Monday, November 12, 2018

Succulents and Cacti as Bonsai Accessories

Author: Vijaya Chamundeswari

"Small is beautiful" My attraction to gardening began with these artifacts of Nature in the form of cacti and other succulents. Every time I see these beady, juicy varieties of succulents I used to pick them up to add to my tiny collection. Some used to survive while most just dwindle and wither away. It took me time to realize that they belong to a different atmosphere and that it takes a lot of care to get them to acclimatize and survive here in Chennai. This was not the case with Cacti as they seem to be super survivors. OK now, just in case you are wondering how to distinguish between cacti and succulents, here is an easy tip. All cacti are succulents but all succulents are not cacti. Succulents are plants that are thick and juicy with a waxy outer layer. Cacti have thorns or some hairy protrusions, coming out of a round grey cushion like area called areole.

    The reason why we hit at this topic though is its connection to Bonsai. Kusamono and Shitakusa are Japanese names given to denote plants that accompany or accentuate the look of a Bonsai while we display it. Kusa means grass. Usually pretty little grass varieties that accompany a Bonsai in the pot are Kusamono.  Shitakusa is a separate little container that holds these little beauties. Here we are replacing the grass with cacti and other succulents so let us just call them accent plants.Since we are trying to add beauty to the bonsai display the container that holds these plants should look artistic.They can either be the craftsmanship of a potter or your own creative skill in using what ever material you can lay your hands on, be it a coffee mug, a broken crockery or even a bulb or shell.

    Now we come to soil, water and sunlight which are the three main necessities to sustain plant life.

    Soil needs to be coarse which allows good drainage. We add 2 parts of grit, 1 part of cow dung and leaf mould manure that is dry and powdery and 1 part of garden soil. a little bit of bone meal will add to the strength of the plant.Make sure the drain hole does not get clogged with fine soil. Usually plants bought from the nursery have a lot of clay and red soil which has to be removed carefully while we re pot. Anything that holds too much moisture should be avoided. Re potting and manuring once in a year is more than sufficient.
     Water only when the soil is dry. The soil should be moist and not wet. Any water that has drained into the saucer or plate under the pot should be removed. During rains shift all succulents to a dry place. These plants are hardly attacked by pests because of the spines and wax on them but rodents do mess with them.Over watering is the only culprit that rots the root and the entire plant.
    Sunlight is the energizer that helps the plant to manufacture chlorophyll. Succulents and cacti have very tiny or no leaves at all. The spiny protrusions are like leaves but chlorophyll is produced in its green and thick stems. They store their food/nutrition in them. Any damage to the stem will make it rot. So while propagating we need to remove a whole segment for it to root in the soil which is pretty fast. Cutting the stem midway will kill it. Most Cacti need a lot of sunlight which gives them lovely hues and flowers well too.Succulents need sunlight in a cool atmosphere. So you have to choose the appropriate place. Succulents in Chennai need to get acclimatized in a particular place and position so shifting them on and off might confuse their chemistry and is not advisable. Ideally a window sill or under a clean shady tree would suit well and of course the option of a green house is always there.

    We normally add on to our collection from friends and nurseries. Propagation of cacti and succulents is very easy for they catch root very fast on coarse sand once they are nipped at the segment. Since we are looking at tiny pots to hold them we can have a large shallow container to help them multiply and pick a small section for the display pot. The reason is the small pot cannot hold the plant permanently. As the succulents multiply we need to remove and make space in the pot to avoid jamming and rotting.
    So here we are, all set to add that little bit of more to our beautiful Bonsai.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018



BODHI - The Chennai Bonsai Association

presents a One Day workshop

Morning session 'BASICS in BONSAI' for the beginners &
Afternoon session an advanced course

Conducted by: International Bonsai Master
Shri Ravindran Damodar, Nikki Bonsai

Date: Saturday, September 15, 2018
Time: Morning Session  9 30 am to 1 pm
Afternoon Session  2 pm to 5 pm

Venue: S C S Kothari Academy for Women
17, Venkatapathi Street
Kilpauk, CHENNAI 600010

For more details contact: 9840273708 / 9841179183

Thursday, September 6, 2018


Learn the art of Bonsai making!

'BODHI' - The Chennai Bonsai Association
Proudly present another workshop for the 

Conducted by eminent Bonsai Master
 Shri Ravindran Damodar
Nikki Bonsai Garden, Nagercoil

Date: Saturday, September 15, 2018

Time: 10 am to 1 pm

Venue: S.C.S Kothari Academy for Women
17,Venkatapathi Street
Kilpauk, CHENNAI 600010

Course fees: Rs 1500/-

Course will cover choosing suitable material, basic technic
 of creating bonsai, different styles, soil composition,
care & maintenance, pots, tools & accessories etc.

