How To Grow a Bonsai Tree Indoor with a Led Grow Light

Miniature trees and plants are always a treat to the eyes. It adds to the aesthetic appeal of the interiors and provides a unique touch to it. Whether you want to decorate the living area, balcony of your apartment, or even the outdoors, miniature trees are a great choice. 

One such method of growing miniature trees for home decor is Bonsai. Bonsai is a good decor item for your interior and also makes a great gifting option. 

What Is Bonsai?

Bonsai is a Japanese art of growing miniature trees. The art of growing miniature trees and the trees grown through this technique are called Bonsai. In this method, trees and plants are grown much smaller than they would be if they were left to grow independently in nature. Bonsai is not any particular species of plant. Instead, it is a way of growing the plant by pruning them. 

The Japanese technique of growing bonsai is influenced by the traditional Chinese technique called Penjing. In Penjing, an entire natural scenery is replicated in its miniature form. But in bonsai, a tree or plant is pruned to create its miniature version. 

There are several benefits of growing bonsai. Pruning and caring for the bonsai is very relaxing and soothing. Some even consider bonsai as bringing positive energy to the interior. Like any other plant, bonsai also helps purify indoor air and creates a fresh feel indoors. 

What Are The Different Styles Of Bonsai Plants?

green plant on black and white ceramic pot

Bonsai can be classified into different styles based on the size and shape of the trunk. 

  • Upright bonsai

As the name suggests, this type of bonsai grows upright in a triangular shape. You should grow the tree in a tapered manner with a broad base and thinner top. The top of the tree should have only one branch to maintain the triangular shape. 

  • Informal upright bonsai

This type of bonsai also grows upright, but it will be in the shape of an “S.” Branches will grow in every turn of the S shape. This type of bonsai should also follow a tapered pattern with a broad base and thinner top. 

  • Cascade bonsai

Cascade bonsai replicate trees that grow on a cliff. Typically trees that grow on cliffs tend to grow downward owing to various factors like snow and falling rocks. In cascade bonsai also, the tree grows downwards, opposing the natural tendency. This type of bonsais is planted in tall pots, with the tree growing upright to a certain height. Beyond that, the tree is made to cascade down the pot. 

Bonsais can be large or very small in size. Thus, depending on your requirement, you can decide the type of bonsai. 

What Are The Different Types Of Bonsai Plants?

Bonsai plants are mainly of two types - indoors and outdoors. You should grow such plants in their respective surroundings and change their place only for a short duration. 

Outdoor bonsais are mostly hardy that can withstand the weather conditions outside. E.g. pines, maples and juniper are outdoor bonsai trees that you can grow in your garden. But you should always protect the plant from the freezing climate. 

Indoor bonsais are best grown indoors, but you can take them out for a short duration. E.g., ficus, gardenia, and Norfolk pine. They are woody-stemmed plants with wired branches that help them grow the way you want. 

How To Care For Bonsai

Like other plants, bonsais also require the proper growing environment and care for its healthy growth. 

  • Light

Both indoor and outdoor bonsais require bright light for their healthy growth. Most outdoor bonsais require full morning sun and shaded afternoon sun. The indoor plant also requires adequate light. Thus, it is best to place them in a south or east-facing window.

Inadequate light does not kill the plant immediately. But it can make the plant weak and slow down its growth. In case the room does not have enough light, you can grow bonsai tree indoor with led grow light.

  • Water

The watering requirement of Bonsai varies from plant to plant. This depends on the plant’s size and species, the pot’s size, the general climatic condition, and the soil mixture used. The best way to determine whether your plant requires watering is to test the topsoil. It is time to water the plant if the topsoil feels dry to the touch. It would be best if you never watered all your bonsai plants in a regular routine. You should touch and feel each plant before watering it. 

It is very important that the water does not stagnate in the pot. Thus, you should ensure that the pot has drainage holes so that excess water can drain off. Too much water content in the soil can result in root rot. Also, it would help if you used a watering can with a fine nozzle so that the soil does not get washed off while watering. The best water for Bonsai is rainwater. But if it is not available, you can use regular tap water. 

  • Soil

The best soil mixture for a bonsai tree is akadama, pumice and lava rock in a ½:¼:¼ ratio. But if you cannot water the plant as and when needed, it is best to use a soil mixture that retains water. You can achieve this by adding more akadama or compost to the pot. 

  • Temperature

The temperature depends on the type of bonsai plant. You should never allow the temperature to drop below 50 degrees. Similarly, you should keep the plant away from ac vent or heater as it can dry off the plant easily. It is always best to place the bonsai in an area where the daytime temperature remains constant. 

  • Humidity

Most bonsais need high humidity for their growth. This can be a problem when you use an air conditioner or heater inside the house. You can place the plant on a humidity tray filled with water in such a situation. You can also mist the plant a few times a day to provide enough humidity. 

