A bonsai is not just a small plant in the pot, it is a reflection of the care, dedication, knowledge and artistic skills it was exposed to. Most of the time, to a bonsai buyer these remain invisible to the eyes.
There are two ways to make a bonsai:
Naturally collected bonsai trees
Nursery grown bonsai trees
If this is the first type of bonsai, it is way more expensive because they are pretty rare. They also grow in very remote areas such as high mountain cliffs. So to collect, transport, and adjust such bonsai to a new environment is not only hard and time-consuming but also expensive.
For the second type even though the hassle of collection, transport, etc are not there but it is a very time-consuming art to grow one bonsai.
There are a few reasons why a bonsai tree is expensive:
It takes a long time and tremendous effort to create one. A bonsai tree and a tree in a small pot is not the same thing. A bonsai should resemble the shape and structure of the tree. At first glance, it should look like a miniature version of an old beautiful tree.
A bonsai is an art. It takes many years of care and nurture. Even the pruning of the branches very careful handling. This is not like your regular garden pruning. So many tiny twigs are to be pruned with precision.
To make them look like a miniature version of a normal tree trimming so has to be done on major branches. It causes them to look thicker and spread out. Though this may sound simple it needs skill and time.
Following are some of the major works that make bonsai expensive:
Wiring on Bonsai:
The wiring of a bonsai needs a lot of time and energy so that the tree remains in a proper position. You have to wire not only the main trunk but also the branches of the plant.
So to do these work you not only need skill and patience but also various tools. These also add up to your costing.
Working on The Trunk:
If you look closely to any bonsai tree, you will find they all possess a thick and tapered trunk. Now try to imagine a nursery sapling with that much of a thick trunk. You will never find such a thing.
To make a trunk that much thick needs time and following many procedures. The trunk of a tree with some lower branches is first cut above the branches. Then you have to seal the cut and let the plant grow for some time. This way the trunk and the other branches grow a little thicker.
After a year or so the process is repeated and the other branches are also trimmed. This process goes for some years till you get your desired thickness. This way the trunk will grow thicker but remain shorter in height.
So you can see the process needs a lot of time. Once the trunk has grown properly you then have to work on the branches also.
A bonsai tree is not just a small tree in the pot. Some features have to have in a bonsai to call it a bonsai. It is an art of miniaturizing a normal tree in nature and takes years to make one.
A huge amount of work has to be put on the aesthetic look of the tree. This includes quite a lot of work on the trunk, leaves, roots, bonsai pot etc. Here are some of the works that have to be put on a tree to make it a bonsai.
Working on The Leaves:
Working on bonsai leaves is also a matter of pure art. One of the most important tasks is to make the leaves smaller. The leaves of a deciduous tree are generally too large for a bonsai. So this needs to be reduced drastically.
So first the tree is shifted to a small pot. Then you have to trim the leaves frequently. After repeated use of this method, you will the size of the leaves going down.
You also have to reduce the number of leaves in a bonsai. A normal full-size tree has many leaves that you can’t have on a bonsai plant. To get to that optimum number of leaves you have to trim them individually.
If you do it in a hurry you will harm the bonsai tree, especially the smaller branches. So as you can see it will take quite a huge amount of time and concentration.
Pruning the Roots:
You also have to prune the roots of a bonsai tree. Be it a deciduous or evergreen you have to prune the roots. As the roots are the main reason a tree is living you have to be extra caution while pruning the roots.
Not only that you should also shape the roots beautifully around the base of the trunk so they look nice. There are some definite techniques on how to prune a root. But this needs skill and time.
Handling a Bonsai Pot:
There is a basic difference between bonsai pots and normal containers that are used to grow plants. A bonsai pot can hold the way to less amount of soil than any normal size container. Now there is a definite reason for making bonsai pots smaller, is its beauty.
Now, to ensure that you have that beauty of wide and swallow bonsai pots your watering becomes very crucial. Due to their shape and structure, the pots dry out very quickly, especially on a hot summer day.
So to keep the bonsai healthy you need to spend a lot of time watering properly without making the soil soggy.
For every successful bonsai tree, many are not successful in terms of the standards. These may have to be destroyed or sold at a cheaper rate.
A successful bonsai is the result of years of careful selection, shaping, and care. A single bonsai represents hundreds or even thousands of hours of toil, and effort for many years.
So whenever you think about choosing a bonsai to buy look for those delicate arts, the thickness of the trunk, and branches, works put on the roots and leaves.
Before buying a cheap bonsai from the market think for a moment are you buying a bonsai, or is it just a small tree in a pot.
What to Look for Before Buying A Bonsai:
Indoor or outdoor: First decide whether you want to put bonsai indoors or outdoors. There are specific bonsai trees that are good for indoors whereas others are good for outdoors.
Condition of trunk and roots: the root flair and the trunk of a bonsai tree are more or less fixed. You can change a little bit of shape of the bonsai by wiring and pruning. So if you don’t like the trunk and the roots it’s better to avoid the plant.
Ask for details: When buying get every possible detail about that particular bonsai from the seller. You should know its upbringing.
Quality of the Bonsai Pot: Look at the pot. Is it matching your expectation? Is it intact or broken?
Check the overall health of the tree: No matter how tempting it is, never buy a bonsai that is not healthy. Check out signs such as the color of the leaves, stability of the plant, signs of any pest attacks etc.
As a general rule, older the bonsai the costlier it is. This is because the artist has to spend more time and energy to create that particular bonsai.
If you love art you will find worth in buying a bonsai. But for others who don’t understand the value of time and art, bonsai will always be expensive.
Hi, I am Prasenjit. A few years ago I started growing bonsai. Ever since then, I have been immersing myself in this wonderful hobby. From my hands-on experience, I have learned what works for bonsai and what doesn't. Here I share everything I have learned.