Bonsai Aesthetics For Raising Beautiful Trees

Bonsai is an art form. Just like any other art, there are certain elements that are considered ‘correct’, and others that are not recommended for bonsai. These guidelines are just that — guidelines. Rules are meant to be broken, but if you are to display your bonsai professionally, following bonsai aesthetic can increase your chances of producing an award-winning bonsai as well as give you a greater respect for the centuries of care that has gone into developing the bonsai art form.

The perfect bonsai will look balanced, mature, and have a definite front side. Whereas a tree in the wild can be observed from all angles, you can think of a bonsai more like a Christmas tree. You always want to display its best side and if the back isn’t quite as beautiful, that’s okay.

Bonsai growers are like parents. You may work with the same bonsai tree for years or even decades before you see the true potential that a tree has and you finally see the results of all that time spent rearing it. You not only have to train it, but also give it the nutrients it needs to thrive. While you give your children healthy fruits and vegetables to grow strong, bonsai need bonsai fertilizer and nutrient-rich bonsai soil.

Bonsai Aesthetics For Beautiful Trees


This aesthetic is what separates a bonsai from a similar sized plant. Gravitas is often associated with weight, dignity, and solemnity. This translates to bonsai art by creating your tree to look mature and wise. It is the ability to make a 10- or 20-year-old tree look like it has been in that pot for 1,000 years by changing its shape and training it to remain miniature while still gaining mass.

Leaf Reduction

If your tree is a fraction of the size of its full-sized counterpart but still growing full-sized leaves, it will look out of balance. There are a few ways prune your plant to reduce the size of leaves as well as the distance between them, but typically is not done until the trunk is well developed. This is because the leaves play a major role in the lifecycle of the tree. Giving your bonsai a high-quality bonsai fertilizer will help its leaves to grow and regrow after pruning.


The nebari of a bonsai refers to its above-ground root mass. These roots make the tree appear mature and grounded to its pot and are a major aesthetic feature of bonsai. A good bonsai potting mix, as well as a bonsai root stimulant, can encourage the development of strong, thick nebari.


This optional aesthetic is good for trees with a slanting, informal upright, or cascading trunk orientation. The curvature of the trunk and branches is achieved through years of wiring and training and helps to add a mature look to the bonsai.


Deadwood is an optional feature that can make a young tree look mature and weathered and involves pruning and debarking certain parts of the tree. This technique is certainly not for beginners and should be practiced on expendable trees before being attempted on valuable trees, as it is very possible to kill your bonsai with this technique. However, displaying this aesthetic often gives bonsai growers an extra edge at shows and competitions. Because this is a traumatic experience for the tree, it should not be done on newly repotted trees and you should use a bonsai fertilizer to ensure the tree has the nutrients it needs to recover.

Help Your Bonsai Thrive

The above are just a few popular bonsai aesthetics that work together to create a balanced, mature, and proportional miniature tree. The ultimate goal is to leave no trace of the artist. When displaying the bonsai professionally, there should be no wires nor any scarring from previous wiring. If you have recently pruned branches, the cut area should heal over with scar tissue to make it look like a natural element of the tree. Each mature bonsai has had countless hours of human contact, yet should look like a phenomenon of nature when on display.

Bonsai trees go through a lot of physical trauma through pruning, wiring, and creating deadwood. It is important to ensure it has the nutrients it needs to recover. Here at Clark M Long Biogold Original, we offer a line of tried and true Biogold bonsai fertilizers. Our founder, Clark, is also available for private workshops, seminars, and collection maintenance. Reach out to Clark today if you are in need of bonsai consulting services.