How to make “Ishitsuki” bonsai of choujubai (self-taught, but not difficult)

長寿梅の石付きの作り方Choujubai (Chaenomeles japonica)

I’ll try to make “Ishitsuki” style bonsai of choujubai, using “Hikobae”, which I cut off when I replanted parent tree of choujubai. I’ve wanted to try “Ishitsuki” style for long time, but this is my first time. I tried to find how to make it in the internet but there’re few web pages which explain the how-to. I collected several information and combined them. So, this article is my own way and I’m not sure this is the correct answer.

Replanting choujubai and cut off "Hikobae"
I didn't touch this choujubai for months and it is growing well. It is time to replant it to reduce its roots. In this occasion I cut off the "Hikobae...
A collection of bonsai-related technical terms. Search terms to find out their pronunciations and meanings.


First, collect the stuff for Ishitsuki bonsai.

A seedling of choujubai

Actually it is a cut-off hikobae of choujubai, currently looks like this;

長寿梅の苗(ひこばえ)I didn’t remove the wire to shape it. Frankly speaking, the shape of the root looks not interesting at all.

長寿梅の苗(ひこばえ)Look closer; one bud, shich will be a branch in the future, is growing. I thought the shape looks not good but maybe ok? The top of the hikobae is withered, but I don’t cut it off so far. I leave the wiring as well.


I use “Ryuuganseki” here; direct translation is “Dragon Eye Stone”. It is quite popular among Bonsai lovers. I found and bought the stones few years ago. They look like they have so many dusts and stones’ powder all around, so I just brushed and washed them. As washing the stones, I checked the shape of every stone to find good one.

竜眼石を洗うブラシWith this brush, I washed the stones in the water.

竜眼石This one looks pritty nice. It looks like a clliff. It seems like I can plant something in the hollow at upper-left part. Maybe black pine?

竜眼石This one looks nice, too. Quite unique shape. There’s a hollow stretching  from the top to bottom, so I feel like I can put the roots along the hollow.

竜眼石This one has a hollow at the base. Maybe I can put the roots along it and make a “Kengai” shape black pine.

A collection of bonsai-related technical terms. Search terms to find out their pronunciations and meanings.

竜眼石This one has also unique shape. It looks like that a lady is sitting facing to the left, doesn’t it? The base seems not nice, but perhaps I can put roots and mosses here.

As I see each stone, some looks nice and easy to use, some are not.. But every stone has its own character, which I can use in some way. It is quite interesting to imagine like “put a tree here, roots like this..”

竜眼石Washed and drying. when the stone is wet, it looks darker color.

竜眼石Finally, I washed more than 30 stones. 8 stones at lower left are “nice” ones.

”Keto-tsuchi (peat) and sphagnum moss

The mix of keto-tsuchi and sphagnum moss is used to stich the tree to the stone. Most of it will be removed in the future, but so far, until the roots get thick and stable, it is important to stabilize the tree and retain the water.



The tree and stone will be covered by sphangnum moss at last, raffia is used to fix the moss. This is a dried leaf of raffia palm. It is quite popular among bonsai-lovers to fix something or cover the branch before wiring.



Some soil (I usually use) and plastic pot. Nothing special.


Preparation of Keto-tsuchi

Now, mix the Keto-tsuchi peat and sphagnim moss.

ケト土の準備Cut the sphagnum moss into small pieces. I used scissors at the beginning, but finally I just teared them into small pieces by fingers.

I saw some articles in the internet, which says “Do not cut the sphagnum moss into too small pieces”. I did’t know how big it should be, so I made them to around 3mm big. I’m not sure it is good or not.
ケト土の準備Add same amount of keto-tsuchi and mix them, adding a little bit of water.
ケト土の準備Do not add too much water. It makes Keto-tsuchi like mud. The shpagnum moss absorbs water more or less but anyway you see the situation and control the amount of water.
ケト土の準備Looks ok. I replanted parent tree of choujubai after this, so I left it 20~30min.
In some articles in the internet and books, I should have added same amount of small pieces (powder?) of Akadama soil. I didn’t add it this time.

Fitting the stone

I tried to fit the tree (roots) and stone and decided how and to which stone to put the tree.

石合わせI didn’t take photos… but I tried to fit the tree to several stones, looking for good shape of stone, which fits the roots.

石合わせWow! I wrote that the shape of the root is not interesting, but by luck, I found a stone, which fits the root almost perfectly. The thick root is easily broken, but it looks like I don’t have to bend it too much to fit the crack of the stone.

石合わせLooks good.. almost perfect. After fixing the root in the crack, it will look good when the roots get fatter and fit to the shape of the stone.

石合わせThis is the other side. The tree has thin but good roots, so I decided to put them into the crack at the other side. These roots are not long enough to reach the bottom, but I just hope it will grow longer and reach to the soil at the bottom in the future.

It looks like the tree is striding the stone.

石合わせHere, I use tiny file to make the gap a bit bigger, so that the roots get into the crack. I filed the stone really a little bit.

石合わせThe stone was not too hard, so I filed it gently and patiently.

If you file the stone too much, it may look quite unnatural and artificial. So don’t file too much.

How to make Ishitsuki bonsai of choujubai

From now, I put the choujubai to the stone.

Put Keto-tsuchi to the stone

First of all I put Keto-tsuchi, which I prepared before, into the crack of the stone.