There will also be an advanced course for those who
are practising the art of Bonsai in the afternoon.
Await for more details.

Contact numbers:

Friday, August 10, 2018

Some cascade styles of Bonsai of Ficus and Jades. 
Demo on cascade style at Bodhi Bonsai Association Chennai, monthly meeting on 11/08/2018 

Monday, July 16, 2018

Bodhi bonsai monthly meeting was held at Children 's Green Park Chetpet, Chennai,on July 14,2018.
It was well attended including few guests. Two new members joined us.
Bonsai experts Dr Yogesh & Ms. Suseela Vergis, helped Mr.Ram and Ms Sabu Ali to style  their bonsai.
They also demonstrated,how to make twin trunk bonsai.
There was a display of twin trunk bonsai from the members.
Mr George explained how to make bonsai soil suitable for South Indian conditions using raw materials available here.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Dr Nayak styles the bonsai without wiring.

These bonsai belong to Dr Ganesh Nayak, Cardiac Surgeon, Bengaluru. I had a chance to visit his exotic bonsai garden today.

Monday, June 25, 2018


Sokan style, or twin-trunk Bonsai has two trunks rising from the root system, or nebari. The trunks may split immediately above the roots, or rise as one from the soil and then split after a few inches.
The perfect and most sought-after Sokan Bonsai has one trunk taller and thicker than the other, with both trunks being visible when viewed from the front of the pot/tree. The branch positions, working around both trunks, should be as follows: left, right and back. There should not be any branches pointing from one trunk to the other.
Many Bonsai enthusiasts love the Sokan style as it gives the grower a chance to work with two trees, sometimes making a great piece from two trees that wouldn’t otherwise have made great Bonsai on their own terms.
You could imagine this style of Bonsai to be like creating a ‘marriage’. The larger tree is the male, carefully and lovingly protecting his wife from the harsh elements by shading her and gently arching over her. Ultimately the apex of both trees will meet to form one – and when creating correctly, this can be an absolutely stunning composition.
Care must be taken when creating Sokan style Bonsai, especially where the back branches and the roots are concerned. There will be an empty void between the two trunks that will require filling with suitable back branches, if not the grower will have created an empty void that will detract from the composition.
Another feature that may happen if the tree is left to grow unchecked is a reverse taper rising from the nebari (root system). This can easily happen due to the twin trunk effect, so the roots will need due care and attention to ensure they remain exposed and the taper is clearly evident at the tree’s base

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Some of the bonsai by Bodhi Bonsai Association Chennai... 

Monday, June 11, 2018

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Bodhi meeting June 9th 2018

The monthly meeting of Bodhi for the month of June was held today, 9th June 2018, at the Defence Colony club, Nandambakkam. It was hosted by our members from Defence colony, who did a fabulous job by putting together a very nice program for the meeting and with wonderful arrangements. The meeting was well attended and I think all the members found the distance they had travelled well worth the time and effort!
The mame display gave the members a chance to show off their miniature creations.
The meeting started at 2.30 p.m. with the styling of members’ plants. This was followed by a talk and demonstration by Jayanti on how to create pads in our bonsai trees. She also gave some valuable tips on feeding the plants. Next, Hareish shared some useful information on the growth, care and blooming of jasmine plants. After this, there were a few more plants of members to be styled. And the meeting wound up with an excellent high tea and sale of plants and bonsai materials. All in all, an extremely satisfying afternoon!

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Mame Making

Mame or miniature bonsai could well have more of a place in small houses or flats than the larger forms, as they may be only two to eight or so inches high. On the whole, however, they do not survive to such great ages, mainly because the containers have to be so small, possibly only a little over an inch deep. The containers, as for the larger bonsai, must have a drainage hole and can be of any shape to suit the particular mame bonsai in question.  The soil mixture, and methods of watering and feeding, are also the same as described earlier. For obvious reasons, however, they will need watering more frequently, especially in hot, dry weather.
Mame specimens can very often be ready for display in a shorter time than the larger forms, and this in itself is a considerable advantage.
The simpler styles should be chosen for mame bonsai, because their size does not make it possible to train them into the more complicated shapes such as Winding or Clasped to the stone. The Upright, Oblique and Cascading styles all make attractive mame bonsai and a group planting can be most effective.
The easiest way to raise mame bonsai quickly from seed, the best method being to sow the seed direct in the final container. A pinch of seed is sown, as described in “How to Grow Your Own Bonsai Tree” and then thinned out as desired when germination is complete. For a single specimen all the extra seedlings are removed, but for a group planting, two, three or five are left to grow on. In order to avoid too much disturbance in the very small containers when thinning these seedlings, it is best to nip off the surplus seedlings with sharp scissors close to the soil surface. The strongest seedlings should be pinched early in the first season to encourage the growth of side shoots, and if a ‘clean’ stem is wanted, the lowest of these side shoots must be removed.
Leaf pinching is particularly valuable as far as mame bonsai are concerned,  as it not only corrects any over crowding and helps to check growth, but also causes smaller leaves to be formed in place of the removed leaves.


