A Bonsai tree will be a lovely addition to your home décor whether you have other houseplants or not. These beautiful miniature trees are living sculptures that contribute to the well-being and the serenity of the location.
However, growing a bonsai tree indoors can be challenging because some species thrive more when outdoors. Bonsai trees do require continued pruning and training to maintain their bonsai status.
If you are considering acquiring an indoor bonsai tree for your home or as a gift to someone, this article lists some of the best indoor bonsai trees for your consideration.
Best Indoor Bonsai Tree Types
There are many varieties of Bonsai trees. Just about any species can be pruned into a bonsai tree, but there are undoubtedly some species that do better indoors than others.
Here are the top seven bonsai trees to grow indoors.
1. Chinese Elm Bonsai Tree
The Ulmus parvifolia or Chinese Elm is a native of Southeast Asia and China. This tree is very hardy and can even tolerate exposure to full sun.
The average lifespan for a Chinese elm bonsai tree is 50 to 150 years. These are a great choice for beginners as they are more forgiving when under or overwatered.
Chinese elms will thrive in partial shade and can manage in cold climates, but will drop foliage if temperatures move down to freezing levels. That’s why they’re better as an indoor tree for beginners, as the indoor environment helps to protect the bonsai from freezing.
It also requires frequent watering as miniature bonsais tend to dry out very quickly. These elms feature woody trunks, small-sized nodes, and tiny foliage.
The Chinese elm is a rapid grower, so it requires frequent pruning, particularly if you want it to maintain a specific shape. It responds well to wiring.
2. Cotoneaster Bonsai Tree
The Cotoneaster tree is small, to begin with, making it suitable for Bonsai training. It calls three continents home: Africa, Asia, and Europe.
These trees boast beautiful glossy green leaves, produce tiny white flowers, and bear small fruits that resemble apples.
The Cotoneaster likes a spot in the sun, and when cultivated in bonsai containers, should not be exposed to freezing temperatures or frost, even if most varieties are cold hardy.
Happily, these trees are also tolerant of drought if it doesn’t go too long without water. Branches are flexible, so they respond well to training with wires.
3. Dwarf Jade Bonsai Tree
The Dwarf Jade Bonsai Tree, Portulacaria afar, boasts an average lifespan of 100 years. They are natives of South Africa and thrive in dry climate conditions.
A Jade Bonsai Tree is a good choice for beginners. It resembles the real Jade plant, the Crassula ovata.
Dwarf Jade trees are short and rarely grow more than ten inches in height. It is exactly this height that makes them an ideal choice as an indoor bonsai. Pruning requirements are minimal, several times a year are good to keep its shape intact.
As a succulent, the Jade tree needs regular watering in the spring and summer months. They only need to be watered in fall and winter when the soil bed dries out completely. It can be at risk of overwatering, so you want to make sure you have a well-draining bonsai soil mix.
4. Ficus Retusa Bonsai Tree
The Ficus retusa, also known as a Ginseng Ficus or Weeping Fig, is a native of Southeast Asia and is among the hundreds of Ficus species in existence.
Ficus trees are classified as tropical evergreens and are a good choice for beginners. The average lifespan is about 200 years.
They do not do well in cold temperatures or when exposed to cold drafts. They require good sun exposure, but care should be taken in the afternoons as bright sunlight can damage foliage, resulting in burned leaves.
This particular bonsai does not like changes, so temperature changes and moving it around may disturb this tree.
The ficus bonsai tree is a rapid grower and will require continued pruning year-round. They do scar easily when pruned and don’t heal quickly. It can be shaped like an upright, whether formal or informal.
5. Japanese Maple Bonsai Tree
The Japanese Maple Bonsai, botanically known as the Acer Palmatum, is a wonderful flowering bonsai tree. They are popular tree species for bonsais with an average lifespan of 100 years.
As full-grown trees, they are appreciated for the shade they provide. These trees are native to China, Japan, and Korea.
While a hardy tree, they still need lots of care and maintenance. During the growing season, Japanese Maple trees need to be watered daily.
Because the foliage is delicate, direct sunlight exposure should be avoided to prevent burning. Most pruning should be done during the summer and fall months, with a little trimming the rest of the year.
6. Juniper Bonsai Tree
The Juniperus Chinensis tree has a 100-year lifespan and is a popular choice for those that enjoy training bonsai tree designs.
A member of the Cypress family, they are relatively easy to care for, but do need adequate water, humidity, and light, as do all bonsais. They will require an average of four hours of sunlight daily. Watering will be necessary when the soil bed dries out.
The main appeal of this evergreen tree is the fact that it can be pruned and trained into various shapes. The tree’s branches offer lots of flexibility, making them easy to train with wire and trimming.
The Juniper bonsai is often sold as an outdoor bonsai, but when kept outdoors, it will go into dormancy in the winter. Due to this, it can be kept both indoors and outdoors.
