Garden & Greenhouse


Beginner Bonsai Plants

Posted October 16th, 2015 by Garden & Greenhouse in ,

While the concept of growing Bonsai plants can seem rather intimidating there are a few keys to help you succeed.

Get the Right Start

Find a good basic guide to the care of the Bonsai either at the local library, bookstore, or online. To purchase a Bonsai do not go to the garden superstore for a tree. Many of these Bonsai have been sitting on the shelves uncared for and can die fairly quickly. Look for a local Bonsai club and contact them for the best place to make a purchase. You may also be able to find a garden store that specializes in Bonsai. It is also best to choose a Bonsai that is fairly easy to care for so it will boost your confidence.

Top 3 Choices for Beginners


When you visualize a Bonsai this is usually the tree you see. These plants are very hardy and you can treat them fairly roughly with pruning and they will bounce back. This is a slow growing conifer that prefers full sun to semi-shade that should be fertilized once or twice a month from spring through to fall. Because this tree is fairly slow growing it only needs to be repotted every approximately every three years. Juniper is an excellent beginner plant for people living in the Northern Hemisphere.

Chinese Elm

The Chinese Elm is another very hardy and forgiving Bonsai tree. It can handle neglect and still manage to bounce back. It can be pruned heavily, watered inconsistently & even planted in poor soil in the container and it will still flourish. In addition they are a fast grower so if you are a bit impatient this might be the best choice.


Ficus are a tropical plant that prefers a tropical climate. However, they too will withstand much abuse and neglect and spring right back. It does well inside under low light and an irregular watering schedule. It is also a fast grower and the branches bend easily for shaping.

While it is a good idea to start with a Juniper, Chinese Elm or Ficus, before moving on to a harder to maintain Bonsai, there are other options if you a little bigger challenge.

Other Choices for Beginners


The fun aspect of this Bonsai tree is the flowering in mid-winter or spring (depending on your location). They are self-seeding and grow quite rapidly. In addition the branches are malleable and easy to shape.


There are numerous species of Boxwood you might wish to try. The Kingsville Dwarf is a good choice for a beginner. It is slow growing so will require some patience. It does best in partial shade and likes a fertilizer with a 10/15/10 balance.

Trident Maple

This Bonsai tree is a little more difficult to grow for a beginner. However if you like a challenge right from the start this might be the plant for you. This deciduous tree prefers full sun or partial shade. This plant will not respond to under watering very well so care must be taken to not let the roots dry out. It should be fertilized only during the growing season.

Japanese Snowdrop

This is a very elegant looking little tree that is suitable for beginners. It is deciduous with fairly large leaves. In fall the leaf edges will turn red or yellow and fragrant white flowers will appear. Use a water soluble fertilizer and never allow this plant to dry out completely.

All of the Bonsai plants listed above are able to withstand some abuse and neglect. In addition they are all fairly forgiving and will become amazing healthy Bonsai with a little patience and care.

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