11 Best Bonsai Tree Types for Beginners

11 Best Bonsai Tree Types for Beginners: Choose tree species that are most appropriate for your climate and for this little version of nature’s beauty.Originating in ancient China, bonsai is a popular hobby and art form that has endured over time.

The art of growing, pruning, and caring for trees to symbolize both the natural world and artistic expression is known as bonsai. Growing and taking care of bonsai can be a very fulfilling and soothing hobby, according to Daniel White, proprietor of Black River Bonsai in Sheffield Village, Ohio.

In actuality, “Cultivate Your Calm” is the firm motto. Drawing on his more than 25 years of experience, he offers some guidance on choosing and taking care of trees.

11 Best Bonsai Tree Types for Beginners


11 Best Bonsai Tree Types for Beginners

1. Ficus (Ficus spp.)


  • Fortunately, certain trees grow well indoors. One such tree is the ficus. The Chinese Banyan fig, or F. microcarpa, is one of White’s recommended plants for novice gardeners. It demands high humidity as well as temperatures above 68 degrees Fahrenheit.


  • A particular variety called F. microcarpa ‘Ginseng’ is frequently used in bonsai. Another ficus variety, F. retusa, is prized for its visually captivating trunk when cultivated for bonsai. For the most part of the year, residents in USDA Zones 10 and 11 can keep these ficus bonsai trees outside.


  • Growth constraints have a good effect on ficus trees. Choosing a small container is essential for limiting the size of plants in bonsai. They also overlook neglect in terms of irrigation and other maintenance. Just be sure to place your bonsai ficus in a sunny area.

2. Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum)


  • The Japanese maple, which is prized for its delicate leaves that change color, may be trained to grow into a stunning bonsai tree. USDA Zones 5 to 8 are ideal for outdoor tree growth, and in hotter climates, summertime foliage frequently stays green.
  • Because the species slows down top growth when its roots are restricted, it is great for bonsai and pots. However, the finest species for bonsai are probably dwarf varieties or smaller species, such as Kiyohime maple (zones 6 to 9). The foliage of Crimson Queen resembles ferns and turns a vivid orange-red color in the fall.
  • Even though trees enjoy the sun, too much of it can harm their leaves. When the temperature soars to 85 degrees Fahrenheit, it is better to stay out of the direct sunlight. When a Japanese maple bonsai is growing in the summer, give it regular watering.


3. Chinese Elm (Ulmus parvifolia)


  • White suggests this slow-growing plant to those who are new to bonsai. Chinese elms are robust trees that tolerate occasional care errors like going too long without water or having too much moisture in the soil. They also grow slowly and respond well to trimming.


  • This tree will thrive indoors in a cool environment during the winter, but it may be left outside in most areas during the day and even survive light frost. USDA Zones 5 through 10 are generally where the trees thrive.

4. Juniper (Juniperus spp.)


  • In small, this needle-leaved tree appears quite lovely. Pick a juniper that can be left outside for as much of the year as possible, as they do not thrive indoors. Given that junipers (USDA Zones 4 to 9) can withstand colder temperatures than certain bonsai alternatives, that shouldn’t be too difficult.


  • Johnson suggests juniper for novices who want to start with outdoor bonsai. Juniper should be placed where they may receive at least four hours of sunlight per day.

5. Brazilian Rain Tree (Chloroleucon tortum)

  • This tropical tree is one of White’s favorite bonsai trees. It “is a little more challenging, but I’ve seen many beginners be successful with it,” he adds. The tree has twisted branches and stems, and the wood has a gray hue.


  • This stunning native of Brazil requires lots of sunshine. Therefore, even if it does well indoors, make sure to plant it under grow lights or next to a south-facing window.

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6. Spruce (Picea spp.)


  • Spruce trees are huge evergreen conifers with whorled branches that are effectively controlled with wiring, albeit they are a little more difficult to bonsai. The foliage on the trees is compact. Norway spruce (P. abies), Colorado blue spruce (P. pungens), and Ezo spruce


  • (P. jezoensis) are good choices for bonsai. Long-lived trees with silvery-blue leaf, medium drought resistance, and good cold tolerance are endemic to North America.

7. Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster spp.)


  • The majority of cotoneaster varieties are low-growing evergreen shrubs that tolerate light pruning. Its tiny, glossy green leaves enhance the bonsai aesthetic. Cotoneasters are native to Asia, Europe, and Africa. They are also distinguished by the appearance of little apples-shaped fruits.


  • which follow the bloom of tiny white flowers. C. microphyllus is an additional superb cotoneaster form for bonsai, while C. frigidus has the ability to grow more erectly like a tree.

8. Snow Rose (Serissa japonica or S. foetida)


  • Serissa, also known as Japanese boxthorn, is a small, subtropical shrub that has tiny, single or double white flowers. The snow rose is a visually striking bonsai tree because of its tiny foliage.
  • The shrub, which belongs to the coffee family, can be either semi-evergreen or evergreen. The snow rose needs a lot of light indoors; in fact, the more light it needs indoors, the harder it is to grow outside of USDA Zones 7 through 11.


9. Desert Rose (Adenium obesum)


  • Desert rose is only hardy in USDA Zones 11 and 12, making it less cold tolerant than some of the other plants on this list. It must be brought indoors when temperatures approach 55 degrees Fahrenheit. When indoors, provide it with lots of sunlight to encourage flowering.
  • Usually, adeniums only require watering every seven to ten days; in between, always allow the soil to dry completely. The plant has a high poison severity, thus those with young children, pets, or sensitive skin should be aware of this. If consumed, almost every portion can irritate the skin and result in serious responses.

10. Jade (Crassula ovata or Portulacaria afra)


  • The more widely recognized jade houseplant is Crassula ovata, which comprises about 300 different varieties of succulent plants. Technically speaking, Portulacaria afra—also referred to as dwarf jade or baby jade—is a perennial succulent in the purslane family rather than a jade.
  • Both are great species for beginning bonsai because they grow well inside and don’t require frequent watering. P. afra is a hardy plant that can withstand a few care errors or mishaps with pruning, and it has smaller, meatier leaves.


11. Rosemary (Salvia rosmarinus)

  • Choose a rosemary shrub for your bonsai project and enjoy its aromatic perfume and silvery foliage to create some tasty art. The best part is that you may net herbs for supper when pruning your rosemary bonsai, in addition to helping to preserve the shape of the plant.
  • Because of its susceptibility to root rot, evergreen herbs should be kept in pots with adequate drainage and should not be overwatered. USDA Zones 8 through 10 are normally suitable for rosemary, and when the weather gets close to freezing, the plant must be brought inside.

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