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Root Over Rock Bonsai | Helpful Tips & Insight

Root Over Rock Bonsai | Helpful Tips & Insight

The root over rock style is a classic bonsai design that has been used since the 1800s. The idea behind this technique is to create an aged appearance by placing the tree’s roots on top of rocks and stones, rather than burying them in soil.

There are many advantages to this type of planting such as being easier to maintain, creating a natural-looking display for your bonsai, and allowing you to enjoy your bonsai year round. In this blog post we will discuss how you can properly care for your root over rock bonsai so it thrives.

Root Over Rock Bonsai

Things to Consider When Creating a Root Over Rock Bonsai

Choose the right tree for this style. The best trees for this technique are those with strong, horizontal roots that can be easily displayed on top of rocks. Some good choices include junipers, maples, and elms.

  • Select a large rock or stones that will provide enough support for the roots of your bonsai. The rock you select should be big enough to support a sizable portion of your tree’s root mass, but not so large that it dwarfs the plant. The standard material for these types of plants are volcanic rocks, but many other stones can work as well such as slate and quartz. When choosing your stones make sure they are natural and not cut or polished since this will look artificial.
  • You next need to decide on a container size for your bonsai. It is recommended that you use an oval pot with dimensions from 12 inches by 16 inches, all the way up to 20 inches by 24 inches depending on the type of tree you have chosen as well a the size of the rock. The pot should be about two thirds as deep as the width and have a drainage hole on the bottom to allow for proper water flow.

Now that you have your pot and stones, it is time to plant your tree!

How to Place the Trident Root in a Bonsai Pot Over Rock?

  1. First you need to select a tree with thick roots since it will be placed in the pot over rock.
  2. Next, take your container and place rocks at the bottom of it; this acts as an extra support for your bonsai when watering. The best option is volcanic stone because it does not break down very easily like other stones.
  3. Then take your tree and remove most of the soil from its roots, making sure to keep as much of the root mass intact as possible.
  4. Place the tree on top of the rocks in the pot and fill in around it with more stones until the roots are covered. You may need to trim some of the roots so they fit comfortably in the pot.
  5. Once you are done, water your tree and make sure to not overwater it; this is very important with root over rock bonsais since they tend to retain more moisture than other types of trees. If there is an excess amount of standing water then you need to remove some soil or rocks until only the roots are in the water.
  6. For maintenance, you should check your plant once or twice a week to make sure it is not over watered and if so then remove some soil until only the root mass remains moist; this can be done by hand or with tweezers. Depending on where you live, seasonal adjustments may need to be made.
Root Over Rock Bonsai | Helpful Tips & Insight

Root Over Rock Bonsai Care

When it comes to caring for your root over rock bonsai, there are many things that can affect its health.


Watering is one of the most important aspects in any gardening routine and should be practiced regularly. There are different watering techniques you can use depending on how often you water your bonsai:

  • Soaking – only when necessary
  • Mist – once or twice a day in dry climates, especially when temperatures are over 80 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Light sprinkling – only when the soil is completely dried out and needs to be rehydrated. Be sure your bonsai is not sitting directly on moist ground after this method of watering because it may cause root rot or fungal infections.
  • Shallow watering – only when the soil is completely dried out and needs to be rehydrated (similar to light sprinkling). Be sure your bonsai is not sitting directly on moist ground after this method of watering because it may cause root rot or fungal infections.

When you water your tree, make sure to do it from the top and not the bottom. This will help avoid wetting the leaves and causing them to rot.


You should also fertilize your bonsai every other month using a balanced fertilizer such as 20-20-20 or 12-12-12. A slow release fertilizer is ideal for this type of plant because it will release the nutrients gradually over time.

Pruning and Trimming

Since your root over rock bonsai is in a pot, it will need to be trimmed and pruned regularly to maintain its shape. Prune back the branches that are growing out of proportion or deadwood as needed.

Lighting and Temperature

Your tree should be placed in an area with plenty of natural light, but not in direct sunlight. The ideal temperature range for a root over rock bonsai is 50-80 degrees Fahrenheit.


Since your tree is in a pot, it is susceptible to wind damage. Make sure to place your bonsai in an area that is sheltered from the wind.

Winter Care

In the winter, your root over rock bonsai may go into a dormant state and will not need to be watered as often. Just check the soil every so often and water it when the top inch or two is dry. You can continue to fertilize it once a month during this time.

Make sure to avoid any drastic temperature changes and keep your tree away from drafts.

Final Thought

The root over rock bonsai is a beautiful and unique plant that requires regular watering, fertilizing, and trimming. With the right care, your tree will thrive for many years to come. However, if it is not given proper care then your tree may become diseased and die.


What is the ideal temperature for a root over rock bonsai?

The ideal temperature range is 50-80 degrees Fahrenheit.

How often do I need to water my tree?

You should water your tree regularly, but how often depends on the climate and how much rain your area receives. When it is raining, your tree should be allowed to absorb moisture from the rain.

How often should I water my root over rock bonsai?

You should check the soil once or twice a week to see if it is moist. If not, you need to water your tree until only the roots are submerged in water. You will know when enough moisture has been added because excess standing water indicates that there is an issue with drainage.

How long should I soak the soil of my root over rock bonsai?

You will want to allow your bonsai at least three or four hours for it to absorb all the water before removing any excess standing water, otherwise you may cause damage and/or rot (depending on how much moisture is left in the pot).

What type of soil should I use for my root over rock bonsai?

You can use any type of soil as long as it is well draining. A mixture of potting soil and sand is a good option.

Can I put my tree in the sun?

No, your tree should only be placed in a spot with natural light or indirect sunlight.

Root Over Rock Bonsai | Helpful Tips & Insight

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