Bonsai-an overview and a list of plants suitable for bonsai in Indian climate

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“Bonsai is actually two words, “Bon”, and “Sai”. The word “Bon” means “tray” and “Sai”, “growing” or “planting”. Therefore, the two words put together give you the translation of “tray growing” or “tray planting”. When you say the word, “Bonsai” to people, they usually think of a type of tree. However, this art form is  actually  a  way  of  growing  many different species of plants and trees.” – Erik Olsen, Author of Bonsai Gardening Secrets

One theory about the beginning of Bonsai is that its roots actually originated in India.  Ancient ayurvedic physicians returned from the Himalayas with shoots of  medical trees.  By growing them in pots, trimming their branches and cutting back the roots, they were able to keep the trees in a miniature form. The tulsi is one good example of this.

In the 12th century, Bonsai was known as Vamanatanu Vrikshadi Vidya in India, which translates as the science of dwarfing trees. The practice traveled to China and became known as pun-sai—the art of growing single specimen trees in pots. Various species of trees were grown with thick, gnarled trunks in pots. With its introduction in Japan, the art was refined to an even greater extent, and took a different shape over time. Bonsai artists gradually introduced other materials like rocks and figurines, with supplementary and accent plants creating miniature landscapes in nature, known as sai-kei. Finally, in the mid-19th century when Japan opened its doors to the rest of the world, Bonsai reached Europe through exhibitions. After about one hundred years, this art returned to India in its present form. However, there are some other contradictory theories available too.


People who grow bonsai for various reasons are different from people who merely are looking for an interesting plant & treat is as a showpiece. Bonsai requires a tremendous amount of perseverance & needs to be nurtured a lot. One thing that has to be kept in mind is ,bonsai is supposed to be an outdoor plant, not an indoor plant, although since the 1990s it is becoming more and more as a piece of indoor decor. Different kinds of plants are used for indoor bonsai as opposed to outside, so it is important to place the tree in the appropriate location.

Bonsai cultivators acquire these trees in different ways – either by using methods such as cutting, air layering, and grafting which is done from already existing trees, or by purchasing seeds for planting.

If you are interested in trying your hand at bonsai, the first thing you need to do is get your hands on some excellent resources pertaining to soil, fertilizer, water, pots, and so on.

Plenty of people enjoy growing bonsai trees these days.  There is something very mystical about them and they are very beautiful too.  Bonsai growing is considered to be more of an art form and is a skill that should be developed over time.

Trees For Beginners

If you are just starting out it’s best to stick to certain types of trees that are suitable for beginners and ideal for Indian conditions.

Starter Kits

Beginners can have a look out for bonsai starter kits which contains a sapling, container, training wire, soil, rocks and instructions.

Bonsai Tree Pruning

Keeping a bonsai tree nice and small there are a couple of things you need to do.  The first thing is to prune it.  How you go about pruning will depend on the individual tree and what shape you want.

Pruning The Roots

One also needs to prune the roots from time to time.  This is because trees are naturally intended to be grown in the ground where there is plenty of space for the roots to spread out.  When growing a tree in a pot, the roots can easily become too big for the container.  So you will need to trim them back

Below is a list of plants suitable for Indian climate:

Ficus bengalensis Moraceae Vad
Ficus riligiosa Moraceae Pipal
Ficus glomerulata Moraceae Umbar
Ficus Carrica Moraceae Anjir
Mangifera indica Anacardiaceae Mango
Bouhinia Varigata Caesalpinia Kanchan
Acacia Nilotica Mimosae Babhul
Prosopis Juliflora Mimosae Vilayati Babhul
Pithocolobium Dulci Mimosae Vilayati Tamarind
Tamarindus indica Caesalpinia Vilayati Tamarind
Auracauria cuci Auraeauriaceae Christmas Tree
Morus alba Moraceae Shahtut
Jacaranda mimosifolia Mimosae Neel Mohor
Gravellia robusta Myrtaceae Silver Oak
Malphighia caccigera Malphighiaceae Malphighia
Citrus lemon Rutaceae Lime
Citrus auriculatum Rutaceae Mosambi
Duranta varigata Verbenacae Duranta
Bougain villea Spectabilis Nyctaginaeae Bougain vel
Petria volubilis Verbenacae Petria
Bambosa species Graminae Bamboo
Achrus Sapota Sapotacea Chikoo
Mimosops eleing Sapotacea Bakul
Eugenia Jamboliana Myrtaceae Jambul
Feronia Elephantum Rutaceae Kavath
Carrisa carrandus Apocynaceae Karvand
Pinus sylvestris Pinaceae Pine
Calistemon lanceolatus Myrtaceae Batlicha kuncha
Terminalia chabla Combretaceae Hirda
Cassia siamia Caesalpinaceae Red mohor
Cassia fistula Caesalpinaceae Amal tash
Delonix regia Caesalpinae Gulmohor
Psidium guava Myrtaceae Guava
Butea Monosperma Papilionacea Palas
Lagerostoimla sp Lethraceae Pahadi rose
Lausonia inermis Lethraceae Mehendi
Ficus elastica Moracrceae Rubber
Euphorbia nesifolia Euphorbiaceae Vajratundi
Muraa exotica Rutaceae Din ka raja
Nyctanthus arborticus Nyctanthaceae Parijat
Punica granatum Punicaceae Anaar
Casurina equisetifolia Casurinaceae Suru


  1. Please provide the local names of plants instead of their botanical names it will be much easier to identify them, b’coz I will have further research on their local names to buy them from the local nursery

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