Bonsai are ‘styled’ to give them a mature look and to give the illusion of a tree that has been shaped by the forces of nature. Wiring the trunk and branches is the usual technique employed, but there are other methods, such as using weights and clamps. Wires to pull branches downward are also used. The Chinese and Japanese have created many styles and bonsai source books give the enthusiast many different ideas to try. Here are some of the more common styles for bonsai.

Pasted Graphic

Formal Upright
This style features an upright trunk and branches that create a triangular outline

Pasted Graphic 1

Informal Upright
This style is similar to the formal upright form, but has an irregular triangular outline and an informally curved trunk

Pasted Graphic 3


This style is designed to mimic a tree growing at the edge of a cliff and cascading into the air below. The tip of the cascading branch always extends below the bottom of the pot

Pasted Graphic 2

This style is similar to the Cascade style, but with a much less dramatic drop resulting in a tip roughly at the middle of the pot.

Pasted Graphic 4

This style gives the impression of a tree subjected to high winds over a prolonged period of time typically in an exposed area such as a cliff top of coastline.

Pasted Graphic 5

This style consists of growing the bonsai on top of a rock with an exposed root structure.

Pasted Graphic 6

This style is comprised of multiple separate trees arranged into a group to simulate a grove or forest.

Pasted Graphic 7

The most simplistic of styles, Literati bonsai typically have sparse branches located on the top third of the tree with a trunk that curves as twists.

Back to the Top