Call for Entries

We want you to submit trees for the show!

The Pacific Bonsai Expo will take place October 26-27th, 2024 at the Henry J. Kaiser Center for the Arts in Oakland, CA.

Last updated: 1-31-2024 

Submission Guidelines

Submission Period: February 1 - April 30, 2024.

  1. Select a judging category for your submission. Note that the organizers may change the submission category if your tree(s) would be better suited to a different category, see categories for more details.
  2. Prepare submission photos according to the category requirements below.
  3. Identify the height and species name of each tree in your submission. Tree height is measured from the rim of the pot to the apex for upright trees and from the apex to the lowest branch for cascade bonsai. For submissions in irregular pots (such as moon pots) the rim measurement starts at the lowest point of the rim of the pot. 
  4. For submissions from outside of California, see out of state requirements below.
  5. Email the above photos and information to submissions@pacificbonsaiexpo.org by April 30th, 2024.

Submission and Prize Categories

XL Broadleaf (trees with a combined height+width over 64")

  • Your tree fits into this category if the height measured from the rim of the pot to the tallest part of the tree PLUS the width at it's widest point added together in inches is 64" or greater.
  • he organizers may place your tree in the large category instead if the feeling of the tree is smaller or more delicate.
  • Accepted XL trees will be exhibited on an 8'x4' table.
  • Provide a photo showing the branching structure as seen from the front looking upward.
  • Provide one photo of the tree from the front.
  • Provide additional photos and angles as needed so the jury can understand the quality of the tree.
  • For non-traditional displays, provide a design concept and/or complete visual of the display

XL Deciduous (trees with a combined height+width over 64")

  • Your Tree fits into this category if the height measured from the rim of the pot to the tallest part of the tree PLUS the width at it's widest point added together in inches is 64" or greater.
  • he organizers may place your tree in the large category instead if the feeling of the tree is smaller or more delicate.
  • Accepted XL trees will be exhibited on an 8'x4' table.
  • Provide a photo of the tree in winter silhouette.
  • Provide one photo of the tree from the front.
  • Provide additional photos and angles as needed so the jury can understand the quality of the tree.
  • For non-traditional displays, provide a design concept and/or complete visual of the display

XL Conifer (Trees with a combined height+width over 64"; includes deciduous conifers)

  • Your tree fits into this category if the height measured from the rim of the pot to the tallest part of the tree PLUS the width at it's widest point added together in inches is 64" or greater. 
  • In unusual cases the organizers may place your tree in the large category instead if the feeling of the tree is smaller or more delicate.
  • Accepted XL trees will be exhibited on an 8'x4' table.
  • Provide one photo of the tree from the front.
  • Provide one photo of the tree showing the branch structure (see first photo here for an example).
  • Provide additional photos and angles as needed so the jury can understand the quality of the tree.
  • For non-traditional displays, provide a design concept and/or complete visual of the display

Large Broadleaf (trees over 18" tall, but less than 64" combined height+width dimensions)

  • Provide a photo showing the branching structure as seen from the front looking upward. 
  • Provide one photo of the tree from the front. Provide additional photos and angles as needed so the jury can understand the quality of the tree.
  • For non-traditional displays, provide a design concept and/or complete visual of the display
  • The organizers may place your tree in the XL category if the feeling of the tree exceeds the standards for the L category.

Large Deciduous (trees over 18" tall, but less than 64" combined height+width dimensions)

  • Provide a photo of the tree in winter silhouette. 
  • Provide one photo of the tree from the front. Provide additional photos and angles as needed so the jury can understand the quality of the tree.
  • For non-traditional displays, provide a design concept and/or complete visual of the display
  • The organizers may place your tree in the XL category if the feeling of the tree exceeds the standards for the L category.

    Large Conifer (trees over 18" tall, but less than 64" combined height+width dimensions; includes deciduous conifers.)

    • Provide one photo of the tree from the front.
    • Provide one photo of the tree showing the branch structure (see first photo here for an example).
    • For non-traditional displays, provide a design concept and/or complete visual of the display
    • The organizers may place your tree in the XL category if the feeling of the tree exceeds the standards for the L category. 

    Medium Bonsai Display (up to two trees, no tree over 18" tall)

    • Provide one photo of each tree in the display from the front (or one photo showing both trees together).
    • Provide one photo of each deciduous tree in winter silhouette (without leaves).
    • For non-traditional displays, provide a design concept and/or complete visual of the display
    • In unusual cases trees over 18" may be placed in the medium category at the discretion of the organizers.

    Small Bonsai Display (no tree over 8" tall)

    • Small displays may include as few as 2 trees or as many as desired in a 6' space. Traditionally as tree size in small displays decreases the number of trees in each space increases.
    • Provide one photo of each tree in the display from the front (or one photo showing multiple trees together).
    • Provide one photo of each deciduous tree in winter silhouette (without leaves).
    • For non-traditional displays, provide a design concept and/or complete visual of the display.  
    • In unusual cases the organizers may decide to include trees over 8" (20cm) in the shohin category

    Note for accepted entries: A photo of the complete display, including stands and accent plants, along with an artist's statement, may be required one month prior to the show. 

    Photography tips: Photograph trees against a plain backdrop so the jurors can see the tree clearly.  Use diffused light where possible (avoid direct sun.)

    See the following articles for additional tips:

    Exhibitor's FAQ

    Is it free to submit a tree to the jury?

    • Yes, it is free to submit a tree for consideration. 

    Can I submit more than one tree for consideration?

    • Yes, there is no limit on the number of submissions an individual can submit.
    • Each individual exhibitor is limited to 3 accepted submissions. Should the jury choose more than three of your submissions we will contact you about which ones you prefer to show. 

    Is there a fee to display my tree at the exhibit?

    • Yes, exhibitors will pay a fee for each display - 6' tables for most entries are $175, 8'x4' tables for "Extra-Large" entries are $275. Fees will be detailed in the exhibitor contract. 

    Can I get a waiver for the exhibitor's fee?

    • Exhibitor's fees are required for all accepted entries. If you are affiliated with a bonsai club, your club may sponsor an entry on your behalf. Contact the organizers for additional information.

    Can I put my 10" tree in the shohin category?

    • No. Category changes will be made at the discretion of the organizers only and are final. Entries that are mis-categorized will be corrected. The organizers may change the submission category to accommodate unusual submissions. 

    I have an unusual 22" tree and I think it should be in the medium category, can I change it?

    • No. Category changes will be made at the discretion of the organizers only and are final. Entries that are mis-categorized will be corrected. The organizers may change the submission category to accommodate unusual submissions. Potential exhibitors should submit the tree to the correct category based on the size.

    Who are the exhibition jurors?

    • There are 5 jurors this year representing a diversity of backgrounds in the American bonsai scene.  The jurors are: Bjorn BjorholmTodd Schlafer, David DeGroot, Eric Schrader and Michael Hagedorn.  Each juror will be independently presented with an anonymized slate of photos representing the submitted trees. The jurors rank the trees based on the selection criteria that the organizers provide, with the aim of creating a diverse and interesting bonsai exhibit. 

    Who Determines the Prize Winners?

    What do Prize Winners Get?

    • Each category winner and the Best in Show winner will receive a bespoke trophy and copious bragging rights. 

    I have a tree for the exhibit, but I need a pot/stand/accent/etc.  Can I rent or borrow one for the exhibit?

    Do I get free passes if my tree or trees are accepted for the exhibit?

    • Yes. Exhibitors will receive one exhibitor pass ahead of the event. If you have two or three accepted entries you will receive one Exhibitor pass and one weekend pass for each additional accepted entry. 

    What are the dimensions of the display space?

    • All small, medium and large display table dimensions are 72" L x 29.5" W x 29" H. Trees in the XL categories (see above) will be displayed on tables that are 96"L x 48"W x 24" H

    Will I have help setting up my display at the event?

    • Exhibitors are responsible for setting up their own displays. If you need a cart to move your tree, we suggest you bring one. Although volunteers will be onsite to help with setup, we cannot guarantee they will be available to help with specific displays. 

    When do I need to bring my tree?

    • Exhibitors are required to bring all items for their display to the venue between 9:00 a.m. Thursday, October 24th and 12:00 p.m. on Friday, October 25th. Trees arriving late may not be able to be included in the show catalog.

    When can I take down my display?

    • Exhibitors can pack up their displays after 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, October 27th. All exhibitor materials shall be removed from the building before 9pm October 27th.

    Are there size limits for the trees I can submit?

    • Each category has size limits, please see the category descriptions above. If your tree is unusually large (over ~48" in any one dimension) please let the organizers know.

    Are bonsai professionals eligible to submit trees for the exhibition?

    • Yes. We strongly encourage all bonsai practitioners, professional or otherwise, to submit trees for consideration. The exhibit is meant to highlight the best trees in the United States!

    Can a single tree win more than one prize?

    • Yes. Although no tree can win more than one category award (Best conifer, Best deciduous, Best broadleaf evergreen, Best Medium, Best Shohin), category winners are also eligible to receive the Best in Show Award.

    Will my tree be photographed?

    • Yes. Photography will be allowed during the exhibit, and the organizers will photograph exhibited trees for use on the event website or in a commemorative album. 

    Will there be security at the event?

    • Yes. The event will have professional security guards onsite continuously  Thursday morning through Sunday evening. Volunteer security staff will be on duty when the event is open to visitors.

    Agricultural requirements for out of state submissions

    Phytosanitary certificates stating that trees are free from pests or diseases are required for all trees entering California. Contact your local agricultural department to schedule an appointment for obtaining phytosanitary certificates.

    Additional state or species specific requirements:

    • All persimmon (Dyospyros): entry prohibited.
    • All citrus including fortunella, murraya, poncirus, aeglopsis and afraegle: no entry.
    • All plums from CT, DE, IL, IN, KY, MD, MA, MI, NJ, NY, NC, OH, PA, RI, SC, TN, VA, WV, DC: entry prohibited. 
    • All walnut, butternut, hickory, or pecan from OR, WA, ID, UT, AZ, NV: entry prohibited.
    • Any plant with fruit or berries from all states east of and including ND, SD, NE, KS, OK, TX, and parts of UT must have certification of treatment for plum curculio and blueberry maggot.
    • Any plant with fruit or berries from FL or PR must have certification of treatment for Caribbean fruit fly.
    • Any Chestnut, Chinquapin, Oak, and Tanbark Oak require inspection or certification of treatment for Chestnut Bark and Oak Wilt Disease.
    • Any wild or domesticated cherry tree with fruit from ID, MT, NM, OR, UT, WA, CO require certification of treatment for cherry fruit fly.

    Please review the complete requirements from the State of California for details.