Principles of Bonsai


Bonsai Balance and Composition

In striving for a natural presentation of how a mature tree looks in nature, the art of growing a well-formed bonsai tree is best achieved by following traditional bonsai principles:

white serissa tree of a thousand stars
White Serissa – Tree of a Thousand Stars

  • The top of the bonsai, or apex, should look as if it has been sculpted by the natural elements.
  • The upper branch structure should blend with the lower branches of the tree.
  • Space between branches allows light into the branch structure and adds aesthetic appeal.
  • The lowest branch of the bonsai tree should be the heaviest or most dense branch.
  • The surface of the soil should look natural and can be enhanced by adding moss, lichen, miniature plants and stones that look like boulders.
  • The surface root structure and trunk buttress should be very strong to appear mature.
  • The depth of the bonsai pot should be approximately the same as the trunk diameter.
  • The style of the bonsai pot must match the style of the tree. For example, a rounded, weeping bonsai tree should be in a round or oval pot, a rugged, primitive-looking bonsai should be in a rugged, angular pot.

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