kusamono accents

One of Ritta Cooper's plantings

One of Ritta Cooper's plantings

Another one of Ritta Cooper’s beautiful kusamono plantings
Robin Jehan’s unusual kusamono planting

There will be very many more examples in the Exhibition on 27th May 2012


Kusamono is the term we use for mixed plantings which consist of several plants arranged to give a display.  They can, and often are, used as accents for Bonsai and Suiseki but they can also take centre stage in a Tokonoma.

So, Kusamono can be the “star performer”.  They can be the focus of your display, or a substitute for a Shohin in a multi tree display. If they are used on their own they can be almost any size, and of course you can add a scroll, figurine or Suiseki to complete the picture. The kusamono dictates the impression of place and season, such as a meadow, a bog, or the mountains.

Kusamono are usually displayed on a mat, Jiita or flat ceramic tray, and rarely on a formal bonsai type table.

When planting a kusamono, be sure to select plants that like similar growing conditions, for example plants which need lots of water or plants that like a lot of sun, or plants that prefer dry conditions etc.

Also be especially careful with plants that are excessively invasive — use them sparingly and keep them in check, so they don’t dominate the planting and take over the other plants in the display.  Select plants that have different heights so that you can depict different levels.  In Japan they refer to earth, man and sky.

It is also advisable to use very low growing plants or moss to cover the soil.

Plants used are typically grasses, ferns, small flowers, bamboo, seedlings or bulbs that may heighten the beauty or reflect a certain season. While traditionally in Japan, plants gathered from mountains contributed to the bulk of plantings, modern use has extended to more creative and artistic design.

You can use almost any plants that you like including tree seedlings, but again if used as an accent remember not to have a repeating theme.

This form of planting has become an art form in its own right.

© Ritta Cooper 2011


4 responses

16 09 2011
Simon Haddon

What elements make a “good” kusamono planting as opposed to s mediocre one? I’m looking to experiment with a few next year and was wondering about the best way to approach it,
Kindest Regards, Simon

16 09 2011

A good kusamono planting should have a combination of compatible plants — variations in foliage texture — variations in height between the different plants used — a sympathetic planting dish/pot — and plants that are in scale with each other. It should also introduce a seasonal flavour and remember that as well as using kusamono as companion plantings to bonsai in a formal display, they can also be used in their own right.

Good luck, Dan
ps do re-visit this site frequently as new kusamono postings will be made from time to time.

16 09 2011
Simon Haddon

Thanks for your reply. I’m hoping try it out with some of the pots that I’ve made and plants that I’ve collected.
I’ll keep you posted,

10 01 2012

I really like the first Kusamono on this page! Could you tell me what plants are in this composition?


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