Bonsai Styles

Bonsai styles began in China between 500 and 1000 BC. The literal meaning of the word “bonsai” is “tree in a tray”. Legend states that Buddhist monks wanted to bring the beauty and peace they experienced outdoors into the temples, so began cultivating miniature trees. From that time, bonsai art style was born and this artistic expression transformed into the bonsai styles we know today.

There are six main bonsai styles:


1) The Formal Upright

formal upright bonsai
Formal Upright Bonsai

The Formal Upright bonsai styles is the most basic and grows very quickly with few problems. The top branch extends upward, and there are a few short horizontal branches that form at the top of the tree, and the branches underneath that become longer as they go lower down the tree. This bonsai style, usually pine, spruce, juniper or larch, is recommended for the beginner bonsai artist.

2) The Informal Upright

informal upright bonsai
Informal Upright Bonsai

The Informal Upright bonsai styles is similar to the Formal, but its top branch bends forward instead. The types of trees used for this bonsai style are usually Japanese Maple, Trident Maple and Beech.

3) The Slant

the slant
The Slant Bonsai

The slant bonsai styles is a very tiny tree with the unique aspect of slanting one way while it’s lower branches point the other direction. If you decide to grow this type of bonsai style, you need to watch how it grows helping it keep a balanced appearance to maturity. All types of bonsai species can grow in this formation.

4) The Cascade

the cascade
The Cascade

The Cascade bonsai styles gives the tree a distinct slope. The trunk grows straight up then turns, its branches extending below the tray in which it sits. The best choice for this type of bonsai style are jasmine, wisteria and juniper planted roots.

5) The Semi Cascade

the slant bonsai
The Semi Cascade Bonsai

The Semi Cascade bonsai styles differs from the Cascade in that the trunk has a gradual slant. Plants that work best for this bonsai style are jasmine, willow and chrysanthemum.

6) The Windswept

the windswept bonsai
The Wind Swept Bonsai

The Windswept bonsai styles formation gives the bonsai tree the illusion that strong winds have blown across it as it matured.

Keep a clean set of bonsai tools

When working on your miniature bonsai trees in South Africa, make sure you are using the proper tools. Shaping them is really enjoyable and you want to make sure you are using the right tools for the job, and that your bonsai tools are cleaned on a regular basis. Every tree is different and you don’t want to spread disease through your plants by having dirty tools!