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Bonsai Care: When Your Bonsai Dies

Updated on May 15, 2011

SO, you spent anywhere from $12.93 to $69.99 on your bonsai plant...

...and that little bugger died. If you attempted to grow him up from a seed and ain't seen nothin' yet, well, you're probably SOL. However, if you let someone else take care of the mysterious planting the-thing-when-it's-a-baby part and bought it as a full-grown/teenager, you have several options for what to do with it when it dies. Because it will.


  1. Leave it there, brown and miserable, shooting off negative vibes around your apartment or house, like I did for a month or two.
  2. Put it outside and let it kill all of the other plants around it.
  3. Throw it away - (but it cost $69.99!)
  4. Preserve it.
If you chose option four, try this!

Your bonsai that died looks way too cool to throw away... here's how to preserve it and put it right back on the windowsill where you had it.

Bonsai is actually a style of planting a tree in a low container. It is a Japanese art form which features small trees that can be shaped and grown in a small pot which easily fits on your windowsill or shelf. The bonsai art form can be very difficult to practice, especially for a novice. However, when the trees die, they stay fairly sturdy and stay in the same shape, the just lose their color! Why notĀ giveĀ it some color and preserve it as a decoration?

Before doing this, make sure your bonsai is actually dead! The bonsai is a beautiful, slow growing plant and is worth saving if there is still some life in it. I, however, have no green thumb (in fact, I think it might be yellow, or wilted, or brown...) and my pre-planted and raised bonsai did not live for long.

What You'll Need:

  • the tree
  • green spray paint
  • green, brown, and yellow craft paint
  • plastic
  • a paper plate
  • paintbrushes or sponges
  • clear protective spray

STEP 1: When the dirt is completely dry, take the bonsai out of the pot. If you have a cool looking pot like I did, empty out the dirt and save the pot. Be sure to keep the lump of dirt that has collected around the roots.

STEP 2: Lay down some plastic and gather your materials. It might help to try to prop up some plastic around the tree.

STEP 3: Spray paint the tree. Regular paint probably won't work. You can spray paint the whole thing and the dirt too.

STEP 4: Paint the trunk of the tree brown. Add details if desired.

STEP 5: Mix the other craft paints together to get your desired accent colors. I mixed yellow and hunter green.

STEP 6: Dab the new color onto the leaves. Since the tree is stiff and prickly, it should only get on the ends. Add any other details you wish.

STEP 7: Spray your protective clear coat on your tree, and viola! You have your bonsai back.


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    • profile image

      Shannon 5 days ago

      Great Halloween idea. Black with glitter spray paint. Little tombstones on dirt around it. Maybe a miniature skeleton.

    • SarahLinny profile image

      Sarah Carson 6 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

      Thanks for reading my hub Krysanthe - I'll put up some pictures ASAP! (Having a few technical difficulties but hopefully it will be soon!)

    • Krysanthe profile image

      Kathy Hull 6 years ago from Bloomington, Illinois

      Sounds like a cool idea, but I'm having a hard time visualizing it. I'd love to see some pitures of the finished "bonzai"