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Growing a Bonsai — How Long Does It Take?

Growing a Bonsai — How Long Does It Take?

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Successfully growing a bonsai tree is something that just about all gardeners aspire to do.

However, it’s not a task that’s going to provide you with instant gratification.

In most cases, taking a bonsai requires many years of work – and a whole lot of patience! 


How Long Does it Take to Grow a Bonsai?

Growing a bonsai tree from seed will require a 10 to 15 year commitment from the time you plant the seed to the time the bonsai is mature. At a bare minimum, it will take you at least four or five years until your bonsai tree will be large enough for you to do anything bonsai-like (like pruning, wiring, or modifying your tree). 


Time to Grow a Bonsai Tree from Seed

Without a doubt, bonsais are some of the most difficult plants to grow  – especially if you have a tendency to be impatient! It’s important to do proper research and exercise some patience if you plan on growing these interesting plants.

Growing a bonsai tree from seed can be extremely rewarding and will allow you to exercise complete control over the entire project. However, it takes a lot longer to grow a bonsai tree from seed than it does to grow a started tree.

Bonsai growing from seed is hard in another way, too – and that is that it is very difficult to get the plant from seed to tree. Seeds tend to germinate poorly and are sensitive to fluctuations in watering, temperature, and other conditions. 


How Long Does it Take to Grow a Started Bonsai Tree?

If you don’t want to wait a full five years to do anything with your bonsai tree – or if you are a novice grower – you may just want to begin your bonsai experience with a started tree.

Most bonsai trees are around five to seven years old. By buying a tree like this, you can dive right in and get started without having to wait for your tree to mature a bit more. 

It’s not cheating! Although some idealistic gardeners might view it as such, growing a bonsai tree that someone else has already started is a smart choice if you aren’t totally sure what you’re doing yet – and in the long run, by the time your tree is ten or eleven years old, will it really matter who started the seed?


How Long Do Bonsai Trees Live?

Whether you’re starting a bonsai tree from seed or you’ve inherited one from a friend, you might be wondering how long these trees actually live. The answer is – it varies.

From Desert Rose to Jacaranda mimosifolia, the type of bonsai tree you grow plays a big role in how long it will live.

When you first receive your bonsai, take a close look at it. How well taken care of is it? Has it been watered appropriately? Does it look healthy? This will give you a strong indication of its longevity or how long it will take to grow your bonsai to maturity.

The average bonsai tree will take 10 to 15 years to reach maturity, but some can take as many as 30 years. If that sounds like a long time, it is – but remember that the typical bonsai can live for hundreds of years if it’s healthy.

Of course, very few people actually see their bones live this long – most trees die in just a few months because they can be so difficult to take care of.

That’s why it’s important to educate yourself on how to prune, fertilize, water, and otherwise care for your sensitive bonsai tree. 


How Can I Make My Bonsai Tree Grow Faster? 

When you’re figuring out how long it takes to grow a bonsai, the timeline we’ve given you above may be a bit discouraging. “I’m going to put all this work into growing a bonsai,” you think, “and I’ll never get to see it mature!”

You will – especially if you’re patient. However, you can speed things along by starting with a faster-growing species of bonsai. 

Consider growing a bonsai tree like a maple, jade, Japanese white pine, or Chinese juniper. All of these are known for their fast growth rate.

Taking proper care of your bonsai tree is also essential. Brush up on your watering and sunlight knowledge and choose a species that matches the amount of light (and other conditions) you have available. 

Aim for trunk growth rather than branch growth. Your tree needs a strong core to help it grow healthy and fast. You can support trunk growth by repotting and fertilizing your tree on a regular basis. Fertilizing regularly can also prevent yellowing leaves!


How to Figure Out How Old Your Bonsai Tree Is

Want to know how old your bonsai tree is? The easiest way to figure this out is simply to plant it yourself! 

Otherwise, knowing the age of your tree is quite difficult, since bonsais often look a lot older than they truly are. That’s because the whole point of growing a bonsai is to shape and prune it to give it a curved, twisted, and ancient-looking aesthetic.

Now that you know just how long it takes to grow a bonsai, however, you’ll be on the right track to setting up the perfect timeline for cultivating your own!


Frequently Asked Questions about the Topic “How Long Does it Take to Grow a Bonsai tree?”


How long does it take to grow a small bonsai? 

No matter the size, small or large, most bonsai take around 10 to 15 years (at a minimum) to reach maturity. Most small bonsais can be wired after four years of growing from seed.