Various types of bonsai trees have been extremely popular with outdoor and indoor gardeners for centuries, and the miniature size gives them a very whimsical feeling. They would blend perfectly in a fairytale. However, in spite of the enchanting look of different types of bonsai trees, some people believe that they’re extremely difficult to maintain, so they don’t even attempt it. However, this isn’t necessarily true.
We’ve put together a list of the 36 most beautiful types of bonsai trees that are easy to grow and low maintenance enough that a beginner can handle them. You’ll be able to find the perfect type of bonsai tree for your needs, and our care tips will help ensure that you have a healthy and thriving plant for years.
1. Acai Bonsai Tree
This type of bonsai tree thrives in bright sunlight, so it’s a good idea to plan to put it in a South-facing window. This will give it plenty of bright sunshine to grow, and you want to water it each day. However, you should only give it a little water each day instead of saturating it. Other than that, there’s not much you have to do to keep it growing steadily.
2. Apple Bonsai Tree
Apple types of bonsai trees are slightly more high-maintenance than other options on the list, but the flower display you get each spring makes them very well worth the effort. You should fertilize them generously during the active growing season, water them daily, and make sure you give them as much sunlight as possible each day to keep them happy. The fragrance the flowers release is just like a traditional apple tree.
3. Azalea Bonsai Tree
If you’re trying to attract pollinators to your yard like bees or hummingbirds, this is the type of bonsai tree to have. You get stunning flowers that cover every inch of the tree during the spring months that butterflies and bees flock to. It’s very happy living outside, but it will need protection when the weather gets extremely hot and that scorching afternoon sun.
4. Bahama Berry Bonsai Tree
The Bahama Berry type of bonsai tree is a great pick if you want to give the illusion of an aged tree right away. This tree produces interesting, unique bark that looks like it’s been exposed to the elements for years, even when it’s new growth. It’s also easy to grow, and all you have to do is make sure you put it in a spot with full sun each day.
5. Bamboo Bonsai Trees
Even though this type of bonsai tree is more rare, they can add welcome character to your garden or patio. Bamboo bonsais are more difficult to prune because bamboo’s nature is to grow straight up without branching out how a traditional tree would. However, it’s not impossible to train this tree to grow how you want, but it will take an experienced bonsai artist to pull it off without causing any damage.
6. Baobab Bonsai Tree
This is another rare type of bonsai tree, so they tend to come with a much higher price tag attached. They are very stunning, and if you do manage to find one, you’ll be blown away by how they look. This is a very slow-growing bonsai tree that is also low-maintenance. They love water each day and full sunlight, but it’s best for a patient person to pick out this choice as you won’t see growth quickly.
7. Beech & Hornbeam Bonsai
These are technically two different types of bonsai trees, but they have such similar care requirements that we lumped them together. They do best when you have them indoors, and they can’t stand exposure to direct sunlight. They love bright but indirect light indoors. You want to protect them from harsh weather conditions, and this is another big reason why they won’t survive outdoors unless you’re in a temperate climate zone.
8. Birch Bonsai Tree
If you’re someone who lives in a warm, sunny climate, this type of bonsai tree can be a welcome addition to your garden. It does require a higher amount of water during the active growing season, but if you can keep the tree sufficiently watered, you’re going to end up with a pretty bonsai tree that looks great sitting on a table on your patio.
9. Black Olive Bonsai Tree
Don’t take a look at the name and be fooled with this type of bonsai tree. Even though you do get a type of fruit that looks similar to a traditional olive, it’s not edible and it’s actually not an olive. The branches of this tree look very unique and come covered with small spines. They tolerate exposure to extreme heat very well, so they’re great for any areas that have very hot summers.
10. Bonsai Money Tree
Also called the Pachira Aquatica, this type of bonsai tree comes with a legend attached to it that adds to the charm. As the story goes, a poor man prayed for luck and was given this type of bonsai tree. He proceeded to take it everywhere with him, and once he learned the art of bonsai and started caring for it, he was able to reproduce them and sell them. In turn, he made a lot of money.
This type of bonsai tree needs very little maintenance and it’s very easy to care for. You should place it in a sunny location and water it lightly every day. They’re very popular with people who practice Feng Shui because they’re believed to welcome luck into your home as they grow.
