How To Make A Semi Cascading Bonsai

How To Make A Semi Cascading Bonsai

Have you ever thought of making a semi cascading bonsai but felt intimidated? That’s normal. Bonsai trees are quite intimidating because of how big and strong they grow. Planting and maintaining bonsai requires skill and patience.

It takes years for bonsai trees to grow and even longer if you’re making a semi cascading bonsai. However, growing and manipulating a bonsai into your desired shape isn’t impossible. 

In that case, this is how to make a semi cascading bonsai: First, trim your bonsai, then cover the bonsai with a forming wire, and bend the bonsai trunk. It’ll take 5 years to make a semi cascading bonsai. Semi cascading bonsai prefers a sandy-loam mixture of soil. 

For a detailed explanation, read on. 

Also CHeck: Is My Bonsai Dead?

How To Make A Semi Cascading Bonsai 

You make a semi cascading bonsai through trimming, form wiring, wrapping with raffia, then gauge wiring. 

Here’s exactly how to go about it:

  • Trim the Bonsai: Creating a semi cascading bonsai is simple because the trees normally grow with a falling shape. However, to get the right semi cascading shape, start by trimming the leaves and branches. Also, it’s better to trim the underbranches more than the top to open up the bonsai and get the falling look. 
  • Add Form Wires: After trimming your lower branches, surround the bonsai trunk with form wires. Form wires aren’t your typical barbed wires. They’re specially designed to grip tree branch clusters and create a specific shape. Also, form wires hold up weak branches after trimming. While wrapping, start with the base of the bonsai and wrap 75% of the lower trunk. 
  • Consider Adding Raffia: Stick to the first two steps if you’re making a small semi cascading bonsai. However, for large semi cascading bonsai trees, add raffia to keep the wire from moving. Although form wires are typically sturdy, adding raffia at the base of the bonsai tree increases stability. Raffia covering on form wire also adds to the aesthetic appeal of semi cascading bonsai. 
  • Bend the Bonsai Trunk: Once you’ve trimmed the branches and wrapped the bonsai with form wires, it’s time to bend the trunk. Bonsai are remarkably strong trees, so you might need to use a lot of strength to bend the trunk. While at it, take care not to break the tree. Grab the base of your tree and bend it towards the direction you want to make your semi cascading bonsai to face. You’ll have to do this a few times a day until the bonsai cascades in your desired direction. This step only works if your bonsai is still young. 
  • Add Gauge Wires: Gauge wires cover the branches and further manipulate the shape of the bonsai tree, creating a semi cascading shape. However, be careful not to wrap too tightly. Tight wrapping breaks the bonsai branches. Also, wrap your trimmed branches with gauge wires facing the direction you wish to cascade. Repeat the steps yearly to make a semi cascading bonsai. Once the bonsai takes form, remove the gauge wires first and monitor for a few weeks before removing the rest of the support wires. 

How Do You Keep a Semi Cascading in Good Condition?

You keep your semi cascading bonsai in good condition through trimming. You’ll need to trim the bonsai in the direction you wish to cascade. While trimming, ensure the outgrowing upper branches don’t overshadow the lower branches. Also, changing the container of your bonsai at every growth stage adds support to the trunk as it grows. 

Moreover, change your form wires consistently to suit the size of your semi cascading bonsai to prevent unnecessary breaking. 

Also, note that nutrient transmission slows since semi cascading bonsai branches grow away from the root system. Therefore, frequently add foliage and water to ensure your bonsai doesn’t die.

What Are The Rules For Making a Semi Cascading Bonsai?

There’s no set rule for making a semi cascading bonsai. However, with these guidelines, the process is simpler. 

