How Long Does It Take To Grow A Bonsai Tree?


Whether you’re looking to start a new bonsai tree from the seed, or start growing bonsai trees on an industrial scale, you’ll want to know exactly how long it takes to grow a bonsai tree.


The time taken to grow a bonsai tree depends on varying factors including species and growing conditions, however an average of 20-30 years to grow a bonsai tree is a good benchmark figure. Let’s break down why this is…


Bonsai Trees Grow As Fast As Normal Trees


Regardless of popular belief, bonsai trees are exactly the same genetically as the full size species. It’s due to this, that the time taken to grow a bonsai tree will be more or less the same as the full size tree. A ballpark figure for growing trees is 20-30 years for the slower growers, with 10-15 years for faster growing species, so bonsai trees will grow in around this time too. 


With this being said, bonsai trees are actually known to grow faster (relatively), to the full size trees, mainly due to the constant care, pruning and perfect growing conditions that the majority of normal trees won’t be receiving. 


How Growing Conditions Affect The Time Taken To Grow A Bonsai Tree


Having the perfect growing conditions will not only ensure the bonsai tree is healthy, but also potentially shave time off the amount of years needed to grow a bonsai tree.  


-Sunlight. This is of course needed for the growth, survival and health of the bonsai tree.  

-Water. Again, water is extremely important for the growth and health of any tree. Feel free to have a read of my bonsai watering guide, to learn how to provide the perfect watering to the tree. 

-Nutrients. Having access to high quality nutrients can decrease the time it takes for the bonsai tree to grow. 

-Pruning/Disease Control. This is one of the main reasons in which a bonsai tree can grow faster than a full size tree. Bonsai trees are constantly pruned and checked for diseases, pests and root rot, which means the tree can stay in really good health, encouraging growth. I have compiled a step by step pruning guide to safely prune your bonsai tree. 


Which Species Of Bonsai Will Be The Fastest To Grow?


The problem with this question is that the reality is, bonsai isn’t meant to be a race and none of the trees you could grow will be quick, at all. If I was going to start some trees from seeds, I would definitely look at growing Ficus Religiosa, as the species is known to grow pretty fast and robust. The Ficus is definitely a great option, to learn more about this species have a read of my comprehensive Ficus Bonsai Care Guide to see if this tree would suit you. 


With that being said, I wouldn’t bother growing a species just because it may be faster to grow, I would advise picking a species of bonsai you really like, as either way it’s going to take a long time to grow.


Bonsai Trees Take Too Long To Grow, What Options Do I Have?


Due to bonsai trees taking an average of 20-30 years to grow, you may wish to go down a different path when it comes to obtaining new bonsai trees. 


Nursery Stock Plants – 


If you’re a tad impatient and waiting 20+ years for a bonsai tree to grow doesn’t seem worth it for you, creating your own bonsai out of nursery stock plants is an amazing alternative! Nursery stock plants are dirt cheap, easy to obtain and it really takes minimal work to do. I could explain how the process works, but credit where credit is due, I can’t do a better job at explaining than this video will. 


Buying Bonsai Trees – 


As amazing as they are, bonsai trees take a long time to grow, so why not buy a tree that someone started growing 30 years ago? It seems like a no-brainer, right? Buying a bonsai tree is great but they normally come with quite the price tag, due to the amount of time required to grow them. Furthermore, if you’re new to the art and have no idea what you’re doing, there is quite a possibility that you could kill the bonsai tree. 


I would advise only buying a bonsai tree if you’re already into gardening or bonsai. If you aren’t, my suggestion would be to use the nursery stock bonsai guide above, to create your own bonsai for a fraction of the price! Although it can be seen as ‘growing’ a bonsai, you can use cuttings from parent trees to speed up the growing process about 2 years faster than using seeds. For a step by step guide to growing bonsai trees from cuttings, have a read of my recently published article. 


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