Bonsai Styles

A great part of bonsai art involves imitating nature as closely as possible. This can be achieved by giving the trees grown in trays or containers a shape that is very similar to those found in the forests or the countryside. This is the main reason why particular names have been given to the most extensively used bonsai shapes. In fact, these names comprise an official catalogue of a number of typical bonsai forms from which bonsai aficionados can select the forms they wish to give their favourite miniature trees. It is essential that the tree matches the type of form selected by the bonsai grower. The entire art of bonsai comprises cutting, pruning as well as wiring the plants to obtain the chosen shape. It is worth mentioning here that all these official shapes, which involve the formation that is described in this article, have their origin in Japan.

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It is possible to obtain the typical bonsai shapes only when the grower possesses some level of skill, has loads of patience and also the required adaptable materials. Different from a human being, a tree can virtually survive for eternity, especially when it received the benefits of meticulous care and tending.

In bonsai, there are three basic types of trees, single trees, trees with many trunks and forests or group of trees. These different types of trees along with examples are discussed in brief below.

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Single trees

Some of the single bonsai trees having one trunk and grown in containers are described below.

BUNJINGI - also called Literati style bonsai
Bonsai styles - BunjingiWhen we say that that bonsai tree has a literati form, we mean that it imitates calligraphy. This is a graceful form wherein the tree has a somewhat slanting trunk. The branches as well as the foliage of this type of tree only develop at its crown.
BAN KAN - also called Coiled style bonsai
Bonsai styles - bankanAlso called Coiled style bonsai. In this case, the trunk of the tree becomes narrower towards its top. In fact, the trunk of this form of bonsai tree twists just about its own axis. This type of trees can develop in several different directions.
CHOKKAN - also called Formal straight bonsai
Bonsai styles - ChokkanThis is a straight growing tree having an upright trunk and smaller branches that are progressive. The branches of this tree are arranged in a symmetric manner, giving the tree a pyramidal shape - the typical feature of gigantic conifers.
FUKINAGASHI - also called Windswept style bonsai
Bonsai styles - fukinagashiBonsai trees with this particular shape are also known as windblown. To some extent, the trunks of this form of trees are inclined and all its branches are faced in the same direction, in the direction to which the tree leans. These trees give an impression that they have been assaulted by the wind and, hence, the inclined trunk.
HÔKIDACHI - also called Broom style bonsai
Bonsai styles - hokidachiLike Chokkan, the Hokidachi is also an upright tree. The branches of this type of trees start growing from a certain height, giving the tree its typical broom-like appearance. In fact, the elm is especially suited for such proportioned shape.
ISHITZUKI - also called Root-over-rock style
Bonsai styles - ishitzukiThis is particular form of plants that are specifically grown on or in cracks of boulders or rock-like stones. This form of plants is basically rock dwellers and it is considered to be an effective form, especially when some plants grow an amazing display of knotty aerial roots.
KEN GAI - also called Cascade style bonsai
Bonsai styles - kengaiThese are cascading trees whose trunks are strongly bent, while the branches of this form of tree overshadow the container.
MOYOGI - also called Curved informal upright bonsai
Bonsai styles - moyogiThis type of trees is almost erect, however, not as perfectly upright as the Chokkan. Trunks of such trees have a spiral growth and it lessens towards its crown.
NEAGARI - also called Exposed root style bonsai
Bonsai styles - neagariThis form of bonsai trees has exposed roots that are visible below the lower part of their trunk.
SHAKAN - also called Slanting style bonsai
Bonsai styles - shakanThis form of bonsai can be described as a tree having a single trunk and leaning sharply either to its left or right side. The branches of this type of tree are arranged rather uniformly and they appear on the reverse sides of the slanted trunk.
Bonsai styles - tachikiThis is an informal vertical style bonsai tree.

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Trees with several trunks

Precisely speaking, these bonsai trees have numerous trunks that grow from a solitary root. Some of the different varieties of this form of bonsai trees are described below briefly.

IKADA - also called Raft style bonsai
Bonsai styles - ikadaThis form of bonsai trees is also referred to as raft bonsai. As the trunk of this tree lies just underneath the soil surface and the branches appear vertically from the soil giving a false impression that several trees have been planted next to each other.
KABUDACHI - also called Clump style bonsai
Bonsai styles - kabudachiThis form of bonsai refers to all trees that have several trunks growing from a single root.
NETSURANARI - also called Sinuous style or raft from root style bonsai
Bonsai styles - netsuranariThis form of bonsai is the spreading type and has a rambling or sprawling shape, which is accomplished by growing a variety of trunks from a solitary, attached root base that lies on the soil surface. Like the Ikada form of bonsai, this also gives an impression that a number of trees have been planted next to one another.
SANKAN - also called Triple trunk style bonsai
Bonsai styles - sankanThe Sokan and Sankan forms of bonsai involve growing three tree trunks of varying thicknesses from one stock. It is important that the trunks developing from the base should never be identical. In the Sokan style bonsai, one tree trunk is always thicker compared to the other. While the thicker trunk is referred to as the father, the relatively slender trunk is known as the son. On the other hand, the Sankan style bonsai involves growing two trunks that are larger compared to the third. In this case, the trees with larger trunks are called the father and mother, while the one with relatively smaller trunk is called the son.
SOKAN - also called Twin trunk style bonsai
Bonsai styles - sokanThis is said to be the simplest bonsai form, wherein two trunks grow from a forked (split) base.

Groups of trees or forests

All bonsai growers have a desire to imitate nature through their creations and this provides them the incentive to grow several trees in a single container - thereby forming a cluster of trees that would remind one of a forest.

Usually, this effect is produced when you plant a number of trees belonging to the same species or assortment. However, often bonsai growers also plant several trees having different ages and, therefore, dissimilar sizes. The manner in which these trees are arranged can give the appearance of an ordinary glade or even a genuine forest. You can easily use different types of trees to create this impression. At the same time, you may plant a variety of evergreen tree combinations with a view to provide an aesthetic contrast.

YOSE-UE - involves growing two or more trees in a single container
Bonsai styles - yose-ueYou need to use a flat tray. Alternatively, you can also use a flat stone base covered with moss. The bonsai trees that comprise the forest may have different styles of the multiple or single tree trunk.

Bunjingi, Hokidachi, Ishitsuki and Fukinagashi bonsai trees are the most well-accepted single tree trunk forms that are planted to achieve this effect. In addition, you may also use a number of multiple tree trunk forms in your bonsai forest.

This type of bonsai forest always look fantastic even when the trees are not fully mature. No doubt, they have become very popular these days. However, it needs to be noted that such trees or forests require special care - occasionally even very thorough after care.

In fact, you need to pay special attention while watering the trees when the weather conditions are warm. This is mainly because when many trees share the same container they will require lots of water to keep them hydrated as well as healthy.


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