Friday, January 8, 2021

Bonsai Styles

 The following post is presented by Jen Kostick, our in-house Bonsai expert. As many of you know, we usually hold Bonsai classes on the first Saturday of most months. Unable to do so during the pandemic, we will be reaching out via Facebook to our Bonsai enthusiasts. We will be using Facebook live for various classes on Saturdays. Last week's class featured Bonsai Basics (and an audio issue). We will be repeating the class in a week or so. Here is Jen's post on Bonsai Styles. 


Bonsai Styles

 Let’s talk about some of the more popular bonsai styles. Bonsai trees are meant to mimic the trees found in nature. Today we are focusing on formal upright, informal upright, semi-cascade, and cascade.


Formal Upright vs. Informal Upright

Trees with formal upright styling mimic trees that have received ideal conditions – proper light, water, and fertilizer with no crazy weather – Marylanders will not know what that is like! They have strong, straight trunks that narrow to the top. Having enough space around them, the bottom branches are longer than the top and naturally create a pyramid shape.

Conversely, an informal upright has not received the same ideal conditions. In nature, these trees have competed for light, water, or food with other trees. The trunks and branches twist and bend, searching for what they need. This is one, if not the most, popular bonsai style.


Against All Odds: Semi-Cascade and Cascade

The most striking of bonsai styles, to me anyway, is the cascade and semi-cascade. These are the trees that live, even thrive, though the cards are stacked against them.

Semi-Cascade mimics the trees that you find reaching over the water. The tree grows horizontally, clinging to the soil of the bank while still reaching for the light.

Cascading trees are found high up on mountainsides. They have the same reaching habit as a semi-cascade, but the weight of the tree, gravity and even harsh mountain weather will push the trunk of the tree down.


Tips to achieving your style:

·         Think nature. Now is a great time to get out and see how trees are growing. Bundle up and take a walk around to see the trees without their leaves; you can really focus on the trunk line.

·         Visualize the triangle. Keeping a basic triangle shape allows light to reach every branch. Branches should climb from the bottom of the tree to the top like a spiral staircase.

·         Use wire to add bends in branches to shorten them without needing to prune. You can also use wire to bend the ends of the bottom branches slightly down to make the tree seem older. Bending a branch slightly upward will encourage new growth in that branch.

·         Semi-cascade trees grow horizontally and should not dip below the top of the pot.

·         Pinch out new growth on your trees to force more growing energy into the tree. A tree with a thick trunk will look older than it really is. Pinching out the new growth will also force the tree to add branches lower on the trunk.