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 to give you the translation of “tray growing” or “tray planting”. When you say “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, says 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. 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 travelled 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, 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 are merely looking for an interesting plant & treat it 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 of 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 the Indian climate:

Ficus bengalensisMoraceaeVad
Ficus riligiosaMoraceaePipal
Ficus glomerulataMoraceaeUmbar
FicusCarrica MoraceaeAnjir
Mangifera indicaAnacardiaceaeMango
Bouhinia VarigataCaesalpiniaKanchan
Acacia NiloticaMimosaeBabhul
Prosopis JulifloraMimosaeVilayati Babhul
Pithocolobium DulciMimosaeVilayati Tamarind
Tamarindus indicaCaesalpiniaVilayati Tamarind
Auracauria cuciAuraeauriaceaeChristmas Tree
Morus albaMoraceaeShahtut
Jacaranda mimosifoliaMimosaeNeel Mohor
Gravellia robustaMyrtaceaeSilver Oak
Malphighia caccigeraMalphighiaceaeMalphighia
Citrus lemonRutaceaeLime
Citrus auriculatumRutaceaeMosambi
Duranta varigataVerbenacaeDuranta
Bougain villea SpectabilisNyctaginaeaeBougain vel
Petria volubilisVerbenacaePetria
Bambosa speciesGraminaeBamboo
Achrus SapotaSapotaceaChikoo
Mimosops eleingSapotaceaBakul
Eugenia JambolianaMyrtaceaeJambul
Feronia ElephantumRutaceaeKavath
Carrisa carrandusApocynaceaeKarvand
Pinus sylvestrisPinaceaePine
Calistemon lanceolatusMyrtaceaeBatlicha kuncha
Terminalia chablaCombretaceaeHirda
Cassia siamiaCaesalpinaceaeRed mohor
Cassia fistulaCaesalpinaceaeAmal tash
Delonix regiaCaesalpinaeGulmohor
Psidium guavaMyrtaceaeGuava
Butea MonospermaPapilionaceaPalas
Lagerostoimla spLethraceaePahadi rose
Lausonia inermisLethraceaeMehendi
Ficus elasticaMoracrceaeRubber
Euphorbia nesifoliaEuphorbiaceaeVajratundi
Muraa exoticaRutaceaeDin ka raja
Nyctanthus arborticusNyctanthaceaeParijat
Punica granatumPunicaceaeAnaar
Casurina equisetifoliaCasurinaceaeSuru


  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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