What is the Bonsai Tree Meaning and Symbolism? A Brief History

So you just got your first bonsai tree and now you want to know more than just how to care for it. Is there a bonsai tree meaning that you are unaware of? Perhaps there is a special meaning of the bonsai tree as a gift or as an art form?

It may surprise you to learn the intent and symbolization these tiny plants and trees offer. It may not surprise you at all, considering that this discipline can trace its roots back to early 8th century AD China. Let’s take a closer look at the meaning behind bonsai from various perspectives.

A Brief History Of Bonsai Tree

If you were to look up a dictionary definition of the word bonsai, it would indicate that the wordBonsai Tree Meaning describes a tree or shrub that is grown in a pot, is ornamental in nature, and kept artificially small. That definition could be expanded to also include the art of cultivating these plants, shrubs or trees.

Bonsai, and the meaning behind the word, is more than this, however.

The word is of Japanese origin. It combines “Bon” (which translates to “tray”) and “Sai” (which translates to “plantation”), giving a literal translation of “platter plantation.” Bonsai can now be better understood by adding tray planting to the literal definition found in a dictionary. This, however, does not present a complete meaning.

Bonsai came to Japan in the 6th century through members of the imperial embassy, ​​as well as students of Buddhism, from China. The Chinese had been practicing Penjing for some time before the Japanese missions to Imperial China.

The Penjing (which literally means “tray landscape”), specifically the Shumu Penjing, represented one or several trees in a container. This was achieved by pruning, trimming, and wiring the materials. A key addition to our understanding is the word setting.

Adding all this up, we can define bonsai (“tray planting”) as the act of manipulating material (plants, shrubs, or trees) through modeling (pruning, trimming, or wiring) to create a miniature setting in a container (flower pot). or tray).

The Top Benefits of Bonsai Tree

Before we get into the main discussion of what bonsai tree meaning, it’s not a bad idea to describe the benefits of bonsai. This is very important because most people consider bonsai as an ornamental houseplant and forget its other benefits.

Health and Wellness:

Bonsai, like all indoor plants, purifies indoor air almost miraculously. It soaks up pollutants and purifies indoor air for better human well-being. Also, it helps maintain indoor humidity without a humidifier. In this way, you can get rid of dry skin, sore throat and even asthma. Also, interacting with your bonsai tree improves your mental health, something most people often overlook. A bonsai tree is a great relief for those who are going through stress in their life.

Home Improvement:

Now, these benefits of bonsai plants are almost undeniable, and almost everyone knows about them. When you put a bonsai tree in your yard, it really enhances the look of your home. Also, it takes up a small space, and so you can easily place it anywhere to beautify your home without worrying about space.

On top of that, bonsai can be a great gift item, especially for those who love nature. Thus, it helps you improve your lifestyle spiritually and socially.

Personal Development:

Growing a bonsai tree at home and taking care of the tree regularly brings several benefits to your life. You may not even be aware of this invaluable benefit. For example, regular maintenance and care of bonsai helps build patience in you. This is inevitable because bonsai is a slow growing plant, and you will learn to adapt to its growth rate. Also, bonsai boosts creativity in you as you play with its shapes and designs.

Economic Development:

Many people grow bonsai purely for commercial purposes. Therefore, this bonsai benefit is known to all of us. And this is understandable since the average price of a bonsai can easily be around $100 or more.

Thus, you can earn some extra money by planting and caring for bonsai at home without much trouble. You can start anytime and learn the art of bonsai Journey very quickly.

If you are looking for bonsai tree maintenance and care, Bonsai Topic has the best advice for you.

Excellent Entertainment:

You may not believe it, but practicing bonsai is a great way to relieve stress and anxiety. Therefore, bonsai planting is considered among the top recreational activities in Japan. When you spend time on the shape and design of bonsai plants, it really gives you immense pleasure, unlike anything else. Also, you will enjoy praise and appreciation from those close to you, which soothes your heart with contentment and provides peace of mind.

