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It’s remarkable to think how much the world has changed since the world’s oldest bonsai trees were then. From paradigm-shifting inventions to devastating human conflicts, to the rise of our globally connected world, these trees have seen and survived it all.
Best Bonsai Tree
With so many years under their belts (or rather pots) it’s no wonder that the oldest bonsai in the world have interesting stories. This list of the oldest bonsai takes a look at some of the most fascinating specimens. But first:
High Quality Specimen Bonsai Trees
While most won’t grow long enough to earn a spot on this list, bonsai trees typically enjoy longer lives than they would in the wild. Unlike naturally growing trees, bonsai environments are carefully controlled so that they receive adequate sunlight, water, nutrients and protection from the elements.
Without this meticulous care, your bonsai would quickly exhaust the resources available in its shallow container and die. But under the right conditions, a bonsai can easily live up to 100 years. Some can even live for centuries, up to a thousand years!
Although longevity is largely determined by the care a tree receives and the environment in which it is grown, some species have a longer life expectancy than others. If you want to start a tree with the best chance of being passed down through the generations, consider the following varieties:
Cultivation of one of these species is not guaranteed. But with proper care, the specimen you start today could be a contender for that list of oldest bonsai later on. Now, let’s take a look at the competition!
Terrific Trees That Make The Best Bonsai
The oldest bonsai tree in the world is said to be over 1,000 years old! Named Ficus retusa linn, this bonsai lives in the Crespi Bonsai Museum in Milan, Italy. A testament to dedication and loving daily care, the 10-foot-tall specimen dazzles with a network of dense aerial roots and a perfectly balanced figure.
This Crespi ficus was transported to Italy in 1986 after more than a decade of negotiations between the current and previous caretakers: a flicker in the life of this thousand-year-old tree. Not only is it believed to be the oldest bonsai tree in the world, but it is planted in the world’s largest bonsai pot, which was made and cooked in one piece.
This Crespi ficus is the crown jewel of an impressive collection of over 200 attractive bonsai. While others have tried to buy bonsai from Crespi, this beloved tree remains and will continue to inspire visitors to the museum’s sunny arboretum for years to come.
The second bonsai tree on this list survived one of the most harrowing experiences in human history to become an international symbol of friendship and peace.
Bonsai Trees You Can Grow At Home
This nearly 400-year-old Japanese white pine was planted just a few miles from where US forces dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, during World War II. Amazingly, the tree survived both the explosion and the ensuing turmoil.
In 1975, bonsai master Masaru Yamaki gave the tree to the United States as a 200th anniversary gift. Given as a gesture of cultural connection, the tree’s Hiroshima connection was unknown to the United States until two of Yamaki’s grandchildren made the connection in 2001.
Today, the tree is in the United States National Arboretum and is a reminder of the resilience and power of peace.
Bonsai are still trees, and they keep growing! It takes precision and care to keep them small, and the determined bonsai will find its way in time. This is why older bonsai trees are often as tall or taller than humans. But as long as they tend to use bonsai principles and are planted in a shallow container, they are still considered bonsai.
Best Bonsai Trees For Beginners
The 600-year-old ‘Phoenix Pine’ is an excellent example of a beautiful, giant bonsai. Located in the exotic Akao Herb and Rose Garden in Japan, this mammoth specimen is 16 feet tall and 30 feet wide. This makes it one of the tallest and oldest bonsai trees in the world.
While it’s not as mobile as some of the other trees on this list, it doesn’t have to be! The tree is displayed in the middle of a magnificent Zen garden landscape and spans its huge container. It’s one of the most popular attractions in the garden, so we don’t think it’s going anywhere.
Bonsai can range in price from $20 at your local large garden center to hundreds, even thousands of dollars. And as they age and outlive the people who gave them a (human) lifetime of care, their dollar value soars.
Many of the older or rare specimens (such as Crespi ficus or Hiroshima pine) have virtually no price and will probably never be sold again. But every now and then, a prized specimen hits the market and the crowd goes wild.
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When these valuable trees are sold, it is not cheap; So far, the most expensive bonsai is this 800-year-old bonsai pine – it sold for $1.3 million!
Bonsai comes from “pun-sai”, an ancient Chinese art form originally reserved for members of the elite classes. As the practice migrated to Japan and evolved into bonsai, it grew in popularity throughout the population, from peasants to Japanese emperors.
One of the oldest bonsai in the world, it has been cared for by a line of emperors for over 500 years. This tree is known as Sandai Shogun no Matsu or “Tikugawa Pine of the Third Generation”. In the 17th century, the beloved bonsai was obtained by Tokugawa Iemitsu, the third shogun of the Tokugawa dynasty.
Today, this royal specimen is on display in the collection of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo and is designated a Japanese national treasure for its exceptional craftsmanship and cultural value.
Types Of Bonsai Trees Best For The Beginner
Throughout history countless bonsai have been harvested from nature as seedlings. With proper care, these trees become miniature replicas of the natural world they came from. The second oldest bonsai on this list is believed to have a similar genesis; it was collected in the Japanese forest almost 1,000 years ago.
Today, this beautiful juniper bonsai lives in the Omiya Bonsai Village in Omiya, Japan. There, it is a gem among the countless bonsai collected by the “Holy Land of Bonsai” for almost a century of operation.
Last on the list of the oldest bonsai is a century-old cypress that is said to have been planted in the same pot for over 200 years. The long lifespan of bonsai is particularly impressive because cypress trees require rigorous and thorough care. You can find this bonsai housed in the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University in the United States.
Unfortunately, you won’t be around when your new bonsai is big enough to make this list. But with dedicated care (and patience!), a tree you start today will mature in just five to seven years. As you grow in your practice, you can nurture a tree that will inspire for generations.
Best Bonsai Tree Types For Beginners
Although the word bonsai literally translates to “grown in a container”, it symbolizes much more than that. Over the centuries, bonsai has been practiced as a way of bringing us closer to the universe, bringing us deliciously closer to ourselves.
To truly understand bonsai, you must understand the deeper symbolism behind the practice. This guide to the meaning of bonsai will tell you everything you need to know.
The Bonsai Resource Center is here to help you learn the best bonsai care and give you the tools you need to keep your tree healthy and strong. Browse our other items, visit our online store, and connect with other bonsai lovers in our Facebook group to learn everything you need to know about this rewarding hobby! Previous 4 things you need to know before buying your first bonsai May 17, 2020 Next The best soil mix for a bonsai May 25, 2020
You may have seen images on Pinterest and Instagram of bonsai trees adorning desks or bookshelves, or enlivening a living room, and were under the impression that bonsai are houseplants. The truth is that most bonsai species need direct sunlight and outdoor temperature changes to thrive.
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But if you have your heart set on an indoor bonsai, here’s the good news: it’s all about choosing the right bonsai variety and taking proper care of it to set it (and yourself) up for success.
There are several categories of bonsai trees, and of these, only two are suitable for an indoor habitat: tropical or subtropical varieties. To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of bonsai tree types that do well indoors with the right care and conditions.
We list this first because it is by far the best indoor bonsai for beginners. While most indoor bonsai need high humidity and lots of light, the ficus or fig plant is a hardy and adaptable evergreen that can handle low humidity and less light than most.
There are many varieties of
Types Of Bonsai Trees That Are Best For Beginners
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