On this site, 'types of bonsai trees' means the different plant species used to create bonsai.
Where you live, what kind of space you have and how much time you plan to spend will determine which are the best bonsai for you.
Juniper - is perhaps the most recognized of good bonsai tree types. It was made popular with the public in a movie, and became known as "The Karate Kid" bonsai. The plant itself often has a tree-look and can quickly give the appearance of nature in miniature.
Azalea- One of the most beautiful and well known flowering bonsai, is popular worldwide.
Bamboo bonsai - Not easy, but beautiful.
Buttonwood - There are many types of bonsai trees collected in the tropics. The Conocarpus erectus, native to the Florida Keys, is one of the most popular.
Bougainvillea is one of the best types of sub-tropical bonsai trees to grow for flowers. It is also one of the easier tropicals to grow.
Boxwood bonsai are a broad leaf evergreen shrub with hard wood suited to carving.
Many different varieties make good subjects. The Buxus harlandii has particularly beautiful, textured bark.
Black olive bonsai -
are not created from“black olives”. Scientifically speaking, the dwarf variety is Bucida spinosa. Known for its zig-zag growth pattern.
Brazilian Rain Tree - is a tropical legume native to Brazil. Here's the story of how it got started in the U.S., and some details on this Chloroleucon tortum as bonsai, including the fact it does well indoors.
Chrysanthemum bonsai are not very popular in Western culture and there are good reasons. However, some bonsai artists love them . . . John Capobianco and Dale Cochoy are two of them. See both articles.
The Chinese Elms are a favorite types of bonsai trees for growers everywhere. Beginners especially like them, because they're easy to care for. Many different styles can be created through pruning, with little effort.
Bald Cypress - (Taxodium distichum) bonsai, is especially popular in the southeastern areas of the United States where it is most common in the wild.
- Also called Natal Plum, is a tropical native to Africa. Will do well
indoors with enough light. Blooms are common, some may fruit, when grown outdoors.
Ficus - or figs, as they are also known, are one of the most popular plants used for indoor bonsai.
(There are over 100 varieties.)
They are a favorite for shaping canopy style bonsai throughout tropical areas all over the world.
Fukien Tea - Two varieties are commonly used. Both have glossy leaves, are woody, branch easily, have small leaves and bloom periodically throughout the year. The smaller leaf variety is slow to develop a trunk, but bears tiny red fruit prolifically.
Hornbeam - has many species and quite a few are used to make stunning bonsai. Fall color is just one of the reasons!
Jaboticaba - make graceful, fruiting bonsai trees. Considered a good indoor subject.
Exotic fruit and flowers grow directly on the trunk and heavy branches!
Jade Bonsai - Portulacaria afra is much easier to develop as a good bonsai tree than the “common jade” plant Crassula argentea. It has shorter internodes and much smaller leaves.
It is especially favored by beginners, because It is difficult to kill.
Sea Grape Bonsai - are large leaf plants. At first glance, they may be considered unusual types of bonsai trees. Read more.
Tropical Mimosa bonsai are created from the Leucaena glauca, easily and quickly grown from seed. (This is not the temperate Albizzia.)
Mimosa Albizia - known as the silk tree, pink flowers. Not related to the tropical mimosa.
Tamarind - (A tropical fruit tree)
They tolerate heavy pruning, extensive root manipulation, wiring and even a little neglect.
Bahama Berry - a unique plant from the Bahamas
Olive bonsai - this is the European "real" olive
Pine Tree Bonsai - many to choose from
Powder Puff - one of the best for blooming indoors
Pyracantha - berries can be red, orange or yellow
Water Jasmine (Wrightia) - A heavy blooming tropical
is my free monthly newsletter. Subscribe to get current tips, ideas and photos that may not appear on this site.
Know the basics? Ready for more? Watch these amazing Colin Lewis bonsai class videos.
Craftsy sent me a copy of this class to review. Very impressed, we became an affiliate and receive a small commission on purchases. (Which helps support this site.)