Tips and Guides

Craft Your Own Enchanting Bansoy

This tree miniature, which is a variation of the bonsai, can add a touch of whimsy to your space

Original Article: Charmaine S. Baylon Photography: Dakila Angeles

When it comes to adding refreshing elements as part the home’s look, it’s common to turn to vases filled with blooms, potted succulents, and even elaborate terrariums. If you’ve always been fascinated with bonsais and magnificent trees, you may want to try your hand at creating a bansoy. The Filipino version of the well-loved Japanese art of miniaturizing trees, the term bansoy came from bansot na halamang makahoy, first coined by the late artist Jerry Araos.

Jerry started doing bonsai but realized that the plants used and practices needed do not fit our environment. He began working with bayabas and kakawate then used full-grown local trees as inspiration. Curious as to how you can make one? Get started on a new hobby with the steps below.

What you need:

  • Plant—some of the woody plants you can use for your bansoy project include balete, bignay kalabaw, bitongol, bougainvillea, camachile, kamuning, and sampalok
  • Deep pot and soil
  • Pruning shears
  • Trowel
  • Copper or aluminum wires
  • Acrylic or latext paintbrush
  • Pliers


1. Begin by transferring the plant to the deep pot. Make sure the soil is packed and that there aren’t air pockets. Mimic the look of full-grown trees by leaving some parts of the roots exposed.

2. Study your plant carefully and define its growth pattern. Below are some of the common growth patterns you can take note of. For this project, the plant used shows a twin trunk.

3. Start cutting from the topmost branch, known as the plant’s crown, then go down. Keep in mind that most local trees are triangular and have spaces between the branches. Follow the shape and create those spaces. Cut off the leaves and tiny branches that are wide and longer than the others as well as those that go beyond the boundaries set by the pattern of growth.

RL Tip: Don’t forget to cut extra branches and parts that keep sunlight from reaching the other parts of your plant. Trim the remaining leaves to give the branches a curved leaf shape.

4. Bend the branches using wire and pliers to twist the wire. The goal is to create spaces in between branches and move it in directions where they can get sunlight. Take note that if you’re working with thick branches, you would need thicker wires. Branches on one side must balance those on the other.

5. Once you’re done fixing the branches, you can now decorate your bansoy. Consider adding colorful stones that can help prevent moss from growing and soil from spilling. Painting the rotten or exposed branches with latex or acrylic can protect it from insects, too! Express yourself and be creative.

6. Care for your bansoy by placing it outdoors and watering it every day. If new branches have grown, remove the wires, cut, trim, and re-wire.

Find gardening materials and other must-haves in these stores:

Angel's Blooms Garden

Wilcon Depot, Pasong Tamo, Makati City

  • #2212 Chino Roces Avenue, San Lorenzo, Makati City
  • Tel. No. 893-3120

True Value

  • Concourse Level, Power Plant Mall, Rockwell Center, Makati City
  • Tel. No. 898-2572

Read the original article ("Plant lite") in the May 2004 issue of Real Living Magazine. Download your digital copy of Real Living on the Real Living App. Log on to for more details.

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