Types of Bonsai Trees

"Types of bonsai trees" on this site means the different plant species used to create bonsai trees.

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.

Some plants are considered to be "classics".

Occasionally, "new" varieties of bonsai trees are introduced.

Often they are trees we just never thought of trying.

The internet age has expanded our horizons in ways many of us 'old timers' could have never imagined!

types of bonsai,Ficus bonsai, cloud bonsai, Joe Samuels


The Ficus nerifolia  (willow leaf fig) was first used as bonsai by Joe Samuels in Florida during the 1970s.  It is a good example of how good bonsai news travels.

Today it is recognized around the world.


Plants for Bonsai

types of bonsai, bonsai, juniper bonsai


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.


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types of bonsai, bonsai

Azalea- One of the most beautiful and well known flowering bonsai, is popular worldwide. 


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.

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.

types of bonsai, chrysanthemum bonsai

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.

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.


Carissa Bonsai - Also called Natal Plum, a tropical native to Africa.  Will do well indoors with enough light. Blooms are common, some may fruit.

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.


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.

types of bonsai, bonsai, schefflera arboricola


Schefflera arboricola - is a favorite tropical for indoor bonsai tree types.  

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, known as the silk tree.)

Tamarind bonsai flower


Tamarind Bonsai trees are very sturdy tropicals. They tolerate heavy pruning, extensive root manipulation, wiring and even a little neglect.


More Types of Bonsai Trees

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


Where to Go From Here

If you are a bonsai beginner, some, but not all of the above types of bonsai trees are listed on the Bonsai Beginners page.




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