Styles of Bonsai plants

 Interested in learning about various styles of Bonsai?  Well, you’ve come to the right place. In this post  you’ll learn everything you need to know about the ‘Styles of Bonsai plants’.

Hey before we go further, it would be awesome if you could support us by visiting our exclusive bonsai nursery You, Me and Bonsai in Saket, Secunderabad. We are the best Bonsai nursery in whole Hyderabad and Secunderabad.

We have a collection of over 300+ species and styles of Bonsai. It would be a great place for you to start your Bonsai Journey. We also take Beginners classes for Bonsai enthusiasts. Follow us on Facebook to stay in touch!

So let’s get started with a quick background on Bonsai.

What is a Bonsai?

The work Bonsai simply means “a plant in a tray“.

Bonsai is an art that has evolved by taking nature in its rawest form into inspiration. Many styles of bonsai have emerged over time and it a Bonsai artist’s imagination is the limit to his creativity.  There’s no doubt that bonsai has its roots from Japan, but it has become a lot more popular in our country lately.

Every day we see tons of people falling in love with Bonsai Plants and its unique art forms.

If you are a beginner in Bonsai and looking for a comprehensive guide, check out my post on ‘Bonsai for Beginners‘.

Well, let’s get into it .

There are many styles to consider when choosing how to shape a bonsai. Classifying bonsai according to their trunk shape is one of the most common ways of identifying each style.

Bonsai can be classified into five basic styles:

  1. Formal upright Style
  2. Informal upright Style
  3. Slanting Style
  4. Cascade Style
  5.  Semi-cascade Style

Note: These classifications are based on the overall shape of the tree and how much the trunk slants away from an imaginary vertical axis.

All the Bonsai Photos you see below are from our own Bonsai nursery in Hyderabad.  So feel free to drop by at You, Me and Bonsai, Saket, Secunderbad for a closer look.

1.Formal upright style (Chokkan Style):

The formal upright style has classic proportions and is the basis of all bonsai. It is the easiest for a beginner to develop
because it requires the least experimentation, avoids the problem
of selective pruning, and should almost immediately become a displayable bonsai.

In this style, the form is conical or sometimes rounded and the tree has an erect leader and horizontal branches. One of the branches is lower and extends a little farther from the trunk than the others . Also, the lowest two branches are trained to come forward on the front side of the tree, one
slightly higher than the other. The third branch of this style
extends out in the back of the tree at a level between the two side branches to give the plant depth.

Plants in the formal upright style look best in oval or rectangular
containers. Do not center the plant when placing it in the container. Plant it about a third of the distance from one

Choosing the right plant for this style:

In choosing a nursery plant for this style, make sure the trunk rises from the ground in a fairly straight line. The trunk should be straight and not fork or branch out for the total height of the tree. Trim off the small branches or twigs that are too close to the base and near the main stem. These branches detract from the overall composition.

2. Informal upright style (Moyogi Style):

This style is a close cousin of Formal Upright Style Bonsai but with a little innate cursive.

The informal upright style has much the same branch arrangement as the formal upright style, but the top – instead of
being erect as in the formal upright style – bends slightly to the front. This bend makes the tree’s branches appear to be
in motion and enhances the look of informality.

The informal upright style looks best in an oval or rectangular container. It should be planted, not in the center of the container, but a third of the distance form one end.

Choosing the right plant for this style:

Many nursery trees are naturally slanted. This makes them well suited to the informal upright style. Check the tree’s slant by looking down at the trunk from above — from this angle the top should slant to the front.

Pro Tip: If this view is not attractive, you may move the root ball to slant the tree in another direction.

If you choose a vertical tree at the nursery, and want to train it in the informal upright style, simply tilt the plant when potting it. When you do this, trim the branches and foliage so they are scaled to the size of the

3. Slanting Style ( Shakan Style) :

In the slanting style, the trunk has a more acute angle than in the previous styles. The lowest branch should spread in the direction opposite to that in which the tree slants. The top of the tree is bent slightly toward the front. The lower branches are arranged in groups of three, starting about one-third the way
up the trunk.

Slanting trees in nature are called “leaners” – trees that have been forced by the wind and gravity into nonvertical growth. The attitude of the slanting style falls between the upright and cascade styles. This style looks best planted in the center of a round or square container.

4. Cascade Style ( Kengai Style) :

In the cascade style the trunk starts by growing upward from the soil, then turns downward abruptly, and reaches a point below the bottom edge of the container. For this reason, the container should be placed on the edge of the table, or on a small stand.

The cascade style has most of its foliage below the soil surface.

This style is representative of a natural tree that is growing down the face of an embankment. Training a tree in the cascade style takes longer than in the slanting style. Choose a low-growing species instead of forcing a tree that normally grows upright
into an unnatural form. Bend the whole tree forward so one back branch is vertical and the side branches fall naturally.

A cascaded planting usually looks best in a round or hexagonal container that is higher than it is wide. The tree should be planted off-center from the cascading side. 

5. Semi Cascade Style ( Han Kengai Style)

The semi-cascade style has a trunk that is allowed to grow straight for a certain distance, and then is cascaded down at a less abrupt angle than in the cascade style. The cascading branches are thought of as the front of the tree, and the back branches are trained closer to the trunk than in the other styles.

The semi-cascade should not reach below the bottom of the container, but should go below the level of the soil surface.

Hope you got familiar with the basic styles of Bonsai. Now let’s see some more additional styles.

Forest Style (Yose ue Style)

Referred to as “Group Style”. This method involves growing more than one bonsai tree in the same container.

Root Over Rock Style (Sekijoju Style)

Just how it sounds; with a bonsai roots wrapped around a rock before entering the soil.

Growing in a Rock Style (Ishizuke Style)

Similar to root over the rock, however it involves the tree growing out of soil that is in between the crevice of a bed of rocks.

Multi-Trunk Style (Ikadabuki Style)

Broom Style (Hokidachi Style)

Here, growers are trying to make the tree look like a broom. The bonsai will have a straight trunk with the branches jutting or spreading out at the top of the tree.

Windswept Style (Fukinagashi Style)

Gives the appearance of trees subjected to high winds. Top of the trunk is typically bent, giving it a windswept appearance.

Wondering what pot to choose for your style.Check out this infographic.

Confused about which pot to choose for your plant? Check out our post on ‘Choosing the right Pot for your Bonsai‘.  The post contains a detailed explanation of what, why and how and which pot is right for your bonsai. 

My thoughts on Style:

Classifications come in handy more for bonsai competition, where participants use them to express their intentions to other competitors.

These style descriptions are not absolute. Rather, many bonsai trees incorporate different elements from a range of styles. Look upon these descriptions more as guidelines, not hard and fast rules that must be adhered to.

Bonsai for Beginners

All the photos of the plants you see are from our own nursery. So feel free to drop by at You, Me and Bonsai , Saket, Secunderabad for a closer look.

2 thoughts on “Bonsai Styles – A Detailed Guide”

  1. Pingback: Basics of Bonsai - A Beginners Guide | You, Me and Bonsai

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