Skip to main content
Bonsai Styles

Bonsai Tree Styles



Trunk and root placement. Although most bonsai trees are planted directly into the soil, there are styles describing trees planted on the rock.

Bonsai Styles


Take a sharp pair of pointed scissors and remove any dead wood or old leaves. Then remove any leaves growing from the bottom of the branches.

Remove weeds and the surface soil so you can see where the main roots of your tree start. If your plant is in a black PB bag, cut the top of the bag away, this will allow you to see how much trunk you have before the first branch. Trunk and bark surface. A number of styles describe the trunk shape and bark finish. For example, a bonsai with a twisted trunk is nebikan (also nejikan (ねじ幹)), and one with a vertical split or hollows is sabakan. The deadwood bonsai styles identify trees with prominent dead branches or trunk scarring.

Bonsai Styles



Stop and look. Have you decided which side will be the front yet? The front should have the first main branch growing about 1/3 of the way up your tree to the left or right. Try to find a branch that fits this description, that will narrow your angles down to two. From the front of your tree you should be able to see a lot of the trunk but still have branches at the back to give depth. You should not have roots or branches coming straight out at you from the front of the tree. No two trees are alike and all are unlikely to fit this description perfectly but keep all these factors in mind when deciding.



Choose the branches you wish to use in your design. It is common for beginners to retain too much foliage, remember you want your plant to look like a tree, not a manicured shrub. The gaps between the foliage are just as important as the foliage itself. The first branch is 1/3 of the way up your tree to the left or right and the next branch should be slightly above and out to the other side. Avoid if possible branches that are opposite and at the same height. This is called a bar branch and is undesirable. While the majority of bonsai specimens feature a single tree, there are well-established style categories for specimens with multiple trunks. Within these styles, a bonsai can be classified by a number of trunks alone. The configuration of the trunks can also be described by specific styles, including raft (ikadabuji or ikadabuki) and sinuous (netsunagari) styles for multiple trees growing from a connected root, and the general term you are for multiple unconnected trees in large number