How many types of bonsai are there?

Although at first glance it may seem like just a small tree, nothing is further from the truth. Those who love these plants know that their cultivation involves a true art. And, for that very reason, distinguishing between the different types of bonsai that exist means discovering the magnitude of this gardening technique. Because, as much as we create it, a bonsai is not just a small tree in a tray. Bonsai hides behind it a philosophy based on passion for nature but also on its respect.

The different types of bonsai respond precisely to this consideration towards its growth. Because, according to oriental techniques, part of the success of indoor or outdoor bonsai care is to let them grow with a certain freedom. Because, as much as we can largely guide its shape thanks to how to prune a bonsai or how to wire it, the truth is that we cannot impose our will on its growth. If he did, it is more than likely that his well-being would suffer. And that is precisely what we do not want.

So let’s discover the types of bonsai that exist. A way to enjoy, even more, a plant that falls in love with those who dedicate themselves to its cultivation.


The first thing to know when talking about the types of bonsai that exist is that there are several ways to catalog it. We are talking about a gardening technique with centuries of tradition and that, in addition, has an important symbology. Although the names are unpronounceable for us, it is worth discovering what is hidden behind the names of the different types of bonsai. Names that, translated from Japanese, mean things as unique as intuition, serpentine or a woman’s seat.

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But let’s see in detail the types of bonsai that exist according to their classification. One that is not done from a single point of view, and that can make our plant have different names.

A. Types of bonsai according to their size

It is the most basic classification of the different types of bonsai. The height of the plant causes it to be named in one way or another.

1. Shito, the smallest of the bonsai types

Denomination for bonsai that measure less than five centimeters in height. They are the smallest bonsai that exist, and they are not common. They are usually planted with seeds in small containers, and usually do not have more than two branches.

2. Mame, another of the less common bonsai

For those bonsai that do not exceed 15 centimeters in height. The translation of its name says it all: it means «that fits in the palm of the hand».

3. Shohin, the perfect bonsai for beginners

One of the most common types of bonsai. They range between 15 and 25 centimeters in height. Due to the simplicity of their cultivation, they are usually recommended for initiation in the cultivation of bonsai.

4. Komono, one of the most common types of bonsai

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Another of the most common types of bonsai. Its size ranges between 21 and 30 centimeters.

5. Chumono, the bonsai for collectors

Only suitable for those who already have ease in the cultivation of bonsai. We are talking about one of the largest bonsai: they range between 30 and 60 centimeters. Dimensions resulting from many years of cultivation that mean that, for the most part, these types of bonsai can only be seen in collections of lovers of these plants.

6. Omono, the king of bonsai

Its size leaves no one indifferent. And we are referring to a bonsai that ranges between 60 and 120 centimeters. Usually, they are used to decorate gardens or patios.

B. Types of bonsai according to their shape

Another of the most important classifications in the world of bonsai. In fact, it is the nomenclature that is most used among experts in these plants. The shape of the trunk, its inclination and the crown are what define each of these bonsai.

1. Chokkan, one of the most popular types of bonsai

They are characterized by a straight trunk, which tapers from the base to the upper branches.

2. Moyogi, the informal upright bonsai

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That is literally its translation. The main characteristic of this type of bonsai is that, like the Chokkan, they are vertical but they have an important difference. Instead of a straight trunk, his figure is sinuous and curved.

3. Shakan, the leaning tree

This name is given to all bonsai that have been cultivated giving them an inclination below 45 degrees. They usually have on the opposite side with a good number of visible roots. Finally, another significant detail is that they usually have a triangular cup.

4. Kengai, the waterfall bonsai

His name says it all. It is probably one of the most spectacular types of bonsai. It is characterized in that the apex of the tree is below the height of the pot.

5. Fikinagashi, one of the most poetic bonsai

The translation says it all: windswept tree. These types of bonsai are intended to emulate trees that live in windy areas. Its main characteristic is that both the trunk and the branches are inclined.

6. Literati, the Chinese style of bonsai

Its shape pays homage to oriental calligraphy, representing it with the arrangement of its branches and trunk. Its characteristics: it hardly has branches, and the trunk is slender.

7. Yose-ue, a bonsai forest

One of the most striking types of bonsai due to its structure and shape. Find out what it’s like

One of the most beautiful types of bonsai. Not only do they have several specimens planted in the same container. In addition, it is essential that they are odd and that the set has a triangular appearance.

Do you have any of these types of bonsai at home? Tell us which one you like the most!

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