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Bonsai Blog

All posts by Chris

A Holly Jolly Christmas Bonsai

If you’ve ever been at a loss for the perfect Christmas gift that won’t just get used up or tossed out after a few weeks, a bonsai tree is a great choice. They require just enough attention to make them more than another knick knack, but not so much care that a beginner couldn’t easily keep one alive and beautiful. And, they make great mini Christmas trees for a desk or window sill! Here are some of our favorite reasons to give a bonsai tree for Christmas, and how to dress yours up with some holiday cheer.

Bonsai Trees Work in Any Home

Bonsai trees come in both indoor and outdoor varieties, but most often, indoor varieties are given in the winter. An outdoor bonsai is typically dormant in the winter and not all that fun to look at. Indoor bonsai trees are small enough to fit on a desk, in a large windowsill, or as a centerpiece on a table without getting in the way. They don’t drop leaves or make messes in any way, and the only thing a person needs is one of the simple care kits that we offer with every bonsai purchase.

Windswept Bonsai Kit

Informal Upright Bonsai Kit

Consider the joy that many express upon receiving a living creature for a gift, such as the classic puppy with a bow sleeping under the Christmas tree. But the problem with these sorts of gifts is that they require a total lifestyle change to accommodate their care and comfort. A bonsai tree is every bit as alive, and can bring just as much peace and joy into someone’s life, without the need to change their whole life.

Bonsai Trees Can Be Decorated

Want to wow your family member or friend with a holiday-themed gift that lasts far beyond the winter season? Decorate their bonsai tree for them! It’s easy to give a small indoor bonsai a holly jolly makeover, as long as you are considerate with your decorating choices. Fake snow is safe to sprinkle onto a bonsai, but you may prefer to put a few cotton balls around the pot to simulate snow instead, just to alleviate the mess.

Use small doll-house sized ornaments from a craft store to spruce up the tree itself, or drape some very tiny tinsel around the tree branches. If the bonsai is sitting in a humidity tray or on a bamboo mat, add some holiday color with red and green stones or gems, or swapping out the mat for a piece of festive felt that echoes a Christmas tree skirt.

Bonsai Trees Are Personal

Giving plants is always a great way to share beauty and life with anyone on your holiday list, but so often it can be hard to choose plants for someone. Would they like brightly colored flowers, or are they more of an aloe plant person? Bonsai trees are easy to give because they can be personalized to anyone’s tastes. The elegant, minimal look of a bonsai works with any sort of décor scheme, and the owner can choose to shape the tree into aesthetically pleasing shapes if they wish with some creative pruning. Because bonsai trees respond very quickly to the care they are given, no two bonsai trees will ever look alike. Every bonsai is a direct reflection of its owner’s personality.

Let Us Help You Spoil Your Friends and Family

If you’re ready to give a bonsai tree gift or two, we can help. Our trees are packaged securely to ensure that they arrive safely and in great health. You won’t have to do a thing – simply give the gift right away, or remove the tree from the box and make sure it has plenty of water and sunlight until the big day.

Top 5 Flowering Species of Bonsai

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.

Dwarf Cherry

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.

Snow Rose

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.

Edible Bonsai Trees – Good Eats!

Bonsai – Good Eats!
There are a number of species appropriate for bonsai that will actually produce edible fruits or other parts, given the proper conditions. As exciting as this sounds, there are a couple of things to remember when developing a tree for the purpose of causing it to fruit:

  • Because a bonsai is a tree in miniature, you will not get the yield you would get out of a full-size specimen. The production of edible parts is more for novelty than to feed your family.
  • Too much flower or fruit production will stress a small tree, so you don’t want to overdo it.
  • You will want to grow your edible bonsai in a larger pot than you normally would. A bin or other large receptacle should be placed outside in a location where it doesn’t have to be moved.

That said, here are a few species that may produce edible parts if cultivated properly:

Pomegranate: one of the more common fruiting bonsai, pomegranate is a surprisingly hardy plant for a subtropical. It should be kept outdoors as long as possible, and brought inside when the weather starts hitting around 40°. Once inside, give it a sunny window. Pomegranates are monoecious, which means they can self-pollinate, but fruiting is generally more successful with two plants.

Cherry Laurel: Prunus caroliniana ‘Monus’, or Bright ‘N Tight, is a monoecious flowering cherry that is suitable for bonsai. The sweet, white blossoms turn to black edible fruit. This evergreen plant is fairly adaptable, but should be kept outside when it’s warm, in full sun to partial shade.

Fig (Ficus): Fig trees are great beginner bonsai, and sometimes fruit in both spring and late summer. The fruit is technically an inverted flower, but still, edible. Figs love heat and should ideally be kept in a warmer climate so they can be outside in the sun most of the year. If you live in a temperate climate, you might consider grow lights. Some cultivars are monoecious and some dioecious so you’ll want to find out if you need one plant or two for pollination.

Rosemary: this is a fantastically hardy plant and can tolerate temperatures to 30°. Rosemary does need a lot of sunshine, when indoors make sure to provide it with artificial lights or a south-facing window. The best part about this bonsai is that the leaves can be used to season your cooking, and you can harvest them when you’re performing regular trimming of the tree.

