The Bonsai Tree Meaning, History & Benefits

The art of bonsai dates back thousands of years, with each cultivated bonsai tree meaning something unique to the crafter.

Although commonly associated with Japan, bonsai originated in China, where it was known as "penjing" or "penzai," which denotes a potted scenery or landscape. For centuries penjing was a symbol of prestige reserved for Chinese royalty and elite only

This beautiful art of miniature landscaping came to the attention of Japanese Buddhist monks and diplomats who started visiting mainland China during the 6th century.

Enthralled by what they saw, they brought penjing back to Japan, and so bonsai was born. Elaborate penjing styles were adapted to a more minimalist style by Japanese Zen Buddhist monks, in particular, and the trees became a representation of spirituality.

Unlike penjing, which was reserved for the upper class only, bonsai trees were for everyone. As a result, they became profoundly symbolic and sacred, representing the attributes of balance, harmony, and simplicity in life.  

Read on to learn more about bonsai meaning and how you can bring it into your life.

The meaning and benefits of bonsai trees

Bonsai trees are intended to bring the core aspects of nature - balance, harmony, and simplicity - into your home or workplace.

When we consider the natural flow of the environment, these three characteristics are always present, and if anything occurs to disrupt nature, it will always restore itself.

Being in nature nourishes us and feeds our souls. However, most of us don't have space in our gardens to grow large trees or enough time to spend in woodlands. This is where bonsai comes in – we can keep numerous trees inside our homes or office, and they don't need much space. 

One of the wise lessons all trees teach us is the cycles of life, and bonsai do the same. They take us through the phases of moving from small to young, then fully grown, and finally old trees. But unlike us, who judge and often fear the various stages of life, bonsai illuminate each age's beauty, worth, and versatility. They teach us to embrace and find value in who we are in the present moment.

Nature continually nurtures too, and in today's hectic lifestyle, nurturing is something that we don't do often enough. Caring for bonsai trees is nurturing in its most profound sense, and when giving from the heart, the giver benefits as much as the receiver. By bonding through nurture, the bonsai plant's meaning is enriched, and it becomes our teacher. 

Bringing one or a few bonsai trees into your home workplace opens your heart and soul to the pure energy of Mother Nature and Gaia herself.

Why is the bonsai tree different?

All bonsai are grown from the seeds of regular-sized trees, so each one starts like any other tree, but it transforms into a miniature through selection, special cultivation, and careful pruning. This in itself makes each bonsai tree special.

But since they were all initially normal-sized trees, they have the same magical and healing properties as large trees. They also behave in the same way by purifying the air, releasing oxygen, flowering, bearing fruit, losing their leaves, and growing new leaves and branches, just like trees in a forest.

Unlike gardens and forests, bonsai are intentionally set on their own in a very plain container. In this way, when you look at the tree, all your focus is on its magnificence without distraction. Spending time close to the tree in its simplicity also means that its vibrational energy is uncluttered and pure.

Having it close allows you to draw on its energy and properties and learn from the bonsai tree meaning at all times.

How to use a bonsai tree

All bonsai meanings are different because each artistic element is intentionally crafted and combined to create a story and add to the symbolism, aesthetics, and profound significance.

When you look at a bonsai tree, you'll feel deep emotions stirring, and often these emotions can guide you to a specific tree for yourself or gift someone else.

All trees have their own intelligence, and bonsai are no exception. 

If you want to buy a tree for yourself or anyone else, don't buy it only because you think it looks good. Instead, consider the metaphysical properties, why you want it, and what you hope to learn from the benefits.

Also, read the tree's energy and see how it resonates with you.

The best way to do this is to select a specific tree and take in its beauty. First, clear your mind and take a few deep breaths, feeling the air as it enters and leaves your nostrils. Then, still looking at the bonsai, expand your awareness to the area immediately around the tree. Gradually you'll start sensing its energy field. As you do, raise your aura so that the two merge.

How do you feel? What emotions come up, and are there any that dominate? Is the bonsai communicating with you?

When you want to buy a tree for someone else, do the same thing, but bring them to mind before you begin. As you sense the bonsai plant's meaning through its energy, silently ask," are you suitable for {name}?" Do you get negative or positive vibes?

If there are quite a few trees available and you don't know which one is right for you, step back and clear your mind. After a few deep breaths, ask which bonsai will enhance your life? Spend a few minutes in quiet contemplation and then see which tree draws your attention.

You can find that a tree you hadn't previously noticed suddenly draws your attention, or maybe more than one does. You might not have seen them, but they read your energy.

It's not uncommon for bonsai to become companion trees. These are trees that purposely cross our path to teach and share life with us. The energy of a companion tree will resonate very strongly with yours, and it can even make you feel uncomfortable.

