How to Appreciate Chinese Lingnan Penjing

May 10th, 2011 | By | Category: Bonsai How To, Featured Articles, Style

I am currently working hard on building the official website of Institute of Lingnan Penjing, Hong Kong and have just finished the post about how to appreciate Chinese Lingnan Penjing (“Lingnan” means Southern, “penjing” is bonsai in Chinese). While I think that most of the points mentioned can be applied not only on Lingnan Penjing, but penjing in general, these points are nevertheless worth sharing.

An excellent Lingnan penjing should have the following characteristics:


  • The base of the tree truck should look strong, yet rugged and aged.
  • The branches should be naturally in proportion, with focus point clearly defined.
  • The size of the tree crown should get smaller as it goes to the top in a natural way.
  • Amount of roots showing should be just right. If too much roots is shown, it may affect the health of the tree. If not enough roots is shown, the tree may not look as strong and aged as we want it to be.


Pruning Techniques

  • Don’t leave (or at least minimize) any trace of cutting and pruning
  • Be aware of the density of the branches. While an unreasonably naked tree with very few branches is bad, a tree with overly stuffed foliage that block the view of the structure of the truck and branches is equally undesirable.

Growing Condition

  • The tree should be growing healthily with no pest and disease problem.
  • Unless the tree naturally has yellow or variegated leaves, the tree should have shiny, green foliage.
  • Flowering species should be able to fully blossom.
  • Fruit-bearing species should be able to bear many fruits.

Bonsai Tree Penjing Exhibition


  • An excellent penjing can touch its audiences with resonance, as if bringing its audiences to the scenery that is presented in the pot.

Bonsai Tree Penjing Exhibition

Pot / Container

  • Size of pot – A pot too small makes the penjing look too crammed, while a pot too large makes the penjing look too empty. (A pot too large also lessens the relative size and strength of the tree(s) in the penjing.)
  • The color of pot should harmonize with the penjing.
  • The shape of the pot should complement with the size and style of the penjing.

Display Stand

  • The size, height, and shape of the display stand should match well with the size and style of the penjing.

Accessories & Background

  • The figurines, rocks, and accessories in the penjing should be in proportion with the tree(s), as well as with one another. The whole picture in the penjing should look natural.



  • A great title brings life into the penjing, suggesting another perspective of the penjing to its audiences, inviting the audiences to view the penjing in another way, so to understand the thoughts and emotions of the penjing artist that may be hidden inside the art.
  • The title must be relevant, natural, and elegant.

4 Comments to “How to Appreciate Chinese Lingnan Penjing”

  1. edwin rangel says:

    sandy,thanks for all the effort and finding time in sharing another interesting article to which would enrich,learn and further develop our knowledge in the art of bonsai be it penjing or bonsai..soon i guess it will evolved into the cross between the two or fusion so to speak. more power and regards

  2. Matthiew Quinn says:

    Xie xie Sandy

  3. Sandy Sandy says:

    Thanks Edwin and Matthiew. I am always happy to share the knowledge and all the fun things I have of bonsai with all fellow bonsai lovers 🙂

  4. juwaski says:

    Lingnan penjing prune trees with the “Grow and Clip” method….
    will always keep the trees healthy and easy to the excellence zone with great ramification….
    Chinese Lingnan penjing embraces the Mother Nature….
    thank you so much all the above knowledge Sandy….
    i feel so happy to share with you and learn from you about Chinese Lingnan Penjing….

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