What is the easiest bonsai tree to grow

Bonsai species: list of the 22 most popular species

We present the most beautiful and popular types of bonsai for indoors and in the garden - from ficus to maple, there is something for everyone.

The bonsai is a garden art in which various plants, mostly shrubs or trees, are transformed into a small format of themselves through targeted cultivation and cutting of roots and shoots. In the following, we will introduce you to the most popular types of bonsai with their special care requirements.


Which species are suitable as bonsai?

There are no strict restrictions - the main thing is that the plant used gives way to deliberate cramping and keeping small. Particularly small-leaved trees and conifer species are in the foreground, because the filigree greening fits perfectly with the rest of the dwarf design of the bonsai and thus offers an optimal overall picture. A good cut tolerance is also an advantage, since an impressive and imaginative design for the different bonsai shapes can only be realized through the regular cut of the bonsai. Over the centuries, classic bonsai species have emerged that adorn Japanese gardens and rooms. And a few species native to us have also established themselves as bonsai over time. In this article we give you a little insight into the variety of bonsai and introduce the most popular types for rooms and gardens.

The most popular indoor bonsai species

The indoor bonsai is probably the best-known form of mini-trees for us. Most indoor bonsais are small exotic species that sit enthroned on the windowsill all year round. However, you can do most species a favor by shipping them to a sunny spot in front of the door in summer. They should only spend the winter in a sheltered place, as the species are usually not hardy and sometimes get problems at temperatures below 15 ° C. Otherwise, there is a large selection of different plants that are suitable for beginners as well as professionals and allow a wide range of bonsai shapes due to their different growth and greatly varying leaf shapes.

Tip: In the following profiles we will also name suitable soils for each bonsai. Often, special earths are traditionally used, which contain lava stones from the Far East. But substrate manufacturers from Germany also offer high-quality basic soils for bonsai. The clay granulate contained in it does not necessarily come from China or Japan, but the bonsai does not care about the origin of its soil anyway, if the quality is right. And it is always better for the environment if the raw materials used come from Germany and are not flown in from Asia.

Chinese fig / laurel fig (Ficus microcarpa ginseng)

This plant, known as the Chinese fig or the bay fig, is the absolute beginner bonsai for indoors: The ficus is very robust and is characterized by rapid growth, high adaptability and high tolerance to pruning. This and its affordability make it the perfect bonsai for the inexperienced.

originSouth East Asia
growthFast growing; at very high humidity, e.g. B. by cultivation under a bell jar, the Ficus can develop aerial roots; noticeably thick roots
leavesEvergreen with oval, glossy dark green leaves
earth1: 1: 1 Akadama, lava chippings, humus; 2: 1: 1 potting soil, akadama and pumice
LocationSunny without direct sunlight; no space above a heater
winteringNot hardy; overwinter at 12 - 22 ° C
Cut / upbringingVery cut compatible; can be wired very well; not very versatile
particularitiesNeeds high humidity (e.g. by spraying the plant), never allow the substrate to dry out; if the ficus spends the summer (> 15 ° C) outside, a leaf cut should be made beforehand to reduce evaporation

Chinese elm (Ulmus parvifolia)

The Chinese elm is also wonderfully suitable for beginners. The plant forgives a little maintenance mishap and is characterized by a high level of robustness and adaptability.

originChina, Korea, Japan
leavesElliptical to ovoid in glossy green; deciduous to semi-evergreen in indoor culture
earthAkadama Earth
LocationFully sunny window seat to partial shade
wintering0 - 10 ° C are ideal
Cut / upbringingWell tolerated by cutting; Branches thicken quickly
particularitiesVery easy to care for

Chinese privet (Ligustrum sinensis)

The Chinese privet also feels at home in a shady place and is extremely easy to care for - it should only be warm at the location of this bonsai. The Japanese privet (Ligustrum japonicum). If you want to put a privet bonsai in the garden, you should rather use it Ligustrum ovalifolium, L. lucidum or the common privet (Ligustrum vulgare) To fall back on. These are hardy down to at least -10 ° C and will turn out well after freezing back.

growthFast growing; bears white flowers in summer
leavesSummer green; small and dark green
earth1: 2 basic bonsai soil and Akadama soil
LocationBright location without direct sunlight; place in partial shade in summer
winteringIf possible, overwinter at 15 ° C
Cut / upbringingVery cut compatible
particularitiesVery easy to care for

tip: Basic bonsai soil is a special universal soil that can be used on its own or as a base enriched with other ingredients. Its ingredients are put together in such a way that the special requirements that are made by the bonsai culture can be met. At the end of this article you will find our recommendation for a particularly good bonsai soil.