11. Boxwood Bonsai Tree
Boxwood is a very common hedging plant, but you can also easily grow it into a type of bonsai tree. It’s a very fast-growing option, so it’s ideal if you’re trying to quickly learn the art of bonsai. It’s also a great option for beginners as it allows you to make minor mistakes without harming the tree too badly. You’ll have to protect your boxwood bonsai trees from colder conditions, and you need to water them consistently when the weather warms up in the summer. Aside from these two things, care is easy.
12. Brazilian Rain Bonsai Tree
Anyone who wants a type of bonsai tree for architectural interest should consider this pick. You’ll get pointed, delicate branches that are covered with bright green leaves. During the day hours, the leaves will lay flat to soak up the sun. At night, the leaves fold themselves up to protect the tree. You’ll need to keep this tree consistently warm to encourage healthy growth. So, while you can move it outside on your balcony or patio during the summer months, you have to bring it inside during the night when the temperatures start to fall.
13. Brush Cherry Bonsai Tree
You can grow this type of bonsai tree outdoors or indoors, but you have to ensure that you keep it consistently moist. Never allow the soil to dry out completely or you risk harming the plant. In the spring, this tree will give you a nice display of smaller white flowers with red fruit, and some are even edible.
14. Cactus Combo Bonsai Tree
If you don’t have time to water your plants regularly, this is a great type of bonsai tree to consider. They don’t offer the same whimsical look that some other options on the list do, but they’re a solid option for busy people who don’t spend a lot of time at home. Since this is technically a cacti, they don’t need very much water. You can water them once a month during the summer months to keep them healthy and happy all year round.
15. Cedar Bonsai Tree
If you like a type of bonsai tree that can grow tall, this is a nice choice to consider. It will still keep the miniature stature, but it can bring a little additional height to your bonsai collection if you group them. You may hear it referred to as Cedrus, and you need to water it regularly and keep it in a south-facing window so it gets bright but indirect sunlight.
16. Cherry Blossom Bonsai Tree
There aren’t many types of bonsai trees that can compare with this pick when it comes to stunning looks. The trunk is architectural and aged, and it offers a display of pink blossoms that mimic traditional cherry trees in the spring. It’s also very easy to grow and maintain. All you have to do is put it in a partially-shaded spot out of the direct sunlight outside during the summer and place it in a south-facing window in the winter.
17. Desert Rose Bonsai Tree
Even though this is technically a plant instead of an actual tree, it typically gets grown as a bonsai tree that does excellent when placed in smaller pots. You can grow this type of bonsai tree all year round indoors, and you can put it outside during the summer months. One of the biggest draws of this bonsai tree is that it offers a huge amount of pink flowers each spring.
18. Dogwood Bonsai Tree
This type of bonsai tree offers several unique features that make it a very attractive option for your collection. The first offering is the white, large flowers it produces at the ends of the branches in the start of summer, like a Dogwood tree. During the winter, you get bright red stems that stand out against everything else. It’s easy to grow as all you have to do is allow air to circulate around it and place it in direct sunlight.
Dogwood by Jerry Norbury / CC BY-ND 2.0
19. Ficus Bonsai Tree
This type of bonsai tree is most popular for the fact that it has an S-shaped trunk. It’s also extremely easy to grow and care for. So, when you combine these facts with how pretty it is, it makes it a wonderful choice for beginners. You want to give it plenty of bright light, and this tree will grow happily indoors. During the summer months, you can shift it to the balcony or sunny patio too.
Bonsai Ficus retusa by Henryr10 / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
20. Ginkgo Bonsai Tree
One of the most interesting aspects of this type of bonsai tree is that the leaves will change color as the seasons change. This allows you to have year-round appeal that makes it blend nicely with other deciduous trees in the garden. To keep it happy, you’ll want to keep the soil consistently moist and give it bright sunshine.
Gingko, Kennett Square, PA by Grufnik / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
21. Green Mound Juniper Bonsai Tree
Unless the tag specifically states otherwise, any juniper bonsai types of trees you get will be Green Mound Juniper Bonsai Trees. They are one specimen that is very easy to grow, and the foliage is easy to maintain. They’re not super picky about the climate you grow them in, but they do require a consistent stream of water and cover from direct sunlight to avoid scorching.
22. Hawaiian Umbrella Bonsai Tree
As the name suggests, this type of bonsai tree comes from Hawaii. So, it does very well when you grow it indoors with warmer temperatures throughout the year, just like another other tropical plant. This tree requires very little maintenance on your part to keep it happy, and all you have to do is ensure that it gets full sunlight each day and water it when the soil feels dry to the touch to keep it happy.
