Bonsai Display Tables

Bonsai display tables are used to highlight the importance of the tree.

There is an old saying in bonsai:

If someone looks at your tree in an exhibit and first says “What a beautiful pot!”

It's either in the wrong container or it's not a very good bonsai.

Much like the pot, a stand should complement both your bonsai and the container -- not draw attention to itself.


pine bonsai, bonsai stand

Although this stand is large and detailed, the strength of the bonsai tree is still the first thing you see.

Bonsai display “tables” come in many shapes, sizes and styles and usually lift the tree up for better viewing.

Saburo Kato, Japan 2005

Photo courtesy Morten Albek


Some tables are formal and very traditional, others are more modern and often unique.

Today it is not unusual to see flat stones and finely finished boards or even metal used for stands.

As in any art form, there are controversies over what is right and wrong.

Dark woods such as rosewood and walnut are traditional and still some of the most desirable stands.

Basic Stand Guidelines

These guidelines are very basic, however, they will get you started:

  • The design of the stand should never overwhelm the bonsai. Ornate stands must be used carefully;
  • The “legs” should always appear heavy enough to support the size tree. However, never compete with the tree trunk;
  • Container should 'fit' properly … always smaller than the table (front and back!) Never overlapping;
  • Stand shapes should not compete with containers . (Although there are exceptions.)

Bonsai Display Tables
for Specific Styles

bonsai display tables, bonsai stands, cascade stand

For example, just as there are cascade pots, there are cascade tables.

Like the containers, the stands are often tall to allow the “cascading” branch a place to fall.

Bunjin style bonsai are usually placed on round stands.

Containers should never hang over the edge of any shape stand.


Shohin bonsai (very small) are frequently displayed in groups.

Thin slabs of burl and other fine woods can be appropriate for displaying a forest or windswept bonsai.

Accent and companion plants also deserve to be highlighted.

In Japan, dark colored lacquer discs have been used for many years for this purpose.

Old ones are considered very collectible (and pricey.)

Today, there are artists creating glazed and fired ceramic circles, as well as thin pieces of wood with glossy paint and/or wax that work beautifully.

All bonsai in this display are by Suthin Sukosolvisit

Exhibiting Bonsai with Stands

If you are involved in planning a formal exhibit, bonsai artist Attila Soos, in California, wrote an illustrated article on “The Role of the Stand” that may be especially helpful.

bonsai display tables, bonsai stands

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Water Stains

Standing water on wooden tables can cause white stains.

During an exhibit, check your bonsai display tables for water overrun, and dry them off as soon as possible.

If you do get a water stain, coat the spot with petroleum jelly and let it sit overnight. In the morning, wipe it off the 'jelly' with a paper towel or dry cloth.

This technique has resolved many a water spot on wooden display stands.

When members do not have traditional bonsai display tables, sometimes something as simple as a bamboo place mat  has a better appearance than a bonsai sitting directly on a bench or table (and often very effective!)

Many artists have several stands and take more than one to the exhibit. It is a good idea to practice at home, however, what looks good at home, doesn’t always work in the show.

It is a common practice in many clubs to share bonsai display tables. It is wise to have your name or mark on the bottom for identification.

Display at Home

When you bring a bonsai indoors, a bonsai display table gives it the importance it deserves.

bonsai display tables, figurines

If you grow bonsai indoors, use stands for special occasions only.

(Always remember bonsai pots have holes in them, and water will drip through! Water before you display.)

Bonsai display tables and slabs are also perfect for displaying valued figurines, stones and even groups of items – such as small bonsai pots.

Where to Go From Here

Have you seen the full page on Bonsai Display ?

There are also  bonsai display tables shown on Miniature Bonsai page




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