If this happens, know that the tree wants to teach you something or guide you. For example, you might wish to succeed in life, but deep down, you don't think you're worthy. The bonsai has read you and wants to help you break self-imposed mental barriers to reach your full potential.

Metaphysical properties

Apart from energy, each bonsai has inherent magical and healing properties. You can see it as the ancient wisdom and intelligence carried over from one generation to the next through the seeds.

Each tree species has unique benefits that can get harnessed through nurturing, keeping it in the home or at work, and mediating in its presence.   

Listed here are various species with their bonsai tree meaning –


An azalea bonsai represents feminine beauty, gentleness, and vulnerability. Like its full-sized family, it bears a profusion of beautiful pink, red or white blooms. It's associated with beauty, abundance at every level of life, intelligence, love, and passion. Azalea bonsai make ideal gifts for women and work well to increase feminine characteristics and bring love and harmony into the home.

Cherry blossom

The cherry blossom is Japan's national flower, so the bonsai meaning Japanese-wise, is profoundly symbolic and culturally significant. Each tree delivers a profusion of pink flowers for only a few days every year, so the blossoms remind us that life is fleeting and meant to be lived in the moment. It's associated with beauty, femininity, feminine strength and endurance, mindfulness, mortality, new beginnings, renewal, and rebirth. Because its properties are so versatile, it makes an ideal gift for girls and women at any stage of life or in any situation.

Chinese elm

Known as the "tree of harmony," the Chinese elm is associated with inner strength, intuition, love, and wisdom. It's also used for protection and believed to be able to make predictions. It's kept as a good omen and can be gifted to anyone.


In many cultures, cedar is a ceremonial plant used for its metaphysical and physical healing properties. Cedars can live for 300 years and more, so their bonsai meaning is protection, strength, and immortality. It's also a very spiritual plant and closely associated with meditation, prayer, and ritual. Invoke its energy in times of suffering and spiritual growth, or gift it to someone who's going through a tough time.


The "cheerful tree," ficus bonsai, is said to lift the mood of anyone who comes into its energy field. It's associated with all abundance, harmony, joy, new beginnings, and unity. Keeping it in the home encourages mutual understanding and positivity, and it can reduce depression and sorrow. So give it to anyone who's experiencing fear or sadness, or just to bring happiness into life.


Called the "lucky money tree," jade resonates positive energy and attracts good luck, money, and wealth. It's also a plant of friendship that strengthens existing bonds and creates new ones. Jade is associated with energy, friends, growth, prosperity, success, and renewal. Business owners often keep jade bonsai at the entrance of their organization or near the cash register. Jade can be gifted to anyone.


Juniper trees can live for over 700 years and are associated with cleansing, power, protection, purification, strength, and warding off evil spirits. They represent the will and skill to overcome life's challenges. Its berries are used in healing rituals and natural medicine. Having a juniper bonsai in the home keeps it safe and free from negativity and evil. Anyone can get gifted with juniper.


Japanese maple leaves are renowned for their bright changing colors and make beautiful bonsai. They're associated with balance, beauty, calm, elegance, peace, practicality, and serenity. They're often depicted in Japanese art to bring an air of serene beauty to works. Maple enhances any space and can be given to anyone.


On average, oak trees can live for 250 years and more, so the oak bonsai tree meaning is associated with longevity, strength, and wisdom. They also represent loyalty and eternal life. In mature trees, their aged bark and sturdy trunks are a symbol of knowledge and spiritual understanding. Oak can get gifted to anyone seeking strength and wisdom, particularly from the spiritual realm.

Shaping bonsai tree meaning

In bonsai, Japanese spirituality attaches as much importance to the tree's shape as its metaphysical properties.

Cascading bonsai are grown in deeper pots and shaped to bring to mind a tree on a steep cliff. They symbolize the inevitable changes and challenges of life.

An upright bonsai with a straight trunk is thicker at the base and gently tapers to the branches. It's a symbol of health, strength, and stamina.

Informal upright bonsai have a slight "S" shape to the trunk thicker at the base, gently tapering towards the branches. This shape is a symbol of endurance, stability, and strength.

Slanting bonsai trees softly lean to one side but are still balanced and strong. They represent the strength and resilience to overcome challenges in life.


Although all bonsai trees look stunning, there's much more to them than meets the eye.

Once you go deeper into understanding bonsai plant meanings, you'll see them in a different light.

They're spiritual guides gifted to us by Mother Nature and Gaia to help and teach us and to share their love with us as well.

At Karma and Luck, we celebrate the bonsai [BC1] tree's profound magnificence by combining timeless symbolism with authentic gemstones handcrafted with love.

Shop your Bonsai Feng Shui Tree Of Life CLICK HERE

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