Bonsai Styles

The art of Bonsai is to produce a miniature representation of a mature tree, but not necessarily a mature example of the species being worked on.  You could produce a Pine tree image using a Juniper for example.

As a tree grows in the wild its branches grow upwards towards the light while it is young.  As the branches get longer and heavier and are subject to wind and snow they begin to bend down lower and lower.  A simple way therefore to make a young tree look older is to wire its branches down.

The outline form of a tree can follow many shapes, round, pyramid, columnar, mushroom, broom or inverted cone.  The pyramid is the most common.  The most popular styles for trees are formal upright, informal upright, windswept, cascade, broom and group plantings.
Formal Upright Informal Upright Windswept Cascade
Formal Upright

Informal Upright



  Broom Group Planting  

Group Planting

Size Range

Bonsai come in many sizes from small enough to hold in the palm of your hand up to trees so large they need several people to move them.

The Japanese call a Bonsai that is less than 15cm high Mame, which means little bean. They are the easiest to grow but some of the most difficult to care for as they grow in tiny pots which dry out quickly.  Trees from 15 to 30cm high are called Shohin.  Trees up to 65cm are classed as medium and large above 65cm.

The height of a tree is governed by the lowest part.  From the roots, the first branch should be roughly one third of the overall height.

© The National Bonsai Society