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15 Best Bonsai Trees for Beginners

15 Best Bonsai Trees for Beginners

Which bonsai tree is best for beginners?

This question is frequently asked by newcomers to bonsai trees.

Well, if you are a beginner, you will be amazed to know that bonsai trees aren’t difficult to grow if you have enough dedication towards your bonsai tree and choose the right bonsai tree and size.

If you’re interested, this article will help you choose bonsai trees for beginners that can survive even if you’re starting from scratch.

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The Success of the Bonsai tree mainly depends on two factors: location and watering. Having said that, there are some bonsai species that are easy to care so let us learn more about such bonsai species in detail,

Best Bonsai Trees for Beginners

1. Juniper

15 Best Bonsai Trees for Beginners
LightBright, sunny light
WaterAllow soil to dry slightly before watering
LocationLocation that receives 4 hours of direct sunlight.
Soilwell-draining, bonsai soil
Temperature can tolerate as low as 10 degrees Fahrenheit 
HumidityHigh level of humidity
Pest and DiseaseMites, scales, aphids (use insecticides or miticide spray) and fungal rust disease.
PruningNew Shoots should be pinched back during spring and summertime
RepottingJuniper bonsai under 10 years of age needs repotting every two years. whereas mature juniper tree needs repotting every three to four years
FertilizerBalanced Liquid Fertilizer
ColorNeedles can be yellow, pale green, or dark green.

Juniper belongs to the conifers category and they are popular for two reasons,

  • Their small foliage fits nicely in a miniature aesthetic of bonsai
  • They can withstand heavy pruning.

Juniper is often recognized as the easiest of all bonsai trees for beginners because they are durable in the sunlight and also versatile. 

The good thing about juniper is that it can be raised in two ways, either outdoor or indoor, the choice is yours!

But it is believed that juniper grows better outdoors.

Another good reason to grow a juniper tree is that the bonsai tree is very forgiving. The plant can be left all alone and neglected. But, the only thing that can kill your juniper bonsai tree is overfeeding and under-feeding.

Just like most bonsai trees, they are in hibernation in the winter months, and sometimes they do not need fertilizer or water in winter.

ProsCons
Easy to grow
Low maintenance 
Pest resistant
Long life span
It can attract some insects and spiders

2. Chinese Elm Bonsai tree

15 Best Bonsai Trees for Beginners
LightLots of Sunlight
WaterWatering is needed to keep the soil moist
LocationSunny place
SoilDecomposed granite, coarse sand, and crushed lava rock.
Temperature A stable temperature of 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit. 
HumidityModerate 
Pest and diseaseSpider mites or scale (use insecticide)
PruningBest time to prune plants are in late autumn.
RepottingYoung plant needs to be repotted every 2 years. The mature plant is repotted after a long interval.
FertilizerOrganic Fertilizer with balanced liquid fertilizer
ColorSmall deep green leaves and attractive trunk(perfect representation of woodland tree)

Next on our list of best bonsai trees for beginners is the Chinese Elm Bonsai tree. This bonsai tree is suited for both indoor and outdoor conditions. 

This slow-growing bonsai is a great pick for beginners since it can tolerate various environments and does not need much care.

You just need to place it under the bright morning sunlight for a few hours and then return it to shade in the afternoon.

Also, its beautiful brown bark that develops fissures as it grows is eye-catching. In addition, its branches have quite elegant and small oval leaves that are fresh green in color. The overall appearance of the Chinese elm bonsai makes it a great stylish home decor.

Thankfully, it does not attract pests except spider mites. Additionally, it is easy to trim and shape Chinese elm bonsai.

ProsCons
Ideal for the bonsai art form 
Affordable price 
Easy to trim and shape
Regularly needs aired outdoor

3. Ginseng Ficus

15 Best Bonsai Trees for Beginners
LightAbundant indirect light
WaterModerate
LocationWarm Location
Soilindoor plant soil mix, well-drained 
Temperature 60 to 75°F (15 to 25°C).
HumidityLoves high humidity 
Pest and diseaseLosing its leaves, leaves turning yellow, spots, sticky white spots.
PruningPrune in spring,  pinch off new growth
Repottingevery 2 years in spring
FertilizerLiquid Fertilizer
ColorDark green leaves, magnificent aerial root

It is an excellent bonsai tree for beginners because it is a very hardy as well as a forgiving plant. It is a broadleaf evergreen tree and has unique-looking aerial roots and oval-shaped green leaves.