What does the bonsai tree symbolize?

One of the main elements that bonsai represents is balance. If you look at most bonsai in general, you will notice that they are often triangular in shape (or have triangular elements). It adds stability to the visual representation that the artist is trying to show.

Like nature, this triangle is rarely perfect. The Japanese use an isosceles triangle with two equal sides before an isosceles triangle, to highlight the imperfection. It gives viewers a sense of power while giving them a balanced look that they would witness in a natural setting.

Another element of symbolism found in bonsai is simplicity. This is especially true of the more traditional styles of bonsai. In Japanese culture, simplicity permeates all aspects of life, including artistic expression such as bonsai. It shows in bonsai from the design of the material to the pots and stands used to display it.

Complex and intricate patterns take away from the natural look that bonsai tries to recreate. Avoid bright colors to focus on plants, shrubs or trees. Even the dirt or moss used to cover it is simple in design and does not become the focus of the viewer’s eye.

Providing harmony is another aspect that bonsai artists try to symbolize with their creations. The customs, laws and norms of Japanese culture tend towards non-conflict. The guidelines found in the art of bonsai also highlight the harmonious elements found in nature. 

This is often achieved by the way the crust is displayed and the shape of the material. Curves and smooth lines are offered to the viewer with profiles of branches and roots. This helps balance the triangular patterns that are formed by the bonsai tree.

Age is another element that a bonsai tree can symbolize. An unmarked trunk will give the viewer an impression of youth, while a scarred trunk appears aged. Even the foliage can matter, as climbing leaves appear younger than those that sink to the ground.

The elderly in Japanese society have traditionally been honored and the bonsai tree can symbolize the beauty and majesty of age. This can be done through manipulation of the plant or the tree. It can also be symbolized by the time it takes for a bonsai to grow. Lastly, it is shown with the age of some bonsai specimens, some of which have been around for centuries.

What is the Bonsai Tree Meaning?

There are a Variety of Bonsai Tree Meaning those are describe the below

The Bonsai Tree Meaning as Gift

Giving or receiving a bonsai tree as a gift represents a unique form of expression of friendship, love and respect. Giving someone a plant provides a living connection between individuals. Gifting a bonsai should be reserved for those who are patient and enjoy expressing their artistic side.

Using the definition and symbolization discussed above, a bonsai gift can bring a little piece of nature into someone’s home. This could prove to be an excellent option for an urban setting.

Another consideration when giving a bonsai tree gift is to mark certain occasions such as a birthday. Bonsai are a gift that can provide a companion for life with proper care.

A more recent holiday that is a perfect time to gift a bonsai is Arbor Day/Earth Day. The meaning behind a gift on these dates is clear; Bonsai care is equivalent to the care that must be taken with the environment as a whole.

The bonsai tree Meaning in Feng Shui

Feng Shui helps us balance the natural world with our homes and workplaces. The concept of balance is shared with the art of bonsai and an ideal home decor should bring nature into a room. Being the element of wood, feng shui principles suggest that a bonsai tree would be a great addition to the eastern or southeastern parts of a room.

There are those who practice feng shui who believe that this is a negative aspect that should be avoided. This is due to the belief that bonsai restricts natural growth and symbolizes the same in one’s life.

If you practice feng shui, you need to determine for yourself what the bonsai means to your life and the life of the tree. We hope that the content of this article will help you make an informed opinion.

Bonsai tree meaning as a dream 

Those who enjoy interpreting their dreams can view the appearance of a bonsai tree in two ways.

On the positive side of things, a bonsai can mean a positive connection to something you’re good at but may not be a pro at. It may also emphasize the careful cultivation of unique personality traits. These interpretations are seen in bonsai practice with the isosceles triangle configuration, as well as the patience used in shaping the material over time.

Negative meanings assigned by dream interpreters include exploitation, deception and visions. These may not be the mindsets found among bonsai practitioners, so these interpretations will usually be symbolized by something other than bonsai.

