Some common bonsai styles

I’ve been covering some specific bonsai species in this blog, but it’s worth spending some time to talk about the various styles of bonsai in existence. This has little to do with the exact plant species being used and more with how the bonsai tree looks – how it’s laid out, if you will.

For the various species of trees that can be grown as bonsai and how to adapt them to various styles I recommend browsing around Bonsai-sui and also the myriad of small blogs run by bonsai enthusiasts. The styles themselves are as follows:

Chokkan – the “formal upright” style is characterised by an upright trunk with a thick base which gets narrower as it goes up. This style is a classic. It’s used for almost all tree species. The style symbolises a proud kind of loneliness and an unrelenting will to live and thrive.

Moyogi – the informal upright shape of this style is widely popular among bonsai artists. The main reason for this is that you’re not limited to any canonical set of rules when following this style. Typically in this style, the tree bends several, forming a zig-zag. On every bend there are branches growing outwards from the trunk.

Shakkan – this is the slanted style where the tree doesn’t grow up, but rather at an angle, growing to the side. This style suits many tree species. This style is inspired by the forces of nature – the plants attempt to grow towards the sun as well as resistance to wind.

Sokan – the double trunk style. In nature one can find many examples of trees whose trunk splits in two near the base and grows almost as two separate trees. This bonsai imitates this natural occurrence. Typically the second trunk is formed by developing a low-growing branch into a new trunk. One of my personal favorites is this tree here: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/364158319848721049/. Sadly, I don’t know the artist behind this masterpiece.

Kengai – this is the cascade style. It emulates the situation in nature, where a tree growing on the edge of a cliff needs to adapt to certain conditions imposed on it by its precarious position. These are for instance, falling rocks, the weight of snow on its branches or even its own weight. Typically the better suited tree species for this style are ones that have well-bending trunks and branches.

Han-kengai – the semi-cascade style occurs naturally in trees that grow on the shores of rivers and in swamps. Their branches almost touch the surface of the water. The trees to grow horisontally. This translates to bonsai such that the tree’s branches must not fall below the level of the pot but its top must remain below the level of the soil.

Fukinagashi – the “bent by the wind” style, as if a strong wind keeps pushing the tree in one direction all the time. This style is difficult to execute, but is common in nature. The trunk is slightly bent in one direction and the branches tend to grow in the same direction – a common sight on windy shores.

Bunjingi – one of the most difficult and also the most traditional styles of bonsai, called the “literary” style. A long thin bent trunk, a complete lack of intermediate branches and foliage only at the very top of tree – these are the main characteristics of this style.

These few styles are probably the most often encountered ones, but are certainly not the only ones in existence. There are plenty of variations and ways of growing bonsai trees – this is an art one can explore indefinitely.

Procumbens Juniper Bonsai

Out of the many species of bonsai trees that exist and used commercially is the Juniper bonsai, which is particularly known as simply majestic and awesome to look at in long age. This dwarf plant is simply resilient and can withstand various adverse conditions. Native to the southern part of Japan, the Juniper bonsai has evergreen leaves all year round, though to achieve this there are certain requirements that must be met during the tree’s early years.

Juniper bonsai care

Like other strong bonsai types, the Juniper tree can thrive with most soil types, though it would really be happy with a mixture of 10 percent peat, 30 percent rough sand and 60 percent soil. This soil mixture will provide proper drainage to the root system while creating adequate water retention for the whole tree. As part of the Procumbens family, the Juniper bonsai would love full sun, as it can prevent branch die-back. This does not mean that it does not gain anything from some time in the shade. Let it rest under the shade at regular intervals to allow the foliage to darken and not dry out.

Water your plant whenever the soil feels dry. Owners usually water it once in two or three days. If you live somewhere with a warmer climate, you may want to increase this to once a day. Reduce watering during winter, though. This is because during winter, the Procumbens Juniper bonsai must not be exposed to frost and harsh winds. Despite the tree’s innate strength, enduring winter would be an essential part of its growth, especially those that come from esteemed quality.

Baby jade bonsai care

When it comes to growing bonsai trees, some owners prefer to have strong ones with evergreen leaves that are nice to look at. These people usually enjoy other strong trees that are slow growers and truly satisfying in the long run. In these regards, the Jade bonsai of South Africa is the best candidate. This species of bonsai has a thick trunk and dense branch structure. Its elliptic leaves will develop red edges if it receives sufficient sunlight. In the winter however, it rewards its owner with beautiful star-shaped white blossoms.

