Chokkan is one of the most elegant of the bonsai styles.
image by Public Domain
The chokkan or formal upright style is by far the most basic in the bonsai forms. Being the most basic, it is likely for this style to be done easily and swiftly. That doesn’t mean that the chokkan style doesn’t need technique and artistic creativity. Just follow a few simple guidelines and you will have your own chokkan styled bonsai.
Select a species. Choosing a bonsai species for chokkan style is relatively easy. Some good choices for chokkan are junipers, pines, and spruces. You may also use maples, Japanese cedars, and cypress.
Choose a tree with the proper trunk. The trunk must be perfectly straight with a strong vertical, tapering uniformly from base to tip. Select a tree with spaces between the branches that thin toward the top of the tree.
Prune in a specific pattern. For a Chokkan style tree to have the proper form it must be pruned in a very specific way. Make sure the roots are well spread out at the base.
Prune all the limbs starting from the base until you reach the first branch on the left, then prune until you reach a branch on the backside. If the limb does not extend in an aesthetically pleasing way, which must be relatively straight, then use wire to train the limb.
Follow the pattern. Trim limbs so that limbs only appear in this repeating pattern: First left, then back, then right, and then repeat. Again, If the limbs do not extend in an aesthetically pleasing way, which must be relatively straight, then use wire to train the limbs.
Pick a planter. Selecting a planter is a significant part of the art of bonsai. A Chokkan planter is traditionally square in shape and not too deep. Choosing a ceramic or porcelain planter will give the bonsai a look of elegance and tradition. On the other hand, a stone or wooden planter will give the bonsai a masculine or heavy look.
Plant the tree in bonsai soil. It is important that you select the soil that your tree species requires. Bonsai soil must be used instead of regular potting soil. Traditional potting soil can be too dense.
Train the bonsai. To achieve the vertical and balanced position of trunks that chokkan requires, start pruning from the growing top of the branches.