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Welcome to the Greater Louisville Bonsai Society

Bonsai (pronounced "bone-sigh") is the practice and art of growing and keeping trees in containers or pots. Their small size retains and expresses the beauty & volume of a tree grown naturally. The term bonsai is a Japanese word that means “planted in a tray”

Begun in China and brought to Japan, bonsai is part horticulture and part art. The techniques of bonsai include pruning, shaping, and container-growing to produce a miniaturized version of a natural tree or landscape.

Bonsai is an exciting adventure that is challenging to describe to those who have not experienced it personally. Miniature trees and landscapes carefully nurtured and tended in their pots, give back much more in beauty and peace than is ever exacted in the cost of creating and maintaining them. Bonsai is an adventure in which you can participate. 

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Common Questions About Bonsai

Here are some common questions that newcomers have about the art of bonsai. 

Aren’t bonsai dwarf trees?

No - but they can be! Some varieties of dwarf trees like Dwarf Japanese Yew make excellent bonsai, but mostly bonsai are created from trees and woody plants that would normally grow into full size trees and shrubs.

Can they be grown indoors?

Yes, Tropical and sub tropical tree species can be cultivated to grow and thrive indoors. However, most bonsai are kept outdoors year round (with protection in winter).

How do I get started?

Anyone with the interest, time, and space for growing plants can build and enjoy a bonsai collection. Bonsai trees do require care and attention. The care and nurturing of a bonsai help develop the knowledge to not only keep the tree alive but also the artistry to form a sculpture from a living thing.


Trees can be acquired from nursery stock and this is often the first, and easiest way to get started. Look for trees that have good surface roots, interesting - well-defined trunk lines, and good distribution of branches. 

How old is that tree ?

Sometimes people will show their trees with an age marker, others will not and some may never tell you. How old do you think it is ?? The goal is to produce a tree that one can literally imagine existing in nature that has survived decades or centuries of environmental stress and effect.

How long does it take?

Bonsai is a study in patience and perseverance. Learning the basics opens one up to opportunities to learn about horticulture, dendrology (study of trees), weather, and artistic nuances of shape, space & motion. You can learn to love and care for a single tree fairly quickly or spend a lifetime delving into the aspects that make up this fascinating art.

Is it expensive?

Like many hobbies you can start out inexpensively & as your passion grows spend more. Beginners can obtain pre-bonsai and some tools for little up front investment.

Ready to find out more about joining GLBS?

Membership in The Greater Louisville Bonsai Society (GLBS) will provide multiple opportunities throughout the year to acquire trees from visiting experts, trips to bonsai nurseries, workshops and our own local professional bonsai sellers.

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