The Ultimate Guide To Bonsai Trees: Types And Species

Thousands of bonsai trees are bought every year. Which means a bonsai tree is bought every day. Yes, just before your day runs out, someone somewhere in the world just bought a bonsai tree! With the most expensive bonsai tree in the world going for millions of dollars wondering what the craze is all about? Read-on! 

Strong-looking and sturdy yet petite, portable, and delicate. The uniqueness of a bonsai tree has attracted many for years. For instance, a lot of people wondered how a tree could exist in such a petite form. Although they are known to be outdoor trees, certain bonsai tree species and types of bonsai trees thrive indoors. 

Their ability to thrive indoors has caught the attention of top interior designers and decorators, they use bonsai trees in offices, homes, and hotels. Bonsai trees are capable of taking an interior from normal to plush, effortlessly. They have become a trend in urban households and office spaces around the world.  

Certainly, you may begin to wonder how a tree could survive normally completely indoors. It takes some effort to achieve this, besides, the world’s most expensive bonsai tree was not grown in a day but you can grow your own bonsai masterpiece in your home. 

A lot of factors contribute to their survival; temperature, sunlight, water, and pruning are all required for a bonsai tree to flourish. A bonsai tree needs sunlight to photosynthesize so it is required to place a bonsai tree near a window so it can receive sunlight. Also, natural rain needed for watering the plant could be substituted with you watering it frequently. However, fluctuations in temperature may have positive impacts on a bonsai tree while extreme temperatures during winter and summer will have a bad effect on it. This may occur especially to a bonsai fruit tree, it is sometimes more sensitive because of its fruits.

The Top 3 Best Indoor Bonsai Trees

Ficus Ginseng Bonsai Best Bonsai Overall 


The Ficus Ginseng bonsai tree when compared to the other types of bonsai trees is the best overall as it is a low maintenance tree, quite flexible, and requires less time and effort. Which makes it the perfect option for both beginners and experts!

Azalea –  Best Bonsai For Beautification 


There are many beautiful bonsai plants but the Azalea bonsai is the most beautiful bonsai. It is different from its counterpart because of its gorgeous flowers. It is perfect for interior design and decoration. 

Chinese Elm bonsai –  Best Bonsai For Value Of Money 


Out of all the bonsai types available, The offers the best value for money because its leathery tiny leaves, medicinal properties, edible leaves and seeds, fast growth and low-maintenance bring a whole burst of benefits at an affordable price. You get an easy to navigate bonsai without breaking the bank.

Types of Bonsai Trees

Different types of Bonsai Trees are chosen for different reasons; physical features, time demand, money, temperature, fruits and so much more. The top five best bonsai trees are: 

1. Ficus Ginseng Bonsai -Best Bonsai Overall


This is one of the most common indoor bonsai trees among the types of bonsai trees. Although more than 800 species of ficus bonsai have been discovered, Ficus Ginseng Bonsai is one of the most popular and one of the best bonsai trees. It is commonly called Banyan fig or Taiwan Ficus. 

It has an eye-catching appearance because its roots are partially exposed. It looks like a miniature tree standing on its toes. This stunning appearance makes it stand out among the bonsai tree types. It also grows rapidly.

  • Watering: Do not leave plants extremely dry and do not leave plant waterlogged, always keep your Ficus Ginseng bonsai moist.
  • Repotting: Repot during mid-summer or spring of alternate years
  • Temperature and Position: Although it is able to grow indoors, it is important to position a Ficus bonsai tree under direct sunlight especially in the morning to permit growth. Ficus Ginseng bonsais are quite tolerant to humidity due to their thick leaves. Lack of sunlight can cause a loss of leaves. 
  • Pruning: This mini bonsai tree grows very fast when it has grown up to 6-10 leaves, prune it to 2-4 leaves especially during spring as it grows more.
  • Insects and disease: Most Ficus Bonsais are commonly attacked by scale. Scale usually presents as bumps on the branches, these bumps usually range from brownish color to blackish color. These bumps are insects protected by a shell. 
  • Mites frequently attack ficus as well, this usually presents as reddish-brown needle-pinned-holes around the tips of the branches. If there is a severe infection, the tree may have yellow leaves and “spider webs”

User Critic

Most customers love the Ficus Ginseng bonsai’s nicely exposed roots structure and how the leaves grow. However, some customers found the appearance of the roots a bit freaky. 

