Bonsai Apex Building

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Coniferous Bonsai

This category includes Pines, Junipers, Spruce and similar species that are naturally seen growing in the 'Pine Style' with horizontal branching and clean foliage pads.
Unlike deciduous species that are in the 'Pine Style', the apex should be built with less (primary) branches growing from the trunk itself. One advantage with building the coniferous apex is that the branches are never bare and the structure is never revealed.

bonsai apex

The easiest way to build a coniferous apex is using the 'T-bar branch'.

One or two branches at the very top of the trunk are allowed to grow as a (T) bar-branch. Smaller secondary shoots and foliage is encouraged to grow along the length of the T-bar branch to create a dome of foliage.

bonsai apexbonsai apex

The apex of a coniferous tree should not be built from the wheel-spoke branches that are often seen growing on a pine. An apex built this way will suffer with inverse taper at the top of the trunk and will tend to have a bald patch in the middle of the apex.

A more satisfying and possibly more contemporary approach, is to use a small group of secondary branches near the top of the trunk and 'layer' them into a pad of foliage; each individual branch and the overall foliage pad must be kept lighter than any other branching on the tree. This method of 'layering' the apex of a coniferous tree is very often seen used on deadwood or heavily carved trunks and bonsai that are styled using only one or two primary branches.

bonsai apexbonsai apexbonsai apex

The Shape and Direction of the Apex

The apex should have implied direction that reflects the implied direction of the tree.

The apex has a roughly irregular triangular shape- that is, one side of the rounded apex slopes more gently than the other. The side with the steeper slope is said to indicate the direction that the tree is facing (toward the sun).
This direction is nearly always facing the same direction as the bonsai's first branch. That is; if the first branch faces left then the apex should also face left.

All images in this article by Ninoslav Pirš

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