Bonsai Gardening

Over the centuries bonsai artists have developed many unique styles. Within this complexity there are a few that form the basis of most of the variations.

Chokkan (Formal Upright)

The simplest, but beautiful, is the chokkan or formal upright. While still a miniature, this style most resembles the full grown tree. The form is erect and partly symmetrical, roughly classic Christmas-tree shaped, but sometimes with a rounded crown.

Branches are nearly horizontal and the lowest pair is frequently trained to point toward the viewer, with a third pointing away at a level between the two in front.

While the chokkan is more regular than other styles, it doesn't have to be planted in the center of the pot. Visual variety can be accomplished by planting a third from one end, either left or right as you face the tree.

Small branches near the base should be pruned away, and others should be balanced around the trunk. The first branch starts about 1/3 of the way up the total height of the trunk.

To achieve the right result, it is necessary to have a good beginning. That starts with selection of the right species. A tree that left unmodified would grow straight is the best choice.

One of the less difficult styles to achieve, no bonsai is easy to train. However, it can exhibit significant variations. Using different species, such as Larch, Pine or Spruce can result in distinct looks.

Moyogi (Informal Upright)

The moyogi has many of the same features of the chokkan, but vertical and horizontal regularity is altered. It is less even in appearance, but no less beautiful than its more symmetrical brother.

Branches are pruned in the same manner, but the top is modified to bend slightly toward the viewer. The trunk may also be slanted, but not curved.

Slanting can be achieved by training, or by selecting a type with a natural tendency to veer from the vertical. Check instances of species from the top looking down to detect deviations from the vertical.

To achieve a slant that tilts away from the view, plant or train in the pot so that the roots move forward, near the front of the pot. This can be encouraged by wiring and selective watering that favors the front of the pot. As the trunk slants back the roots will point ahead naturally as the tree tries to maximize its support.

Moyogi, like chokkan, generally have full crowns with branches starting about 1/3 of the way up the trunk. Deciduous species, such as the Japanese maple, or beeches, are well-suited to this style. Fruit trees, such as Pomegranate or Crab Apple may also work well.

All bonsai require a great deal of patience and care over many years in order to achieve health and longevity. However, these two styles are the least difficult to attain and may serve as a good place to start for the beginner.


Popular Landscaping Articles
Curb Appeal | Water Garden | Landscaping Boulders | Lantana Plant | Evergreen Shrub

Backyard Landscaping Tips