7. The Money Tree Bonsai
The Money Tree, botanically known as the Pachira Aquatica, has a shorter lifespan than other bonsais and averages 10 to 30 years.
It’s a member of the Malvaceae family and a native of Central America, so it thrives in high humidity. It will not tolerate cold temperatures lower than 54° Fahrenheit.
Pruning is best done during the winter months before new growth begins. The tree should be watered sparingly to avoid root damage from overwatering.
The Money Tree is best fed during spring through fall. This tree will flower in the spring.
Indoor Bonsai Tree Care Guide
Caring for indoor bonsais isn’t all that much different from caring for outdoor bonsais.
Depending on the climate where your bonsai is located, it may require more or less watering. The soil must never dry out completely. You may also need a humidity tray.
With the correct care and trimming, your bonsai tree will remain small and healthy indefinitely. Your great-grandchildren may even end up caring for it.
Soil for Indoor Bonsai Trees
Typical soil ingredients used in bonsai soil mixes include akadama, lava rock, pumice, and gravel.
Bonsai soil mixes need to be pH neutral and must ensure good drainage, moisture retention, and aeration for root systems.
Read the in-depth guide on the Best Bonsail Soil Mixes and Choosing Bonsai Soil.
Light for Indoor Bonsai Trees
Indoor bonsai trees require about 5 hours of direct or indirect light daily. This will vary slightly depending on the species of the tree, but be sure to give your bonsai plenty of light.
Good light is crucial to your bonsai’s health, meaning that your tree should be positioned in a location that guarantees bright light. Ideally, they should be near a south-facing window.
If you don’t have good, natural light at home, you can use artificial lights with LED, HID, or fluorescent bulbs.
Learn more about the best window directions for plants.
Temperatures for Indoor Bonsai Trees
Generally speaking, daytime temperatures should measure between 64°F and 75°F, and between 57°F and 61°F at night. Tropical bonsai tree species will do well indoors because temperatures are more stable.
Keep your bonsai away from heating and air conditioning vents, as well as window and door drafts.
Water and Humidity for Indoor Bonsai Trees
Bonsai trees prefer higher humidity, so a plant humidifier or water tray placed underneath the bonsai pot can help.
For most bonsai trees, there is not a need to water regularly on a schedule. You can choose to water when the soil bed is slightly dry. Keep the soil moist for healthy bonsai growth.
When choosing a bonsai pot, make sure to select one with good drainage holes.
Read more about How Often to Water Bonsai Trees.
Repotting Indoor Bonsai Trees
Repotting will depend on the species, the size, the tree’s age, and the growing environment. Roots popping out of the soil will hint at when it’s time to repot.
Younger trees usually require repotting every two years, whereas older trees can be repotted every three to five years when they don’t grow as fast.
Propagating Indoor Bonsai Trees
The Sashiki method for propagating Bonsais from cuttings is very popular because it is inexpensive. Growing from a cutting is approximately a year faster than growing a bonsai from seed.
Take a cutting from a healthy bonssai tree by cutting a branch approximately 2 to 4 inches in length and 1/8-inch thick. Plant the cuttings in the spring and summer when the growing conditions are best.
Prune your cuttings at a 45° angle and place them about one inch apart in bonsai potting mix. Water thoroughly and keep the soil bed moist. In several weeks, your cuttings will begin to grow.
Indoor Bonsai Tree Problems and Pests
Most indoor bonsai trees are relatively easy to take care of. However, some pests and diseases can affect your indoor bonsai tree.
Typical symptoms of problems with your Bonsai include:
- Brittle, dying leaves are a sign of underwatering.
- Bonsai leaves dropping when out of season is a classic symptom of overfertilization.
- Wilted leaves or stems may be a sign of too little sunlight.
- Yellow, discolored leaves – This is a telltale sign of overwatering. Leaves and branches will also shrivel. Crispy yellow leaves indicate too much sunlight. Yellow wilting leaves can also signal overfertilization.
Typical bonsai tree pests include:
- Spider mites
If your tree is suffering from a pest infestation, you’ll see ragged leaf edges, leaves with holes or bites, out-of-season leaf drops, eggs or webs on the underside of the foliage, or the actual bugs on the tree.
An organic pesticide should resolve the situation, but research solutions for specific pests.
Read more about Organic Pest Control Methods.
Best Indoor Bonsai Trees Final Thoughts
Caring for your Bonsai tree in indoor environments can be a truly rewarding experience any bonsai beginner. You’ll find it gratifying and relaxing.
Each tree has unique characteristics, with green leaves and some flower blooms. Many are easy to train into beautiful designs.
When selecting your Bonsai make sure to choose a healthy tree and select the right tree species for your level of bonsai training. Choose a hardy tree that will survive if you make a few mistakes along the way.
For more about caring for and growing bonsai trees, check these articles out: