Cascade bonsai style (kengai)

Japanese culture has been growing bonsai for centuries. As time goes on, the culture will become increasingly progressive.

To reconstruct the branches in new ways that would give the plant a marketable appearance, bonsai researchers invented new shapes and techniques. They leave all styles subject to personal practice in order to showcase the originality of the bonsai gardener.

There are a few fundamental bonsai trimming techniques, and one of the most well-known techniques is Cascade Bonsai. To fully understand its cultivation methods, maintenance, and structure, you must first acquire the background knowledge we’ll be providing for you in this article. 

Let us now discuss the main point.


Naturally, the mountains, harsh local places, and climate are where and why the cascade bonsai evolved. Nevertheless, this pruning technique helps to resemble its natural features while reducing its size.

Cascade Bonsai: What is it?

Making a form where the branches are trunked and bent both up and down is the major goal of cascading bonsai trees. As a result, it seemed that the snow was moving toward the sun. Japanese people are accustomed to referring to cascading bonsai as “Kengai Bonsai.”

What Bonsai Species Are Perfect for Cascade Style?

You’ll be shocked to learn that there are more than 50 different species of bonsai trees. And all of these species are grown commercially all over the world. 

However, not all of these more than 50 bonsai species are suitable for Cascade Bonsai. This works best with some of the most popular bonsai trees, which are as follows:

1. Chinese Juniper

The Chinese Juniper is known scientifically as Juniperus chinensis. It is a member of the cypress family (Cupressaceae) and is mostly found in China, Korea, Japan, Myanmar, and certain far eastern regions of Russia. It will be 1 to 20 meters long and add 1 to 2 feet in length each year to acquire its distinctive shape.

2. Japanese Garden Juniper 

Low-growing Japanese Garden Juniper is an evergreen shrub with evergreen leaves that cling to the ground. It will be 4-6 feet wide and 6-12 inches high. When it’s emerald-green, cascading leaves blanket the ground, it has a distinctive and beautiful appearance. But the blue and greenish foliage will turn purple in the winter.

3. Green Mound Juniper

The “Garden Juniper” or “Green Mound Juniper” is a winter-dwelling tree. It resembles a ground-covered tree covered with shrubs. Its length ranges from 8 to 18 inches, although it can also reach 24 inches. However, it expands its leaves and branches up to 10–15 feet wide, parallel to and just above the ground.

4. Japanese White Pine

Pinus parviflora is the scientific name for the Japanese White Pine. The five-needle pine is another name for Ulleungdo white pine. It is a member of the white pine group and is native to Korea and Japan. It can take up to 10 years for this slow-growing bonsai species to reach its maximum size. It will be between 10 and 20 feet wide and between 20 and 40 feet long.

5. Japanese Black Pine

The scientific name for the Japanese Black Pine is “Pinus thunbergii,” and it is commonly referred to as the Japanese pine or pine tree; however, it is also known as “Glomsol” in Korea, “Hēisōng” in China, and “Kuromatsu” in Japan. Its dark green leaves will be 25 feet long and 20 to 30 feet wide. This plant requires sunlight to flourish and can withstand temperatures of 100°F.

6. Needle Juniper

The plant known as needle juniper is widely cultivated in Northern China, Japan, Korea, Mongolia, and Russia. But in recent years, this Cascade Juniper bonsai has also been cultivated in the US. Approximately 10–20 meters will make up its length. 

7. Mountain Pine

Western Europe’s mountainous regions are home to the species of mountain pine. It is a small conifer species known by the scientific name “Pinus uncinata.” If you maintain and care for it properly, it will grow 1-2 feet per year.

8. Scotch Pine

Scotch Pine is the final bonsai species in the cascade technique. Usually, it will be between 40 and 50 feet long and 30 feet wide. In the summer, their needles are 1-2 inches long and blue-green. However, throughout the winter, the leaves will acquire a yellow-green tint.

How Can You Incorporate Cascade Style into Your Bonsai?

It’s not difficult to make a cascade that seems natural, but you must follow a step-by-step procedure to get the desired cascade shape. The full description of the procedure is provided here.

First: Identifying the Branches That Need to Be Trimmed

There are many branches on the tree. Some branches are thick and strong, while others are thin and weak. To get your tree to look cascading, you must first decide which branches need to be pruned.

Second: Cutting Off Any Extra Branches

Grab a pair of bonsai pruning shears and prune all the weak branches. Bonsai experts advise pruning the overly large branches emerging from the trunk. You will have the room needed to wire the sturdy branches as a result.

Third: Wiring the branches

Next, choose a wire that is somewhat thicker than the branches you have chosen to wrap. It will be better to safeguard the branch by wrapping it around 75% of the trunk, starting at the base.

Avoid wrapping the branch too tightly when wiring it, because doing so can degrade the branch’s quality and limit its ability to expand.

Fourth: Raffia wrapping

Raffia can be used to cover the wiring branch and trunk after wiring. The branch will therefore be adaptable enough to move and develop.

Fifth: Bending the Branches

The trunk must now be bent to take on the shape of a cascade. However, you must first visualize how you would like your tree to look before bending it. In place of modern art, you prefer to imitate nature. You need to lower the trunk because of this. The branch is bent downward, then upward. As a result, it takes on the characteristic mountain shape of cascade bonsai.

The cascading bonsai shape is best developed and modified in this manner. To guarantee an outstanding appearance for your tree, follow the procedures for all breaches.

A Few Helpful Pointers

  • In order to maintain healthy growth, you must water and fertilize your bonsai in accordance with its requirements.
  • Try to prune the tree three to four times a year for cascade bonsai.
  • Every two to three years, prune the tree’s roots and repot it in the spring.


Growing trees in confined areas and with intricate shapes and sizes is known as bonsai. For those who love trees, nevertheless, the distinctive aesthetic makes it more vivid. One of them is the cascading bonsai, and mastering this technique is a great way to grow the plant.

However, if you are unfamiliar with the right procedures and methods, you risk doing more harm than good to your plant. Therefore, we advise that you first study the procedure before using it.

We hope that our discussion will be useful to you as you embark on your bonsai journey. You can always visit our blog section if you want to learn more about bonsai.