Types of Bonsai Trees – The 5 Most Common Styles

Common Styles and Types of Bonsai Trees

If you are getting into the world of Bonsai, there is so much that can fascinate you. Bonsai come in many varieties, and the types of Bonsai you choose will be dependent on where you plan to display them. Another consideration would be that of the weather – cold weather would require a tree to be grown indoors while warmer climates give you a little more flexibility. Here you get to choose varieties that are larger and have bigger size spans.

Once you have understood the various climatic conditions, the Bonsai tree type you choose are important. This does not refer to the choice of species but rather the manner in which they will grow. A few of the most common types are:

Types of Bonsai Trees - Formal Upright Style

Foramal Upright Style

1) Formal Upright Style

This is where you will have a tree trunk that starts out straight and then tapers. Branches start around 1/3rd the way up the trunk and will have to be trained to grow in perfect symmetry. When you look at this tree from a distance, it should have a triangular shape, and the branches should look perfectly balanced. It is by far the most difficult type of Bonsai styles to achieve.

2) Informal Upright Style

This is the counterpart of the first one and just as popular. Almost every kind of Bonsai species (the Japanese Holly Bonsai works particularly well) works well with this style, and for those trying their hands at bonsai for the first time, this is a good shape to create. Here you will find that the trunk curves a bit or has a tendency to change direction as the tree grows. The triangular shape remains constant, and you will have bigger branches on the bottom, tapering as they go up.

There are many variants of these types of Bonsai trees such as the slant, and this is dependent on weather conditions or if plants are exposed to particular types of elements that cause them to lean in a 10 to 45 degree angle. This can happen when the plant is constantly exposed to rain, sleet, snow or winds; it also happens when the plant leans towards the sun.

3) Broom Style

The broom style is a popular style where the trunk of the tree grows up straight. All of the branches that grow out of it are coaxed into growing symmetrically to resemble a dome or cap. The best kind of trees for this are deciduous ones, as they are easier to prune and tease into this style.

4) Cascade Style

The cascade style is decorative in nature and comes down one side of the Bonsai pot in a flowing manner. The idea behind this style of Bonsai is to imitate the growth of a tree that is at the edge of a mountain, over a river or water body.

Types of bonsai tree - root over rock

Root Over Rock

5) Root Over Rock

One of the most popular types of Bonsai is when it looks like the tree is growing over a rock. Actually, the roots are made to grow over the rock and seem to crawl all around it before finding their way into the soil to hold firm. If the roots happen to form a crack, then it is said that they are clinging on to the rock. There are also a few trees in nature that have their roots exposed, a similar kind of scenario is created with these types of Bonsai.


There is also the multiple trunk style which grows from a single root. This style can be manipulated in several ways, the thickness of the trunks varies, and this is what gives it balance. The number of branches is often an odd number, and they can be allowed to grow to varying heights as well as thickness.

Many like to experiment with these types of Bonsai . One example is the windswept style where the branches look as if they are being blown by the wind. To create this style, you basically make the plant grow at an angle and coax all the branches that sprout to grow in one direction.

Growing Bonsai can take some skill, and once you have them set in soil, it is patience that is needed to watch them actually develop into genuine Bonsai. Growing Bonsai is a craft that moves along slowly, but it can bring immense pleasure.


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