What are bonsai?

In order to be able to grow bonsai, one has to get a deeper understanding about what bonsai are. An important question for everyone who would like to start in this hobby. After all, only once you understand what you try to achieve can you work towards it.

The work Bonsai comes from Japanese and loosely translated means Tree in Dish. In short, bonsai are trees in pots. However, not every tree in a pot is considered a bonsai. So in this translation a lot of feeling about bonsai is lost. Although, technically, every bonsai is a tree in a pot, not every tree in a pot is a bonsai. So how are bonsai special?

Have look at the following summary: https://www.growingbonsai.net/what-is-a-bonsai/

The concluding definition of bonsai: A bonsai is a small TREE in a container that looks like an ancient large tree. Let’s look at a few elements:


One of the most important parts of bonsai is the image it displays. The potted tree has a sense of a miniature version of an ancient wild tree. This is the result of an old bark, twists and turns in the trunk, a visible rootbase and a mature canopy.


A bonsai as a whole is balanced: A solid ancient looking trunk, stable in the pot. Solid roots to keep the tree visually upright. The canopy not overly large for the trunk available and the pot suitable in size, shape and color.


Good bonsai have a rootbase which is the widest part of the trunk. Gently tapering the trunk disappears into smaller branches. Each branch in itself gently tapering into twigs with leaves.

Larch bonsai
Larch bonsai