Often in bonsai exhibitions we have the joy of showing, next to bonsai pots, other small vases, containing bulbous plants, grasses or other perennial plants, cultivated themselves as bonsai; it is Shitakusa, or accompanying or complementary plants. These small plants are cultivated as bonsai in order to give harmony to the bonsai itself at the time of exposure.
There are specific rules for choosing which plants to place near our bonsai, but in general any perennial bulbous or herbaceous can be grown as shitakusa.
being accompanying plants, these small bonsai trees must be "matched" to the larger bonsai trees, although some enthusiasts certainly grow only small bonsai of herbaceous plants (Kusamono).
The rules that guide us in choosing the best pet plant are quite simple and also intuitive: the fundamental element in the composition that is created when you want to expose a bonsai is the bonsai itself.
The accompanying plant must be small, and overall it must not exceed in height the table on which the bonsai is placed; the vase that contains it must not be conspicuous, possibly it must be covered by vegetation, and it must not be of the same shape and color as the accompanying bonsai.
To give harmony to the composition we will choose the pet plant among the plants that come from the same climatic zone in which the plant used for our bonsai lives; moreover the shitakusa will be chosen according to the seasonality: therefore a small star is more suitable for the compositions presented in autumn, while the sedum are more suitable for summer compositions.
We can choose flower or berry plants, but it is advisable to avoid flowering or berry plants just when the accompanying bonsai are provided.
As for our bonsai then the plant of company must be cultivated in pot for a long time, and have adapted to this type of development; moreover, it is good to avoid pet plants that accentuate too much or dull too much the trend of our bonsai.
It is also advisable to avoid placing the shitakusa jar directly on the table bearing the bonsai, it is better to place a small table, a mat or another element under the vase.
These small plants are grown like bonsai, so we try to encourage their growth in a harmonious and natural way; initially it is advisable to choose plants that already present small foliage; later on we can experiment with essences with larger foliage, which we will remove the larger leaves, favoring the development of progressively smaller leaves.
The shitakusa vessels are very small in size, generally filled with akadama, or even with little soil if our plants seem to dry out too quickly.
Since the pots are so small we remind you that the soil they contain will tend to dry out very quickly, especially in summer; to prevent our plants from sanding it is best to keep the pots in a partially shady place and water them very frequently, especially when the temperatures are very high.
Most of these plants dry up during the winter months, the pots that contain them must be kept in a sheltered and dry place, to prevent the roots from being ruined during the winter.
For experts it is possible to move these small herbs from pots to slices of rock, to stones or to barks or pieces of wood; cultivation thus becomes more complicated, since watering must be provided with great caution and attention.