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10 Best Bonsai Tree Species for Beginners

When you’re first getting into the art of bonsai, the amount of information can be overwhelming – what kind of plant to choose, what kind of container, how much to water it, and most importantly – how to trim and train it into the zen tree of your dreams!

It all starts with choosing the best tree for your particular needs and desires (Check out our selection of beginner bonsai kits). Here are some great choices, most very suitable for beginners:

  1. Green Mound Juniper
    Green Mound Juniper

    Juniper – one of the most typical, the evergreen juniper is a good beginning tree and can be formed into almost any bonsai shape except upright formal and broom. Chinensis is a good choice of sub-species, both for its availability as well as its beauty and ease of shaping. We have a Windswept Juniper Beginner Kit with everything you need.

  2. Trident Maple
    Trident Maple

    Maple – popular due to its stunning appearance both in winter and when in leaf, the deciduous maple is a hardy tree, easily trainable and can be rooted from cuttings. The leaves, while fairly large, take well to leaf trimming (the practice of cutting the leaf bunches off, tricking the tree into producing new, tinier leaves).

  3. Buddhist Pine
    Buddhist Pine

    Pine – the evergreen pine makes for good bonsai of all types except broom. You should have a little experience under your belt first as pines do require some fussing to get exactly right.

  4. Chinese Elm
    Chinese Elm

    Elm – elms are fantastic bonsai. They are forgiving, easily grown from seed or cuttings, and are native virtually all over the United States. Chinese and Zelcova are the most common cultivars.

  5. Dawn Redwood
    Dawn Redwood

    Redwood – ironically known as the record-holding giants for height, actually make good bonsai. Two sub-species, Coast Redwood and Dawn Redwood, have flat-needled foliage, making for beautiful shaping.

  6. Satsuki Azalea
    Satsuki Azalea

    Azalea (Rhododendron) – known for their gorgeous, bright flowers, rhododendrons make a surprisingly suitable miniature “tree”. They do have a delicate system of roots that must be kept moist, either by frequent watering or a shield like moss.

  7. Golden Gate Ficus
    Golden Gate Ficus

    Ficus – this traditional bonsai favorite is excellent for two reasons: it’s forgiving of mistakes often made by new growers, and it’s one of the few species that can be grown indoors. We have a beginner kit with a ficus available here

  8. yewYew – this evergreen shrub is tolerant to shade and takes to shaping. It is a thirsty species, so water frequently, and the foliage is poisonous if ingested so use care with small children.
  9. Dwarf Umbrella
    Dwarf Umbrella

    Dwarf Umbrella – or Schefflera arboricola, great for beginners and considered a true indoor bonsai. While this plant doesn’t take well to typical bonsai shapes, it is easy to keep alive and possesses its own unique beauty.

  10. Bald Cypress
    Bald Cypress

    Bald Cypress – this cypress is a deciduous conifer with needle-like foliage that turns colors in autumn. Cypress have high water needs, and should be finger pruned rather than with scissors or other tools.

View our Beginner Bonsai Kits

Our beginner bonsai kits include EVERYTHING you need to get started with bonsai, including tools, fertilizer, a specific care guide and a Bonsai 101 book

Most of these species should be easily obtained from nature itself or from a reputable bonsai dealer like Dallas Bonsai. The hardest part is choosing!

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