Slanting, Cascade and Semi-Cascade Styles

The Japanese, more than any other culture, have greatly influenced the modern day hobby of bonsai planting. There are generally five popular types of bonsai styles that are commonly used by bonsai gardeners across the globe. They are the formal upright styles, informal upright styles, slanting styles, cascade and semi-cascade styles.

Although at first glace these styles may seem to be heavily regimented, they are ironically designed to resemble trees in the wild. Each of these tree styles represents the shapes of specific great trees in the wild.

Formal uprights are designed to resemble great coniferous trees. Informal uprights and cascading trees on the other hand resemble the mighty rain trees on riverbanks. In these articles, we are going to discuss some of the more natural bonsai styles that are commonly used.

Slanting Style Bonsai

Slanting California Juniper
Slanting California Juniper by Sage Ross [CC BY-SA 3.0]
The slanting style is one of the easiest bonsai styles to achieve. There are no specifications as to how the branches and leaves should be shaped.

The main criterion for this style is that the trunk of the bonsai should by slanting at an angle, either to the right or to the left (never towards the viewer or towards to back). Unlike the informal upright style, the tip of the plant should grow away from the axis of the base.

If you plan to achieve the slanting style with a particular plant, you should not plant the tree in the middle of the pot. If you plan to make the tree slant to the left, the base of the tree should be on the right side of the pot and vice versa.

Rectangular and oval pots best suit this bonsai style.

Cascade Style Bonsai

Cascade Virginia Creeper
Cascade Virginia Creeper by Sage Ross [CC BY-SA 3.0]
The cascade style is also very popular among bonsai enthusiasts. To achieve this style, you will need to shape the bonsai in such a way that the main trunk grows downwards from the edge of the pot.

As a small sapling, the bonsai is shaped to grow towards the edge of the pot (horizontally) and then grow downward off the edge of the pot (almost vertically), creating an “n” shape. The trunk should grow to a level that is lower than the base of the pot. As the trunk grows almost vertically downwards, all the branches should be pruned and trimmed to grow horizontally, creating multi level platforms.

This style resembles a tree tipping its branches towards a river or a lake in the wild.

Semi-Cascade Style Bonsai

Semi-cascade bonsai styles are very similar to cascade styles except for the fact that the tip of a semi-cascading bonsai does not grow below the base level of the pot. This is a relatively simple style to achieve as the branches are allowed to grow freely to resemble plants growing from cliffs.

Flowering and fruiting plants are well suited for this design.

Semi Cascade Mountain Pine
Semi Cascade Mountain Pine by Sage Ross [CC BY-SA 3.0]

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