Tattoo Bonsai Tree Meaning

A tattoo is a personal decision and the meaning behind it will also have meanings that only the owner understands or appreciates. That said, a bonsai tree tattoo is often associated with peace, patience, and strong beliefs. It has come to symbolize the positive aspects found in nature for many who get a bonsai tattooed on their skin.

What is the bonsai tree meaning on its types?

Bonsai come in an endless variety of materials ranging from houseplants to hardy conifers found in mountain climates. There are bonsai tree meaning associated with these trees in their standard form, such as a Jade plant that symbolizes luck and money (hence the name money plant).

Another meaning behind various bonsai trees is the style they come in. These can equate to multiple aspects of a person’s life and how they manage their flow. These meanings taken from the styles of bonsai trees include:

The bonsai tree meaning and symbolism varies greatly depending on the types. So, it is better to look into the meanings and symbols of popular bonsai species of bonsai trees to better understand them. The following list of popular bonsai species will help you with this.

So, let’s dive deeper into bonsai symbolism.


Cedar is a popular bonsai in Western and American societies, and is a symbol of strength, vitality and immortality. Cedar is a healing herb and has been an important part of Native American culture for centuries.

In addition, various cultures have associated cedar with healing powers, strength, and the ability to protect people from bad omens. Also, cedar is an important medicinal plant as people use its bark and leaves for various cures. The different meanings of Cedar include:


Various Western and Christian cultures associate the cedar with the Virgin Mary. Also, the cedar is associated with immortality mainly because of its shape which actually points directly to heaven.

Strength and Protection:

Cedar is also believed to protect Native American cultures due to its medicinal and healing properties. Also, Lebanese culture associates the cedar with strength thanks to its incredible size and longevity.


Many Native Americans consider the cedar to be a symbol of benevolence because it continually helps them with wood and medicinal benefits.

Cherry Blossoms:

The cherry blossom is one of the most popular flowering plants in Japan and Asia, thanks to its white-pink flowers. The delicate flower of the cherry blossom has long been associated with Japanese culture and is an integral part of their lives, including that of the Korean and Chinese people.

Also, the cherry blossom is the national flower of Japan, and every year millions of tourists meet to see this beautiful flower. Also, it has a high status and different symbols in different Asian cultures.

Mortality and Renewal:

Since the cherry blossom actually had a meaningful but short blooming season, it is associated with death. And as it is reborn with greater beauty and attractiveness every year, it also expresses the renewal and rebirth of life. Chinese and Japanese monks associate cherry blossom bonsai with mortality and rebirth for the same reason.

Human Existence:

The Japanese believe that the cherry blossom symbolizes human existence through its brief but meaningful rebirth with brilliant blossoms each year. As it blooms every year to amaze people, it also amazes people. So, in Japanese culture, cherry blossom bonsai often symbolizes the human life cycle.

Feminine beauty and Dominance:

Cherry blossom is often associated with the beauty and dominance of women in Asian countries, thanks to its delicate flowers. Chinese culture considers the cherry blossom to represent female beauty and sexuality. Also, Koreans consider it a symbol of female dominance.


Boxwood is a popular bonsai species due to its evergreen characteristics. Boxwood has long been directly associated with the Christian faith. The plant is found in abundance in Africa, Western Europe and North America and has become an integral part of the culture of these areas.

Many people use its leaves to make their shelter. But the Romans used its leaves to make tablets. It is also associated with immortality and human existence in most cultures.

Immortality and Longevity:

Boxwood is a slow-growing but long-lived tree. Hence, most western people associate it with immortality and longevity. Also, it also represents stability for slow but sure growth.


Azaleas are probably the most beautiful-looking flower species used in bonsai gardens. Azalea is always associated with feminine characteristics due to its delicate flowers with attractive pink appearance.

