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Gardening How-to Articles

Bonsai Styles


  • Aram January 16, 2018

    Hi, very nice. I am from Iran, and I do bonsai with local trees here in my city of Esfahan. I believe one must chose local trees that live easily without a glasshouse and a lot of care in hot and cold weather. I enjoy working on my bonsai.

  • BBG Staff April 5, 2013

    Hi Richard: There are many styles in bonsai. When beginners think of bonsai basics, they often look to Japan for their info. The “official” styles in Japan were meant to be simple, understandable guidelines, similar to basic addition, like 1 + 1 = 2. But just remember that there are other types of arithmetic, like subtraction, division, and multiplication out there too! The styles that many think of as “official” are just some of the basic Japanese styles typical of their landscape. China, for example, has many other named forms and styles as well, including ones like this. As bonsai grows in popularity in the West, people are also incorporating shapes that are in their landscape. What we call the “flat top” style could also be called the Pierneef style. Hope this helps. 
    Julian Velasco, curator, C.V. Starr Bonsai Museum

  • Richard Owens March 30, 2013

    Do you think the Pierneef will ever become an official style of bonsai?

  • BBG Library Staff February 12, 2013

    David: Depending on where you live, “evergreen” could include boxwood and rhododendron, but we are basing our response on the assumption that your bonsai is a conifer. In general, conifers should be transplanted every three to five years, but the time to repot your bonsai in a larger pot also depends on the species of plant, its root growth and its age and size. Diane Relf, a horticulturist at Virginia Tech, says, “… Junipers can be repotted at any time during the growing season because they grow throughout the season. Pines and most other evergreens must be repotted during the late winter before they show signs of new growth.”

  • BBG Library Staff February 12, 2013

    Hi, Jesse: Fast growers including willow, poplar, sycamore, and tamarix, though requiring more work during their first season, will allow you to test the results of your bonsai technique and environmental conditions with several different species if you like. Trees with small leaves and flowers, such as olive, sophora, mimosa, ginkgo, crabapple, and most conifers tend to make well-balanced bonsai. Slow-growing trees make the best bonsai over the long term, such as species of oak, conifer, and ginkgo. Suggestions for indoor beginner’s species include Natal plum (Carissa macrocarpa) and an evergreen vine, Asian jasmine (Trachelospermum asiaticum).

    Printed resources include Growing Bonsai Indoors, edited by Pat Lucke Morris and Sigrun Wolff Saphire (Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 2008) and Successful Bonsai, by David Squire (Firefly Books, 2006).

  • David Wilcox January 9, 2013

    I have an evergreen bonsai that I bought earlier this year. When should I transfer the tree to a larger pot?

  • jesse jeet laish November 15, 2012

    Can you provide the names of trees that will be most suitable for bonsai?

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