  1. Ensure your bonsai trunk bends at least 45° towards the ground: 45° is preferred because it doesn’t impede nutrient flow. However, the number changes depending on your bonsai form. Therefore, don’t bend your bonsai too much towards the ground if it has many branches. The weight of your cascading branches may break the bonsai over time. 
  2. Use a heavy set container: Use a strong, tall container when making a semi cascading bonsai. Since the trunk is expected to bend heavily towards one side, tall containers provide additional support, preventing breaking. 
  3. Pick the right bonsai specie: Although professionals can make any bonsai tree grow into a semi cascading shape, it’s simpler if you pick easily manipulated species. Bonsais are sturdy trees, but some are easier to deal with than others. Preferred species include:
  1. Japanese white pine
  2. Chinese juniper
  3. Mountain pine, and 
  4. Green mound juniper 
  5. Pick the appropriate line cascade: Line cascade means the form you want your bonsai to fall. Single line semi cascading bonsai means the shape begins from the trunk, while a double line cascade means the shape begins from a specific branch. Also, choose the portion of the tree you want to bend before making your semi cascading bonsai. Double cascading bonsai are easier to manage because the trunk grows securely in one direction. 

What Kind of Soil Does Semi Cascading Bonsai Need?

Semi cascading bonsai needs a sandy-loam type of soil. Although it’s possible to grow bonsai trees in regular soil, sandy-loam soil has better water retention capacity and more nutrients. Choosing soils with more nutrients ensures the semi cascading bonsai is well supplied even as the branches grow away from the root system. 

 Also, mixed texture soil provides a better grip for the roots. A good drip is necessary to prevent breaking while trimming and replanting bonsai to make it semi cascading. 


What Is A Semi Cascading Bonsai?

A semi cascading bonsai is a form of bonsai tree manipulated into taking a falling shape. Usually, people bend bonsais to face water or other natural elements to increase the appeal of the tree. 

Although you can bend most bonsai into a semi cascading shape, the most preferred specie include the Japanese white pine and Chinese juniper. 

How Are The Cascade And Semi Cascading Bonsai Similar?

Both the cascade and semi-cascading bonsai involve bending of the bonsai trunk. However, the semi cascading bonsai trunk grows upright up to a certain distance before it begins to bend towards the desired direction. 

How Many Types Of Semi Cascading Bonsai Are There?

Semi cascading bonsai come in 15 different types. The cascading direction of the trunk and branch differentiates the bonsais. Some of the most common include Informal upright semi cascading bonsai, whose trunk remains upright throughout the growth but has cascading branches. 

Another type is the Slanting semi cascading bonsai, whose trunk bends from the stump up. 

The Han-Kengai semi cascading bonsai is the most common. It grows upright for a small distance and then bends towards a preferred direction. 

Is It Hard to Start Making a Semi Cascading Bonsai?

No, making a semi cascading bonsai isn’t hard. However, you’ll need to pick an easily manageable specie of bonsai species and the right container to start.

If you’re a complete beginner, check out the species list above and pick one available at your tree nursery store. 

How Long Does It Take to Make a Semi Cascading Bonsai?

It takes 5 to 10 years to get the perfect semi cascading bonsai. The time is long because bonsai have strong trunks that don’t bend easily. While making your semi cascading bonsai, natural elements like wind and sun also factor in.

Therefore, bend your bonsai towards these elements to hasten the process. 

Additionally, trim and shape your bonsai often to help keep the semi cascading shape. 

Which Container is Best for a Semi Cascading Bonsai?

A deep pot with a square or hexagonal shape is the best container for a semi cascading bonsai. Using an oval or rectangular-shaped pot makes the bonsai grow upright and narrow instead of semi cascading.

Also, when picking, focus more on the length of the container. Since semi cascading bonsai bend to one side, long containers provide more support to the trunk. 

Additionally, take note of the material of your pot. Clay pots are best because they’re easy to break as you replant semi cascading bonsai.

How Do I Make a Multi Trunk Semi Cascading Bonsai?

Cut the lower branches to create new growth from the roots to make a multi-trunk semi cascading bonsai. Small lower branches suck the nutrients needed to create new trunks. After trimming, add foliage to the soil and dig out the roots. 

New foliage allows the roots to start new growth, creating twin trunks. Then, wrap the new growing trunk with form wire creating support for the stump until maturity. After that, follow the steps mentioned above to make a multi-trunk semi cascading bonsai.


I’m sure you’ve now learned how to make a semi cascading bonsai. Although several factors make the process a success, the soil and bonsai species chosen are the most important. 

Growing a semi cascading bonsai takes a long time, and it would be a shame trimming bonsai that doesn’t easily cascade. The Japanese white pine is the simplest specie to make a semi cascading bonsai. Why? Because It grows on regular soil and bends easily compared to other bonsai trees.