Top 5 Bonsai Styles

While there are many bonsai styles available for bonsai enthusiasts there are five basic bonsai styles. Although there are many variations to the five basic styles, they are the foundation for all other bonsai styles.

FORMAL UPRIGHT STYLE – Chokkan

bd22b7ce1f3c847f9e1d935e3503a17aThe most basic of all bonsai styles is the formal upright. It is the easiest and most suitable style for beginners because it requires minimal pruning, less vigorous wiring and experimentation. The formal upright bonsai style is as its name suggests, the tree trunks stands straight with the branches in a horizontal position at the side. Usually, the tree has a conical shape and the longest horizontal branches are at the base tapering off in length higher up the trunk. In choosing a bonsai for the formal upright style, it is important to find one that has a straight trunk and an even distribution of leaves and branches. The best option is to select a tree with the biggest branch, which should also be the lowest one starting approximately up at a third of the tree’s height. Any branch that is lower than the one-third position must be pruned because these will divert from the general style. While the aim of the formal upright style is to achieve some balance with the tree, it does not mean that it must be balanced. Several of the most popular species for Chokkan bonsai style are Junipers, Pines and Maples.

INFORMAL UPRIGHT STYLE – Moyogi

moyogi4 The Informal Upright style is similar to the formal upright in terms of the arrangement of the branches. The lower branches are longer but they taper off at the top. The difference is in the position of the trunk where the trunk at the top bends somewhat towards the front. The bend gives the notion that the tree is moving and swaying slightly in the wind. The majority of bonsai trees are usually slanted, which makes the informal upright the most commonly used bonsai style. The slightly bent trunk augments the look of the tree and this makes it the ideal bonsai style for most deciduous trees, though Coniferous or even fruit trees. can be used. This style is similar to the formal upright so the biggest and lowest branch should start at about one- third up the height of tree’s trunk and followed by pruning of the foliage. I like Maples and Pomegranates in this style. Japanese White Pine, Black Pine and Beech and Crab Apple are also well suited to the Moyogi style.

SLANTING STYLE – Shakan

In the Slanting Style, the trunk has a sharp slant in one direction, with the biggest and lowest branch spreading out in the opposite direction of the trunk. In nature, many trees grow slanted and are sometimes called leaners. Many factors cause trees to have a slight bend. These factors include the tendency of the tree to grow towards the sunlight or the effect from the wind or gravity. The slanted bonsai style gives the impression that the tree is old and strong. Similar to both formal and informal style, the lowest branch in the slanted style begins one-third up the trunk’s height with the branches usually arranged in sets of three. Species suited to the shakan style include Juniper, Spruce, Olive, and various pine including the Japanese White & Black Pines

FULL CASCADE STYLE – Kengai

KengaiThe Full Cascade Style creates a beautiful and distinctive look resembling a tree growing downwards on an embankment or on the face of a cliff. In the cascade style, the trunk begins to grow vertically but changes its position abruptly by turning downwards to touch the bottom of the pot or even below the pot. To get the cascade style, the pot with the tree is usually placed at the edge of a stand or a table so that the branches can grow down creating a cascading look. In general, all the leaves of the tree are below the edge of the surface of the soil. Training in the cascade style usually takes a longer time than the slanting because the cascade style requires training that defies nature, i.e. we train the tree to grow downwards while the tree will always want to grow skywards. Many experts deem the most suitable species for the Kengai style are Wisteria, Oak, Ponderosa Pine and Conifers.

SEMI-CASCADE STYLE – Han-Kengai

semi-cascadeThe Semi-Cascade style is similar to the full cascade but the bend in the trunk is less dramatic. In this style, the branches fall below the surface of the soil but they never fall below the base of the pot. It is easier to train your bonsai tree in the semi cascade style than the cascade. Though there are many species to suit the Han Kengai style, some of the common species are Juniper, various Pine, Crab Apple, Cherry and Ficus.

With the availability of so many bonsai styles, how do you pick one? Quite simple, you have the option to pick and shape a species to a style of your own preference, which gives you the opportunity to create your own unique bonsai art. Since a bonsai style depends on the shape and look of the tree achieved by means of training, you should pick a style that matches with the tree’s natural design. Choosing one of the top five bonsai styles discussed here should make your first bonsai experience a more enjoyable one. For more information, feel free to contact us! Happy Bonsai Growing!

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Top 10 Ways To Care For Your Bonsai

So you’ve got your fantastic new Bonsai home and given it pride of place for all your friends to see! What next?