The trunk of this ficus bonsai is grey and thick, which gives it a sturdy appearance. The beginners can enjoy watching Ficus ginseng grow since it does not have high maintenance requirements.

Also, you can place this indoor ficus bonsai tree in the office, kitchen table, or window. Safe to say that Ficus ginseng is an ideal choice for beginners because of its ability to thrive in low light conditions.

Moreover, with some bonsai tools, you can do pruning to maintain the shape of the bonsai tree as you desire.

Pros Cons
Easy to wire
Decorative Appearance
Easy to prune
It is an indoor as well as outdoor plant
Deciduous behavior
Does not cope well with brutal temperature 
Often attacked by spider mites

4. Dwarf Jade bonsai plant

15 Best Bonsai Trees for Beginners
LightFull sun
WaterWater Sparsely
LocationIndoors where it can get plenty of natural sunlight.
SoilSucculent potting mix or sandy, gravelly garden soil
Temperature Temperature should not drop below 40 degrees Fahrenheit 
HumidityLow humidity
Pest and Disease Aphids, spider mites, and root rot.
PruningSpring or summer
RepottingEvery other year in spring
FertilizerAny normal fertilizer 
ColorThick green oval-shaped succulent leaves.

The Dwarf jade bonsai is another great choice for beginners who don’t want a tree that requires constant attention and care. The bonsai tree is considered a symbol of good fortune and unity.

It is a preferable choice because of its softwood semi-evergreen shrubs. Dwarf jade looks similar to the common jade variety. But the smaller foliage of dwarf jade makes it an excellent bonsai tree for beginners.

Also, they thrive well without frequent watering, which means you can allow the soil to dry up before adding water to dwarf jade.

This semi-evergreen tree has dark-green leaves that retain moisture for a long time. So even if you forget to water the jade plant, it won’t die immediately.

Also, it produces pink flowers that add a sense of beauty to your place.

The dwarf jade is also called the elephant bush, and they are easy to train and maintain for any beginner. It can grow to a low height which makes it convenient to shape.

ProsCons
Dwarfed size
Affordable price
Minimal watering
Could rot from overwatering

5. Schefflera Bonsai

15 Best Bonsai Trees for Beginners
LightFull-partial sun
WaterRegular
LocationSunny spot
SoilWell-draining, sandy loam soil with a slightly acidic pH 
Temperature 55°F to 75°F 
HumidityHigh
Pest and diseaseFungus gnats, spider mites, aphids, and leaf spot disease
PruningPrune any time when it becomes crowded or scraggly.
RepottingAccording to requirement repotting should be done in spring
FertilizerLiquid Fertilize and in summer use solid organic fertilizer
Colorlong, shiny, oval green leaves that droop gracefully from a central stalk

Schefflera bonsai is also known as Hawaiian Umbrella bonsai. This plant thrives well in indoor conditions without hassle, that’s why it is a great pick for beginners.

You can position Schefflera anywhere around the house, including the kitchen table, window, or on your deck. This bonsai plant is native to subtropical environments and has low maintenance requirements. 

Its umbrella-shaped leaves form a dense green canopy that makes the tree look healthy and elegant. In addition, the prolific root growth has a unique appearance that any eye would appreciate. 

The thin trunk on Schefflera bonsai does not branch out as in other bonsai trees, which makes the Schefflera bonsai an out-of-the-box selection.

