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8 Explanations for the High Prices of Certain Bonsai Trees

8 Explanations for the High Prices of Certain Bonsai Trees

Long admired as an enduring symbol of peace and tranquility, the bonsai tree holds a special place in our world. These tiny trees bring good luck and harmony to the home. Caring for and training a bonsai tree is a years-long process that many describe as therapeutic since they lower stress levels and increase patience.

But why are bonsai trees so expensive? Bonsai require a lot of care and attention before they hit the market. They may have undergone years of pruning, grafting, wiring, potting, and daily care by specialists to maintain their stunted form and health. Their age, size, shape, and quality play a large role in their price.

Bonsai are beautiful tests of patience that require time, energy, and a lot of care. To know why they come with a high price tag and if they are worth it, continue reading. 

Why Some Bonsai Trees Are Very Expensive

There are many benefits in caring for a bonsai, but these little trees require work and skill to keep them alive. The older and more mature the bonsai, the more valuable the plant. The high price is due to the rarity and the amount of time and energy a skilled bonsai trainer has invested in the tree. 

In addition to the scarcity and skill of mature bonsai, several other factors contribute to the value of the tree. Beginner bonsai enthusiasts need to have a firm understanding of the amount of time, energy, and money the tree will require.

1. Age of Tree

Determining the age of a bonsai tree involves more paperwork than counting rings; for these trees, it all comes down to math. Start by measuring the tree trunk circumference 1.5 inches from the soil. Next, divide by 3.14; this number is the diameter. Multiply the diameter by the growth factor to determine the tree’s age. 

Several tree age calculators are available online to provide the growth factor number for each specific breed of a tree. This website has an excellent example of a tree age calculator.

2. Size of Tree

The size of the pot and the species decide the size of the tree. Bonsai has a unique classification system based on the size of the tree; the most miniature bonsai is the Keshitsubo which ranges from 1 to 3 inches. The largest classification is the Imperial which grows from 60 to 80 inches. 

3. Shape and Size of Trunk

The trunk is the most eye-catching part of the bonsai tree, and people find it most memorable. Math, again, factors into the desired appearance in that the diameter at the lowest part of the trunk determines the tree’s maximum height. With the side branches being no more than ⅓ of the trunks width. 

4. Overall Quality

The overall quality of a bonsai tree depends on several factors, the branches, the leaves, the roots, and the trunk. The stems should appear healthy with an even distribution of leaves. The leaves should be a uniform healthy shade of green. The trunk should have a smooth surface and a wide bottom with roots that provide a secure anchor into the soil. 

5. Knowledge and Skill Required To Shape the Tree

The best way for a beginner to acquire the skills and knowledge to shape the tree is to work with a bonsai enthusiast who has experience. If this is not possible, several online groups full of skilled individuals are usually happy to assist. 

6. Type of Tree

While almost any branch producing, woody perennial can become a bonsai, some trees and shrubs are better suited. Some of the best species for bonsai include juniper, a hardy shrub that works exceptionally well for outdoor bonsai, and pine due to its flexibility. 

7. Yamadori Bonsai

The word “yamadori” means collecting wild or mountain plants and while every yamadori is a wild plant, not every wild plant is a yamadori. Simply put, yamadori is a plant that has not grown to full height due to environmental issues. Most bonsai enthusiasts search for yamadori that display good adaptability to bonsai training. 

8. Bonsai Tree Pot 

The type and size of the bonsai tree pot are vital to the health and long-term survival of the tree. The bonsai tree pot is stoneware or another material that will not absorb water but has drainage holes. Regular re-potting is necessary to keep the root system healthy and prevent the root from taking on the shape of the pot.

Best Bonsai Trees for Beginners 

For those interested in bonsai, some species are easier to work with and allow you to build valuable experience. These recommended trees are all forgiving and will allow the beginner to make mistakes without necessarily killing the tree. 

Chinese Elm

Old Mature Chinese Elm

The Chinese Elm is a hardy, slow-growing bonsai favorite. This species of tree has a set trunk that will not require training. It will require water every two to three days and generally requires cutting back three to four times per year. The Chinese elm bonsai will need repotting every two years while the tree is young. 

Dwarf Jade

Dwarf Jade Bonsai

The Dwarf Jade bonsai tree is native to the hot, dry climate of South Africa, and while it can be grown outdoors, this tree does best with placement in full sun. This tree is also sensitive to temperature and will not do well below 45 degrees. Red tips on the leaves are a sign of a healthy tree.


Juniper Bonsai at Omiya Bonsai Museum

Juniper is a popular choice for a bonsai tree due to its trunk’s incredible flexibility and trainability. It is common to wire the trunk into the desired shape while the tree is young to produce a dramatically twisted shape when the tree is mature. Juniper’s are outdoor trees and prefer lots of sunlight.

Related Questions:

Are Bonsai Trees Worth a Lot of Money?

The tree’s age and health primarily determine the value of the tree. Some of the most valuable bonsai trees are over 800 years old and are irreplaceable. A several centuries-old juniper bonsai recently sold at auction for just over $2 million. 

How Many Types of Bonsai Trees Are There?

There are hundreds of species of woody perennial trees and shrubs capable of growing as bonsai trees, but there are around 50 most popular species.


Bonsai trees are incredible wonders, and caring for them can lower stress levels, reduce anxiety and provide you with a spark of creativity. Working with a bonsai will help to instill patience and a sense of calm in your world.