Fukientee (Carmona microphylla, also Ehretia microphylla or Ehretia buxifolia)

As far as its care requirements are concerned, the blooming Fukientee is also suitable for careful bonsai beginners. You only need a little experience with the design, because the plant should definitely be wired in order to get a harmonious shape.

growthBrown-gray bark with fine cracks on the trunk and gray, smooth bark on the branches; flowering almost all year round
leavesEvergreen; small and dark green with white hairs below and dots above
earth2: 1 Akadama and base bonsai soil
LocationBright location without direct sunlight at over 20 ° C; in summer sun to partial shade
winteringWinter at 12 - 24 ° C
Cut / upbringingVery cut compatible; must be wired
particularitiesOnly use organic fertilizers when fertilizing, as the roots are very sensitive; ensure sufficient humidity by spraying

Gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides)

The gardenia has a particularly tropical appearance, but this only comes to the fore if the plant is handled properly. Therefore, the sensitive plant is more of a bonsai for advanced growers.

originAsia to South Africa
growthCreamy white, fragrant flowers in summer; orange fruits in autumn
leavesEvergreen; glossy dark green with dots
earthSoil for acid-loving plants, e.g. B. Kanuma
LocationLight, airy location without direct sunlight; reacts very sensitively to change of location
winteringIf possible, overwinter at 15 ° C
Cut / upbringingWell tolerated by cutting; cut from May after flowering; Do not cut any more from August, so as not to remove flower buds

Banyan fig (Ficus retusa)

The banyan fig is the second ficus in our list. However, it is not offered as often as the ficus ˈginsengˈ, which can sometimes be found in discount stores. However, this ficus is much more suitable for designing a bonsai than its prominent relative. Its overall appearance is much more consistent and beautiful aerial roots are formed even under room conditions.

originEast India, Ceylon
growthWhitish-gray bark
leavesDark green, leathery leaves with a short blunt tip (laurel-like)
earth2: 1 basic bonsai soil and Akadama soil
LocationSun to partial shade
winteringWinter at 15 - 22 ° C
Cut / upbringingAll forms possible except literate form; the aerial roots make it suitable for planting rocks
particularitiesRegular spraying

Jade tree (Portulacaria afra)

The jade tree is one of the succulents and immediately catches the eye with its fleshy, shiny leaves. As a small bonsai it combines Asian accuracy and the exotic appearance of a plant from the African savannah.

originSouth Africa
growthReddish branches; thick trunk; fine branching; Bark changes from green to reddish brown with age; white flowers in autumn after a dry period in summer
leavesEvergreen; succulent, broad, oval leaves; in a sunny location with red edges
earth1: 1: 1 Akadama, basic bonsai soil and lava granulate
LocationSunny location; sun to partial shade outside in summer
winteringWinter at 8 - 22 ° C
Cut / upbringingTree shape and forests; Avoid wires, rather bracing
particularitiesSucculent, so the drying of the upper layer of soil before the next watering can sometimes take several days; very sensitive to waterlogging

Radiant aralia or lacquer leaf plant (Schefflera actinophylla, Brassaia actinophyla)

With its aerial roots and leaves, which glow bright green all year round, the ray aralia brings the rainforest to the windowsill in miniature format. The tropical plant needs to be nice and warm and can also tolerate radical pruning without problems. The Schefflera offers ideal conditions for training to be a room bonsai.

originAustralia, Southeast Asia
growthQuite fast growing; forms aerial roots (rock shape possible)
leavesEvergreen; long-stalked, radiantly arranged leaves in glossy dark green
earth1: 2: 2 clay, sand, and peat; 1: 1 Akadama soil, base bonsai soil and some Kiryu soil
LocationSunny (the more sun, the smaller the leaves)
winteringNot below 15 ° C
Cut / upbringingWell tolerated by cutting; Spread pruning over several days, as the plant exudes a lot of milky sap at the interfaces; radical cut back instead of wires
particularitiesSpray regularly

Olive tree (Olea europaea)

If you want to bring Mediterranean flair into your apartment or balcony with an olive tree as a bonsai, you need a lot of patience, but you will be rewarded with a beautiful, gnarled overall picture that is worth waiting for. Because of its small leaves and compact growth, the wild olive tree (Olea europaea sylvestris) particularly good for designing a bonsai.

