Bonsai Trees are truly an art form. Simply put, Bonsai trees are trees or plants that are grown in trays or containers and developed in such a way that they are smaller then their free growing counterparts. Techniques such a cutting, pruning, and pinching are used to manipulate the pattern of growth and the result is a magnificent tree that is aesthetically pleasing to the eye. Practiced in China in 200 A.D. the hobby soon spread throughout Asia. Today, Bonsai trees and their beauty fascinate western cultures. It is believed that the art of growing and cultivating Bonsai trees incorporates shin-zen-bi, which stands for truth, goodness and beauty.

Whether you choose to cultivate Bonsai trees for spiritual and meditative purposes, or if you simply admire their beauty and form, growing Bonsai trees is a wonderful experience for everyone.

There are a number of different types of Bonsai trees and various ways to grow and cultivate them. The novice horticulturist as well as the experienced Bonsai enthusiast will find that growing Bonsai trees requires time, patience, and dedication but the rewards are great. Here is a description of the most common types of Bonsai trees.

· Formal Upright

The Formal Upright style is the basic form of Bonsai and the most recommended style for people beginning Bonsai tree care. The Formal Upright will result in a successful Bonsai tree in little time. The Formal Upright style is rounded in nature and produces a tree that has nice balance and form. The lower two branches extend further creating a nice horizontal base for the tree. The remaining branches descend from the top to the bottom extending a little further with each row. Some species that are best grown in this style include Pine, Spruce, Juniper, and Larch.

Informal Upright

This style is very similar to the Formal Upright with one exception. The top branch of the Informal Upright doesn’t extend vertically, as with the Formal Upright, but instead it bends a little bit to the front. The slant gives the tree a look as if it is in motion. Some species that produce great Informal Upright Bonsai trees include: Japanese Maple, Trident Maple, and Beech.

· Slant

The Slant style creates a very unique looking Bonsai tree. In this style, the tree slants in one direction while the lowest branch reaches out in the opposite direction. The goal of creating the type of Bonsai tree is to create a tree that looks balanced but not as if it is lopsided or one that appears as if it will fall over. Most species are suitable to be grown in the Slant style.

· Cascade

This style of Bonsai tree creates a sloping effect. The trunk of the tree is trained to grow vertically, and then turn allowing the branches to extend below the surface of the pot in a cascading effect. It is a good idea to select a species of plant or tree that typically grows close to the ground. This provides better results then trying to force a tree from growing in its vertical form to a cascade. Flowering plants such as Jasmine, Wisteria, and Junipers make great Cascade Bonsais.

· Semi Cascade

Like the Cascade, the Semi Cascade extends over the pot, however the trunk of the plant extends vertically then slopes gradually. Some excellent plant choices include Willow, Jasmine, and Chrysanthemums.

· Windswept

The Windswept Bonsai has a unique look and appears as if the tree has been blown by strong winds.