How Long Does It Take for a Bonsai Tree to Grow?

Feed your bonsai tree and focus on keeping it healthy at all times. Don’t forget to trimming it, providing the ideal nutrients, and fertilize it regularly, that can encourages its full potential.

Bonsai tree takes a long time to grow, and therefore you must be patient and committed. However, this art of growing a Bonsai is found in most Japanese cultures, and it has existed for over 1000 years. In addition, you should have the necessary horticultural skills to offer it sufficient care and maintenance.

Therefore, make a long-term commitment if you intend to propagate it. It can take years before you start to enjoy its fruits. Do you know that time and Bonsai tree are two main aspects that are concurrent? 

Anyway, how long does it take for a bonsai tree to grow? This question is subjective, and there is no definite answer to it. If you propagate it from the seeds, it can take approximately five years to resemble an actual tree.

How Long Does It Take for a Bonsai Tree to Grow
Does Bonsai Tree Take Long Time to Grow?

Most gardeners buy a pre-grown bonsai and care for it for about 15 years or even more. If you set the right growing conditions, it can create a strong root system to survive for over 400 years. Therefore, this article gives detailed information regarding its growth and care. But first…

What is a Bonsai tree? 

This is a very significant tree in most Japanese cultures, although China is its actual origin. It was very symbolic in Zen Buddhism. Nevertheless, the Japanese played a big role in improving and developing the art of propagating it.

Presently, it’s used to decorate buildings and also for recreational purposes. One beneficial value associated with growing and caring for a bonsai tree is that it teaches people to be incredibly patient. In ancient China, the people believed that you could have eternal life if you could care for it for that long period.

How Long Does It Take for a Bonsai Tree to Grow
Bonsai Tree

How to Grow a Bonsai Tree from Seed?

You need to be patient enough to grow this tree from seed because it takes a very long time for the seeds to germinate. So the question is, “how long does it take to grow a bonsai tree from seed?” It takes approximately 2 to 5 years for it to get big enough. Follow the steps below to start yours from seed:

1. Selection of a Tree Species

You should first figure out the kind of species that is ideal for your climate, needs, and situation. Whether you decide to propagate it outdoors or indoors, then that plays a big role in your selection. You have limited options if you decide to grow it indoors because only subtropical species can do well.

If you decide to grow it outdoors, there are several options to select from, such as non-tropical trees, which can do well outdoors. You only need to protect them from direct and bright sunlight. After identifying the best bonsai species, you can use various cultivation mechanisms.

2. Acquire the Seeds

After you have selected the best bonsai species with desirable traits, collect mature brown cones from it. Its seeds can take a shorter time to germinate. For instance, oak seeds are the best, especially if you harvest them during autumn, and should be green in color.

Some species like deciduous trees such as maples, beeches, and oaks have highly noticeable pods. Each year, this tree sheds the seeds, and therefore, it’s pretty much easy to get them. This is the main reason why these species are the most popular for any gardener who wants to grow it from the seeds.

How Long Does It Take for a Bonsai Tree to Grow
Acquire the Seeds

3. Wait for the Right Growing Season

Fall is the best season to start planting your bonsai seeds because, during winter, they become very dormant. This gives them enough time to be familiarized with the soil. And by the time spring sets in, they can come out of their shells.

If you plant in the fall, you avoid subjecting them to stratification. This is because they can withstand cold temperatures after surviving through winter. The cold tends to soften their shells and enables them to come out easily. Therefore, if you start in early fall, the seedlings can be ready by the time the next fall sets in.

4. Allow the Seeds to Germinate

After gathering the seeds, you have to offer them the necessary care until they start sprouting. You know that the seeds always fall down in autumn and become dormant in winter till spring. But if you don’t plan to plant them during fall, you must subject them under stratification.

This process enables the seeds to germinate through the simulation of the environment. So, how long does it take for bonsai seeds to sprout? This answer to this question is unclear because the seeds are designed naturally to start sprouting during spring after being dormant during the winter period.

Therefore, it is imperative to leave the seeds in water for about 7 days before placing them in the refrigerator for about 30 days. This allows the outer shell to soften and allows the seeds to germinate during spring.

5. Choose a Suitable Container

Select the right container with a diameter of about 6 to 14-inches for your seeds. It is necessary to get a larger container because the seeds can stay there for two years during germination. So, get a container with a diameter of about 14 to 22 inches.

How Long Does It Take for a Bonsai Tree to Grow
Choose a Suitable Container

Make enough holes at the bottom of the container for drainage purposes. If possible, you can add sand and gravel to enhance drainage before planting. Now that you have acquired a container, it’s time to plant your seeds, so fill it with soil.

Add soil rich in nutrients, and it should well aerated and moist. The soil should be slightly below the edge of the container. Tap the soil so that it can settle well in the pot. Then if necessary, you add gravel for drainage purposes.

6. Plant your Seeds

Sowing the seeds is quite simple, but it can take some time. Dig holes of about 2.5 inches in diameter and put your them inside, and cover them gently. The seed must feel free, just like in the natural setup. But if you intend to sow many seeds simultaneously, it is advisable to leave a space between them of approximately 2.5-inches to allow them to sprout.

After planting your seeds, water your soil consistently to keep it moist. Keep watering it at least twice a day to enable it to become dark. Watering enables your soil to be well aerated and enhances the growth of the seeds.