ProsCons
Durable Houseplant
Easy to grow
Needs less light
Live longer
Leaf drop
Root rot

6. Cotoneaster

15 Best Bonsai Trees for Beginners
LightPartial sun
WaterModerate 
LocationPlace it in full sun to partial shade
SoilWell-drained
Temperature 35° – 59° degrees Fahrenheit 
HumidityRelatively low humidity
Pest and diseaseAphids, scale, caterpillars, borers, spider mites, fire blight, bacterial blight, powdery mildew, and diverse leaf spot and root rot diseases. 
PruningOlder branches should be pruned in spring and young shoots need continuous trimming during the growing season.
RepottingYoung trees can be repotted yearly in the spring. The older tree can be repotted every 3-4 years.
FertilizerNon-nitrogen fertilizer
ColorGlossy green leaves, white flowers, and red small berries

Cotoneaster has a small dark and glossy green leaves with attractive tiny white flowers. In autumn the plant produces red, yellow, or orange, apple-shaped fruit.

In the growing period, you need to place the plant under full sun. But in the hottest summer cotoneaster needs semi-shade. Also, it requires a lot of water but it can survive a short period of drought.

The good thing about cotoneaster is that trees whose leaves have died due to lack of water can recover and produce new leaves.

There are seventy to three hundred different species of cotoneaster. As Cotoneaster comes in a variety, you can choose to create bonsai plants as per your choice. 

You can try to grow the deciduous variety that sheds the leaves during winter but produces berries during spring. You can also select the evergreen variety that does not shed leaves if you keep it in warmer climates during winter.

ProsCons
Responds well to heavy pruning
Attractive plant
Less watering needed
Root rot

7. Ficus Benjamina

15 Best Bonsai Trees for Beginners
LightPartial sun
WaterFrequent watering
LocationOutside or near the window in a sunny or semi-shaded place. 
SoilMoist, well-drained 
Temperature 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit 
HumidityLow humidity
Pest and diseaseScale, aphids, bacterial leaf spots.
PruningRegular trimming during the growing season and heavy pruning in the spring.
RepottingEvery two years in the spring
FertilizerBalanced liquid fertilizer
ColorGlossy green leaves

This bonsai tree is one of the most popular domesticated species. Also known as benjamin fig or weeping fig.

Ficus Benjamina is a dwarf, subtropical tree, having smooth gray bark, broad leaves, and a canopy of delicate branches.

Beginners are well-suited to Ficus Benjamina mainly because it adapts quickly to changes in its environment.

Their leaves are small and easy to prune, and their roots grow stronger over time. Additionally, their vibrant foliage makes them look like living works of art.

Also, the weeping fig is easy to grow and it tolerates indoor conditions, so it is a good plant for beginners. There are many varieties of the plant and also they vary in the size of their leaves.

The bonsai plant is most suitable for Japanese styles such as formal upright, informal upright, slanting, cascade, semi-cascade, broom, and group planting. Because of the relatively large size of the leaves, the weeping fig should be allowed to grow about twenty inches tall to create pleasing proportions.

ProsCons
Ideal indoor plant
Easy to prune
Beautiful foliage 
Mostly infected by the scale and mites

8. Pomegranate

15 Best Bonsai Trees for Beginners
LightBright direct light
WaterRegular
LocationWarm, sunny areas
SoilDeep loamy soil
Temperature Above 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
HumidityLow humidity
Pest and DiseaseAphids, Citrus Flat Mites, Leaf-Footed Bugs, Leafroller Caterpillars, and  Mealybugs 
PruningTrim new shoots in the growing season
RepottingRepot every 3 to 4 years in late winter.
FertilizerLiquid bonsai fertilizer
ColorGlossy green leaves with orange-red edible fruits.

As a bonsai tree pomegranate is very popular. Pomegranate is a deciduous tree that drops all of its leaves during winter. The attractive feature of the pomegranate is its striking flowers that bear fruit and a trunk with attractive bark.

Its trunk has a natural twist that gives the bonsai tree a gnarled and ancient appearance which is very appreciated in bonsai. You can find many varieties of pomegranates with different colors, shapes, and sizes of flowers and fruit.

The tree is native to the Middle East and Southeast Asia but today the pomegranate tree grows in different countries worldwide.

Pomegranate bonsai can be grown outside year-round in warm temperatures and it can also be grown indoors for part of the year. But they should be protected from freezing temperatures and frost.

 If you are thinking of growing a pomegranate bonsai tree, you have made a wonderful choice!

