Bonsai is often used to describe dwarfed plants.  However, in a historical context, bonsai was the name given to potted, styled trees created by Chinese and Japanese artists.  Such trees are indeed dwarfed, but they are also trained to look like an aged miniature tree.  The actual bonsai includes the pot and landscape created by the artist.


Bonsai involves growing plants in a confined situation. By confining root growth and regularly pruning the roots and top, the plant can be kept in a miniature form for hundreds of years (in some cases).

The bonsai should look like a miniature tree, with not only the trunk and branches scaled down, but also the leaves. As such it is preferable for bonsai to utilize smaller leafed plants. We try to achieve the following in the plants we use for bonsai:

  •       ROOTS spreading densely and many branching in all directions.
  •       TRUNK well tapered and very thick at the base.
  •       BRANCHES thick, lower down and multi‑branched with thinner branches at the ends.
  •       LEAVES small, dense and vigorous.
  •       TOP of the plant must look vigorous, healthy and vital, even if it is not growing with any real vigor.


Regardless of the skill of the bonsai creator, the original material which is used to create the bonsai will have an effect on the end result.  So, select material with care.  You may have already propagated your own material for bonsai.  Perhaps you are going to purchase a small plant that someone else has propagated and perhaps even begun to train.  Regardless of how you obtain your material, there are a number of things you should consider when selecting stock.




Develop your ability to select, train and maintain appropriate varieties of plants in different situations, as Bonsai.

Course Duration: 100 Hours (Nominal Duration).


There are eight lessons in this module as follows:

1. Introduction

2. Propagation

3. Plants for Bonsai

4. Bonsai Styles and Techniques

5. Creating Bonsai

6. Bonsai Culture and Maintenance

7. Landscaping Principles for Bonsai

8. Special Assignment


·Demonstrate a knowledge of the plant kingdom, an understanding of the taxonomic hierarchy, and an appreciation of the types of plants suitable for bonsai.

·Understand methods of propagation used in bonsai.

·Learn the species of plants most suited to bonsai.

·Learn a range of bonsai styles and techniques used to achieve them.

·Understand the process of creating bonsai.

·Understand the basics of successful bonsai culture.

·Understand landscape design principles to better create bonsai landscapes.

·Carry out research into a particular aspect of bonsai of interest to the student.



  • Review 24 different plants suitable for bonsai.
  • Compile a list of resources/contacts useful to a bonsai grower.
  • Determine a good propagating mix using materials available in your locality.
  • Visit a nursery and observe the nursery stock present to assess suitability for bonsai production.
  • Propagate different species of plant that have the potential to be used as Bonsai.
  • Select different plants and determine the style of bonsai each plant lends itself to.
  • Make a list of the most commonly grown varieties of plants you consider as being used for bonsai today.
  • Visit a bonsai house, bonsai farm, bonsai nursery or other facility where bonsai are available for viewing (ideally in person, alternatively through a virtual visit on line) and classify the style of at least 10 different bonsai plants.
  • Evaluate, prune, wire, shape and pot three different plants as bonsai
  • Obtain samples from different types of soils; test the soils for drainage, and name the soils.
  • Obtain (or make up) a potting mix which you consider appropriate for growing bonsai in.Conduct tests to name the potting mix you have obtained. Test the drainage of the potting mix.
  • Visit a nursery or garden growing bonsai plants to assess the plants for pests, diseases and environmental anomalies.
  • Design a miniature garden pot incorporating a bonsai plant
  • Using your knowledge of landscaping principles, decide on the best outdoor locations three different bonsai, and the optimum indoor locations for short term display. Take photographs or sketch the locations in which you would place the bonsai.Submit these photographs with your assignment.
  • Obtain two plants of different varieties which can be used in the topic you are studying for your special assignment.Using what you have learned in the course, turn your chosen plants into bonsai and either photograph or draw what you have created. You should write a 1500 word essay on the topic you have selected.Supplement this with drawings and/or photos of the two bonsai plants you have created.

Learn all about Bonsai in our online course