7. Allow the Seeds to Grow

Allow your seeds to stay outdoors for a while before you transfer them back into the house. Create a mild shade to allow penetration of bright indirect sunlight. And if you sow your seeds in the fall, the seeds can start to sprout in spring. 

Nevertheless, if you subjected the seeds under stratification, it takes about 5 to 7 weeks to germinate. Once the seeds start to sprout, you need to apply fertilizer. It is advisable to fertilize them using a water-soluble fertilizer for outstanding results.

How Long Does It Take for a Bonsai Tree to Grow: Caring for Bonsai Tree?

Caring for this tree is critical, and you must be very committed while doing this task because it requires special attention and maintenance. Nevertheless, different species have particular caring procedures. Therefore, you need to identify your specific species to provide it necessary caring instructions.

1. Watering

Watering your bonsai tree is the most crucial part of caring for it. The watering frequency relies on various aspects such as tree species, potting size, size of the bonsai, climatic conditions, and soil mixture. Therefore, it isn’t easy to provide exact watering guidelines.

It is imperative to water it when the soil is slightly dry and not when it’s wet. Never allow the soil to be completely dry that can weaken it. To determine the soil moisture, deep your finger at approximately 0.4-inches deep.

Watering
Watering Bonsai Tree

There is no routine for watering it; instead, if you monitor it closely, you can know when and how to water it. Try to avoid watering it in a particular routine till you understand what you are doing.

Soil mixture also determines the frequency of watering your bonsai tree. Most of them flourish well akadama and lava rock mixture in the ratio of 2:1. Therefore, use a mixture that retains enough water, especially akadama.

2. Fertilizing

Fertilizing your bonsai regularly during the growing season is essential to growing healthy and thrive. Normally, plants always extend their root system while searching for nutrients. But remember that it is confined in a small container; thus, it requires sufficient fertilization. 

Fertilization replenishes the nutritional content of your soil in the potting mix. Therefore, you are advised to use water-soluble fertilizer with all the primary elements; potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorus.

Fertilizing
Fertilizing Bonsai

Nitrogen enhances the growth of stems above the ground and leaves from the nodes. Potassium improves the overall health of your tree, while phosphorus enriches the root system for healthy growth. It is therefore advisable to use the elements in the same ratio all through the growing cycle.

Moreover, fertilizer also contains other micronutrients such as copper, iron, zinc, manganese, etc. You should fertilize it the entire growing season, especially from spring to autumn, depending on your species. It does not matter the type of fertilizer you are using; ensure you strictly follow the fertilization guidelines.

3. Repotting

It is critical to repot your bonsai tree regularly to prevent it from starving and eventually dying. Most of the pot-bound trees always tend to take the shape of the container because their roots use all the nutrients available. Therefore, the roots might stop growing due to a lack of enough growing space and adequate nutrients.

So, what’s the best course of action? Repotting it is the only best solution because it will be re-supplied with nutrients it requires to grow and thrive. Transplanting it also depends on the species and size of the container.

How Long Does It Take for a Bonsai Tree to Grow
Repotting Bonsai Tree

Therefore, it is advisable to repot it after every two to three years or even sooner. But for a mature tree, you need to transplant it after five years. Nevertheless, it should not be a routine, but it is beneficial to do so.

Early spring is known to be the perfect time to repot it because it is dormant. During this time, the tree has fully grown leaves; thus, you can minimize the damaging impact of repotting. Transplanting also ensures that the damaged roots are repaired and start to grow again.

4. Pruning Bonsai Tree

Trimming its roots always facilitate healthy growth. The process is pretty much simple if you master the pruning techniques. These mechanisms assist it in photosynthesizing enough light and growing quite faster and strong.

Using a sterilized pruning shear, cut off the branches and yellow leaves. Trim the topmost canopy to enhance dense growth near the core to absorb sunlight. Therefore, if you give your bonsai proper care and the required maintenance, it can grow pretty much faster.

How long can my bonsai last
How Long Can Your Bonsai Last

Bottom Line: How Long Does It Take for a Bonsai Tree to Grow

You know that growing is a lifetime commitment, and you need to be patient because it can outlive you. Feed it and focus on keeping it healthy at all times. Therefore, appropriate trimming, providing it with ideal nutrients, and fertilization encourages it to grow to its full potential.


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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

How long does it take to grow a bonsai?

If you provide it the correct care, it can take about 5 to 10 years to grow. And it can outlive you because it can survive for over 1000 years. You can pass it from one generation to another, and that is where patience emerges.

How long can my bonsai last?

This tree tends to live a little longer than others because it is pampered and well cared for. Therefore, with the right watering and repotting, it can live for a very long time. It tends to create more branches than a normal tree, thus developing more leaves to absorb sunlight and speed up photosynthesis.

Fertilization is also a guarantee to the development of a healthy bonsai tree. It is allowing you to acquire adequate nutrients. Therefore, you can control anything that can affect it, such as pests, harmful weeds, fungal infections, which you can control.

Which bonsai species are known to grow faster?

Several species are known to grow faster and healthy such as Japanese White and Black Pine, Maple, Religiosa, Jade, Chinese Jupiter, and many others.

If you can answer this question, “how long does it take for a bonsai tree to grow?” then you are ready to commit to growing it. Propagating it is a fun experience, and after 3 to 4 years, you should prune it as you desire it to be. 

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