ProsCons
Attractive bonsai plant
Indoor as well as outdoor plant
Can withstand low-temperature
Fewer water requirements 
Mold may appear during wet months
Root rot

9. Carmona Retusa

15 Best Bonsai Trees for Beginners
LightBright sunny light
WaterRegular
LocationWell-lit location 
SoilWell-drained 
Temperature 70 degrees Fahrenheit 
HumidityHigh humidity 
Pest and diseaseAphids, scale, chlorosis, mealy-bugs, snails red spider mites
PruningThe leaves are naturally small so it is not necessary to prune
RepottingEvery other year in the spring
FertilizerSolid organic fertilizer
ColorSmall dark-green leaves, small white flowers.

The Carmona Retusa is also known as the Fukien Tea. It was named after the province Fukien in Chinese Fujian. These are indigenous to China, Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia, and Australia. But recently these trees have become popular bonsai trees in western countries.

Carmona Plant is popularly cultivated by beginners as a bonsai tree indoors. As it is a fast-growing indoor plant that displays glossy foliage, textured leaves around the smooth and attractive-looking bark.

In the growing season, you can see the plant blooming with snowy blossoms. Moreover, these flowers transform into red-colored berries, which makes growing the Carmona bonsai plant a more rewarding experience.

ProsCons
Easy to prune
Attractive looking bark
Red-colored berries 
Root rot

10. Japanese Maple

15 Best Bonsai Trees for Beginners
LightSunny, partial sun
WaterRequires frequent watering
LocationPlaced where it will receive morning or evening sun 
SoilMoist and well-drained 
Temperature Below 85 degrees Fahrenheit 
HumidityMore humidity for better growth
Pest and diseaseVerticillium wilt and aphids
PruningPruning is recommended during warm months, but not during early spring.
RepottingEvery two years
FertilizerOrganic or liquid bonsai fertilizer
ColorRed or yellow leaves from spring to fall, while some varieties turn red in spring, green in summer then transform into red, yellow, or orange in fall.

Japanese maples are some of the most extravagant trees for bonsai due to their vibrantly colored leaves and ease of care.

In their younger stages, Japanese Maple trees have green or reddish bark that eventually turns light gray or grayish brown. In May and June, the greenish-yellow flowers bloom in clusters. 

Once they are mature, maple seeds resemble paired winged nuts that float like propellers to the ground when they drop. There are numerous varieties of Japanese Maple trees with different leaf colors, shapes, and sizes.

It takes less care and skill to maintain Japanese maple bonsai compared to other bonsai specimens, and they are a great place to start for beginners.

In addition to not requiring too much sunlight, the Japanese maple bonsai is also a shade-tolerant variety. In bonsai training, it lends itself well to the techniques involved in shaping fine, delicate branches

ProsCons
Do not need much sunlight
Popular ornamental plant
Easy to care
Beautiful shade of orange, red, and gold
Direct sun exposure can damage the plant

11. Banyan

15 Best Bonsai Trees for Beginners
LightBright sunlight
Waterregular watering
LocationPlace it in a south-facing window in order to get 4-6 hours of direct sun
Soilgood mix of peat, perlite, and vermiculite
Temperature 67-80 degrees Fahrenheit 
HumidityEnjoys extra humidity
Pest and diseasescale, Fruit caterpillar, weevil borer, leaf spots, yellowing of lower or older leaves
PruningRegular pruning
Repottingevery three years, ideally in spring
FertilizerOrganic liquid fertilizer or a chemical fertilizer diluted to one-half strength.
ColorLong green leaves, greenish-yellow fruit

Banyan Bonsai is also known as the common Fig and Chinese Banyan. There are hundreds of species and most of them are tropical and evergreen, some are deciduous too. Also, many varieties are naturally dwarfed.

Banyan bonsai is popularly grown as indoor bonsai. It is an excellent tree for beginners as they tolerate the low light and humidity of the heated or air-conditioned house. 

A distinctive feature of these trees is that they develop aerial roots. Often, they are trained to grow over rocks, and as they grow older, aerial roots may hang down from the branches, which gives the tree a unique appearance.

