What shape should a BONSAI>BONSAI be? Well any really and there are a number of bonsai styles that emulate trees in real life. The size and style allow bonsai trees to be categorised for show purposes so many will fall into one of the show categories.
What if I am just starting and don't really want to show my bonsai trees (except to friends etc). Well as a rule of thumb many first time bonsai trees are purchased for one of a large chain of stores or maybe even from a flower show and most of them come in one style - informal upright. It is therefore a good idea to follow the style the tree already follows.
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So how do I keep it looking like a BONSAI>BONSAI. Bonsai are supposed to look like real trees in the distance so hold it up at eye level and at arms length, if it looks like a real tree in the distance well you are not doing too badly. The simple way to do that is to remove any new growth that sticks outside of the shape you are trying to achieve (normally a triangle of some sort) and create some space between some of the branch foliage for the birds to fly through (Scottish bonsai joke) just like a real tree.
If you want to increase the size of your wee starter bonsai this is done over a number of years by allowing the foliage mass on each branch to increase by not CUTTING it back so hard and increasing the density of the branch foliage so that it becomes a big FOLIAGE PAD (just like areal tree).
In this time you probably need to repot the tree, apply WIRING to the tree, fertilise and water and if you have got this far well done.
There are loads of resources and information available online to help you with bonsai but the best thing to do is probably go along to a local bonsai club who will be able to give some advice on your particular tree and are always glad of new faces who join our hobby.
There is a list of many of the UK Bonsai Clubs on our A to Z of Bonsai Terms. If you find another one then just add it.