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 in miniature size.

Styling a Bonsai video

Styling and shaping a Bonsai tree

The styling of Bonsai trees includes basic methods like regular pruning and wiring, but also more advanced techniques including the creation of deadwood. We apply these techniques to promote growth, manipulate our trees into the shape we desire, and to achieve natural and realistic results.

These topics are also discussed in our online Bonsai Courses, created with expert teachers.

Pruning Bonsai

Without a doubt, the most important way to train a Bonsai is to prune it regularly. There are two different techniques: Maintenance-pruning, to maintain and refine the existing shape of a Bonsai, and structural-pruning, which involves more rigorous pruning to give a tree its basic shape or style.

Wiring Bonsai

Wiring is a very important technique used to train and style Bonsai trees. By wrapping wire around the branches of a tree you can bend and reposition the branches to your liking. It takes a few months before the branches are set in their new position(s). Remove the wire once the branches have set.

Advanced Bonsai styling


Bonsai defoliation involves cutting all the leaves of a tree during the summer. In doing so you force the tree to grow new leaves, leading to a reduction in the size of leaves and an increase in ramification.


Creating deadwood on Bonsai, in the form of Jin or Shari, can enhance the tree's character significantly. A "Jin" is a bare-stripped part of branch and a "Shari" is a barkless part of trunk.

Surface roots (Nebari)

In Japanese: Nebari - A very important aspect of a Bonsai is its Nebari (or: root-flare), the surface roots that provide visual balance to a tree. Creating a Nebari can be done using two methods; by regularly pruning the downward growing roots or by applying a propagation technique; air layering. Both methods will be described in detail below.

Bonsai trunk

The trunk of a Bonsai deserves specific attention, as it is one of the most eye-catching features of a tree. The following features will be discussed: The Nebari, tapering, thickness and overall shape of the trunk.

Bonsai forest

In Japanese: Yose-ue - Although Bonsai are often planted solitary, trees in nature are more commonly found in groups. Creating a Bonsai forest (or group planting) requires an odd number of trees (that is, in case only a few trees are used, to provide asymmetry), usually belonging to the same botanical family.

Bonsai rock planting

In Japanese: Seki-joju / Ishisuki - The sight of trees growing in or on rocks can be quite dramatic, as these trees have to struggle to find nutrients in a harsh environment. With Bonsai this kind of landscapes can be imitated, often using coniferous tree species. This guide will describe in detail how to create a rock planting.

Advanced wiring techniques

Using wire, both aluminum and copper, for Bonsai art design is a relatively recent practice, dating from the 20th century.

Grafting trees

In Japanese: “Tsugiki” - By grafting you fuse a graft (a shoot, branch or root) to a tree (also called the stump or rootstock). This technique can be used to propagate new trees, or add branches to a Bonsai.

Moss for Bonsai

Besides a pot, there are several attributes that are important to enhance the visual display of a Bonsai tree. Covering the surface of the soil with moss is one of these, a practice very common especially when displaying Bonsai trees at exhibitions.

Master the art of Bonsai

Master the art of Bonsai
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Master the art of Bonsai

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