Providing light for your indoor bonsai tree is not always as straightforward as it would seem. Simply placing your plant on a windowsill is not always best practice for bonsai tree care. So we’ve collated some helpful tips to help sort the light requirements for your indoor bonsai tree.
Leaves need sufficient light to photosynthesize and nourish the plant with sugars however different plants do require varying amounts of sunlight. You should always consider the natural habitat of your bonsai species and how exposed they are to sunlight in the wild before choosing the location of your tree.
For example pines and junipers that naturally reside on exposed mountain sides characteristically tolerate full sun, in shady conditions a pine or juniper bonsai tree will struggle. Even if it is located close to a wall the tree will grow quickly on the sunny side but will struggle on the shaded.
At the other end of the spectrum if a maple or an azalea (plants from woodland margins and valleys) is exposed, the shaded side will produce more vigorous, healthier growth. Another interesting point to note for maples (pictured right) is that they generally hold their color for longer if kept in semi-shade but if it receives full sun in autumn it’s seasonal colors will be greatly intensified.
So what are the best lighting conditions for your indoor bonsai tree? It is impossible to provide the perfect conditions and replicate a species habitat, but finding a solution that pleases and maintains your bonsai is not usually too difficult to find. A sunny corner is a good way forward or using shade netting over a window can allow you to mitigate the amount of light your bonsai tree will receive.
Also good practice is to turn your bonsai tree 90 degrees every few days so all areas of foliage can receive an equal amount of light. A point to remember is that your bonsai will most likely not die from receiving too much or too little sunlight but it will certainly tell you when they are struggling.
It is a good idea to supplement natural light in the winter with artificial light for a few hours a day, preferably in the morning before sunrise, and in the evening after sundown. Fluorescent lights that use daylight and warm light ranges are best and should be suspended between 10-30 inches above the plants.
List of indoor bonsai tree light requirements
Note: to convert lux to footcandles (the unit of illumination) multiply by 0.4. One lux = 1 lumen/square meter. One footcandle = 1 lumen/square foot.
|Ficus bejamina 'Lucy','Natascha'||1000|
|Ficus religiosa, F. virens||2000|
|Ficus retusa, F. natalensis||1000|
Light requirements from Bonsai in Your Home by Paul Lesniewicz