Bonsai Tree Types Explained

If you or a loved one enjoys making things grow, then a bonsai tree may be just the way to go. The art of bonsai, which originated in China, was ultimately perfected in Japan. This method of gardening serves in functions as everything from a hobby to a form of artistic expression. Here, you’ll see the different types of bonsai trees explained.

Deciduous or Evergreen Bonsai

Any kind of tree can be made into a bonsai. Pine trees are the most common, usually because they grow slowly. Junipers are also common. Both of these trees are evergreen, meaning that they will never just have bare branches.

Deciduous trees are those that lose their leaves in the fall. Maple, flowering trees, and fruit trees are in this category. With maple trees, you’ll get a beautiful display of bright fall colors through the change of seasons. Flowering trees, such as cherry or plum trees, will have beautiful blossoms in the spring, followed by green leaves in the summer that turn to fall colors. Fruit trees, such as quince, will flower in the spring and then produce fruit along with the leaves.

Unusual Plant Choices

Taking inspiration from the Japanese tradition, indoor bonsai have emerged as a fun new twist. You can “branch” out beyond the usual bonsai trees and select something exotic like a jade plant, bougainvillea, gardenia, azalea, and even fragrant rosemary. These plants can be shaped in a manner similar to juniper and pine bonsai, creating a surprising conversation piece.

Pruning Styles

Formal Upright: The formal upright bonsai tree is the one you see the most often. It is also the kind usually recommended for the beginner in bonsai. The pine and juniper trees are recommended for the beginner, along with the spruce and larch. This is because these species grow quickly, and if the beginner makes a mistake, the tree can overcome the damage on its own. Formal upright trees will have a rounded shape, and should appear balanced. The top branch of this tree will point up.

INFORMAL UPRIGHT: The informal upright bonsai tree is quite similar to the formal upright, with the exception that the top branch is trained to slant to one side. It will still have the rounded profile, but with a twist. Good trees for this type of bonsai are the maple trees and the Beech.

SLANT: All of the different types of trees can produce the slant bonsai. This tree is trained to grow with the trunk slanting in one direction with the branches trained to reach in the other direction. The challenge with this type of bonsai is to establish a balanced look, so that the tree does not look damaged or lop-sided.

CASCADE: With the cascading effect, the trunk of the tree grows upright, at first, and then is trained to turn. This allows the branches to cascade to the table-top, actually below the bonsai container itself. Trees that achieve this look the most successfully are the wisteria, jasmine, juniper, and other flowering trees.

WINDSWEPT: The windswept bonsai looks as if it is standing in a strong wind. The branches are trained to go to one side, and the trunk is kept bare of most branches.

SEMI CASCADE: The semi cascade is trained and pruned like the cascade tree, but with the trunk grown at a slant.

With all these options, it’s easy to create a bonsai tree suited to your style. Bonsai plants make great gifts, too!

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