Generally, these trees require a great deal of moisture, but established trees are drought tolerant. Both sun and partial shade are good for them. It is best to grow banyan trees in warmer climates since they are easily damaged by frost.

ProsCons
Hardy plants and adapts to various climatic conditions.
Attractive aerial roots.
Fast-growing plants.
A sudden draft of cold air or sudden exposure to bright sunlight can cause the dropping of leaves.
Attacked by Scale mostly. 

12. Adenium

15 Best Bonsai Trees for Beginners
LightSunny, partial sun
WaterRegular
LocationSunny southern windowsill
SoilWell-drained mix
Temperature Nighttime temperatures should not dip below 40° degrees Fahrenheit 
HumidityKeep consistently moderate humidity level.
Pest and DiseaseSpider mites, mealybugs, aphids
PruningPinch, and trim all year round. The best time to prune is in early spring
RepottingEvery two years
FertilizerLiquid fertilizer (slow-release fertilizer and bone meal for extra phosphorus are recommended)
ColorPink, white, red, or black trumpet-shaped flowers with thick, glossy leaves and a bulbous base.

Adenium bonsai is also known as Desert Rose.

This pretty bonsai plant is a small, hardy, and easy to grow succulent tree which makes it a perfect choice for beginners. Also, due to its appearance, the Adenium is a popular ornamental plant.

The Adenium bonsai plant can reach up to the height of 3-5 feet tall with lovely pink, white, red, or black trumpet-shaped flowers (sometimes fragrant) and glossy leaves along with a bulbous base.

Another reason to grow Adenium is that it is a fast-growing plant as well as grows well in a small container.

ProsCons
Pretty bonsai plant
Fast-growing 
Tolerate dryness
Poor Adenium plant attracts mealybugs, spider mites, and aphids
Root rot

13. Rosemary

15 Best Bonsai Trees for Beginners
LightFull Sun
WaterFrequent watering 
LocationPlace in an area that receives full sunlight at least for 6 hours.
SoilSandy, well-draining soil
Temperature Above 30 degrees Fahrenheit 
HumidityModerate humidity level
Pest and diseaseAphids, spittlebug, mealybugs, scale, root rot.
PruningYou can do light pruning at any time of the year.
RepottingAt least once a year in the spring
FertilizerHigh phosphorus fertilizer or organic fertilizer
ColorGreen leaves with blue or lavender flowers

Consider choosing a rosemary plant for your bonsai hobby to make edible art. 

And best of all, when you prune your rosemary bonsai, you will not only maintain its shape but also harvest herbs for dinner. 

For rosemary plants to thrive, they need frequent watering, but they’re susceptible to root rot, so make sure you plant them in pots that have adequate drainage.

To keep the plant at its miniature size, remove new growth after its first set of leaves. You can prevent a plant from outgrowing its pot by trimming the roots by at least 25 percent. As long as the branches are young and supple enough, they can be shaped using the wiring.

Another reason to choose rosemary as your tiny “tree” is that you can quickly start it from seed. You can grow this herb in containers and bring it in before the first frost.

ProsCons
Produces lovely, aromatic blue flowers.
Easy to cultivate. 
Medicinal properties.
Can be shaped into a nice-looking bonsai tree within one year. 
Root rot
A lack of adequate sunlight can lead to a Rosemary Bonsai contracting a white, powdery fungus, and spider mites, aphids.

14. Norfolk Island Pine

15 Best Bonsai Trees for Beginners
LightDirect Bright light
WaterMore water in summer and less in winter
LocationSunny, south-facing windowsill in a warm room. 
SoilPeaty, sandy potting mix that is slightly acidic
Temperature 50 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit 
HumidityHigh 
Pest and diseaseMealybugs, scale insects and fungal disease
PruningThe new buds should be pruned in the spring
RepottingEvery 2-3 years in the spring
FertilizerWater-soluble balanced fertilizer
ColorInward-curving green needles (leaves)

Norfolk Island pine is native only to Norfolk Island, located in the South Pacific Ocean between Australia and New Zealand. However, Norfolk Island pine is a very popular houseplant around the world despite its obscure origins. 