  • Fertilizer

Though bonsai is small, they need proper fertilizer so new leaves can grow. It is best to provide a liquid fertilizer in a 20-20-20 ratio. You can also go for a time-released fertilizer if you so desire. 

  • Pruning

You can maintain the shape of the Bonsai only through regular trimming and pruning. Trimming also promotes new growth. But it would be best if you left enough leaves to maintain the look of the plant. Similarly, you should wire the branches as required to maintain the plant’s shape. 

How to grow a bonsai tree indoors with a LED grow light

One of the biggest challenges faced while growing Bonsai indoors is light. Growing Bonsai can be easy if you have a bright interior with a lot of light. But during the winter months, when sunlight is sparse, providing enough light to the Bonsai is a challenge.  

LED lights come as a boon in such circumstances. These lights are energy efficient and last for a long time. Moreover, LED lights are a great choice if you are a budget-conscious grower or are growing Bonsai on a small scale. 

Another advantage of LED lights is that it does not produce much heat. Thus, you need not worry about the leaves getting burnt off due to excessive heat. Moreover, LEDs provide full spectrum light. Thus, whether your plant is flowering or fruiting, it gets enough light from an LED bulb.

When Should You Provide LED Grow Light To Bonsai?

You should provide LED grow light if the interior does not get enough light for the plant to grow. This usually happens during the winter months. However, LED lights are required only if the plant grows during the winter season. If the bonsai is dormant during winter, there is no need to provide LED light for its growth. 

If you grow tropical plants as bonsai, the light available indoors may not be enough for the plant. The same is the case with outdoor bonsais grown indoors. In such circumstances, you should provide LED light for its growth for at least six hours per day. 

It is best to place a 50W LED light 10 inches away from the foliage. You can adjust the light position depending on how the bonsai responds. 

How To Use LED Lights To Grow Bonsai From Seeds?

Growing bonsai from seeds under artificial lighting includes the below steps. 

  • Take a suitable pot for growing bonsai and add bonsai soil. 
  • Spread the seeds on the soil, leaving enough space between each seed. 
  • Cover the seed with soil. You can use your fingers to place the seed firmly on the soil. 
  • Sprinkle water on top of the soil. 
  • Hang LED light on top of the soil. Let the light glow for 6-8 hours per day. 

As the plant grows, you should adjust the position of the light so that it is at a safe distance from the plant. 

What Are The Features To Look For In LED Grow Light?

The LED grow light that you select should be able to adapt to your requirements. Thus, you should check for the below features in the light. 

  • Brightness control

Not all bonsais prefer the same brightness of light. Some require less light, whereas others require more. Thus, the LED light you select should be dimmable so that you can change the brightness. This helps to provide the light that is closer to the natural light the plant requires. 

  • Timer 

Bonsais do not require 24 hours of light. There should be a few hours of darkness for its healthy growth. A timer alerts you to switch off the light after a certain number of hours. Thus, a timer comes in handy even if you forget to turn off the light. 

What Are The Other Grow Lights Available For Bonsai?

Apart from LED lights, there are other types of grow lights available for bonsai. The type of light to go for should depend on the light requirement of the plant. 

  • Fluorescent light

Fluorescent lights are traditionally used for growing bonsais indoors. You can use them to grow the plant in all stages, from a seedling to a mature plant. Like LED lights, fluorescent lights also do not emit too much heat. Thus, they can be safely placed close to the plant. For the best result, you should keep the light on for 16-18 hours at a distance of 8-10 inches. 

However, the light from the fluorescent lamp is not ideal if the Bonsai bears fruits or flowers. Similarly, fluorescent light may not be enough if you are growing multiple bonsais. 

  • HID light

HID lights closely mimic the sunlight. Thus, they are ideal for fruiting bonsai. Moreover, they are less expensive when compared to LED lights. 

However, like all other artificial lights, HID lights also produce heat. Thus, you cannot place it close to the plant. Moreover, they are not energy efficient. Growing bonsai with HID light can be expensive. 

How Do You Know If The Bonsai is Not Getting Enough Light?

All green plants require light for photosynthesis. Through this process, it generates enough nutrients for its healthy growth. If the growth of the plant slows down and leaves turn yellow, it indicates that the bonsai is not getting enough light. You should then provide artificial light to the plant like LED light, fluorescent light or HID light. 

But not all bonsais require bright light for their growth. Some bonsais like Lucky bamboo and ficus can grow in low light conditions. 


Though artificial lights are mostly used for growing Bonsai indoors, it can also be used in an outdoor setting. Whichever way you use, you should carefully monitor the effect of the light on the plant. The leaves will get burnt if the light is too close to the plant. On the other hand, if it is kept too far away from the plant, it may not react well to the light. Thus, it is very important to place the light at the proper distance and brightness to suit the plant’s requirements. 

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