Kindly read the date of the monthly meeting as
Saturday, June 9, 2018.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018


Date: Saturday, June 8, 2018

Venue:  Defence Colony Club,
Near Military Hospital, Nandambakkam,
CHENNAI 600032

Time: 2 30 - 5 pm.


Padding creation demo &
Maintenance of Bonsai on terrace - Jayanti Prakash

Talk on growing 'Madurai Malli' - Harish

Hands on workshop on
Styling, Wiring,Repotting etc - Members

There will be a display of Mame Bonsai

Sale of Pre Bonsai plants

Guests charge: Rs 200/- per head

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Waiting to see some photos of the inauguration and exhibition of our recent program.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Bodhi Bonsai Association Chennai team with The dignitaries on the occasion of the 10th year celebration.. 

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Bonsai Exhibition, January 26-27, 2018

 Few photographs taken from 'BODHI' Bonsai Exhibition being held at Chennai during January 26 - 27, 2018 at HOTEL AMBASSADOR PALLAVA Egmore, Chennai as part of their 10th Anniversary celebrations. 

More photographs will follow.

Friday, January 26, 2018



Mr Budi Sulystio, Jakarta, Indonesia 
Mrs Jyoti Parekh
Mr Nikunj Parekh
Sasya Bandhu Mr D Ravindran 

 Mrs Jyoti & Mr Nikunj Parekh, Mrs & Mr Budi Sulystio, Mr D Ravindran

Renowned Bonsai Masters arrived in Chennai for BODHI Bonsai's 10th Anniversary Celebrations.


Date: Saturday, January 27, 2018

Time: 9 30 am

Venue: Dynasty Hall
Egmore, Chennai

For details call 9840273708 / 9677029265 / 9841179183


Tuesday, January 23, 2018


Two days more for the mega event!



* Mr Budi Sulistyo from Indonesia
* Mrs Jyoti Parekh
* Mr Nikunj Parekh
Founders of Bonsai Study Group of the Indo-JApanese Association,
Mumbai - Teaching Bonsai from the year 1978
* Sasya Bandhu Mr D Ravindran, Nikki Bonsai, Nagercoil

When:  JANUARY 26 & 27, 2018 (Fri. & Sat.)

Time:  9 30 am

Venue: At Dynasty Hall
Montieth Road, Egmore, CHENNAI

For more details & Registration
Call  9840273708 /  9841179183 / 9677029265

Exquistely crafted Bonsai plants, Pre-Bonsai plants, Bonsai pots
& Accessories will be available for sale at the venue on both days.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Some of the displays at the exhibition on 26th and 27th of January 2018. 

Saturday, January 20, 2018


“BODHI” - The Chennai Bonsai Association 



January 26 - 27, 2018   (Friday/Saturday)

The art of Bonsai is not a mystery. Would you like to know more about how to create and maintain a living Bonsai?  You can find support and learning opportunities in us.


** Demonstrations by world renowned Bonsai Masters viz 
Mr. Budi Sulistyo, Indonesia
Mrs. Jyoti Parekh, Mumbai
Mr. Nikunj Parekh, Mumbai
Sasya Bandhu D. Ravindran, Nagercoil 

**  Bonsai Exhibition

**  Sale of specially crafted Bonsai Plants,  Pre Bonsai plants,  Bonsai containers  &. Accessories 

VENUE:  Hotel Ambassador Pallava, Egmore, Chennai


For more details and Registration call :  9840273708   /  9841179183

Monday, January 15, 2018

Experience Bonsai as never before : 26-27th January

As part of 10th year celebrations, Bodhi the Chennai Bonsai Association is planning to. have a Bonsai Exhibition for 2 days.

Would you like to know more about creating and maintaining a living bonsai.

Join us for the demonstrations by International Masters.

Venue: Hotel Ambassador Pallava, Egmore Chennai 600008.

Date: 26th27 th January 20018.

For further details, 

Phone 9840273708, 9677029265,  9841179183.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Bodhi Bonsai Association Chennai is conducting a convention on 26th and 27th January 2018..
Exhibition of exclusive Bonsai trees, Demonstrations by international masters as well as Indian experts would be there..
Those who want to participate in workshops can attend the secessions too..
Interested persons pl let us know..