Cutting Down for Shohin   1 comment

In Fresno here a group of us have decided to start a Shohin Study Group. This group will obviously be for the study of smaller trees but will also be good for those that have smaller Kifu sized trees that would like to fit into the Shohin catagory in size but have no idea how to get them down to that size. For the first meeting I have made this handy dandy measuring stick. It has all the sizes that I will ever encounter in bonsai. I do not for see having a bonsai larger than 40 inches.

What are the sizes that bonsai fall under?

Bonsai Size Classification

Keishi Bonsai (thumb size) – Up to 1 inch (2.5 cm) in height

Shito Bonsai (very small) – Up to 3 inch (7.5 cm) in height

Mame Bonsai (mini) – Up to 6 inch (15 cm) in height

Shohin Bonsai (small) – Up to 8 inch (20 cm) in height

Kifu Sho Bonsai (medium) – Up to 16 inch (40.5 cm) in height

Chu Bonsai (medium large) – Up to 24 (61 cm) inch in height

Dai Bonsai (large) – Up to 40 (101.5 cm) inch in height

There is a classification for Imperial Bonsai which are six man bonsai over 40 inches tall. This stick now can be placed in a pot and I know instantly where my tree stacks up. Many times a person will have a tree that seems to fit the Shohin size limits but has to planted out into a larger dish due to a root system that is not compact enough to fit in the proper size dish.

A properly size Shohin should fit into a dish no longer than 7 inches no deeper than 1.5 inches. 1.5 inches is in my opinion even a little too deep to really look like a Shohin sized pot. I started working this tree over with the purchase in 2010. I started an article about here. During that time I made a virtual of where I would like to see the tree in a few years. After grafting on a few branches and working on thread grafting roots, only one of which took, I decided that this tree might be better served if it were a little shorter. This is how the tree started in 2010. No branches just a trunk with little movement.


I was able to grow out the top and get some movement back the other way. Even this subtle movement will help with the dynamicism of the tree.


This was the virtual I made in 2013 when I grafted on a the two branches on the trunk. I had grafted branches onto the base to help rebuild the undercutting I had there. Only one took and it was in the worst place of the four and did nothing to build any girth there. I did succeed in getting the two trunk grafts to take and make the first branch and one higher up in the canopy on the left.


So today I looked the tree over and have come up with a radical plan for the base of this tree. I will begin building that in the coming weeks so that I can install it this spring. If I can get done soon enough I may start it now and see if it sprouts around the base. This is the stick i built for sizing my trees.




This is the tree today. It has filled nicely and the canopy is pretty much a dead ringer for the virtual.


When I put the stick beside it, we can see that it is about 1.5 inches taller than a Shohin and well within the Kifu range. The tree now would easily fit into a Shohin pot since the root base is very compact and the basket has air pruned the roots really well this year.


The new plan is to ground layer the tree right at the area where I can take maximum advantage of the larger trunk base. I plant make a terra cotta plate for the tree and then saw it in half. Grind half a hole in each half to fit the trunk after I peel it and then wire it together. The trees base will be covered with soil and as the roots grow there will be a plate to grow on and should have a good sized flat root spread.


All this and more at the bunker this spring.






One response to “Cutting Down for Shohin

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  1. Good plan. I was looking at that final picture with the layer line. There’s a nice little swell above you’re line, but it you cut it across that to layer it the trunk would be almost straight up out of the soil. Not as dramatic as your plan.

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