Using Companion Plants with Bonsai Trees

Creating a gorgeous miniature landscape overflowing with colorful bushes and tiny flowers is as easy as pie! Just follow these few easy steps and a miniature wonderland is sure to come.

Preparing the Soil for a Bonsai Under Planting

A good loamy soil mix is ideal for most plants one chooses to grow; cacti and other such flora will need a well draining, sharp sandy mix. Cover the drainage holes in each pot with broken pieces of clay pots or durable screen patches. Add the soil halfway to the top of the pot and pack down well. Next, arrange each plant in an attractive manner adding hills of soil and deepening any holes as needed. Keep in mind that an entirely flat planting will detract from most arrangements. The goal is to create a real looking landscape: something one would find in nature or a person’s garden.

Finish adding the soil around each plant and pack in and water well with a water soluble fertilizer. Do not pack the soil too tightly.

Arranging Miniature Plants for Under Planting Bonsai

Take inspiration from the surrounding landscape; see how bushes and flowers are arranged and pay special attention to the scale of each plant. In creating miniature bushes and trees trimming will be required to keep them full and of small stature. A beautiful Serissa foetida can be trimmed into a surprisingly small shrub or tree; the same can be said of moss rose Portulaca grandiflora as well as many other varying species.

A person can opt for a full planting or one with sparse extras; it is really up to one’s sense of style. There is no wrong way to under plant a bonsai, so long as the plants are treated as they need to be to remain healthy.

Large drifts of plants can add a sense of unity and flow to the planting; the same can be said for small doses of color like that found in the small blooms of Linaria alpina. A mixed planting of various species is also a nice way to go; just make sure that the plants will live happily together.

Additional Tips for Under Planting Bonsai Trees

Treat the companion plants much like their standard counterparts; do not forget to mulch each plant with a small grade leaf litter or shredded bark mulch. Small pebbles will work as well. These applications not only work to give the plantings more oomph; they also help to retain a bit of moisture and keep weeds from taking over.

The addition of understated bridges and other hardscapes can bring on a sense of realism if applied correctly. Special attention needs to be paid to the scale of each item in comparison with trees and bushes in the planting. If the size is wrong it will throw the entire planting off and just make it look silly.

A stream or pond will really make the scene pop and seem realistic. A simple way to do this without the fuss of using real water is to make an imprint in the soil the shape and size of a stream or pond and then packing gravel and/or sand into the imprint. Remember; streams and creeks wind and have ever changing curves; try and implement this in the planting.

Miniature pots are a great addition if one is searching for something a little different. Tiny sedum can be added to them and allowed to spill over the sides, just like in a standard garden.

Possible Bonsai Companion Plants List

Please note that many plants may need to be kept trimmed to remain in scale to the bonsai.

  • Sweet Alyssum Lobularia maritime
  • Mosses (various)
  • Brass Buttons Leptinella squalid
  • Sedum rupestre
  • Sedum moranense
  • Sedum bithynicum
  • Sedum album
  • Sedum makinoi
  • Portulaca grandiflora
  • Miniature Rose Rosa
  • Calluna vulgaris
  • Pratia angulata
  • Thymus praecox
  • Thymus pseudolanuginosus
  • Ficus quercifolia

There are nearly endless possibilities for plants; just do some research and be amazed!