The formal upright style is a very common form of Bonsai. This style occurs often in nature, especially when the tree is exposed to lots of light and does not face the problem of competing trees.


For this style, tapering of the upright-growing trunk must be clearly visible. The trunk must therefore be thicker at the bottom and must grow increasingly thinner with the height. At about 1/4 of the total length of the trunk, branching should begin. The top of the tree should be formed by a single branch; the trunk should not span the entire height of the tree.  Branches are developed with a slight downward slope, with the first main branch trained to either the right or left forward quadrant.


Species: larch, junipers, pines, spruces



The informal upright style is common in both nature and in the art of Bonsai.


The trunk grows upright roughly in the shape of a letter ‘S’ and at every turn branching occurs. Tapering of the trunk must be clearly visible, with the base of the trunk thicker than the higher portions.  You would want to view the curve of the trunk from the front.


The largest number of bonsai forms imitated with the chrysanthemum fall within the informal upright classification.


Species: Suitable for most species.


As a result of the wind blowing in one dominant direction or when a tree is in the shadow and must bend toward the sun, the tree will lean in one direction.


With Bonsai, the leaning style should grow at an angle of about 60 - 80 degrees relative to the ground. The roots are well developed on one side to keep the tree standing. On the side toward which the tree is leaning, the roots are clearly not as well developed. The first branch grows opposite the direction of the tree, in order to balance it. The trunk can be slightly bent or completely straight, but still be thicker at the bottom than at the top. Placed off center in the pot.


Species:  Suitable for most species.


A tree living in the nature on a steep cliff can bend downward as a result of several factors, like snow or falling rocks.


These factors cause the tree to grow downward. With Bonsai it can be difficult to maintain a downward-growing tree because the direction of growth opposes the tree’s natural tendency to grow upright.

Cascade Bonsai are planted in tall pots. The tree should grow upright for a small distance but then bend downward. The crown of the tree usually grows above the rim of the pot, but the subsequent branches alternate left and right on the outermost curves of the S-shaped trunk. These branchings should grow out horizontally in order to maintain the balance of the tree.


Species:  Many species are suited for this style.  Exceptions are those that have forcefully upright growth like the Ginkgo.



The trunk grows upright for a small distance and then bends downward. Unlike the cascade style, the semi-cascade trunk will never grow below the bottom of the pot. The crown is usually above the rim of the pot while subsequent branching occurs below the rim.


SOME IMAGES FROM:  http://www.bonsaiempire.com