Bonsai styling

Styling and shaping Bonsai trees

A common misconception is that the plants used for Bonsai are genetically 'dwarfed' plants. Bonsai trees are normal plants, propagated like any other, but trained using sophisticated techniques to keep them small. The styling of bonsai trees includes basics like regular pruning and wiring, but also more advanced styling techniques such as creating deadwood.

This part of the website will provide you with detailed information about the Bonsai training and styling techniques. Use the menu on your right to navigate through the training pages, or check out some basics below.



Bonsai styling and training basics

A wide range of techniques have been developed that help to create and maintain a Bonsai tree’s miniature size and shape. Most important are pruning and wiring, which will be discussed below.


Bonsai styling by pruning

An occasional thorough styling as well as regular maintenance pruning is essential to create and maintain a miniature tree. When shaping a tree, deciding on which branches fit the design and which ones need to be removed can be very tricky. Take the tree’s basic shape as given (do not try to make overly radical changes) and decide what should be the tree’s front. From this position on start thinking about which branches need to be pruned in order to improve the tree’s overall design. After having styled the tree, regular pruning is crucial in forcing the tree to grow a dense foliage and branch structure, while remaining its shape.


Bonsai training by wiring

Like pruning, wiring is an essential technique to style Bonsai trees. By wrapping copper-wire around the tree’s branches you are able to set the shape and angle of the branches. When wiring a tree, start with its main branches. Thick branches need thick wiring; as a rule of thumb use wire of about 1/3 to 1/4 the thickness of the branch. Try to wire two branches of equal thickness with one piece of wire. It is important to maintain an edge of about 45° when wrapping wire around the branches, providing some room for growth.


Other Bonsai styling techniques

Many other Bonsai styling methods have been developed, including defoliation, creating deadwood and planting rock formations.