How Do Bonsai Trees Stay Small?

We all know about the wonders of the bonsai tree, being an adorably small tree that many love to see and grow at home. But have you ever wondered about their size? How do bonsai trees stay small anyway?

Read on to find out!

how do bonsai trees stay small
Small Cypress tree bonsai in hand

How Do Bonsai Trees Stay Small?

Bonsai trees have been grown small since 700AD, the time when the Chinese began the ‘pun-tsai’. This was an art practiced by high society, where you grow landscapes and trees in containers, making them tiny. The art was then further developed to the bonsai we are familiar with today, thanks to the huge influence from China.

By the 19th century, it was known and developed in the Western world and now forever will be seen as growing mini representations of nature.

Basically, bonsai trees are small in size since this is the size we want them to stay in. When we constrict root growth in small containers and prune its foliage regularly, then the tree would stay small.

Bonsai trees are grown from the similar seeds as trees that share the same species as they are in nature. Meaning, they are genetically the same, and if bonsai were to be planted in-ground, they have the chance to grow into a full-sized tree!

So the magic behind the small size of the bonsai tree is all thanks to its pot. Bonsai pots are very tiny, just as small as the bonsai tree. It has a short length, width, and depth, and because of this, it would trap the roots of the tree and not allow them to expand. As a result, this stunts the tree’s growth.

why are bonsai trees small

This is why you may have noticed that bonsai trees grown in larger pots would be bigger than bonsai trees in smaller ones. If you repot our bonsai tree into larger pots every couple of years, then you will notice that the bonsai tree increases in dimensions while still staying in proportion to the pot it grows in.

If ever you take your bonsai tree out of the pot and transplant it outdoors in nutrient-rich soil, the root system would then spread out, growing into a full-sized tree. Genetics do not make these trees small, it is purely human manipulation, and there are ways to have them grow even bigger, provided that the roots aren’t restricted and it has the space to grow larger!

Wrapping It Up

Bonsai trees don’t grow as big as other trees not because of genetics or their species. It’s because of the way we grow them! When pruned regularly and forced to grow in tiny pots, it will stay in the one tiny size we know and love today.

However, if you would like to have your bonsai tree grow further, then you can place it in a larger pot or the ground for it to thrive. Have fun with your bonsai tree and enjoy its size no matter what, provided that you give it the right nutrients it needs!

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