Displaying Bonsai

By on April 19, 2016 in FEATURES


Creating a good display is important and has a few simple rules

  • Asymmetric balance and harmony should be achieved in a good display.
  • The aim of a display is to impress the viewer and should be soothing not jarring to the eyes.
  • If the tree has its mass concentrated on the right and the line leads the eye to the left, then the

accent or companion should be to the left side of the bonsai. The reverse is also true.

  • The complementary plant should ideally come from the same region as the main bonsai tree

depicting meadow, mountain or desert.   

  • Complementary plants are there to enhance the feeling of the season and theme.
  • Fruiting and flowering trees add colour to the display.
  • Suiseki or viewing stones help us to imagine a natural scene and should induce tranquil feelings.
  • Bonsai should be displayed on a table preferably at eye-level.

An ideal display consists of one bonsai, Kusamono or complementary plant, Suiseki or Shohin, Bonsai or a figurine along with a scroll hanging on the wall. Scrolls permit us to introduce interesting shapes, colour, material and sometimes a “thought” in the form of calligraphy. Care should be taken to select scrolls that will not dominate the display. The meaning of any calligraphy should be known before its use.


Specially designed multi-level wooden or bamboo stands are used to display small bonsai.

High altitude trees like junipers and pines are displayed on the upper shelves and plants from the

plains are on the lower shelves,

Along with bonsai you can use a small Suiseki or viewing stone, complementary plants in one section

at lower levels of the stand. Special stands or mats are needed for every bonsai.


Subdued backdrop of white or cream colour is most suitable, black is sometimes used but if the lighting is not good outlines are not clear. The table covering should be a contrast often blue or brown, not green as foliage is lost against it.

No crowding! One bonsai and one complementary plant or a Shohin Bonsai, maximum two or three items on a one meter table space is ideal for display,

In the exhibition display, a variety of height, size, colour, shape of bonsai, its container and bases or stands are important.






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