originAsia Minor, Mediterranean
growthRobust; slowly growing; The bark later forms cracks and furrows
leavesEvergreen; elongated leaves with a dark green upper surface and a silvery gray lower surface
earth1: 2 Akadama and pumice gravel
LocationLight location; sunny outside in summer
winteringAt 5 - 20 ° C with as much light as possible
Cut / upbringingVery easy to cut; only annual shoots wirable
particularitiesAllow the substrate to dry completely between the watering runs, very sensitive to waterlogging

Large-leaved stone slice or "jaw of the Buddhists" (Podocarpus macrophyllus)

Conifers like the stone disc can also be designed as bonsai. Although these are cut a little differently than the deciduous tree species, they do not make the design more difficult or less diverse. The choices aren't limited to just one type, either P. chinensis is often trained to be a bonsai.

originJapan, China
growthGrowing slowly
leavesEvergreen conifer
earthSlightly acidic substrate; 2: 2: 2 clay (or akadama), peat and sand (or lava granules)
LocationBright location without blazing midday sun
winteringLight at around 10 - 20 ° C; rather keep dry
Cut / upbringingWell tolerated by cutting
particularitiesLoves acidic substrates

June snow or "Tree of a Thousand Stars" (Serissa foetida)

The "tree of a thousand stars" owes its name to its summery flower dress. This is also abundant in bonsai and exudes a strong scent.

originChina, southern Japan
growthAbundant flowering in June; Even as a young plant it forms a cracked bark
leavesVery small green leaves that are yellow-edged or veined depending on the variety
earth1: 1: 1 Akadama soil, basic bonsai soil, sand (very permeable)
LocationVery bright without direct sunlight; outside in summer sun to partial shade; is sensitive to change of location
winteringLight at 12-20 ° C; not above the heater
Cut / upbringingVery cut compatible; Roots give off an intense smell when cut
particularitiesNeeds constant site conditions, temperatures and water; Spray outside of the flowering period

The most popular types of bonsai for the garden

There are a number of species that are wonderful to train to become bonsai and that can be outdoors all year round. You should note that the culture in the bowl has its pitfalls in winter. Since the shell freezes through quickly due to its small volume, care should be taken in winter to have a protected place and good protection of the roots from the cold, even with completely hardy plants. If this is observed, nothing stands in the way of year-round forest bathing in your own miniature wonderland. We introduce you to a few particularly beautiful species that are suitable as outdoor bonsai.

Maple (Acer)

A real bonsai pearl right from the start: Many Asian maple species have uniquely shaped leaves. These include, for example, the red and green Japanese maple (Acer palmatum), the three-cornered maple (Acer buergerianum) and the fire maple (Acer ginnala). However, the most prominent among the maple species is the Japanese maple (Acer japonicum). Its appearance and its high tolerance to temperature fluctuations make it the ideal outdoor bonsai, which is why we are presenting it here as an example.

originMountain forests of Japan
growthPicturesque, tree-like shrub, short trunk, wide spreading crown; reddish-purple flowers when the leaves shoot
leavesDeciduous in bright green; 7- to 11-lobed leaves with serrated leaf margin; red autumn leaves
earth4: 1 Akadama soil and pumice gravel
LocationPenumbra; full sun in autumn and spring; sheltered from the wind
winteringConditionally hardy (-10 ° C)
Cut / upbringingVery cut compatible and malleable; cut in winter
particularitiesVery tolerant of temperature fluctuations; Multiple waterings may be necessary on hot days in summer

Pine trees (Pinus)

As with the maple genus, there are also a number of species of pines that can be trained as bonsai. Dwarf forms with particularly small needles are particularly beautiful here. The different species hardly differ in their care. Ideally, the incision should be made in winter, as this is when the least amount of resin escapes and the best wound healing is to be expected. Below is a small selection of pine trees that are great for outdoor bonsai.

