10 Most Popular Bonsai Trees

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Whether you are passionate about gardening or would like to introduce some greenery to your home or office, an artistic green challenge that you may want to consider is the bonsai tree.

This art of bonsai is believed to instill serenity and peace in its practitioners. Once cultivated by the upper class in Japan, it now is accessible to many and enjoys global popularity as an indoor plant.

The cultivation of bonsai trees has been shown to benefit both mental and physical well-being. So, if you are up to a garden challenge or feel inspired at the thought of practicing art with so many personal growth benefits, the bonsai tree is a perfect option. You’ll also have a lovely addition to your indoor or outdoor garden.

This article covers the Most Popular Bonsai Trees along with an overview of each one. 

1. Cedar Bonsai Tree (Cedrus)

Cedar Bonsais are beautiful trees that are particularly appealing for their attractive bark.

Four cedar species are popular among bonsai enthusiasts: Atlas Cedar, Cyprus Cedar, Himalayan Cedar, and the Lebanon Cedar. All are conifer evergreen trees that have small, short needle clusters adding to their dramatic appeal.

The soil bed should be somewhat dry between watering, and they enjoy direct sunlight, approximately six hours daily. Cedar bonsai trees need protection from cold temperatures and wind, especially when younger. These trees should not be overwatered. Wounds from pruning are slow to heal. They respond well to wiring that’s practiced with care.

Cedar bonsai trees require regular attention and proper care, making them ideal for experienced bonsai enthusiasts. They are trees that can be grown indoors or outside with special care regarding sunlight exposure.

2. Chinese Elm Bonsai Tree (Ulmus Parvifolia)

The Chinese Elm species is an extremely popular choice for a bonsai tree for beginners. Indigenous to Southeast Asia and China, it features small foliage that change colors.  

It is tolerant of overwatering and a rapid grower, so it’s ideal for beginner bonsai gardeners. The Chinese elm can thrive in full sunlight or partial shade, and can be placed outside during the summer but should be brought indoors for the winter.

This tree cannot endure either constant moisture or drought, and will require frequent trimming because they grow fast. They are optimal for shaping through wiring.

3. Dwarf Jade Bonsai Tree (Portulacaria afra)

The Dwarf Jade Tree is a popular bonsai species that is native to South Africa. Its foliage is soft and fleshy with trunks that become woody. They’re similar to the common jade plant (Crassula ovata) that’s a popular houseplant, but the dwarf jade has smaller leaves that makes for a wonderful bonsai. 

In temperate climates, it is cultivated as an indoor bonsai. If you live in a sunny, warm to hot climate, it can be cultivated outside. Ideally, the Dwarf Jade bonsai has full sun exposure and temperatures should not drop below 40°F. When this tree receives bright light, leaves will develop beautiful red edges and tips.

Water with caution to avoid overwatering, as the tree stores water in foliage. Allow the soil bed to dry out somewhat before watering. Branch limbs tend to be heavy due to water storage and they should be pruned often. As the tree trunks are soft, care should be taken when wiring to avoid breaking.

4.     Fukien Tea Bonsai Tree (Carmona Retusa)

The Carmona Fukien Tea bonsai tree is traditionally an indoor bonsai that is native to Australia, Japan, Taiwan, and Indonesia, but its place of origin is Fujian (Fukien), China, hence its name. 

This little gem can be grown outdoors if you live in a very warm climate. Indoors it should be near a window as it requires lots of light and a moist soil bed.

The Fukien Tea Tree responds to pruning well. With regular pruning, it will grow dense branches which accounts for much of its appeal. Small white flower blossoms can bloom year-round with berries.

For those that love the idea of a tree that produces blooms year-round, the Fukien Tea bonsai is a popular type of tree.

5.     Ginseng Ficus Bonsai Tree (Ficus Retusa)

A member of the Mulberry plant family, the ginseng ficus is a popular indoor bonsai tree for beginner bonsai creators. They are present in all tropical regions and make great indoor bonsai trees because they are easy to care for.

The ficus tree likes full sunlight with constant temperatures. They won’t do well in cold conditions. Although they prefer high humidity, they can also thrive in low humidity conditions.

Thick, waxy green leaves are part of their appeal, but they require regular pruning for the tree to maintain its shape. Thin and medium branches are flexible and respond well to wiring. The thick, pot-bellied trunk is easily recognizable and loved.

6. Japanese Flowering Cherry Bonsai Tree (Prunus Serrulata)

Stunning pink flower blossoms and delicate leaves make the Japanese Flowering Cherry Bonsai  extremely popular among bonsai artists.

