Accent plants (Shitakusa) and Kusamono

A Kusamono

While in a Display the Bonsai tends to be the Focus, this need not always be the case.

One of the ways to 'enhance' the feeling of a time or place can be an Accent plant,


When planting a shitakusa or kusamono, choose plants that have similar growing conditions. Group together plants that need lots of water, or that like a lot of sun, or that grow primarily at high altitude. Also be aware of plants that are invasive. Use them sparingly and keep them in check, so they do not crowd out and kill off the rest of your plants.

As with all plants in your display, they should not appear ot have just recentlypotted. There should be no soil visible; and cover them with moss several weeks before a show.

Try to have a good selection of plants available allowing you to pick out the right combination: size compared to the main focus, shape and color of the container. Shitakusa must also be directional, so plan ahead for that as well.


With Kusamono while they can fill the 'accent' role they may take center stage at the focus of the display

A Tokonoma display featuring a Kusamono


Almost any plant that can give the impression of being larger than it is, may be used as an accent plant. For example grasses are often used to 'mimic' a grove of bamboo.

Alpines are a good source of suitable plants and flowering plants often make the display that much brighter. Flowering plants should not however be used with flowering trees.

Accents should be treated with the same respect you would give your trees, fed and watered as well as the bonsai, bearing the particular species needs in mind.

They will be kept in smaller versions of bonsai pots.

A Sedum, usually found in the Alpine plant section of garden centers. This one is planted on a slab and displayed in a hardwood oval.

Here we have a nice little accent Hosta put together by Bryan Albright the potter, it's an ideal scene setter for a display with a tree which grows close to water where the hosta grows, perhaps a Willow, Alder, or Swamp Cypress

Another accent, this time a Rhodohypoxis, pretty yes, but it would overpower any display with a tree in it. It would work fine in a display with a scroll (misty Sun), and a Mountain Suiseki.


Another nice little accent combination and it dosn't take up mushroom.



Kusamono (A Grass thing (Jp))

And if the planting has no grass It's not a Kusamono.

As to the Type of Grass there are so many available but try to avoid Bamboo as most species will dominate a display

A nice simple Kusamono

One of the most popular grasses is the Japanese Bloodgrass (Imperata cylindrica) , readily available from Bonsai suppliers, Nurseries and now online.

It will Reach about 12" in height and spreads well. In common with most grasses it's deciduous and the blades will shrivel back over winter re-growing the following year.


Allen. C. Roffey 19:57 28/04/2018