Pine trees that are suitable as bonsai for the garden:

  • Girl pine (Pinus parviflora): Soft, curved needles, each in groups of five
  • Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris): Thin, possibly slightly twisted needles, standing in pairs; Bark on the upper trunk mostly reddish
  • European black pine (Pinus nigra sbsp. nigra): Long, strong needles in tufts of two; older bark is brownish gray with dark cracks that create a plate pattern
  • Mountain pine (Pinus mugo): Short, strong needles, in pairs in tufts, dark brown bark
  • Japanese black pine (Pinus thunbergii): Long, twisted, dark green, firm needles, standing in pairs
  • Japanese red pine (Pinus densiflora): Light green, delicate, slender needles, standing in pairs
originMainly widespread in the northern hemisphere
growthCracked bark of older plants
leavesEvergreen needles; arranged in bundles / tufts
earth2: 1: 1 Akadama, Kiryu earth and pumice gravel
LocationFull sun, needs a lot of light
winteringWell hardy
Cut / upbringingVery malleable; cut in winter, as this is the time when resin production is minimal
particularitiesVery sensitive to waterlogging

Yew trees (Taxus)

Yew trees are not only useful as hedge plants in the garden. Instead of holding back looks, they can also become real eye-catchers as bonsai. Due to its easy-care disposition, the yew tree is also particularly suitable for beginners. The local common yew do particularly well here (Taxus baccata), the Pacific yew (Taxus brevifolia) and the Japanese yew (Taxus cuspidata).

originEurope, North Africa, West Asia
growthIrregular branch growth; gray-brown bark with red inner bark; dark, upright trunk
leavesNeedle-like and dark green
earth4: 1 Akadama and gravel
LocationSunny, but without direct summer sun; Penumbra after the cut; also grow in the shade, but not as compact here
winteringHardy; sunny location
Cut / upbringingVery cut compatible; very flexible wood
particularitiesVery high water consumption; Spray occasionally, all parts of the plant except for the fleshy seed sheath poisonous

Azalea (rhododendron)

Azaleas like the Indian azalea (Rhododendron simsii), the Satsuki Azalea (Rhododendron indicum) or the evergreen Japanese azalea (Rhododendron japonicum) are valued as bonsai in homes because of their flowers. These so-called room azaleas are not hardy because they come from tropical or subtropical regions. So they have to be brought indoors at least in winter. But the genus also has a few hardy species ready. Garden azaleas like the Japanese azalea (Rhododendron obtusum) or the yellow azalea (Rhododendron luteum) can be cultivated as bonsai in the garden all year round.

originAsia, North America, Europe
growthDepending on the species, it blooms between March and July
leavesSummer green; oval, elongated leaves in light to dark green
earthLime-free, slightly acidic; pure Kanuma is very effective for azaleas
LocationSunny, but without direct summer sun
Cut / upbringingCut the base more strongly than the tip, as azaleas are very dominant on the base
particularitiesAcid-loving; pour with soft tap water or rainwater

Common Juniper (Juniperus communis)

The most popular juniper species for training in bonsai include the common juniper and the Chinese juniper (Juniperus chinensis) or the Japanese hedgehog juniper (Juniperus rigida).

originEurope, North America, West Asia
growthReddish-brown bark; black berries used to make gin
leavesVery hard gray-green, prickly needles
earth1: 1 basic bonsai soil and pumice gravel
LocationSunny location
winteringConditionally hardy (-10 ° C); sunny
Cut / upbringingVery cut compatible; malleable by wire
particularitiesLet the substrate dry well between the pouring runs; spray occasionally

Wild apple or crab apple (Malus sylvestris)

Even fruit-bearing trees can be brought into miniature form. Apple trees are particularly popular here because of their beautiful blossoms Malus Sieboldii, Malus halliana or - the local variant - the wild apple (Malus sylvestris), whereby cultivated forms with rather small fruits are of course particularly suitable. This creates a particularly beautiful overall picture.

originEurope, Middle East
growthFlowering in spring; Fruits in summer or autumn; fast growing; scaly gray-brown bark
leavesSummer green; oval dark green leaves
earth1: 1: 1 peat, pumice gravel and akadama
LocationSunny; shade in summer and winter
winteringWinter protection necessary
Cut / upbringingVery cut compatible; Leave short shoots as they will bear the flowers in the following year; shorten shoots after flowering; wire to promote flowering and to support fruit formation
particularitiesHigh water demand; Reduce fertilization during flowering

Elms (Ulmus spec.)

