"Types of bonsai trees" on this site means the different plant species used to create these small trees.
Many are listed at the bottom of this page.
Where you live, what kind of space you have and how much time you plan to spend on your tree(s) will determine which are the best bonsai for you.
Some plants are considered to be "classics".
Occasionally, "new" types of bonsai trees are introduced. Often they are trees we just never thought of trying.
This Neea buxifolia from Puerto Rico is an excellent "new" subject.
In a few short years it became a favorite in Florida and the Caribbean.
Christian Casellas won an award for this early specimen in 2007.
The word spread.
In 2012 Mike Sullivan won Bonsai Societies of Florida 'Best of Show' with his Neea.
Photo by B. Hulnick
If you live in a temperate climate, you may have difficulty with
tropicals. (Tropical and subtropical plants are the best for indoor
growing). See more about how to grow types of
bonsai trees indoors.
In climates with cold winters, tropical plants need a place indoors or if you have many, you may need a greenhouse during the cold season.
If you live in the tropics, you will find some northern species difficult, if not impossible to grow. (And the other way around too.)
Over the years, all kinds of plants have been experimented with as bonsai in different climates. Ask around before you waste your time and money on plants that won't work for you.
Bonsai tree types vary from zone to zone.
There is no way to list all the many types of bonsai trees, so, I will begin with some of the most popular:
Juniper - is perhaps the most recognized of 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.
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.
is one of the best types of bonsai trees to grow for flowers. It
is also one of the easier tropicals to grow.
Black olive bonsai - are not created from“black olives”. Scientifically speaking, the dwarf variety is Bucida spinosa.
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 styling 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.
Chrysanthemum bonsai are not very popular in Western culture and there are reasons. However, some bonsai artists love them ... John Capobianco and Dale Cochoy are two of them. See their articles.
The Chinese elm is a favorite of growers everywhere. Beginners especially like it, because it's so 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.
Jade Bonsai - Portulacaria afra is much easier to develop as a bonsai tree than the “common jade” plant Crassula argentea. It has shorter internodes and much smaller leaves.
Jaboticaba bonsai - make graceful, fruiting bonsai trees. Exotic fruit and flowers grow directly on the trunk and heavy branches!
Podocarpus bonsai trees are tropical conifers. At first glance, they may not look like other conifers, such as juniper. However, they require very similar care. They are also known as Buddhist Pine.
Serissa Bonsai - as much as I appreciate Serissa as a bonsai, I have never been able to grow them. I recently found out why! If you've had problems too, the Serissa page should help.
Schefflera arboricola - is a favorite tropical for indoor bonsai tree types.
It is especially favored by beginners because It is one of the most difficult to kill.
bonsai are created from the Leucaena glauca, easily and quickly grown from seed. (This is not the temperate Albizzia, known as the silk tree.)
Tamarind Bonsai trees are very sturdy tropicals. They tolerate heavy pruning, extensive root manipulation, wiring and even a little neglect.
Sea Grape Bonsai - are large leaf plants. At first glance, they may be considered unusual types of bonsai trees. Read more.
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 Chloroleucon tortum as bonsai, including the fact it does well indoors.
If you are a bonsai beginner, some, but not all of the above bonsai trees are listed on the Bonsai Beginners page.
Also look in the left hand navigation column under More Types of Bonsai, for a list of additional bonsai trees.
is my free monthly newsletter. Subscribe to get current tips, ideas and photos that may not appear on this site.
"Wow, read in one day -- will take a lifetime to master! Great book."
- Lee S.
So glad to know you're a real person!
. . . Bob C
I knew you would know. Perfect!
. . . Carol S
Mary, thank you so much for your quick response and info. You are terrific!
. . . B
Finding your website was like finding that needle in a haystack! I
truly enjoy your straightforward information on all the topics you
. . . Kristian M
People like you solidify novices like me and our desire to continue in creating Bonsai.
. . . Brian P