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What is Kusamono

Posted by Martha Goff on 1/30/2014


“Grass Thing”

            The term Kusamono only appeared around the 1870’s. They were small herbaceous plants collected along with a tree. The smaller plants were grown in a different container and reminded the owner of the location of the tree he had collected. They were ‘companions’ to the tree telling the geographic location and the season of collection. These special arrangements became gifts for honored guests.

                The Kusamono arrangements are not temporary arrangements but are timeless and grow more interesting with age much like bonsai. No soil is seen in mature Kusamono. As they become mature and container bound the leaf size and internodes will reduce. If planted thoughtfully, the design will change with the seasons with some plants flourishing and others going dormant, some blooming and others waning.

                Companion plants come in all sizes and shapes displaying one to several mixed plantings. They are often used in shohin display or by themselves as the key figure. The Art of Kusamono has become more and more prominent over the last few decades and there are even shows to appreciate the Kusamono shown alone.

                When used as a companion alongside a bonsai, the Kusamono becomes ‘Shitakusa’ or “under grass.” This is the type of Kusamono we are accustomed to seeing. When displaying as the center of attention, usually multiple plantings, it is referred to as Kusamono.


By Martha Goff

 Basics: Getting Ready for Repotting Season
 Air Layering for Bonsai
 What is Kokedama?
 What is Kusamono

 March 2014
 February 2014
 January 2014