Some customers also commended how tolerant the Ficus Ginseng bonsai tree is to temperature, stating that it survived harsh winter and summer temperatures and humidity. Buyers love this bonsai and prefer it over the other types of bonsai trees.


  • It requires low maintenance. 
  • Highly capable of withstanding temperature change
  • Known to absorb air pollutants like Formaldehyde (from paper towels and paper bags), Benzene (found in detergent and plastics) and Ammonia (found in fertilizers)
  • It has medicinal properties
  • Nicely exposed roots structure
  • It is easy to shape with wire 
  • It can grow indoors and outdoors
  • It is the perfect choice for beginners


  • The ficus bonsai tree may be harmful to animals
  • Easily injured and heals slowly
  • Movements, re-potting, may lead to leaf dropping or leaf discoloration.

The Verdict

The Ficus Ginseng bonsai is one of the most popular and certainly one of the most stunning bonsai trees. Its low maintenance character attracts a lot of bonsai growers. Furthermore, its adaptive behavior towards temperature change is definitely the best feature of Ficus Ginseng bonsai trees.

2. Azalea Bonsai – Best Bonsai For Beautification


This bonsai is one of the most wanted and popular bonsais. Azalea bonsai is wanted and popular because of its beautiful flowering nature. Its flowers are usually of different colors which are very appealing to the eye especially when in full bloom. Its flowers usually range from red to purple to pink, they bloom in late spring. There are a lot of species of the azalea bonsais but the Satsuki Azalea bonsai is the most common and it is one of the most beautiful bonsai tree species. It tolerates root pruning and easily re-generates. Its leaves are quite small, this makes them the best choice for most bonsai artists. Azalea bonsais are very hardy.  Their leaves are known to be quite hairy. 

  • Watering: Azalea bonsais can grow indoors and outdoors. They require frequent watering as they cannot withstand dry soil. If their roots are left dry, they may die. Therefore, to sustain an Azalea bonsai, frequent observation is required. They also do not tolerate lime as their soil is usually acidic. Using rain water or lime-free water is a must for this plant. They also enjoy frequent misting.
  • Temperature and positioning: Azalea bonsais thrive better in warmer temperatures, specifically above 40o. Discoloration of their leaves occurs when exposed to cold weather, their leaves turn yellow and end up falling. Although the leaves will grow back when the temperature gets back to normal, it is important to observe any slight changes. 

Azalea bonsais survive better when exposed to sunlight. However, exposing them to excessive sunlight may burn their leaves. Also, some watering precautions should be taken when exposing them to sunlight so they don’t get dried out. Excessive sunlight should be avoided when flowering so the flowers last longer.

  • Pruning: Prune the lower branches harder than the upper branches as the lower branches naturally grow stronger than the upper branches. However, Azalea branches are generally brittle. For an Azalea bonsai to thrive better, get rid of any dead leaves or flowers.
  • Repotting: Younger plants require repotting every two years while older plants require repotting every four years. They thrive better in acidic soil so when repotting, it is important to use lime-free soil like Pure Kanuma or a soil mix of equal proportions of akadama, pumice and humus to create an acidic environment for Azalea Bonsais. The best time to re-pot is after flowering.
  • Insects and diseases: Azalea bonsais may be susceptible to insects and pests like white flies, caterpillars, scale etc. Their leaves can be eaten by Vine weevils and Azalea’s roots may be damaged by the grubs of vine weevils. If this occurs, treat with insecticidal soap or contact your local bonsai service.

User Critic

Customers reported that it only blooms in season and found this feature quite disappointing especially if purchased for its flowers. Some customers found it difficult to maintain especially indoors, due to this, a lot of customers experienced drying of leaves, falling of leaves and tree death, suggesting that leaving this plant outside will help you achieve better results. 

As it requires acidic soil, most customers find it extremely difficult to maintain as tap water cannot be used. However, it’s quite affordable and if repotted it grows bigger and better.


  • Produces beautiful flowers 
  • It is commonly used in interior design and decoration
  • Perfect bonsai to design due to its flowering nature


  • Flowers may liter your environment
  • Requires acidic environment to grow which may sometimes be difficult to create
  • Does not tolerate tap water, making it difficult to manage.