23. Hibiscus Bonsai Tree
This is a sun-worshiping type of bonsai tree that needs exposure to as much sunlight as you can possibly give it each day. You also need to remember to water it each day, so it requires slightly more maintenance than some choices on the list. However, if you meet these care requirements, you’ll get a tree that produces larger flowers in shades or red and orange.
08186322 by Jerry Norbury / CC BY-ND 2.0
24. Jacaranda Bonsai Tree
This type of bonsai tree is native to South America and Central America, so it loves being put in a sunny spot in a south-facing window. You don’t want to group it too close to any other plants or mix them with other bonsai trees though because they need a high amount of air circulating between their branches.
This isn’t the lowest-maintenance bonsai tree you could choose, and you’ll need to give it regular trims to encourage continual growth. However, if you have the patience and time, you’ll get a pretty type of bonsai tree that has purple flowers in the spring.
Jacaranda by cskk / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
25. Jade Bonsai Tree
Even though this type of bonsai tree is easy to maintain, it needs virtually constant sunlight exposure with warmer temperatures to do well. Thai is why it works well for growing indoors. The flexible, thin branches are easy to shape. If the plant is happy and healthy, you’ll get a show of flowers during the spring months.
Jade Bonsai by pixelant / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
26. Japanese Maple Bonsai Tree
Also called the Acer Palmatum, this is a very stunning type of bonsai tree. It can grow happily in shaded spaces, so it’s a nice addition to your outdoor space that doesn’t get a lot of sunlight, like a forest garden. You also need to be very careful not to overwater it as this can stunt the plant’s growth.
27. Larch Bonsai Tree
The Larix or Larch type of bonsai tree is one of the most common specimens used in the art of bonsai. It’s a very hardy option that is happy to be outside all year-round, no matter the temperature fluctuations or weather conditions. You do need to make sure you keep the soil consistently moist to keep it happy.
28. Needle Juniper Bonsai Tree
This type of bonsai is also called the Himalayan Juniper of Juniperus Squamata, and it’s a very easy to grow specimen. You get very flexible branches that are very easy to shape and prune, and they can survive in a huge range of climates without any damage. You will want to keep the soil moist and give them at least partial sun.
29. Oak Bonsai Tree
There is something magical about seeing an oak condensed down to a type of bonsai tree. They’re a lot easier to grow than you may first think, and they’re very resistant to climate changes. They do like to be in a very sunny location, and you’ll water them regularly throughout the summer months. However, for the rest of the year, they’re virtually maintenance-free.
30. Premna Bonsai Tree
This is a subtropical type of bonsai tree that is native to parts of Asia. So, it makes sense that this tree needs a higher amount of sunlight throughout the day. Ideally, you’ll put it in a west or south-facing window in your home. During the winter, you’ll want to bring it inside because it’s not hardy enough to withstand extreme cold.
31. Privet Bonsai Tree
Privet is a very popular hedge tree, but it also makes a fantastic type of bonsai tree. It also produces pretty white or pink flowers during the spring and summer months. It’s a very beginner-friendly plant that you should put in a sunny spot and water it each day, especially when it gets hotter outside.
32. Redwood Bonsai Tree
Redwoods hold the title of being one of the tallest trees in the world, but you can also grow miniature versions as a type of bonsai tree. They do very well if you put them in a space that has full sunlight but protection from the hot afternoon sun, especially during the summer months. They need a lot of water too.
33. Rosemary Bonsai Tree
You can grow the fragrant rosemary herb as a bonsai tree. It’s also very simple to do, so it’s beginner-friendly. You have to keep it in full sun and space it out so air can circulate around it at all times. It’s a Mediterranean plant, and it won’t need much water to do well. However, you should never let the soil dry out completely. During the spring months, it’ll produce blue or white flowers.
34. Spruce Bonsai Tree
This is another decently low-maintenance type of bonsai tree that doesn’t require a lot of water. They do very well when you put them in full sun, but you need to protect them during the winter months. You can protect them by putting them in a greenhouse or by bringing them inside until spring.
35. Trident Bonsai Tree
This is an Acer type of bonsai tree, but it’s not nearly as popular as Japanese Maples. This is due to the fact that this is a very needy tree, and it requires constant maintenance. It won’t do well if you try to bring it inside, but you also need to protect it from the sunlight when you grow it outside. It’s not a great choice for a beginner, but if you’re someone with patience and experience, it’s a nice addition to your collection.
