How Old Can A Bonsai Tree Get?

How Old Can A Bonsai Tree Get?

Many people wonder about the average lifespan of the bonsai tree considering its miniature structure and confinement to a small pot. Primarily, the maximum age that a bonsai tree gets depends on several factors such as its species, growing conditions, protection from disease and pests, and other aspects that affect its health. Find out more about the lifespan of a bonsai tree including some interesting facts about the oldest existing bonsai tree in the world.

Bonsai Plant Species and Their Average Lifespan

A bonsai plant is expected to have the same lifespan as their parent trees. For instance, there are trees that slowly wither once it reaches 100 years old while other species grown in the wild can live up to 5000 years.

For instance, tree species such as the Birch, Field Maple, Mountain Ash, and Common Alder live between 100 and 120 years when they are grown in the wild. Species that can survive for a longer period (200 to 300 years) include the Common Ash, European Beech, Common Hawthorn, Hornbeam, and Holly. The Willow can live up to 400 years while the Scots Pine is expected to reach up to 500 years. The Yew, however, can outlive all these species as it has a life expectancy of 5000 years.

When cultivated as bonsai, the lifespan of these tree species are expected to be greater since they are more pampered and protected from harsh elements. Theoretically, a tree can live decades beyond its typical lifespan when it is shielded from the worst natural elements such as pests, extreme weather conditions and common plant diseases. In addition, ideal growing conditions and continual pruning ensure the tree’s excellent condition and vigor.

oldest bonsai tree

Photo Credit: Steve Greaves via Compfight cc

Oldest Living Bonsai Tree

One of the oldest bonsai trees that still lives at present is the five-needle bonsai pine that is known as the Sandai-Shogun-No Matsu. The tree is said to be about 500 years old, and it is considered as Japan’s national treasure. According to researchers, the tree was cultivated initially in the 17th century, during the 1600s. Its parent tree, the White Pine, has lived for over 500 years. The tree has a height of 81 centimeters, and it has powerful and elegant trunks, stable form and excellent balance that make it a true masterpiece.

How to Tell the Age of A Bonsai Plant

The only reliable means of determining the actual age of a tree is by counting its rings located at the base part of the trunk. However, you can estimate the tree’s age by finding out the year when it was first propagated from a cutting or seed. You may also count the rings found on old branches that you have removed from the tree for an idea about its age.

Caring for Your Bonsai

If you want to ensure your plant’s long life, then you should apply the right maintenance techniques. Trees that are well-maintained can live several years beyond their expected life span. Make sure you prevent unpleasant conditions that can have a negative impact on the tree’s health such as over-fertilizing, excessive watering, and too much exposure to direct or full sunlight and harsh weather conditions.


  1. says

    I came across some bonsai trees at a local store, I was amazed. obviously i’d heard of them , but never knew they were so cute.
    Bought one one straight away, only £5 and began learning as much as possible. Led me to this site, im so interested now…ive never grown anything before, so im determined to do my best in the tiny world of Bonsai.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>