Most bonsai are simply ornamental, however there’s nothing wrong with experimenting to see if you can get an edible variety to fruit. Just make sure that if it does flower and fruit, that you remove some of the flowers so that you don’t overstress the tree with too much fruit production.

Edible bonsai can be a fun step in the world of this fascinating art-form. The key is knowing exactly what kind of plant you have so that you know whether you need one or two. Keep your plant outdoors when possible, and offer plenty of light. Happy bonsai!

Which Bonsai Shape is Right for YOU?

There are so many ways to train and shape a bonsai, you will want to spend some time perusing photos of the various forms until you find the one that speaks to your soul. Some shapes are more complicated than others to achieve, such as Windswept, so try to choose one of the simpler forms if you’re a beginner.

Some of the most common shapes include:

Informal upright – Moyogi

Informal upright is frequent in both nature and the art of bonsai. The trunk is tapered, from wider at the bottom to narrower at the top, with a discernible “S” shape, and leaves branches occurr at all of the curves.

Formal upright – Chokkan

Formal uprights also have a tapered trunk, but no curving. This tree shape is very common for bonsai and occurs frequently in nature as well. The very top of the formal upright is one single branch. Conifers are well-suited to this shape, and the finished tree is a clearly recognizable triangle.

Broom – Hokidachi

The broom has a straight trunk which ends and branches out about a third of the way up the tree. The branches spread out into a large, rounded broom shape – a sight which is very familiar in nature, particularly in winter when all the branches are bare and the full broom effect is recognizable. Fine-branched deciduous species take particularly well to this bonsai.

Semi cascade – Han-kengai

Possibly one of the most stereotypical shapes that appear in our imagination when we think of bonsai, the semi-cascade has a trunk that is only upright for a small portion, then bends down to the side. The tree’s crown remains above the level of the pot, while the branches dip down below the rim, but not below the pot’s bottom as they do on a regular cascade bonsai.

Slanting – Shakan

Slanting occurs in nature when the wind blows consistently in one direction or when the tree is forced to bend in order to obtain sunlight. With a tapered trunk that may contain some curvature, the tree should be at approximately a 60-80 degree angle from the surface of the soil. The root system is stronger on one side in order to keep the tree upright. While almost any tree can be trained to slant, pine and maple are especially suited.

Double trunk – Sokan

One of the less common styles in bonsai art, the double trunk is often seen in nature. Its defining characteristic is the two trunks that share a root system, although sometimes one trunk will grow from the other just above the surface of the ground. One trunk is more substantial while the other comes out to the side a bit and is typically thinner, and the tree is topped by a unified crown of leaves.

It’s easy to get caught up just looking at all the different bonsai shape options; each is unique and beautiful, and one of our bonsai trees may just be perfect for you!

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!

New Year Giveaway Winners

This New Year we gave away a $450 and $250 gift card to two lucky winners. Our New Year Giveaway is complete and all winners have now been notified.

Congratulations to Douglas D. with ticket number 5218066 for winning our $450 gift card and Lauren H. for winning our $250 gift card with ticket number 5218124.

Thank you all for participating in the giveaway! We look forward to doing more giveaways in the coming months!

Indoors vs. Outdoor Bonsai: What’s the Difference?

Many people tend to think of bonsai as primarily indoor plants. This misconception was helped along by the movie “The Karate Kid” in which one of the main characters had a bonsai that he kept in the house. The truth is that the vast majority of trees and plants suitable for bonsai must be kept outdoors. These temperate species must go through a period of dormancy during winter, just as they do in nature.

There are, however, a few species that can be kept inside and lend themselves to the classic bonsai shaping and training. These are mostly tropical or sub-tropical plants which must be sheltered from weather below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Some of the best indoor species include:

  • Ficus – the beloved ficus – or fig tree – is easy to care for and can be shaped beautifully, offering the traditional look of the bonsai we know and love. They require high humidity, and should be monitored for water needs rather than following a schedule. The leaves are poisonous to animals so keep out of reach of pets.
  • Jade – the Portulacaria afra is a succulent that is much less fussy than many tropicals. It retains a lot of water in its leaves so you probably won’t need to water frequently. It should be repotted every other spring and needs good drainage.
  • Privet – often used for hedges, privet is hardy and great for beginners. It requires average watering and fertilizing and bright light for at least some of the day.
  • Carmona – known as the Fukien Tea, this China native has small dark green leaves and can produce little white flowers, and sometimes berries, year round. The water level should be kept well-balanced, as it is sensitive to both over- and under-watering.
  • Sageretia Theezans – known as the Bird Plum, and another native to China, this tropical evergreen also produces white flowers. It needs to be kept moist all the time, and should at least have sun in the morning.

Outdoor species like juniper, maple, and flowering bush species are typically easier to care for because they are used to being in their natural, temperate climate, one with seasons and a period of dormancy in winter. Some outdoor species can be converted to indoors but it usually requires a very seasoned bonsai artist and special procedures. It’s better to start out with the kind of bonsai you want right from the start.

Keep in mind that indoor species will still need adequate light – this can be achieved by putting the plant in a sunny window for long periods during the day or by artificial light systems. If your species requires high humidity you can use a fish tank or other clear plastic container to provide the required level.

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