36. Weeping Willow Bonsai Tree
The final type of bonsai tree on the list is native to China, but you can find it growing throughout the globe. This is one of the most interesting specimens you can add, and it offers longer, weeping branches that give it a fun look. However, the growth habit makes it very hard to prune, so you’ll need experience to avoid damaging the tree. You want to place it in direct sunlight and keep the soil moist. If it gets too hot out, move it to a shaded spot.
Bonsai Care for Beginners – Tips and Tricks
It may seem very intimidating to care for your type of bonsai tree when you first get one, so the following will give you a general outline on how to do so. We’ll also add in a few quick tricks and tips to make the process less intimidating.
Bonsai Tree Positioning
To figure out the best area to put your new type of bonsai tree, you’ll need to know which type you have and whether it’s an outdoor or indoor species. The most common types like pine, juniper, and spruce are outdoor, so you want to expose them to the seasons like the bigger versions. Outdoor bonsai trees also include deciduous trees like the elm, maple, and gingko. Indoor types of bonsai trees are usually subtropical, and they need stable temperatures to be happy all year-round. They include Hawaiian umbrella trees, jade plants, and ficus.
Once you figure out which type you picked out, the positioning process is simple. A few general tips for positioning your type of bonsai tree correctly are as follows:
- Humidity – These trees need humid environments to keep the soil moist.
- Lighting – Put your bonsai tree in an area where it gets direct sunlight.
- Positioning – You want to keep the tree away from direct drafts or heat.
Bonsai Tree Watering
Most bonsai trees die from under-watering. Since the soil layer is so shallow, it will dry out very quickly. You want to water them right as the topsoil layer looks and feels dry. Depending on the size and type of bonsai tree you have and the soil you have, you could end up watering every day. So, you want to water each plant individually instead of sticking to a routine.
The main goal of watering your bonsai plants is to saturate the root system fully with water. You want to water the tree until water starts flowing through the drainage holes. Most bonsai trees come with a tray to collect any excess water, and this also increases the relative humidity.
However, overwatering can be a problem too. If you have smaller branches shriveling and leaf yellowing, these are classic signs of overwatering. The roots are drawing in water and are deprived of oxygen at this stage, and this prevents the tree from growing. Poor-draining soil can also lead to overwatering. You’ll need to look at the tree daily to see if you’re watering correctly. Water it as soon as the soil looks dry.
Bonsai Tree Pruning and Shaping
Pruning the tree is essential to keeping them small and keeping the compact shape. You’ll perform maintenance and structural pruning on your type of bonsai tree.
This type of pruning is to help strengthen your tree by encouraging new growth. You cut away young shoots and leaves to expose the leaves underneath to sunlight and air, and this helps benefit the tree’s health. Leaves, branches, and buds will all require routine maintenance pruning.
Pruning away branches will encourage the smaller branches to grow, and this allows you to control the tree’s final shape. Pruning the buds from the branches will give you more compact leaf growth, and this encourages smaller leaves to grow. You want to prune the bonsai when you see that the growth is starting to change the tree’s shape in a way you don’t want. For any flowering types of bonsai trees, you want to maintenance prune during the spring to encourage more flower growth during the following spring.
This is a much more advanced type of pruning that you’ll only do when the tree goes dormant. You’ll remove the tree’s primary structural branches, and you have to be very careful to ensure that you don’t kill the tree.
You can also shape your bonsai by wiring the branches. This allows you to control the growth pattern and shape of certain branches by wrapping them in wire. You should only do this during the winter months when the leaves have fallen. You’ll remove the wire when necessary as it grows. Branches that grow too fast can end up with scarring from the wire wraps.
Bonsai Tree Soil
The key to picking out the correct soil for your bonsai tree is to pick one that offers great drainage. You want to add larger particles to the soil mixture like stones or volcanic rock to help improve the drainage and introduce air. The best soil should be able to hold water too, and you can mix in clay for this purpose.
Fertilizing your type of bonsai tree will ensure that it gets the correct nutrients to stay healthy. A balanced bonsai fertilizer will have equal amounts of phosphorus, nitrogen, and potassium. You’ll want to water the tree thoroughly before you fertilize it because you can damage the tree by doing so with dry soil.
Most types of bonsai trees are relatively low-maintenance, and they make delightful additions to your indoor or outdoor plant collection. You can easily mix and match bonsai trees, but you want to treat them as individuals to ensure they all stay healthy and thriving for years.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.