What is the best bonsai tree for beginners?

What is the best bonsai tree for beginners? People new to bonsai often ask us what is the best bonsai tree for beginners. The answer is – it depends! Success with bonsai depends chiefly on two things; location and watering. Having said that, some species of tree are certainly easier than others.

When you first start with bonsai, you tend to want to keep them in the house. After all, they are houseplants, aren’t they?! Plus, if they are in the garden, you won’t see them as much as you would if they were on the coffee table/desk. It’s cold and wet out there half the time, you don’t want to go out there. In reality, it is much easier to keep bonsai trees outside. Having said that, some bonsai trees can be kept indoors, and people tend to start with these.

What I can tell you is that almost everyone who grows bonsai trees as an interest grows them outdoors. Trees love fresh air, sun and rain. I have this conversation with beginners in bonsai nearly every day at the nursery. So, if you want to get into growing bonsai and you have a garden, use it! Right now, you might not have any bonsai trees and the garden isn’t very interesting. If you get into bonsai and build a collection of lovely bonsai trees and bonsai projects, it will be coming into the house that’s the problem!

Anyway, off on a tangent there. Here is a list of a few of the easier bonsai tree species.


Description: Evergreen tropical tree. Sometimes cool aerial roots grow from the trunk.

What Makes Ficus bonsai trees good for beginners?

Ficus will grow well indoors, in a bright location. Since beginners often want to grow bonsai trees indoors, Ficus is a good choice. It is also easy to shape with wire, as the branches are supple and bend easily. Fairly forgiving if you forget to water.

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Chinese Elm

Description: Semi-evergreen tree. Usually most people first bonsai tree and a good choice. Naturally small leaves. Not too expensive either – Nice-looking trees are available without spending hundreds of pounds.

A well-shaped Chinese Elm potted into a nice pot. A good starter bonsai without spending a fortune makes them a good choice for beginners in bonsai.

What makes Chinese elm bonsai trees good for beginners?

Will grow indoors or outdoors but it is better to grow them outdoors if possible, for at least the warmer months of the year. Very easy to prune, as they put out lots of new shoots when they cut branches back. Also, frost is hardy for outdoor life. It’s quite easy to improve the look of the tree through regular pruning over time.

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Portulcaria – Small Leaf Jade

Description: Evergreen succulent. Not actually a tree as such but it looks like one. Small oval leaves.

What Makes Portulacaria bonsai trees good for beginners?

It naturally grows in hot climates, so it’s fine indoors. It is very tolerant of drying out, so if you forget to water for a few days, it won’t matter too much.


Description: Evergreen tree with scale-like foliage. A bonsai classic. Old specimens from Japan can be extremely valuable. Need to live outdoors and cannot survive indoors.

What Makes Juniper bonsai trees good for beginners?

It doesn’t have leaves in the way that you imagine when first think of a leaf. Junipers grow in small cells – little green segments. This means that you don’t have to worry about big leaves spoiling the image of the tree.

Evergreen Bonsai

A large tree in the wild can have a million leaves. We can’t do this with bonsai but junipers give the illusion of a wild tree due to the scale-like foliage, making them good for beginners in bonsai.

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Description: Evergreen. Small leaves and flowers. Small berries too. Needs to live outdoors.

What Makes Cotoneaster bonsai trees good for beginners?

Small leaves always help. It also responds well to pruning – It puts out lots of new shoots when you prune branches back.

Small leaves, flowers and berries make Cotoneaster a good choice for beginners to bonsai.

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