I skipped a day of watering some time last week and my new powder puff bonsai (Calliandra tweedii i think, but another site says Calliandra Schultzei) has dropped all of its leaves and on the surface, looks pretty dead.

Is there anything i can do at this point to save it?

The day that I discovered the leaf dropping, I watered it using the immersion method, leaving it for 5 minutes in a bowl of water and have been watering it every day just in case it chooses to put out new leaves, but it's also late in the season, so I'm not sure what to expect.

The roots look the same on the surface, i didn't want to disturb them by digging through them to check. Underneath the bark, the wood in the branches is still green underneath and seems healthy.

I suspect that i have killed it and the tree is just taking its time to figure it out, but I'm hoping I'm wrong and there's something i can do to save it.

the tree

  • It's a pity, you could wait and see for a while. Maybe new buds and leaves will emerge, maybe not. I hope it will!
    – benn
    Commented Aug 9, 2021 at 19:20

1 Answer 1


If the roots are good (as in underground it's still white), then the plant is still alive...so don't give up on it yet!

I would strip out all the dried leaves (they're not doing anything at this point). And then prune the smaller side branches back a bit. This will cut down how much water needs to get distributed and lets it focus resources on the larger base trunk.

Continue to water and wait. It usually takes a few weeks, but new growth will usually form again.

Missing a day of watering shouldn't lead to this much water stress though...what type if soil do you have for your bonsai? How dry is it usually?

PS. Forgot something important: if it's sitting somewhere in direct sun, move it somewhere with partial shade. From the photo it looks like it's in a slightly shaded spot, but I reconsidered that assumption.

  • Still no new growth and the wood under the bark has turned white in most places. (might be slightly green still, but definitely less), so I guess it has just died as expected.
    – marky1991
    Commented Aug 20, 2021 at 19:56
  • I still don't really understand why it died so suddenly. The only thing I can think of is that the soil just didn't hold enough water and my daily waterings (default pour-over method) weren't giving it enough time to absorb all the water it needed and the day of missed watering was enough to push it over the edge.
    – marky1991
    Commented Aug 20, 2021 at 20:00
  • Sorry to hear that. I would have expected the small branches to die, but the main trunk should have made it if enough roots were still alive. If you want to continue with bonsai, in the future try mixing some peat moss into the potting mix when you pot the plant. It holds water very well, I usually have mixes of 50-80% peat.
    – Josh
    Commented Aug 20, 2021 at 22:24

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