The only thing more stunning than a large flowering bush or tree in your outdoor garden is a miniature potted tree that surprises and delights with colorful blooms that overtake the tiny specimen, resulting in a conversation piece that brings years of joy.
If you got into the art of bonsai because you wanted to cultivate trees with a rewarding color show, these five gorgeous species will not disappoint.
The Azalea genus, which also includes Rhododendron, encompasses hundreds of flowering cultivars. One of the favorites of enthusiasts is Satsuki, or Rhododendron indicum. It’s easy to see why when you explore the multitude of different colors and patterns produced in the form of blossoms that can range from 1-5” across. Whether you want purples, pinks, or reds, there’s something for everyone. Not only that but the flowers may display flakes, stripes, or variegated margins of colors, which may even vary from year to year on the same plant. Adding to its appeal, Satsuki can be grown indoors or out.
Though this plant is actually a vine, it still makes a very suitable and beautiful bonsai. With a bevy of varieties to choose from, like the rosy pink Bougainvillea glabra ‘Magnifica’ or yellowish-apricot Bougainvillea buttiana ‘Golden Glow’, there’s no shortage of stunning choices. With a gnarling, woody stem, a drought-tolerant nature, and the ability to grow either horizontally or vertically, Bougainvillea is a real bonsai crowd-pleaser. Watch out for the thorns when trimming as they can be a bit of a pain.
Eugenia myrtifolia is a native of Australia and comes in several natural dwarf cultivars that are beloved bonsai subjects. Australian Dwarf Brush Cherry and Teenie Genie are two good choices. The small, dark green, glossy leaves are perfect for shaping and flowering varieties are marked by little cream-colored spheres that turn into charming starbursts of white. It is a versatile tree and will tolerate being an indoor or outdoor plant, as it doesn’t require all-day full sun.
The appeal of Snow Rose as a bonsai is evident in its nickname, Tree of a Thousand Stars. When in bloom, it wears a coat of lovely star-shaped white blossoms, accented by tiny little dark green leaves making up the foliage. The trunk of Serissa foetida displays flaky textured gnarling bark, and best of all the tree can bloom at any time of year (though the heaviest bloom activity is usually between spring and fall).
With Gardenia you not only get lovely glossy, green foliage, but this species is also accented by sweet-smelling waxy flowers that start out white and transition to a creamy yellow color. Native to Asia, South Africa, and Australasia, this subtropical responds well to defoliation, which will only encourage more vigorous flowering activity. It can also live inside or out, making it perfect as a showpiece for entertaining.
These gorgeous flowering trees prove that bonsai isn’t all about the green. With a bit of care and effort, you can bring the bright, bold colors of your garden right into your own home.