If you’re thinking about purchasing a bonsai tree, or looking to expand your current knowledge on them, it’s always useful to know how long they tend to survive for! Let’s find out a bit more about how long bonsai trees live for…
Bonsai trees can live for hundreds of years. Currently the oldest known bonsai tree is over 1000 years old. They typically live 25% longer than their full size counterparts, due to the constant care and attention they receive.
How Long Do Bonsai Trees Live?
The lifespan of a bonsai tree is most strongly linked to the level of care it receives and therefore the overall health of the tree. A common misinterpretation is that because they’re small, they live for a shorter amount of time. In reality, they live at least the same amount of time, if not longer, as ‘normal’ size trees do. The better they’re cared for, the longer they survive. Depending on how well you look after your tree, it could be dead within 5 months or it could go on to grow for a 1000 years. The trees used in bonsai are exactly the same as trees found in nature; for example, a Ficus bonsai is genetically identical to a Ficus found naturally in South Asia. They really are just like miniature versions of trees!
It’s for that reason that you would expect a bonsai tree to live for exactly the same amount of time as the species of tree is meant to live for. However, due to a higher level of care given to them compared to a tree living in the wild, they can be grown to survive for much longer. Constant care and attention means the root system is always rejuvenated, the foliage is healthy, it has enough nutrients, is within perfect growing conditions and usually free of disease. There is a study showing that bonsai trees will live on average 25% longer than a tree of the same species!
There is no real expiration date on the life of a bonsai tree. It’s not like they get to 50 years of age and start slowly dying off. As long as the tree remains healthy, vigorous and disease free it can live for hundreds of years!
Factors Affecting How Long a Bonsai Will Live for
There are an absolute multitude of factors dictating how long a bonsai tree will live. Like any other plant, or living being at that, it needs the right amount of care over a long period of time. If you’re not providing your bonsai tree with the right growing conditions it won’t live very long. Like I mentioned earlier, bonsai’s receiving the best care possible can potentially mean a life of over hundreds of years. These are the most important factors affecting how long a bonsai tree will live for:
Some species tend to live for longer than others. A Ficus bonsai, for example, has been known to live for over a 1000 years. My Ficus, for example, has been with me since the start. Bonsai Boy of New York have a really great range of Ficus bonsai trees, with all different price points, so you’re able to purchase one no matter what your budget is. Click here to check out this Ginseng Ficus, which is at a lower price and super easy to care for.
Bonsai trees need to be grown in the perfect conditions to stay healthy and promote strong growth. Ficus bonsai are naturally from a more humid environment, so ensuring you recreate this sort of environment is essential. A saucer, for example, that allows water to evaporate and provide that humidity to the tree is crucial in replicating the Ficus’ natural habitat. I noticed a huge improvement in the vigour of my Ficus after implementing just a simple humidity tray. From personal experience there are a few humidity trays that I’ve found to be the best. Bonsai Boy of New York have some really high quality trays that have been crucial to my bonsai’s health- check them out here. I would also recommend this saucer from Home Garden Ornaments if your budget is slightly lower.
These trees require constant watering, pruning, repotting and pest maintenance to ensure they live a long time- without this care it will not live long. I’ve found that keeping on top of pruning my tree has helped to keep it super healthy and I’ve had it for many years now. It also helps to keep it look good too! I would personally recommend these Satsuki Shears, if you’re needing a new tool to keep on top of pruning your tree.
A Bit of Luck
Unfortunately, some bonsai can get diseases that can be as serious as to kill the tree. Rightly some diseases such as root rot are brought on by bad care, but some are slightly more random. Some of this can be down to luck of the draw, however keeping on top of these other factors will decrease this chance significantly.
This bonsai tree, said to be around 400 years old is one of the rarest in the world. Besides the fact it has survived for centuries, this White Pine also survived the Hiroshima disaster, making it truly one of the most breathtaking bonsai. This tree is living proof that bonsai can still outlive their species out in nature, given the proper care. It’s a goal of mine to actually fly to see this tree in person at some point over the next few years, I haven’t seen a bonsai with such an amazing story before.
The Oldest Bonsai Tree in the World
This is currently thought to be the oldest bonsai tree in the world! This Ficus is sitting at over 1000 years old, which is truly incredible. I have compiled a list of the 8 oldest bonsai trees, which you might find fascinating! Just because this Ficus has made it to over 1000 years old, doesn’t mean mine will, nor yours. This tree would have been cared for, nurtured and treated amazingly to make it to the age it has! It currently sits in the Crespi Bonsai Museum. It’s said that this tree was originally under the care of Chinese Bonsai Masters, before being passed onto a Japanese Master by the name of Shotaro Kawahara.
Bonsai trees can live for hundreds of years if cultivated properly. Using the age old techniques, there is no reason a bonsai tree will not live 25% longer than the exact same species out in nature. The exact amount of time a bonsai will live depends on a huge amount of factors and all species are said to die at different ages, so there is no exact expiration date on bonsai. Let me know how old the oldest bonsai in your collection is!