The Verdict

The Azalea bonsai is one of the most unique, most popular, and one of the most bought bonsai trees in the world. It has this craze because of its bright, colorful, and beautiful flowers. Unfortunately, this tree requires a lot of maintenance, due to its intolerance to tap water, its higher sensitivity to temperature, and its level of tolerance to sunlight when compared to the other types of bonsai trees. 

3. Chinese Elms – Best Bonsai For Value Of Money


Chinese Elms, popularly known as lacebark elms, are among the easiest bonsais to grow for beginners. They have rapid growth, woody trunks, and tiny leaves. Of all the types of bonsai trees mentioned here, Chinese Elms are the most tolerant of water, being able to condone overwatering and underwatering. However, dryness is their biggest enemy. 

A Chinese Elm loses its leaves sometimes, this is usually due to inadequate sunlight. Its seeds and leaves are edible. The Chinese Elms can also be used to create some jade bonsai styles.

  • Watering: It is able to withstand different levels of watering; however, dehydration is its biggest enemy. It should not be left dry or overwatered.
  • Pruning: Permit new shoots to reach 3-4 and then prune back to 1-2 leaves. Prune especially towards the end of autumn. Pruning creates a ramification. Root pruning should be carried out precisely as the root of Chinese Elms are usually inter-twined. 
  • Repotting: Every two years, younger Chinese Elms should be repotted while older Chinese Elms can be left in the same pot over a longer period of time.
  • Insects and diseases: It can be infected with red spider mites, scale, and whitefly. Spraying pesticides can prevent this. However, pesticides containing thinned lime-sulfur should be avoided as this may cause all the leaves of Chinese Elms to fall.
  • Temperature and Position: Chinese elms live at 60o Fahrenheit. They can grow in full and partial sunlight.  However, these bonsai plants generally grow better in the direct morning sunlight and excessive sunlight may burn their leaves. They cannot withstand the drastic change in temperature

User Critic

A lot of customers love how densely colored the leaves are and appreciate the leathery texture of Chinese Elms. Some customers like the idea of how long the trees will be able to live. 

Some Chinese elm bonsai growers are in awe of how beautiful this plant looks while other customers enjoy how fast this tree grows. Quite a number of customers feared the invasiveness of this tree.


  • They are beginner-friendly
  • You can use it for medicinal purposes 
  • You can use it indoors and outdoors
  • They are resistant to Dutch elm disease (a fatal disease that affects most elms)
  • They adapt quite well indoors when compared to other types of bonsai trees


  • Their branches may break-off if exposed to powerful winds
  • Often noted to be invasive if allowed to grow outdoors
  • They require frequent trimming of their branches to maintain its shape

The Verdict

The woody trunks and the green tiny leaves of The Chinese Elm bonsai make this tree one of the prettiest bonsai trees. its rapid growth, watering tolerance, and low maintenance nature attract beginner bonsai growers. However, the edible leaves and seeds of The Chinese elm and its medicinal benefits are certainly its most unique characteristics, they make this tree stand out. 

4. Hawaiian umbrella


This tree is sometimes called Dwarf umbrella tree or octopus tree or parasol tree. It gets its names from its growth style. Its scientific name is Schefflera arboricola. Among the many bonsai types out there, the unique umbrella shape and the evergreen nature of the Hawaiian umbrella are always appealing to anyone who is a fan of gardening. 

You can train the Hawaiian umbrella bonsai to different styles depending on your preferences. This bonsai may grow long strong branches that may grow to touch the soil at the bottom of its pot, however, it is not capable of developing woody trunks. This, therefore, causes a lot of bonsai growers to lose interest in this species of bonsai trees. 

This type of bonsai is the best gift for people who know nothing about gardening and want to get started. This is because it is very low-maintenance.

  • Pruning: Direct pruning is one of the most popular methods of shaping the Hawaiian umbrella bonsai due to its resistance to other shaping methods like bending and wiring.
  • Repotting: The Hawaiian bonsai should be repotted on an alternate annual basis.
  • Watering: This tree does not require a lot of watering however, be careful not to let it dry. It likes daily misting.
  • Insects and diseases: Although it’s a hardy plant, it is still prone to pests and diseases. Like the other types of bonsai trees, its most common pest is spider mites. Stable humidity is the best preventive measure for this.

