11 Coir Bonsai Styles That Will Inspire You – Manila Bulletin

Coconut trees have many uses. Another thing we can add to its long list of useful applications is as a material for coco bonsai.

This is an emerging form of bonsai that uses coconut seedlings. The shell is usually peeled back to reveal the seed, which is then incorporated into the design. The seed may be completely or partially buried in the ground and may even be suspended in the air. The bonsai’s shape is maintained by removing the top layer of its stems so that its leaves and stems do not grow any further.

There are many styles in designing a coco bonsai. As an art form, there is virtually no limit to what human creativity can allow.

Glenn Olis, a coco bonsai artist from Hagonos, Davao del Sur and a Youtube content creator, shared on Agriculture Online some of the common and less common styles of coco bonsai. Other coco bonsai artists such as Chit Bisnar from Marinduque and Niño Rabino from Negros Occidental also gave their thoughts on some of the styles they have already done.

Partially submerged

Coconut bonsai partially submerged. Bonsai created by Jose Tañon.

When making coco bonsai, the coconut seed is incorporated into the design. For this basic, easy-to-reproduce style, the seed is partially buried in the ground.

The seed was planted directly on the container pot. Some versions of this style don’t even require the removal of the coconut shell. Once the seedling has grown, additional soil and moss can be used to cover the seed to improve its appearance. Another option is to varnish the seed.

Glenn said it’s an easy way to grow and style a coco bonsai. He even recommends it to beginners who want to try their hand at making coco bonsai.


Coconut bonsai on display. Bonsai created by Jose Tañon.

An exposed coco bonsai refers to when the coconut seed is exposed as part of the design. This is accomplished by placing a coconut seedling in an extension pot, which would then be placed on top of a pot. The container jar is not exactly a jar in itself. It is simply a packing material so that the soil covering the coconut seed does not crumble. Over time, the roots of the seed will grow into the soil of the actual pot. When this happens, the extension pot can be pulled out, along with the soil inside, exposing the seed. Exposed roots can then be cut away while the seed can be varnished to improve the overall appearance.

Without jar

Coconut bonsai without a pot. Bonsai created by Glenn Olis.

A coco bonsai without a pot retains its coconut shell. Supports can be inserted at the bottom of the coconut shell to keep it upright. An important feature of this design is the absence of roots. Glenn noted that this type of coco bonsai should not have its lower parts exposed to water as this will trigger root growth.

For this style, the upper part, where the seedling begins to grow, is removed. It’s up to the artist to decide how much of the coconut he wants to remove, but Glenn noted that the plant is watered through this exposed part.

Raised roots

Bonsai with raised roots. Bonsai created by Niño Rabino.

Coir bonsai with raised roots seem to defy gravity. Most of the visual weight of its form is concentrated at the top while its base appears visually unstable, being supported only by fragile roots.

This coco bonsai is first on a water support until the desired number of roots sprout before being transferred to a pot with an extension pot. The artist can control the desired height of the seed using the extension pot.


Cascade coco bonsai. Bonsai created by Allan Ilar.

Cascade is a style of coco bonsai, similar to typical bonsai, in which the plant grows downward to the point that it dips below the level of the pot. Niño, mentor to Allan Ilar, the bonsai artist pictured above, said that to create a cascading coco bonsai, the seed is first grown on an extension pot. The seed must be positioned at a relatively high level so that the roots grow longer. After seven months, the seed is repositioned in the desired location and then repotted, but with the roots exposed.

dread locks

Dreadlock coconut bonsai. Bonsai created by Niño Rabino.

Dreadlock coco bonsai have strongly curling leaves. Glenn said some coconut seedlings in the wild already have leaves growing this way, but a seedling can also be manually grown to look like this. Niño, who owns the bonsai pictured above, said that to achieve this look he uses five-month-old seedlings and hangs them in an upside-down position. Niño said the leaves grow in the direction of the light, so the leaves naturally curl upwards even if the bonsai is upside down. Once the desired amount of curvature is achieved, the coco bonsai is returned to an upright position.


Airborne coco bonsai. Bonsai created by Jose Tañon.

Airborne coco bonsai have their seeds suspended above the air. This type of coco bonsai is first grown in an aqueous medium to achieve the desired root length. The roots can then be manipulated to achieve the desired effect. This style can be created in a simple way, but the artist can choose to let their creativity run wild, manipulating the roots in unnatural but visually interesting ways.

Yamaduri/ big game bonsai

Big game bonsai. Bonsai created by Neil Magpantay.

A yamaduri or big game bonsai involves taking a stunted wild coconut tree and reusing it as a bonsai tree. Glenn describes the yamaduri as a kind of tree that naturally turns into a bonsai after it stops growing prematurely. He said harvesting these types of trees is a difficult process because the roots can be very sensitive. He recommends digging a root ball for the plant so it can better survive transplanting. Glenn added that plant owners will have to wait a few months for the plant to recover before artists can begin bonsai work on it.

Coconut bonsai on driftwood

Coco bonsai on driftwood. Bonsai created by Glenn Olis.

This style involves tilting a coco bonsai against driftwood. Glenn said the process can take a long time for this type of coco bonsai. The plant is first grown on an aqueous medium so that the roots extend a length long enough to match the length of a driftwood. A boulder can also be used for this style, but the shape and visual of the boulder should be considered before using it.

Coco bonsai garden dish

Flat coco bonsai garden. Bonsai created by Chit Bisnar.

A flat garden is a collection of plants, rocks, and other ornamental objects arranged on a shallow pot. Bonsai artists can add their coco bonsai to their flat gardens and arrange them in a way that resembles a miniature landscape.

Chit, the owner of the vegetable patch pictured above, used a mature coco bonsai tree and transplanted it from his pot into this vegetable patch. His dish garden depicts a rural landscape, with the coco bonsai used as a miniature coconut tree behind a nipa hut. On the right side is a small mountain that Chit made with dirt and rocks. She shared that she loves collecting ornamental rocks, so she incorporates them into her designs. She almost made a river in the middle with real water flowing through it.

coco bonsai inside wooden carvings

Coconut bonsai in sculpture. Bonsai created by Glenn Olis.

This coconut bonsai consists of growing a coconut seedling inside a wooden sculpture. Glenn said artists need to be patient when creating this form of coco bonsai. The bonsai will first need to grow from an aqueous medium until the sculpture is complete. Artists will also need to ensure that the coconut seedling is not damaged during the carving process so that their efforts are not wasted.

The names of the styles mentioned here vary from bonsai group to bonsai group, and even from artist to artist. Also, categorization defeats the purpose of art. The art is limitless, and so is the making of coco bonsai. But these styles provide a starting point. Budding artists can take inspiration from these common styles before diving into their own more interesting designs.

Photos and creations of coco bonsai by different artists from Coco Bonsai Luzon Facebook group.

For more information on creating and caring for coco bonsai, see the Glenn Olis Youtube Channel.



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