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Best Bonsai Tree Species

Anyone can grow a bonsai tree, with or without a green thumb! Bonsai are trees that are grown in shallow containers to limit their water and nutrient intake. What many may not realize is that what tree you bonsai will depend not only on your personal taste but also what your local climate is.

If you are new to the art of bonsai, don’t worry! We will be breaking down the best deciduous, coniferous, flowering, and fruiting bonsai to choose from. Almost any tree or plant can be made into a bonsai. Growing a bonsai is just what you need to brighten up your home for many, many years!

Bonsai and Your Climate

There are two kinds of bonsai, indoor and outdoor. In order to properly care for your bonsai, you must know what kind of tree you have. The main difference between indoor and outdoor bonsai is the dormancy period, or lack thereof.

Indoor bonsai are tropical or subtropical trees. These trees need lots of light and high humidity. Tropical and subtropical trees do not go dormant in the winter, meaning they do not stop growing to survive the winter. Instead, they grow consistently all year. Growing these trees outdoors will result in fatality most of the time, unless your climate is warm and has high temperatures all year.

Unlike indoor species, outdoor bonsai are temperate, maritime, Mediterranean, and continental bonsai. Outdoor bonsai go into dormancy in the winter to survive and prepare for new growth in the spring. Your climate must be cold enough so that the tree can go dormant, but warm and sunny in the summer.

Deciduous Bonsai

When you think of a bonsai tree, a deciduous tree is likely to come to mind. The leaves on deciduous trees change color and fall off in autumn. The best, most common tree species in this variety are Japanese maples, cherry trees, and Chinese elm. These are all great choices for beginners.

These trees are made to go into dormancy. Their leaves will fall off in the autumn, but don’t worry! The leaves will grow back the following spring. While they may look like they may be dead in the winter, they aren’t. They are simply dormant so that they can survive the winter.

Coniferous Bonsai

Unlike deciduous bonsai, coniferous trees have scale- or needle-like foliage. Their foliage is not shed in the fall, it stays on the tree all year. Conifers include pine, cedar, juniper, and taxus trees. The most common, best coniferous bonsai are the Japanese white and black pine, spruce, juniper, and cypress trees. We recommend more experienced bonsai growers grow these kinds of trees.

Pine and juniper bonsai should be placed outdoors so that they can go dormant. Cedar and taxus trees, on the other hand, should be placed indoors where they can receive lots of light.

Flowering Bonsai

Flowering bonsai trees are some of the most beautiful trees you will ever see. They should be pruned and wired the same as any other bonsai. The fertilizer you use on these trees should contain high phosphorus and potassium contents and low nitrogen. They should be protected from the rain, as the water will cause the flowers to wilt.

By far, the most common flowering bonsai is the azalea tree. Other popular trees include the apricot, bougainvillea, pomegranate, and potentilla.

Fruiting Bonsai

Not everyone is able to grow a full-sized fruiting tree in their yard. The art of bonsai makes this possible! Fruit on these trees will grow full sized while the rest of the tree will be miniaturized. The fruit will be completely safe to eat, and so fun to look at!

Just about any fruit tree can be made into a bonsai. The trees that grow best are apples, pomegranates, lemons, olives, blueberries, cherries, and more! It is best to grow a fruit tree that grows in your area, but any fruit tree that can grow in your climate will do just fine.

There are so many bonsai trees to choose from! Anything that can grow in your climate or in your home will thrive with the proper care. If you are looking for a tree with leaves, deciduous trees are the way to go. Trees with scale- and needle-like foliage are also beautiful, but a little harder to care for. Flowering bonsai are arguably the most beautiful bonsai, but fruiting bonsai are also so beautiful and the fruit that grows on them is edible. You cannot go wrong with any of the bonsai on this list, or any bonsai at all!

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