ケト土を石に付けるPush the Keto-tsuchi into the crack, using a piece of wire, making a way, into which the roots will be fixed.

ケト土を石に付けるInto the crack like this…

ケト土を石に付けるPut the Keto-tsuchi like this. When you put the roots into the crack, extra Keto-tsuchi will be pushed out from the crack. I put more Keto-tsuchi around the crack for retaining water. I’m not sure it works or not, though.

Plant the choujubai to the stone

Now, fix the tree to the stone.

長寿梅を石に固定するThis is the face side. It looks like not fixed well, but after this, I pushed the root into crack as deep as possible.

長寿梅を石に固定するThis is the other side. The crack is quite deep, so I pushed the roots as deep as possible as well. The roots are not long enough to reach the bottom, so I put additional Keto-tsuchi below the roots, so that the roots can grow more in the future.

長寿梅を石に固定するThis is the base of the tree.

長寿梅を石に固定するFace side. As you see a lot of small roots are out of the stone below. It looks more than enough to absorb the water.

長寿梅を石に固定するI put more Keto-tsuchi at the surface. I feel like it was too much; the Keto-tsuchi prevents the roots to breath..

Some article in the internet say that the roots above the soil grow fat quickly. Maybe I should not add the Keto-tsuchi this much.

長寿梅を石に固定するThis is the other side.

長寿梅を石に固定するAlso I added some keto-tsuchi on it.

長寿梅を石に固定するDone. The roots out of the stone will help the tree absorb the water.

長寿梅とケト土を水苔でカバーPut sphagnum moss, which absorbed water and cover the Keto-tsuchi.

長寿梅の石付き、水苔をラフィアで固定するFix the sphagnum moss by raffia. I tied it from bottom to top, so that I can untie the raffia from the top in the future.


長寿梅の石付き完成A photo from the top. There’s a water space made by raffia.

Plant the choujubai to the pot

Before planting the choujubai to the pot;

長寿梅の根伏せThese roots are the ones cut off when I replanted the parent choujubai tree, due to the cancer. It has unique shape and thick enough, so I plant them together to the pot, aiming “Nebuse”.

A collection of bonsai-related technical terms. Search terms to find out their pronunciations and meanings.

長寿梅の根伏せPut some soil and fertilizer and put the root for Nebuse first. Upper left is a seedling of black pine, which unexpectedly grew to the pot of parent tree.

長寿梅の石付きを鉢に植え付けるAdd some soil and fix the roots for Nebuse. And then, set the stone in the center.

長寿梅の石付きを鉢に植え付けるAdd few more soil to cover the roots of choujubai on the stone. The soil covers half of the stone. After that, put sphagnum moss (absorbed a lot of water) on surface.

長寿梅の石付きの作り方Finished!! It looks cool!!

Actually, when I fixed the tree to the stone, I adjusted the direction of the tree.長寿梅の石付きの作り方
Using the remaining wire for shaping, I just twisted the tree so that it faces to this side. When the tree gets stable, I’ll shape it by wire again. The tree is still young and easy to shape, but it will be hard quite soon. I have to check and consider when I shape it by wire.

Now, put the pot in the shade for a while and keep watering. In few weeks, I’ll move the pot to the place where the sunshine comes.

About “Ishitsuki”

As this was forst time for me to make Ishitsuki bonsai, I studied a lot about it in the internet and books. I found that there’re several style called “ishitsuki”


小品の長寿梅石付 - 盆栽ブログ

This one is “On the rock” style. The rock (not stone anymore) is used as a pot to keep the soil and tree. In this case you need big rock for it.



This one is made by professional. The one I’m aiming to make is closer to this? It looks like the tree grabs the stone. I wonder how many years does it take the roots grow this thick?


And this! A pine tree grabbing the rock. I feel like the pine tree fits to the sharp and steep rock like this.

Stuff used this time

After making Ishitsuki, it seems easier than I expected. If you are interested in, I really recommend to try it.


Choujubai is strong tree and it has red cute flowers as well, quite recommended for bigginers. It can be grown as “Nebuse”, “Neagari” and many other styles.

A seedling of choujubai. Nobody knows the shape of the roots, so you’ll see it by yourself. This size is more than enough for Ishitsuki bonsai.

Usually choujubai has red flowers, but some have white flowers.

Ryuuganseki (Dragon Eye Stone)

It is difficult to find this; Sometimes you’ll see big ones, but the price is also surprising.

I bought the stones few years ago. I luckily found the stones, but when I wanted to buy some extra, it was sold out for years.. But is now back in stock. Actually I feel like this shop is only the choice

The soil

I always use this soil for bonsai.

I use the one “For Mini-Bonsai”. The pieces of the soil is smallest, but it can keep the water and gives enough space for the roots breath.

Keto-tsuchi (Peat)

It is quite easy to find in Japan. I bought above one together with the soil.

Final note

Thank you very much for reading such long article. If you are interested in making bonsai, I strongly recommend to try it. It is not so difficult (but have to be patient), and you don’t have to spend big money.

I’ve been preparing to make “Neagari” form, but Ishitsuki is not as difficult as I expected. I’ll make some more Ishitsuki bonsai as well from now.

Choujubai (Chaenomeles japonica)
まめぼん 〜mamebon〜