Also, it can be a great gift for devoted women to express their love and affection. Hence, it has different symbols and meanings. The most common azalea bonsai plant meanings include:

Femininity and Beauty:

Azalea is a delicate and charming flower. Therefore, it is associated with the gentleness, vulnerability and above all beauty of women worldwide. It represents women’s serenity and fertility.

Affection and Passion:

Since the azalea is an attractive and charming flower, it often represents love, affection and passion. People often give it as a gift to express their deep love for someone and express people’s emotional outbursts.

Fertility and Abundance:

People associate it with fertility and abundance because azaleas grow quickly and bloom in numbers during the blooming season. Abundance can be something positive such as wealth, intelligence, and human well-being.

Chinese Elm:


Although bonsai experts grow Chinese elms only a few inches tall in their bonsai containers, the tree can easily grow up to 80 feet in nature. It is native to Southeast Asia and symbolizes grandeur and love as a bonsai.

Also, its leafy appearance makes it a popular bonsai species around the world. In this section on what a bonsai tree means, we will discuss the symbolism of the Chinese elm.

Affection and Love:

Chinese elm always has a green and leafy appearance, it connects with love and affection in human life. Its love expresses calmness and stability, longevity unmatched by anything else.


Chinese elms grow over 80 feet in nature. Also, the entire plant is full of large leaves. Hence, many associate it with the vastness of nature.


The Chinese elm is famous as the ‘tree of harmony’ in popular Chinese culture. The Chinese believe it conveys intuition, harmony and wisdom.

Japanese Maple:

The Japanese maple is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful, attractive and desirable bonsai species in the world. The tree has beautiful leaves and it varies from orange, yellow to red. In Japanese culture, trees symbolize various elements. It has been an integral part of poetry, literature, and art in Chinese and Japanese culture for thousands of years.


Japanese maples have bright and vibrant red leaves with mostly spreading branches. Hence, it always connects with beauty and vitality.

Peace and Harmony:

The Japanese maple is more associated with stability, peace, harmony and balance of life in many countries of the Southeast. The vibrancy of its leaves also expresses the vitality and richness of human life.


Thanks to its beautiful and graceful shape and leaves, ficus is probably the most widely seen indoor bonsai species. It is found worldwide and has different meanings in different cultures, mostly associated with unity, grandeur and abundance.

Vastness and Abundance:

People associate ficus with magnificence and abundance in the Middle East mainly because of its massive appearance and green leaves.

Cheer and Vitality:

Many believe that ficus rejuvenates the human mind with its cheer and vitality. Also, it invigorates the human mind and brings peace.


Best types of Bonsai trees for Beginners

Juniper is one of the most displayed and photographed bonsai species you will find. The tree is native to England and famous for its coniferous nature. Because it is an evergreen plant and has a long life span, it carries various symbols in Western culture.

Power and Protection:

Juniper has excellent healing powers. Thus, it manifests protection in human life. Also, you’ll find people associate it with the power to demonstrate ways to overcome various life challenges.

Purity and Cleanliness:

English and other Westerners consider it a form of purity. Also, many believe that the plant has excellent cleansing powers.


Denoting the shape and size of the tree, the oak is always associated with grandeur, longevity and strength in bonsai tree meaning and symbolism. And this is understandable because the oak is one of the largest growing and longest-lasting plants in the world.

Many people choose oak as a bonsai species because it can withstand constant pruning and still provides a distinctive shape to blow everyone’s mind. Also, its longevity means the tree has always been associated with immortality and eternal life.

Final Verdict

This was our complete and detailed discussion on what the bonsai tree symbolizes. Bonsai tree symbols differ from one species to another and from one place to another. In short, the meaning of the bonsai tree includes peace, harmony, immortality and the cheerfulness of life.

When you choose a bonsai species, make sure you know its meaning and symbolism. This will help you improve the shape and design of the bonsai tree. Also, the price of bonsai trees varies greatly depending on their finances in different countries. Therefore, it is more important for commercial bonsai growers to know the history and meaning of bonsai plants to profit from their business.


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