5 Practical Tips to Improve Your Bonsai Art Skills
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 5 min read


  1. Learn about different bonsai styles
  2. Practice pruning techniques
  3. Invest in quality tools
  4. Understand your tree species
  5. Nurture patience and persistence

If you've ever admired the intricate beauty of a bonsai tree and wondered how to duplicate that artistry in your own backyard, you're in the right place. Getting better at bonsai art is a journey that requires knowledge, practice, and a sprinkling of patience. In this blog, we'll explore five practical tips that will turn you from a bonsai enthusiast into a bonsai artist. Let's dive in, shall we?

1. Learn about different bonsai styles

Just like painting, photography, or any other art form, bonsai art also comes in different styles. Understanding these different styles is the first step towards getting better at bonsai art.

Formal Upright Style (Chokkan)

Chokkan, or the formal upright style, is the most traditional and simple style. Here, the trunk of the tree is straight and upright, similar to a full-sized tree growing in nature. The branches are arranged in a symmetrical pattern, with each branch smaller than the one below it. This style is reminiscent of a tall, majestic tree standing alone in the middle of a serene forest.

Informal Upright Style (Moyogi)

Next up is Moyogi, or the informal upright style. In this style, the trunk is wavy but still maintains an overall upward direction. The branches are arranged in an asymmetrical pattern, giving the tree a more casual, relaxed look. If Chokkan is a symphony, Moyogi is jazz — it's all about individual expression and creativity.

Cascade Style (Kengai)

Finally, we have Kengai, or the cascade style. In this style, the trunk cascades downwards, mimicking a tree growing on a steep cliff. This style is challenging and requires a good understanding of bonsai art techniques. But don't let that scare you! With practice, you can master the cascade style and create a bonsai tree that looks like a mini waterfall of greenery.

Knowing these styles is like having a map for your bonsai journey. Not only do they provide guidance on how to shape your tree, but they also give you creative inspiration for your bonsai art projects. So, keep these styles in mind, experiment with them, and watch as your bonsai skills grow.

2. Practice Pruning Techniques

Pruning, or the art of trimming and shaping your bonsai, is the heart of bonsai art. Your pruning techniques can make or break your bonsai's appearance. So, how can we get better at this important aspect of bonsai art? Let's explore.

Preliminary Pruning

Before you start designing your bonsai masterpiece, you need to do some preliminary pruning. This involves removing dead or unhealthy branches, leaves, or roots. Why is this important? Well, healthy trees make for beautiful bonsai. Plus, this initial pruning gives you a clearer picture of what you're working with, making the shaping process easier.

Structural Pruning

Once you've done the preliminary pruning, you can move on to structural pruning. This is where you start to shape your tree. In structural pruning, you remove branches that don't fit into your design plan. Remember, each cut you make influences your bonsai's shape, so think before you clip.

Refinement Pruning

Finally, we have refinement pruning, which is all about the details. Here, you'll be trimming leaves and twigs to perfect your bonsai's appearance. It's like adding the final touches to a painting. And just like in art, these details can make a big difference in your bonsai.

Remember, pruning is more than just cutting — it's a creative process that shapes your bonsai. So, don't rush it. Take your time, study your tree, and let your creativity guide your cuts. With practice, your pruning skills will improve, bringing you one step closer to mastering the art of bonsai.

3. Invest in Quality Tools

Just like a painter needs a good set of brushes, getting better at bonsai art requires the right set of tools. Investing in quality bonsai equipment is not only a smart move but also a necessary step towards your bonsai art mastery. But which tools should you invest in? Let's find out.

Bonsai Pruning Shears

First on the list is bonsai pruning shears. These are the bread and butter of any bonsai artist. They're used for trimming leaves, branches, and roots. When choosing shears, look for ones that fit comfortably in your hand and have sharp, durable blades. Remember, clean cuts heal faster and look better.

Wire Cutters

Next, you'll need a pair of wire cutters. These are used for wiring your bonsai - a technique used to shape the branches. Wire cutters should be sturdy and sharp enough to cut through bonsai wire without damaging the tree.

Root Rake

A root rake is another essential tool for bonsai art. This tool helps you untangle and prune the roots during repotting. It's important to choose a root rake that's gentle on the roots to prevent damage.

Investing in these tools is a big step towards getting better at bonsai art. Remember, quality tools not only last longer but also make your work easier and more enjoyable. Plus, they help you create healthier, more beautiful bonsai. So, don't skimp on your tools — invest in quality and watch your bonsai art skills flourish.

4. Understand Your Tree Species

When it comes to getting better at bonsai art, understanding your tree species is key. Each tree has its unique needs and traits. For instance, some trees prefer sunlight, while others thrive in the shade. Some require frequent watering, while others prefer drier conditions. Let's dive into some commonly used tree species in bonsai art.


Junipers are a popular choice for bonsai because of their flexibility and resilience. They love full sun and infrequent watering. A tip for beginners: junipers are forgiving trees — even if you make a mistake, they're likely to bounce back.


Maple trees, especially Japanese maples, are known for their vibrant colors. They prefer a little shade and need protection from strong winds. A fun fact about maples: their leaves change color with the seasons, which adds a dynamic element to your bonsai art.


Ficus trees are perfect for indoor bonsai. They can tolerate low-light conditions and inconsistent watering. Another plus for ficus trees: they grow quickly, so you'll see progress in your bonsai art sooner.

By understanding the needs of your tree species, you'll be better equipped to provide the right care. This knowledge will not only help keep your trees healthy but also improve their aesthetic appeal. So, take the time to learn about your tree species — your bonsai art skills will thank you!

5. Nurture Patience and Persistence

The path to getting better at bonsai art is not a sprint; it's a marathon. Patience and persistence are your best friends here. Remember, a bonsai tree is a living work of art that grows and changes with time. Here's how you can nurture these vital qualities on your bonsai journey.


Unlike painting or sculpture, you can't rush a bonsai tree to look a certain way. You have to let nature take its course. Here are a few ways to cultivate patience:

  • Set realistic expectations: Understand that it can take years for a bonsai tree to take the shape you envision. Enjoy the process.
  • Practice mindfulness: Paying close attention to your tree's growth can be a form of meditation. It helps you slow down and appreciate the small changes.


Improving your bonsai art skills will involve some trial and error. What works for one tree might not work for another. Here's how to stay persistent:

  • Keep learning: Even if you face setbacks, continue to educate yourself about different techniques and tree species. Knowledge is power.
  • Try new things: Experiment with different styles, trees, or tools. Each new experience will contribute to your growth as a bonsai artist.

Remember, every bonsai master started as a beginner. With patience and persistence, you too can master the art of bonsai. So, keep learning, keep trying, and most importantly, keep enjoying the process!

If you're passionate about improving your Bonsai art skills and want to expand your artistic horizons, check out Daisie's classes. You'll find a range of workshops and resources, including those focused on various art forms and techniques, to help you grow and develop your skills in the world of art. Don't miss this opportunity to learn from some of the best minds in the arts!