Because Norfolk Island pine is a semi-tropical species, it grows best at temperatures over 50 degrees F and in full sunlight. You should place your bonsai tree on a sunny, south-facing windowsill in a warm room. 

Despite its natural height reaching up to 200 feet, the Norfolk Island pine grows at a slow rate of 3 to 6 inches per year.

It boasts a captivating scent, like those of a Christmas tree, and is suitable for a wide variety of styles.

 Norfolk Pine trees are not pine trees, but they do require some sunlight each day to sustain themselves. 

Unlike most Bonsai types, Norfolk Island Bonsais prefer soil that is almost dry, but not quite arid. As a result, they need more water in summer and less in winter.

Beginner bonsai gardeners can easily keep up with the necessary trimming and repotting to keep this tree in miniature.

ProsCons
Capable of growing both indoors and outdoors. 
Drought-tolerant plant.
Very fast growers.
When it is faced with frost, the plant turns yellow and dies.
Develops a fungal disease from overwatering, such as anthracnose. 

15. Common Boxwood Bonsai

15 Best Bonsai Trees for Beginners
LightFull sun or shade
WaterRegular
Locationoutside in a sunny or semi-shaded place
SoilSandy, loamy soil
Temperature Around 50 degrees Fahrenheit
HumidityRelatively high humidity
Pest and diseaseScale, boxwood mite, and fungal disease
PruningTolerate heavy pruning. Pruning should be done in mid-spring
RepottingWhen the plant is young repot it every two years, when the plant gets mature repot it every three-four years.
FertilizerSolid organic fertilizer every month or a liquid fertilizer every week during the growing season
ColorGreen leaves, greenish-yellow flowers, and pale wood color trunk

It is one of the most common European trees used for landscaping. Common Boxwoods are favored as bonsai trees for their naturally curling trunks and ability to grow rapidly.

The common boxwood bonsai has a pale wood color trunk and is great for creating bonsai shapes. It is easy to train them when wiring is done while the bark is soft.

Also, Common Boxwood bonsai grow small leaf clusters and they can be trained to cover the tree like a pom-pom. Moreover, they thrive well in a lot of water, making it a great choice for those who overwater their plants and are ideal bonsai plants for beginners who are excited to learn about shaping the bonsai.

 If you decide to give these trees a new home, please ensure there are at least 2-3 years between new pots! You can encourage their growth by re-potting them frequently.

ProsCons
Drought tolerant plants
Tolerate constant trimming very well
Long life span
Not frost-hardy plants

FAQ

1. Which is the easiest bonsai tree to take care of?

Ficus bonsai is the most common and the easiest bonsai to take care of. Other plant includes Carmona bonsai, dwarf jade, and Schefflera bonsai.

2. What temperature is too cold for bonsai?

Most tropical bonsai plant does not tolerate temperature below 40-45 degree Fahrenheit. During such time, it is ideal to place your bonsai tree inside.

3. How do I keep my Bonsai tree warm?

A greenhouse is the best place to store them. A bonsai tree’s roots can only remain warm if it receives light and is in a warm environment.

4. When can I place my bonsai Outside?

Throughout spring, summer, and fall you can place your bonsai outside.

5. Why does my bonsai have brown leaves?

The bonsai tree needs proper nutrients to grow. The lack of nutrients such as iron, magnesium, and nitrogen may turn the leaves brown.

6. How do I know when my bonsai tree needs repotting?

The key indicator is to look at the roots, if the roots are pot-bounded then repotting is needed.

7. How do I know if I am overwatering my bonsai tree?

Yellowing of leaves and shriveling of small branches are the symptoms of overwatering.

Conclusion

In the beginning growing bonsai might look like a challenge but with growing and learning experience you will fall in love with your bonsai tree. Also, the bonsai tree may become older but it will still look young and beautiful with the proper care.

The beauty of bonsai plants is that once you grow them, they will be with you for years. Some bonsai even last for 15 to 30 years. And under the right conditions, they can outlive you!

So, Which bonsai tree are you planning to grow? Let me know in the comment section.

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