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Bonsai Styles

There are a whole bunch of different styles of bonsai. And by styles we are talking about the way they are shaped. Not the types of trees they are. Although, some trees are better suited to certain styles.

I have not shown the formal upright style. This is where the bonsai is straight and upright with little or no twisting or deformation of the trunk.

There are more styles than this. And in particular there are a series of styles for groupings of trees. Here I show you ten of the more common styles.



Informal Upright

Informal Upright (Moyogi)

This is very similar to the formal upright but there is some twisting or direction shifting of the tree. But it is not pronounced. It has a more weather-worn look than the formal upright.

Slanting Style Shakan

Slanting Style (Shakan)

The Major direction of the tree and its trunk are definitely shifted into a slant. When creating a bonsai like this it is important to note that the root system is very strong opposite the shift. This is to hold the tree firmly.


Semi Cascade Han Kengai

Semi-Cascade (Han-Kengai)

The trunk of the tree grows out of the container at an angle and shifts down over the side. To be a semi cascade the tree reaches lower than the rim of the container but not lower than the base. A good rule of thumb is that you should be able to place the completed arrangement on a flat surface. The tip of the tree should touch or almost touch the surface.

Full Cascade - Kengai

Full Cascade (Kengai)

The trunk protrudes at a sharp angle out of the soil and bends quickly and sharply around the rim toward the ground. The tree reaches well below the base of the container.

Exposed Root Style

Exposed Root

In nature the roots of a tree can slowly be exposed by soil erosion. We simulate and exaggerate this effect by slowly removing some of the soil to expose the roots. Just a little bit each year so the root has time to harden.

Root over rock

Root over Rock

Very similar to the exposed root style except the roots are formed over a stone, rock or rocky formation. The tree itself is on top of the stone and the roots reach down to soil.

This can be achieved by burying the rock with the tree planted over it then over years slowly remove layers of soil to expose root/stone and allow the roots to harden.

Broom Style

Broom Style

This style uses deciduous trees to form a symmetrical broom like shape at the top. This is formed of many smaller branches. This network of smaller branches is important to the look and fullness of the broom style.


Twin Trunk Style - Sokan

Twin Trunk Style (Sokan)

The Sokan Style has two trunks. And for aesthetics one trunk is thicker than the other.

Triple Trunk - Sankan

Triple Trunk Style - (Sankan)

Three trunks are on this bonsai and they all should be of differeng thicknesses for aesthetics.

Weeping Style

Weeping Style

Certain types of trees tend to be better for this style. The branches go initially in the upward direction then are trained to go straight down.

Indoor Bonsai for Beginners: Selection Care Training Creating beautiful, healthy bonsai is a wonderful skill that anyone can learn, with a little time, patience, and this all-inclusive manual. With color photos and drawings to illustrate the points, it introduces all the cultivation techniques; offers expert advice on location, soil types, watering, and pest control; and provides intricate instruction on training the bonsai--including pruning, wiring and stretching it. An A-to-Z guide of all the popular species showcases varieties that range from a flowering Camellia Japonica , with its beautiful smooth stem, to an easy-to-care for Olive tree. Each entry gives some background on the plant, and includes suggestions for acquiring the bonsai and directions on how to position it in the room for best results.



Chinese ElmChinese Elm Bonsai Tree - Medium by Bonsai Boy

  • 10 years old specimen, 10" - 12" tall
  • Recommended indoor bonsai tree, grown and trained by Bonsai Boy
  • Twisted trunk and exposed roots
  • Hardy tree with a great shape




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