Bonsai Culturist: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a bonsai culturist. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about schooling, job duties and job description to find out if this is the career for you.

Bonsai culturist are horticultural professionals who practice the Asian art of bonsai, which uses wire and soil to turn potted plants into miniature replicas of trees. While there are generally no requirements to becoming a bonsai culturist, there are courses and workshops in bonsai, and interested individuals can pursue degree programs in horticulture.

Essential Information

Bonsai culturists practice the Asian art of bonsai, the cultivation of miniature trees that look mature. Individuals with a love of horticulture and appreciation for the beauty of trees may be interested in bonsai, which means 'tree in a pot.' Aspiring bonsai culturists might enroll in bonsai classes or complete certificate or degree programs in horticulture.

Required Education Variable; bonsai courses and workshops OR completion of horticulture certificate, associate or bachelor's degree programs
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 6% (grounds maintenance workers)
Median Annual Salary (May 2015)* $25,030 (landscaping & groundskeeping workers)

Source: *United States Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description of a Bonsai Culturist

Using plant material, wire and bonsai soil, bonsai culturists turn potted plants into replicas of trees in miniature form. They may teach bonsai at community colleges and continuing education departments or extension offices of colleges and universities. Bonsai culturists can participate in bonsai competitions or practice the art as a hobby.

Bonsai Culturist Duties

Bonsai culturists cultivate bonsai plants by first choosing the right kinds of plants as raw materials. The most commonly used materials are outdoor plants, such as those from the juniper, fir or maple families. After selecting the proper plant stock, culturists choose a bonsai style. The type of plant and bonsai style chosen may then influence the kind of pot a bonsai culturist selects to achieve the right esthetic and practical fit.

Using pruning and wiring techniques and proper tools, bonsai culturists shape their plants into the pint-sized versions of the life-sized trees that they are emulating. As their bonsai plants grow, culturists must maintain them adequately, ensuring they receive sufficient light and water and are sheltered from temperature extremes, environmental hazards and pests.

Requirements to Become a Bonsai Culturist

Although there are generally no requirements for becoming a bonsai culturist, community colleges and universities may offer individual courses and workshops in bonsai. Classes may include instruction in container selection, pruning techniques and use of bonsai tools.

Aspiring bonsai culturists may also benefit from a background in horticulture or ornamental horticulture. Schools offer certificate, associate and bachelor's degree programs that may include classes in plant propagation and growth, soil science and plant identification.

In addition to schooling, aspiring bonsai culturists can learn through participation in student bonsai clubs at schools or by joining bonsai enthusiast and membership organizations. Student bonsai clubs have guest speakers who give lectures on bonsai-related topics. Organizations such as the American Bonsai Society hold conventions for members and offer educational resources on their websites.

Salary and Job Outlook

Landscapers and groundskeepers, who may plant and maintain bonsai trees, made a median annual salary of $25,030 as of May 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS projects that this group of workers will increase in number by 6% during the 2014-2024 decade.

Bonsai culturists practice the art of bonsai and cultivate miniature trees that look identical to fully grown ones. Bonsai culturists create bonsai plants by choosing plants as raw materials then use pruning and wiring techniques to create the bonsai trees.


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