As mentioned above, the Chinese elm is one of our most popular indoor bonsai species, but elms can also enrich your green oasis as bonsai in the garden. Hardy species such as the field elm (Ulmus minor), the mountain elm (Ulmus glabra) or the Dutch elm (Ulmus x hollandica), especially the Jaqueline Hilerˈ variety with its particularly small leaves.

growthGrowing fast; greyish bark
leavesSummer green; very small leaves, tapering to a point; strong autumn colors
earth1: 1: 1 Akadama, peat and pumice gravel
LocationFull sun
winteringWinter protection necessary
Cut / upbringingEasily malleable; well tolerated by cutting; usually wires can be dispensed with
particularitiesPrevent infestation with elm splint beetle (carrier of the fungal disease "Dutch elm disease")

Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus)

The high cut tolerance and vigor make the hornbeam our favorite among the domestic bonsai species for the garden. This deciduous wood, otherwise known more as a hedge plant, is an excellent bonsai for beginners. Apart from C. betulus the Korean hornbeam is also suitable (Carpinus turczaninowii) or the Japanese hornbeam (C. japanicum and C. laxiflora) to create a miniature tree in the bowl. The oriental hornbeam is an insider tip among the hornbeams (Carpinus orientalis).

originEurope, East Asia
growthFast growing; narrow, twisted branches; Bark light gray, often with cracks
leavesSummer green; oval with ribbing in strong green; yellow autumn colors; Leaves are usually only shed with new shoots in spring
earth5: 4: 1 base bonsai soil, akadama and sand
LocationSun to partial shade; shade in summer
Cut / upbringingVery cut compatible; latest cut in August
particularitiesVery robust beginner plant; pour with soft water; high fertilizer consumption

Cotoneaster or Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster)

The coton brings everything that is needed for training to become a bonsai. The already low growth in combination with the small leaves as well as the very good cut tolerance make the cotoneaster interesting not only for experts. Even beginners can enjoy the diverse design options that the plant offers them. Are particularly suitable here Cotonaester conspicuous, C. horizontalis, C. preacox, C. microphyllus and C. congestus.

originEurope, Asia, North Africa
growthWhite, pink, or red flowers in spring; yellow to red fruits in autumn; growing low
leavesSmall, glossy green leaves; deciduous or evergreen, depending on the species
earthPure Akadama or basic bonsai soil
LocationSun in spring and autumn; partial shade in summer; airy
winteringConditionally hardy (-10 ° C); Cover evergreen species in severe frost
Cut / upbringingCan be shaped very well and in many ways; Topiary during spring emergence; very easy to wire
particularitiesTolerates short dry periods; fertilize from April to early September; keep rather dry when the leaves are sprouting, so the leaves sprout particularly small

European larch (Larix decidua)

The European larch is also one of the native plant species. It is therefore ideally adapted to our climate and can be placed in a sunny spot in the garden all year round. The actual forest giant can also be made into a bowl thanks to its good cut tolerance and wirability. The Japanese larch is not indigenous, but nonetheless resistant (Larix Kaempferi), which is also visually impressive with its gray-green needles and red-brown, cracked bark.

originTemperate zones of Europe
growthBark in light brown to red to gray brown with cracks
leavesSummer green; dark green, soft needles that turn golden yellow in autumn
earth1: 1: 1 Akadama, lava granulate and pumice gravel
LocationFull sun; the more light, the smaller the needles
winteringHardy (-40 ° C)
Cut / upbringingWell tolerated by cutting; easy to wire; Cut from May to September; Topiary before budding in spring
particularitiesWatering by showering with rainwater to increase humidity; never let it dry out

Winter linden (Tilia cordata)

Among the linden species, the winter linden is particularly suitable for designing as a bonsai because of its small leaves. The tree receives even smaller leaves after leaf cutting in summer, which the winter lime tree tolerates excellently.

originCentral, Northern, Eastern Europe
growthBlack roots; fragrant yellowish cup flowers in summer; oval to spherical nuts; black-gray cracked bark with age
leavesSummer green; round to slightly heart-shaped leaves; golden yellow foliage
earth3: 2 Akadama and humus with a good drainage layer of gravel
LocationSun to shade; the more sun, the smaller the leaves; Partial shade to avoid dehydration
winteringHardy; overwinter in the shade
Cut / upbringingVery cut compatible and malleable; last cut in early August; wire carefully; Topiary from shoot through to summer
particularitiesVery sensitive to salinization (pour rainwater and fertilize organically) and drought

After you have found the right bonsai for you, the next step is the right care. You can find out how to water your bonsai correctly here.

Many thanks to Floragard for the support!

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I study plant biotechnology and am often confronted with the serious consequences that ignorance and misinformation can have for nature. That is why it is particularly important to me to bring people and nature closer together again.
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