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Are Bonsai Trees Expensive? (Why?)

Bonsais are beautiful, and lots of work goes into making them, so you may be worried you’ll have to shell out hundreds of dollars to get one for yourself. 

However, that’s not usually the case, even though it can be. 

Bonsai trees vary enormously in price, with some costing as little as $20. 

Others go for over a million dollars – although that’s a pretty exceptional case. 

On the whole, bonsai trees are relatively expensive because a lot of work goes into caring for them.

In this article, we will discuss how much a bonsai tree costs and why you have to pay that much for one. 

Are Bonsai Trees Expensive?

Many people feel that bonsai trees are expensive, especially given how small these plants are.

And yes, bonsai trees are far from the cheapest plants you can buy, and the larger and more unusual the tree, the higher the price tag will be.

Generally, you will probably not find a bonsai tree for less than $20. 

But, if you do, you should be a little wary because the low price may indicate that something is wrong with the tree or that the seller hasn’t taken good care of it.

Additionally, be cautious about buying cheap bonsai trees online, as these may be scams. 

You may not get the plant you were expecting from the seller, or they may send nothing at all.

So, overall, bonsai trees do tend to be fairly expensive, but there are some good reasons for that.

Why Are Bonsai Trees Expensive?

There are quite a few things that drive up the price commanded by bonsai trees, including:

  • Variety
  • Skill needed
  • Materials required
  • Age of the tree
  • Container
  • Size of the tree
  • Where the tree comes from
  • Beauty of the tree

All of these factors will determine the price tag of the tree, so let’s look at them a little more closely.


The variety is one of the key factors when it comes to price because some bonsai trees are much rarer than others.

Also, those that grow slowly tend to command a higher price since they take longer to develop into saleable trees.

Skill Needed

The skill needed to create the tree also drives the price up. 

Thus, more complicated bonsai trees will invariably cost more because they have taken a person more time to create.

Furthermore, trees that have been wired or grown into specific shapes always cost more.

Materials Required 

The materials you’ll need to care for your tree add to the price too. 

Things like pruning shears and wire need to be high quality, and you’ll often need to import the best tools, which again increases the cost of owning a bonsai.

Additionally, since bonsai tools tend to be expensive, bonsai growers have a higher production cost associated with the trees.

So, if you buy a plant that someone has had to use special tools on, it will likely cost more upfront. 

Age of the Tree and the Container

The age of the tree and the container it comes in will also influence the cost. 

An older tree in a unique container will cost a lot more than a young tree in a mass-produced pot.

Size of the Tree

Typically, the larger the tree, the more it will cost you. 

Often, the price increases in this case because the tree is quite old. 

Country of Origin

The bonsai’s country of origin has an impact too. 

For the most part, trees from Japan and Korea cost more than trees from China or elsewhere in the world.

The Beauty of the Tree

The beauty and quality of the tree are among the most significant factors in determining the price.

A tree with a particularly attractive shape and appearance will always cost more than a standard bonsai. 

Also, many growers have spent years learning how to create a bonsai that is beautiful, appealing, and in proportion.

And the price is often higher when you buy from one of these exceptionally skilled growers. 

What Is The Most Expensive Bonsai?

The most expensive bonsai tree ever sold cost 1.3 million dollars. 

Its owner sold it at the International Bonsai Convention in Japan.

This pine was several centuries old and had an incredible form, with a twisting trunk and a pleasing crown of leaves perfectly arrayed around it.

Similarly, other bonsai trees have cost many thousands of dollars, although it is rare for them to tip into the millions.

Normally, the more unique, established, and unusual a bonsai is, the more it will cost. 

So, the specimens that fetch high prices now will only cost more in the future when they are older.

However, many people donate bonsais that would typically fetch a high price to museums to ensure everyone can enjoy them and that there is always someone to care for the tree. 

Therefore, it can get difficult to say which bonsai is the most expensive because many amazing trees have never been on the auction block. 

What Else Makes A Bonsai Expensive?

If you have ever heard of the Japanese practice Yamadori, you may be wondering what makes a Yamadori bonsai so shockingly expensive.

The answer is that this art involves collecting wild-grown bonsai trees that occur naturally rather than being grown in pots.

Such trees are extremely rare and often difficult to reach, as they frequently grow on steep cliffs.

They are also completely unique, so they cost a lot of money if you can find one to purchase at all.

The history of a bonsai may also feed into the price. 

One of the most valuable bonsais in the world is one that was growing in Hiroshima when the U.S. dropped the atomic bomb in 1945.

This tree does not have a fixed price tag, as no one has ever sold it, but it could be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, or possibly more.

Having an old container will add to the price tag, too. 

Ancient, hand-crafted bonsai pots that originated in Japan can cost a fortune and will drive up the price of any bonsai.


As you can see, bonsai trees are expensive. 

But, a great many factors go into determining the price, including the work put into the tree, the kind of tree that it is, where it comes from, and how masterfully its grower has shaped it.

However, you can buy a reasonably inexpensive bonsai tree from a commercial grower if you choose to. 

Yet, if you want a unique bonsai, you should expect to pay a lot of money for it.

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