contains the best bonsai tree for beginners.

Best Bonsai Tree For BeginnersCharacteristicsWhy Is It Perfect For Beginners?
Ficus Bonsai Trees– Ficus is an evergreen tropical tree with cool aerial roots growing from the trunk.
– You can grow Ficus Bonsai indoors near a sunny window or outdoors year-round if you live in warmer climates.
Ficus is a great bonsai tree for beginners as it thrives indoors, in a sunny location. It is also easy to care for and shape with wire since it has supple branches.
Portulacaria Bonsai Trees– Originally from South Africa, Portulacaria Afra (also known as Jade Tree, Elephant Bush, or Money Tree) is an evergreen succulent shrub or small tree.
– It can grow up to 157 inches (4 meters) in height.
Portulacaria bonsai trees is an excellent bonsai for both beginners and seasoned gardeners because of their low maintenance requirements and hardiness.
Chinese ElmThe Chinese Elm is native to China and south-east Asia. In its native environment, it can grow up to 80 feet (25 meters).Chinese Elm is a semi-evergreen tree. Most beginners choose Chinese Elm as their first bonsai tree. The good news is that it is also cheaper than other Bonsai trees for beginners.
Juniper Bonsai TreesNative to Asia, Europe, and North America, juniper bonsai trees have a typically compact growth habit, making them well-suited to bonsai growing techniques.Juniper trees are a particularly popular choice for beginners because of their easy care requirements and beautiful foliage.
Cotoneaster Bonsai Trees– Native to Asia, Europe, and North Africa, Cotoneaster bonsai trees are small trees, shrubs, or even ground-covering plants.  
– Cotoneaster bonsai trees are evergreen with Small leaves and flowers. They grow well when left outdoors.
Cotoneaster bonsai trees are great for beginners. They are a good choice if you are looking for gorgeous bonsai trees.

Table Contains Information About The Best Bonsai Tree For Beginners And Their Characteristics –

Final Words 

That was your complete guide to understanding that do bonsai trees need sunlight. Yes, they do, but you can also replace them with the best artificial lights that will keep your bonsai thriving and growing healthy in no time.

You can select any artificial lights that suit your bonsai species to get the most out of it for a long time to come. 

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