This bonsai plant is suitable for people with homes of both high and low light conditions. Though it can be grown outdoor, the Baby Jade bonsai is best grown indoors with access to natural sunlight. Generally, the temperature of the environment should be above 50 degrees F. This bonsai tree must always have enough water yet must never have too much of it. The Jade should only be lightly-watered and the soil must be allowed to dry between watering.

Feed it fertilizer when new growth appears in springtime. The fertilizer must not be administered at full strength, bur rather just half. It is best to use either liquid or a chemical fertilizer every two weeks during the growing season. In winter, reduce it to only once a month. You should know that the Jade reacts enthusiastically toward fertilizing, so do not skip it. Proper Baby Jade bonsai care should include regular pruning. New growth must also be pinched back. This is a slow-growing tree that takes 20 years to reach three feet tall.

How to bonsai a yew tree

The Yew belongs to a group of evergreen, coniferous shrubs or trees. They are favorites of bonsai lovers because of their reddish-brown, peeling bark, giving them an ancient, stately look. This is a quality highly appreciated by bonsai lovers. The yew is a highly poisonous plant. Care should be given in handling such kind of specimen, especially in the presence of young children and animals.

Yews grow straight upwards when young. They have the tendency though, to spread out as they mature. Trunks tend to be on the slender side. If a specimen shows a heavy and impressive trunk, there is a possibility that these could be the result of smaller trunks fusing together.

Yews make excellent bonsai plants as they have dark green foliage all year round and respond well to pruning. However, they have the tendency for slow growth and are not frost tolerant. This is because they have large fleshy roots that are prone to frost damage.

Yews are can adapt well into their environment and can fit into almost all of bonsai styles. An important feature of Yew as a bonsai is the hollow trunk. Mature Yew trees tend to hollow out in the trunk as part of the natural aging process.

Yews grow well inside pots and can adapt to almost all types of soil mixtures. If there is a yellowing of foliage, it is indicative of wet soil or high acidity so as recourse, you must let the soil drain well. The Yew Bonsai is an evergreen that has the capability to fit well into any formal or informal bonsai gardens.

The Yew Bonsai is a very decorative bonsai shrub. This is the reason why this shrub is a favorite for both neophyte and experienced gardeners to use.

TAXUS BACCATA or otherwise known as the English Yew, has dark-green leaves that are pale underneath. It has many varieties available though some are known to be poor bonsai subjects. It is a slow-growing kind.

TAXUS CUSPIDATA or Japanese Yew, grows at a much slower rate. It has similar foliage as that of the English Yew except for the color beneath the leaves which is yellow-green, turning red-green during wintertime.

TAXUS X MEDIA or JAPANESE and ENGLISH YEW HYBRID, is not injured by frequent pruning, making this a good choice to be used as hedges.
Chinese Yews are also great choices for beginners and pros alike. They can adapt well and can grow well in all types of gardens. Chinese Yews make very dense and prolific Bonsai trees when the environment suits them very well.

Yew bonsais will tolerate a certain level of sun but a spot under the shade, with little direct sunlight is generally tolerated by them. . They will grow in prolific abandon in heavy shade. One of the very few trees that prefer shade, it should be noted that they should not be placed under direct sunlight.

Feeding them once every two weeks throughout the growing season is likewise recommended. Feeding them during wintertime is discouraged though. If you want to achieve masses of new growth then it is suggested that they are fed more heavily. They can also be fed all year round due to their being evergreens but the quantity of food should be reduced during the winter months. To ensure your bonsai is healthy, a diet focused mainly on potassium, phosphorus and calcium should be strictly followed. An acidic pH in the soil should also be kept constant.

Because of their slow growth rate, Yews need not be repotted often. They only need repotting every 3 to 4 years. Repotting in spring is recommended, especially just when the buds become visible, or later in autumn if you just work around the roots. Spring is usually the best time for pruning the roots. A soil that drains well is preferred and a suggested choice is the coarser one. Yews prefer slightly acidic soil, but its color will turn to yellow if there is too much acid in the soil.
When working around the roots, you have to be very gentle because they are very fleshy. Roots also need to be protected from frost during winter time. Too much water retention of the soil can pose a very big problem, so until you can change the soil composition, it will be very important to protect the tree.

 

Frequently water the plant but make sure that the soil is not soggy for a long period of time. The fleshy roots of Yew trees are prone to root rot if they are allowed to sit in water. So it is best to ensure that the soil medium is kept moist but not wet. It is recommended to water daily, and during hotter months, watering twice a day would be advisable, preferably in the mornings and evenings. Don’t water your plant under direct sunlight though

 

In conclusion, the Yew is a good subject for bonsai making.