How Long Does A Bonsai Tree Live? Easy Answer [2023]

Bonsai can be hundreds of years old. Some are grown in containers from scratch, others are collected from the wild and grown in pots. They are generally less than 4 feet tall.

Just like people, bonsai keep growing year after year, maybe not taller, but older. As they keep getting matured, they develop the great character they are known for. But how long does a bonsai tree live actually?

At what point do people or other living things fully grow? The answer is similar for bonsai. At some point, we recognize that the bonsai has a nice shape or character. Some look better than others, but overall our goal is to improve their health and appearance over time.

Some specimens can look good in a matter of years, while others take decades before taking on a mature form. The species and the climate in which a given tree grows determine the weather.

As a wise man once said:

“A bonsai never ends… It changes and matures with each passing season”

How long does it take for a bonsai to fully grow?

A bonsai will never fully grow. There is a bad joke that the only finished bonsai is a dead bonsai.

Bonsai are living, growing trees. Most bonsai work is horticultural, keeping the tree healthy and thriving so it can be strong enough to be designed and maintained as a bonsai.

If you know what you are doing and depending on the material it is possible to get some trees to show up in 10-15 years from seed but a bonsai is never ‘complete’.

How long does a bonsai tree live
How long does a bonsai tree live

How long does a bonsai tree live? 

The time required for the full growth of a bonsai plant is the same as that of the original species. Since a bonsai is a well-cared-for plant, it can reach full growth a little earlier and depends on several variants.

Trees normally have a lifespan and grow until then and begin to wither once they reach that age. A bonsai plant is also expected to have the same lifespan as its parents. This age can vary from one hundred years to five thousand years. Tree species such as baobab, cotton, acacia, banyan, peepal, cryptomeria, ginkgo, mesquite, cypress, oak, birch, field maple, mountain ash, and common alder live for over 100 years when grown in the wild.

Common ash, European beech, common hawthorn, hornbeam, and holly live more than 200 years. The willow lives up to 400 years and the Scots pine for 500 years. The yew can survive all this with a life expectancy of 5,000 years.

When grown as bonsai, the lifespan of these tree species is expected to be longer as they are more pampered and protected from the elements. Theoretically, a tree can live decades beyond its typical lifespan when protected. Ideal growing conditions and continual pruning ensure excellent condition and vigor.

How would you know a bonsai is fully grown?

Bonsai is the art of growing miniature versions of a normal tree found in nature. A bonsai must imitate an old tree. Therefore, one has to understand what are the characteristics of an old tree. 

It should have a thick trunk, there should be a lot of branches on the tree or a good branching of branches, thick branches at the bottom and thinner branches as you go up, etc. Keeping this in mind, when one makes a bonsai, he or she has to incorporate all of these features into their bonsai.

Some grow the pre-bonsai material in the ground for a long time to get a thick trunk. Others do it in large grow bags. As the tree grows, unnecessary branches are cut off and only the necessary ones remain. All of this takes time.

If you want a thick trunk, it may take several years to obtain depending on where you plant the tree. If you want a rugged look, there are some advanced techniques like jinning, creating an Aurochs, etc. that give the illusion of a tough old tree. Therefore, it is very difficult to know how long it will take for a tree to become a good bonsai.

It also depends on the pre-bonsai material you use. If it is in air layers, one gets a ready thick trunk and it will take a shorter time to make it into a bonsai. You can also make a cute little bonsai that mimics an old tree with lots of wiring etc. 

How long does a bonsai tree live
How long does a bonsai tree live

How much does an old bonsai tree cost?

Relatively young ranges between 5 and 10 years of age. Most of them are small specimens, but with careful selection, they can have good development potential.

How big can a bonsai get?

Classic bonsai plants that are grown for indoor use usually reach a size of around 20 centimeters to 2 meters. Outdoor bonsai, on the other hand, can easily reach a size of two to 12 meters in gardens.


The answer to the question ‘how long does bonsai tree live’ is really simple. There is no age limit to grow a bonsai. The age of a bonsai depends on the age of the tree found in nature. If a tree grows for 100 years in the wild, then your bonsai will also grow for 100 years, as long as great care is taken to make it grow. A bonsai enthusiast continues to maintain the bonsai tree as it grows and keeps it small in height, but the tree continues to grow and over some time gives it the characteristics of a hardy old tree.