Symbolizing friendship, the flowering cherry tree is native to China, but is more readily identified with Japan.  Low maintenance and adaptability to training make them a sought after type of bonsai tree for any bonsai collection. 

These trees need less light than other tree types as they do not tolerate full sun, but do enjoy lots of indirect light during the growing season.

During the growing season, they will struggle if placed indoors and will most likely not flower. In the winter they require a dormancy period. They can be wired year-round for training and consistently moist, humid conditions will benefit them.

7. Japanese Maple Tree (Acer Palmatum)

The graceful hardwood Japanese Maple Bonsai Tree is beloved for its bright red and green foliage that turn orange, yellow, and red in autumn.

Japanese Maple bonsai are a good option for beginner bonsai gardeners because branches are flexible and adaptable to training. Care and maintenance are easy to go along with its moderate growth. 

They need less sunlight than other bonsai species and partial shade works well. This tree does require more water.

While this is an outdoor tree, it can be cultivated indoors where it will liven up décor with its stunning leaves. When grown outdoors, be sure to protect it from frost and cold weather.

8. Juniper Tree (Juniperus)

Almost all bonsai trees are happier outside since they are trees, and Juniper bonsai trees are no exception. This tree does best outdoors in a bright location with tons of sunlight.

In winter months, the Juniper tree will need some protection from frosty temperatures. Its foliage becomes brown in winter as part of internal protection. In the spring, they’re back to green!

Soil beds should be dry before watering as the Juniper does not appreciate wetness. These trees are regarded as strong trees that support pruning well. They are heavily wired in youth to emulate the naturally twisted shapes present in Japanese mountains.

Learn more in this in-depth How to Care for Juniper Bonsai Trees article.

9. Pine Tree (Pinus)

The pine tree is popular exactly because it is a hardy tree and can survive harsher conditions better than other bonsai. Among the most popular pine species for the art of bonsai are the Japanese Black Pine, Japanese White Pine, Mountain Pine, and the Scots Pine.

Pine bonsai trees are great if you want to grow a bonsai outdoors. They are frost tolerant and hardy, but when cultivated in containers they will need shelter in inclement weather.

They are also very trainable, making them an optimal choice for bonsai cultivation. They can be pruned into practically any shape. You’ll find pine trees in bluish-green tints, as well as light or dark green hues.

These are popular and common trees used for bonsai cultivation globally. An important part of pine bonsai cultivation is the wiring, meaning some experience will pay off with this tree. But they can and are shaped into all bonsai styles with great success.

Read more about the Norfolk Island Pine Tree.

10. Weeping Fig Tree (Ficus Benjamina)

The Ficus Benjamina or Weeping Fig Bonsai Tree are exceptionally popular thanks to their beautiful foliage canopy. Thin branches will weep downward under the weight of leaves.

The weeping fig has strong roots. As a full-size tree, its strong roots can even break up sidewalks and streets as they grow toward the surface. When cultivated as bonsais, these surface roots add to the tree’s appeal. Root pruning will help with keeping a clean look.

This ficus loves water more than other trees types. They need to receive plenty of sunlight, but kept shielded from the hot midday sunlight. It requires regular pruning to maintain shape and size, because it is a fast grower.

Its popularity among bonsai enthusiasts also stems from the fact that it is adaptable to many bonsai styles. That includes formal and informal upright, broom, semi-cascade, and slanting.

Learn more about the Weeping Fig Tree

The sheer beauty of bonsai trees with stylish artistic designs makes them a beautiful addition to any location and they make lovely gifts.

While nearly any perennial tree can be cultivated and trained as a bonsai tree, some tree species are more popular for aesthetic considerations and others for low-maintenance care.

Often described as living sculptures, bonsai trees have been found through research to contribute to relaxation and a positive attitude in people with debilitating health conditions.

Learn more about the bonsai type of plant with these other articles: 

Fast Growing Trees and Plants

Bonsai Boy Plants and Pots

Photo of author

Written by:

Amy Walsh
Amy Walsh is a passionate indoor gardener, deeply engrossed in the world of houseplants and herbs. Her apartment is a lush sanctuary of foliage, reflecting her journey from hobbyist to devoted botanist. She's constantly exploring the latest in smart garden technology, eager to share her insights on nurturing green spaces indoors. Alongside her botanical pursuits, Amy enjoys connecting with nature and friends, continually enriching her lifestyle with greenery and growth.

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