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Beginner Bonsai Trees

Different teachers recommend different beginner bonsai trees. 

However, most agree the following plants are some of the best bonsai starters.

When certain plants are recommended ... not all plants in that species are good subjects.   There are some basics to look for when selecting both beginner trees, as well as more established bonsai.  

Be sure to read the "What to Look For" page.


Beginner Bonsai Trees
Recommended Plant List

Juniper Bonsai

Junipers are one of the most popular subjects used as bonsai trees.  They can easily be made into shapes that resemble old pine trees. 

They also have a bad reputation with many beginners. This is due to many misconceptions, the plant itself is not difficult.  First, juniper is not recommended as an indoor plant!

Other beginner mistakes include root pruning at the wrong time of year and over watering.  There are many different kinds of juniper.  Juniper procumbens nana are very popular as beginner bonsai tree.   All about junipers.

Ficus Bonsai

As the demand for “indoor bonsai” has risen, Ficus bonsai trees have gained great popularity as one of the best bonsai for beginners to try.

Many fig masterpieces have come from tropical and sub-tropical areas. 

In those areas of the world, they are grown outdoors, often in full sun. 

Although in good light, many are excellent indoor subjects, most growers grow these figs outdoors in the warm weather and bring them in when the cold temperatures threaten.

There are hundreds of types of Ficus and many of them are good for bonsai.  Numerous varieties have small leaves ...  don't bother with large leaf types

See the many reasons Ficus bonsai are so popular.

Chinese Elm Bonsai

The Chinese elm, Ulmus parvifolia, has many attributes for potentially good bonsai.

Small leaves are a plus.

Their extensive "stringy" root systems are perfect for use as rock plantings. Many Chinese elms adapt very quickly as “indoor” trees

Branches need to be trimmed frequently to keep the shape. Learn more about  Chinese elm bonsai.

Maple Bonsai Trees

There are approximately 125 species of Maple and many are used as bonsai. Trident maples are perhaps the favorite.  All are deciduous trees, not recommended for indoors.  

This Red Maple grouping is a beautiful example of how several individual maple trees can create a beautiful forest. 

Dwarf Schefflera (arboricola)
A Favorite Beginner Bonsai Tree for Indoors

The Schefflera arboricola is well known as an ordinary houseplant and has many common names including arboricola, umbrella tree and dwarf schefflera. 

It is definitely recommended as a bonsai for beginners. (Many think it is native to Hawaii; it's actually native to Taiwan.)

The Jade Bonsai Tree

Many bonsai beginners start with the traditional jade plant, Crassula a.  Once they discover the portulacaria afra they realize how much easier it is to create a tree looking subject with this small leaf 'jade.'   This African succulent can be an  indoor bonsai plant, however it needs sun or very high light, and frequent pruning.

Getting Started

There are many ways to get started.  In addition to good bonsai tree choices, you need good instructions. Bonsai Books are always helpful.  If you live anywhere near a bonsai club, they are a great place to start!


Where to Go From Here

The above plants are some of the best beginner bonsai trees. There are many more types of bonsai to investigate.

If you are thinking of growing indoors only, see bonsai trees for indoors.   Once you make a selection, but sure to get specific information about the care.  Not all bonsai require the same care!

Plan to buy a bonsai or a bonsai starter? Here are some important tips.   'Basic Things to Look For' List


Bonsai Banter

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