The Meaning and Uses of the Bonsai Tree in Feng Shui

Bonsai tree in a pot sitting on a white table.

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Many people, when prompted to think of feng shui plants, think immediately of the bonsai tree. While the art of bonsai is rich and beautiful, it may not always be the best type of plant to use as a feng shui adjustment.

What Is a Bonsai Tree?

The word bonsai translates to tray planting in Japanese. Bonsai care and cultivation is a Japanese art that involves growing a tree in a shallow container while training it into a particular shape. Bonsai refers to the way in which the plant is grown and maintained, rather than the species itself. Many different types of plants can be bonsai trees. Some common choices are citrus, juniper, and fig trees. Bonsai are also not dwarf plants, but they are kept small through specific techniques and shaped to look like a miniature version of a full-grown tree. Bonsai plants can be grown in different styles and are shaped with wires and careful pruning.

Bonsai is different from other houseplants and other art forms because it requires quite a bit of dedication and patience to maintain. Because you are working with a living object, it is always growing and changing. Another interesting aspect of bonsai is that plants are often passed to different artists over time, with each new caretaker contributing their unique perspective and style as the plant continues to grow.

Tree Symbolism in Feng Shui

Much of what we do in feng shui has the goal of connecting us to the cycles of nature. One way of doing this is by bringing symbols and elements of nature into the home. Trees in particular are connected to the wood element, which represents kindness and growth. They are also connected to abundance, because the fruits of a full-grown, healthy tree can provide nourishment for many people and animals.

Two bonsai trees on a wood surface with a dark gray background

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Bonsai Trees Uses in Feng Shui

Bonsai trees are kept small and prevented from growing to their full potential, so they may not be the best metaphor for the inhabitants of the home. For example, they may not be ideal in a child’s room, since this stage of life involves a lot of growth. Similarly, if you are in a season of expansion and new growth in your life or if you would like to move into one, a bonsai tree might not be the best fit for you.

If you love bonsai trees because of the way they look, though, this doesn’t mean you can’t have them in your home. Not everything needs to be a feng shui adjustment: It’s okay to have things in your home that are beautiful decor items rather than feng shui objects.

Another consideration for bonsai trees for feng shui is that there are many situations in which one could benefit from structure and discipline. In this case, a bonsai tree could be a beautiful and supportive symbol. In addition, the recognition of a miniature world that a bonsai tree depicts can open our eyes to interconnectedness. A big part of feng shui philosophy is the understanding that we are not separate from anything around us, including our homes and the people in our lives. We are connected to things that are bigger than us, like our planet, as well as things that are smaller, like tiny plants and insects.

Selecting and Caring for Bonsai Trees

If you would like to work with a bonsai plant, look for one that has been cultivated with love and care, rather than with pain. One feng shui view of bonsai trees is as a concentration of restorative energy, so you want to be mindful of the type of energy you’re bringing in with this plant. Plants, like other living beings and objects, hold memories, and whenever we bring something into our home that has been looked after by someone else, we are bringing in the energy of that relationship as well. Make sure you also find a place in your home where your bonsai will thrive. Pay attention to its light and temperature requirements, and place it in an appropriate location in your space.

If you do bring a bonsai tree into your home, be sure to learn how to care for it. It’s a life-long skill that requires patience to cultivate, and it’s not simple. If you can invest your time and attention, it will be a good feng shui adjustment that will add positive energy to your space. If it’s forgotten and dies, it will not be helpful.