Should You Keep Your Bonsai Tree Inside or Outside in [2023]?

Tree in green wheat field

At Bonsai Garden™, we get asked this question a lot: "Should I keep my bonsai tree inside or outside?" And just like with many things related to bonsai trees, the answer isn't a straightforward "yes" or "no". It all depends on the type of bonsai tree you have, your climate, and the amount of care you're able to provide.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll dive deep into the factors that affect whether you should keep your bonsai tree inside or outside. We'll cover the benefits and drawbacks of each option, how to choose the right spot for your tree, and how to care for it no matter where it lives.

Selecting a Bonsai Tree for Indoor vs Outdoor

Planted alone

The first step to deciding whether to keep your bonsai inside or outside is to choose the right type of tree. Some species of bonsai trees thrive indoors, while others require outdoor conditions to grow and thrive. Here is a list of bonsai tree species fit for indoor and outdoor use:

Indoor Bonsai Trees

  1. Ficus
  2. Jade
  3. Chinese Elm
  4. Schefflera
  5. Hawaiian Umbrella

Outdoor Bonsai Trees

  1. Japanese Maple
  2. Pine
  3. Juniper
  4. Azalea
  5. Willow

Keep in mind that this is just a brief list; there are several other bonsai trees that can thrive indoors or outdoors.

When selecting a bonsai tree, consider the light requirements, temperature, humidity, and soil needs for each species. Make sure to choose a tree that is compatible with the environment you can provide, as this will make your tree much easier to care for.

Keeping Your Bonsai Inside

If you live in a climate with harsh winters or you don't have access to a suitable outdoor space, keeping your bonsai tree inside can be a great option. Indoor bonsai trees are typically tropical or subtropical species that require a consistently warm and humid environment to thrive.

Benefits of Indoor Bonsai Trees

  • You can enjoy your bonsai tree year-round, without worrying about extreme outdoor weather conditions.
  • Indoor trees are not exposed to pests and diseases that frequently affect outdoor trees.
  • You can control the climate, light, and humidity to cater to your tree’s needs.

Cons of Indoor Bonsai Trees

  • Indoor bonsai trees need to be regularly watered, misted, and fertilized to create a suitable environment for the tree.
  • They have more restriction in the space compared to outdoor trees, which means they may not grow as big.
  • They are more prone to red spider mites which thrive in the stable and moisture-rich environment that comes from potted indoor plants.

Keeping Your Bonsai Outside

If you live in a climate that is suitable for outdoor bonsai trees, consider keeping your tree outside! Outdoor bonsai trees require less maintenance than indoor trees, as they receive nutrients from natural sunlight and rainfall.

Benefits of Outdoor Bonsai Trees

  • Outdoor bonsai trees have the space and right climate to grow much bigger than indoor bonsai trees.
  • They can be much more resilient to pests and diseases that indoor trees face.
  • You can achieve a more authentic and natural look for your tree.

Cons of Outdoor Bonsai Trees

  • Weather such as strong winds, frost, and drought in some seasons may harm the outdoor bonsai tree.
  • The tree could attract wildlife, such as birds, which will drop twigs in the soil which may alter Ph levels and pests like aphids.
  • You may need to repot the tree more frequently.

Choosing the Right Spot for Your Bonsai Tree

Once you've decided whether to keep your bonsai tree inside or outside, the next step is to choose the right location for it. Here are some tips for choosing the ideal spot for your tree:

  • Make sure your tree gets the right amount of sunlight for its species. For example, outdoor trees need 6 hours of full sun per day, and indoor trees may need to be placed near a sunny window or under grow lights.
  • Consider the temperature and humidity of the area. Keep your tree away from extreme heat or cold, and ensure there is proper ventilation to prevent fungal problems.
  • Check that your tree is not exposed to strong winds or drafts, which can damage delicate branches and leaves.
  • Choose a place where your tree will not be disturbed by pets, children or other outdoor activities.

Quick Tips and Facts

  • Overwatering and under watering your bonsai tree are common issues that could happen in all seasons and locations.
  • Bonsai trees grow well in well-draining soil and you should not use soils from nature unless you know what you're doing
  • Outdoor bonsai trees can face frost damage, especially if they are not in the right winter setting for their species
  • Indoor bonsai trees will benefit from grow lights to help improve their indoor environment.


Where Should I Keep My Bonsai Tree?

The best spot for your bonsai tree depends on its species and your environment. As a general rule, indoor bonsai trees should be placed near a bright, sunny window or under grow lights. Outdoor bonsai trees should be placed in a spot that receives enough light and is protected from extreme weather conditions.

How Long Should I Leave My Bonsai Tree Outside?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the amount of time your bonsai tree should spend outside depends on several factors, including its species and your environment. As a general rule, keep your tree outside for as long as possible during the growing season and bring it inside when temperatures drop too low.

Should I Keep My Bonsai Tree Inside or Outside in Winter?

This again depends on the species of your bonsai tree, as some require a dormant period during colder weather. As a general rule, outdoor bonsai trees should be left outside in winter, protected from harsh conditions. Indoor bonsai trees should be kept away from cold drafts and heated rooms to maintain proper dormancy.


So, should you keep your bonsai tree inside or outside? As we've seen, the answer depends on several factors, including the species of your tree, your climate, and the level of care you're able to provide. Indoor bonsai trees are suitable for those that live in climates that may not be suitable for outdoor bonsai trees. Meanwhile, outdoor bonsai trees provide a much larger environment for the tree to grow but may face challenges in harsh weather conditions.

No matter which option you choose, always remember to give your bonsai tree the proper light, temperature, and humidity it needs to thrive. With proper care, your bonsai tree can live for decades or even centuries, providing you with beauty and enjoyment for years to come.

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