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How To Create The Slanting Bonsai Style
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How to Create the Slanting Bonsai Style

The Bonsai slanting style is a popular way of styling a Bonsai tree. It's very similar to the informal upright (or even the formal) and the windswept styles but with a few differences to set this tree apart.

The Bonsai slanting style is great because pretty much any tree can be made in this style. If you're keen to Bonsai a tree in this way then chances are it'll work. And if you've got an ultra-rare thing that will only cascade or grow upside down, then chances are that you know more then enough to Bonsai a plant!

The slanting style (or 'Shakken') is simply a tree that has grown at an angle. The formal upright grows straight up, with no bends or twists in the tree. The Shakken style then simply tips it on the side. You can do the foliage either like a canopy at the top (my favourite) or grow it up the tree the way that seems most natural for your tree type. It's your choice.

You can achieve the slanting effect in a couple of ways. The first method and the one that will achieve the best results for you is to wire the tree until it bends over and continues growing this way. To wire your tree, wrap a piece of wire (thick gauge) around the bottom of the tree to make a circle or loop. The wire then goes up the tree like a barber's pole. Do not bend the tree, just apply the wire. Once you have finished wiring the tree you can then go ahead and bend it over to the angle you want. You may not be able to go all the way over yet without breaking the tree. If this is the case then you will want to only go as far as comfortable.

Check the wire and the state of the tree often to make sure it is doing what it needs to. Once the tree has learnt that you want it in the position that it has found itself, you will be able to remove the wire and go from there.

The second method (and a little easier) is simply to plant the tree at an angle. You will need to trim the roots if they stick out over the top of the edge of the soil. Wiring the tree or adding some weights to the end will help it to learn that it is to be grown at an angle.

When it comes to foliage, it's up to you what you do with it all. Basic wiring techniques here as well as pruning will help to give you the image of the tree that you want.

A slanting Bonsai tree is a unique thing. It's not as crazy as a semi-cascade or as 'standard' as an informal upright, it has its own charm. A slanting Bonsai is a great way to really imitate a large tree that has been uprooted or tipped over somehow.

* image from Flickr user cliff1066™


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