Here are 10 things that you should consider when caring for your new Bonsai

  1. Watering. This is the single most important factor in maintaining healthy, thriving bonsai trees. Due to the porous nature of bonsai soil it cannot retain moisture and so needs regular watering. Lack of water can cause the tree to die. Test the soil daily during the growing season and water as required. In winter, outdoor bonsai require less frequent watering but still need to be checked.
  2. Feeding. Bonsai trees require a regular supply of nutrients in the growing season. Three key elements (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium) are applied at 4 times of the year. Jade Bonsai recommends a slow release fertilizer and a regular watering with a liquid fertiliser.
  3. Species. Different species have different care requirements; Jade Bonsai will supply as much information as you want about your particular species.
  4. Time of year. Trees require more care in the growing season than the dormant season. Some species e.g. tropical trees that are often grown indoors require constant care throughout the year. During the winter some outdoor bonsai may require protection from extreme cold or heavy rainfall. All of the trees supplied by Jade Bonsai are grown outdoors and are suitable for most outdoor environments.
  5. Location. Some trees prefer sun whilst others prefer shade. Species such as Acer palmatum (Japanese maple) require protection from strong wind. Indoor bonsai need plenty of light.
  6. Temperature. Tropical trees e.g. Ficus (fig) thrive in hot conditions and some varieties need a dormant period in cold conditions every year. Jade varieties are suitable for your round outdoor conditions in south-east Queensland.
  7. Pests and diseases. These affect bonsai trees just like other plants but can be treated using traditional organic or inorganic treatments. But prevention is better than cure! Adopt good horticultural practice to minimise the risk of diseases.
  8. Repotting. This needs to be carried out on a regular basis. The frequency will depend on the species and the stage of development. The roots need to be pruned when the tree is repotted to ensure that the tree remains healthy. Various factors will influence the degree of pruning required but as a general guideline you should aim to remove about a third of the roots every 2-3 years.
  9. Pruning / wiring. These techniques enable bonsai trees to be styled to the desired style and size. Bonsai trees are not special dwarf varieties – they remain small because they are pruned regularly. After wiring check the tree regularly to avoid damaging the bark.
  10. Soil. Bonsai trees are totally dependent on their roots within a confined pot to provide all the moisture and nutrients they need to thrive. The soil is therefore very important and needs to be porous and free draining. Ordinary compost is not suitable.

If you consider these 10 things when caring for your bonsai trees you will be well on the road to growing healthy, thriving bonsai trees. Jade Bonsai offers a wide variety of services to help your plants thrive. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contacts us.

History of Bonsai

The art of shaping trees commenced probably as early as 2205 BC. This was inspired by the manicured gardens of the Chinese royalty, where many trees were shaped to conform to the design of the garden. This type of garden is still seen today and is perhaps one of the keynote features of both the Japanese and Chinese garden landscapes.

Some of the early styles created by the Chinese were in fact quite grotesque, being twisted into very unnatural forms, and others being trained into Chinese characters.

Bonsai has been a gradual evolution, and started out of need rather than art. Trees where potted for horticultural use , and also for cultural significance during particular festivals the tree represented. Many of the first shaped trees were shaped into quite grotesque shapes in the form of animals and letters in the Chinese alphabet. . It was in China in a monastery; where some monks began what is known as the ‘Lingnan method’, or clip and grow method. It was this type of pruning, and shaping that began turning potted trees into works of art.

China and Japan have a long history of cultural exchange. It was in the earlier times that Japan was influenced by China with the growing of potted trees.

One of the most probable links was from that of Buddhism. Buddhism was in existence in China prior to Japan. It filtered up from India throughout Asia where it took on various forms. It was from these monks that the art of bonsai was carried to the monks that had converted in Japan.

Bonsai became a part of the focal point of both poetry and art, much of which is still seen today. Much of the styling reflected the philosophical understanding of the east, that which was based in Taoism. Taoism is where the idea of yin and yang developed, and is seen in art were a thin line is complimented with a thick line, a straight line is complimented with a curved line and so on. Also part of the belief was that even though something in nature was very small, because of its great age it contained the power and strength of the larger specimen, and even more so because it was contained in a much smaller space.

As more and more trade began to take place between countries, the interest of foreigners grew quickly, and the export of these ‘unusual potted trees’ began to grow. It was then the demand that created a market for westerners, and the trees began to improve rapidly, which brought us to more of the current styles that we have today.

In the mid 19th century, the aesthetic principles we see today began to become popular. This shape is characterized by the asymmetrical triangular shape.

In Japan in the early 1900s a small but dedicated group had begun to meet regularly, hold exhibitions and produced a magazine. Later in 1927 the greatest breakthrough came when a public exhibition was held in Tokyo at the art gallery, thus granting the skill of Bonsai growing the status of art.

After World War 2 many servicemen who were stationed in Japan were mesmerized by the amazing shape of these small trees and began to take them back to the USA. Thus the love of Bonsai in the west began.