User Critic

Some customers have reported tree death when they slightly neglected it, however other customers achieved survival and growth when they purchased the Hawaiian Umbrella bonsai in a kit. 

Some customers reported insect infestation in their homes while training the Hawaiian bonsai, while other customers said they were quite easy to care for. However, there were some complaints about the discoloration of leaves and other complaints about dropping leaves. A lot of users appreciated its shiny leaves.


  • Makes a perfect gift
  • It is low-maintenance 


  • Some individuals may witness skin irritations if they come in contact with the sap of the Hawaiian bonsai tree
  • It may be poisonous to animals
  • It is not capable of developing woody trunks
  • This mini bonsai tree may be the reason for insect infestation in homes

The Verdict

The Hawaiian umbrella bonsai’s beautiful unique canopy-like shape always draws the attention of many. Its strong branches and shiny leaves add to its beauty. However, the tendency of the Hawaiian umbrella bonsai to attract insects to the home of its owners scares a lot of buyers away. Some pet lovers didn’t purchase this bonsai because of the fear of their pets ingesting some of it. 

5. Juniper Bonsai


This is the Karate kid bonsai that everyone was raving about. The Juniper Bonsai looks like old pines, they have stunning barks under their leaves. They can grow indoors and outdoors. They can also survive without water for two days. This feature makes them perfect for tight schedules, traveling, and of course beginners. Making them the best bonsai trees to fit your schedule. 

Juniper Bonsai is known to be a ground-covering plant. All these properties make them very easy to maintain. Juniper wood has a reddish color. The wood is also used in cabinetry. 

  • Watering: They grow better in minimally dry soil. However, do not allow it to completely dry out. You know the soil is dry when the soil looks lighter in color. Water the plant every two to three days. Depending on where you live, sometimes, minerals and salts may remain on the surface of the soil and can form a layer on the soil. If this happens, put the entire pot into the water to remove the mineral and salt collection.

Note: After watering, allow the soil to be dry again before watering.

  • Pruning: Pinch off long shoots that stick out every six weeks.  Failure to prune the juniper bonsai’s branches will lead to an overgrowth of the tree which the root would not be able to support.
  • Root pruning: Juniper bonsai trees generally are strong enough to tolerate aggressive pruning. To prune the roots, gently take the plant out of its pot and prune. After pruning, submerge the plant in vitamin B-1 and water. 
  • Insects and diseases: Watch out for spider mites, if your juniper bonsai tree gets infected with spider mites, spray rotenone pyrethrin containing insecticide on it weekly and rinse its foliage with warm water.
  • Repotting: Only re-pot when the tree has established in its growth phase. Do not re-pot during the beginning of the year. If your Juniper Bonsais is younger than ten years, you should repot it after every two years. While juniper bonsais that exceed ten years should be repotted every three to four years. Root-pruning should take place during repotting. 
  • Temperature and Positioning: The juniper bonsai can be grown indoors or outdoors. When keeping it indoors, place it in a location where it will receive a minimum of three hours of direct sunlight. In winter, placing your Juniper Bonsai in a bright, humid room will help it get through the season safely. The best temperature for it during winter is 60o during the day and 40o-50o at night. Misting and a tray with pebbles and water can help to keep the plant humid.

User Critic

As they are not good indoor plants, most customers find this plant difficult to grow and maintain. A lot of customers reported that juniper bonsais require a lot of watering making it time demanding and difficult to maintain. 

Some customers suggested allowing the tree to grow naturally for a few months before pruning and wiring, stating that the tree will grow better if this is done. However, complaints about tree death if left without watering have been reported. 

Quite a number of users achieved better results when they pruned the plant at specific times and watered the plant using specific quantities, stating that pruning at the right time of the year and not over-watering can save this plant.


  • They are hardly affected by pests
  • They tolerate harsh temperatures during the winter and summer.
  • Easy to care for


  • They require a lot of pruning in a short period
  • Not the best fit for indoors
  • They require a lot of watering

The Verdict

Among the types of bonsai trees, the juniper bonsai has a unique ability to resist pests. Although this tree’s need for frequent pruning discourages many buyers. Its need for just little watering and its ability to survive in different temperatures makes it a very low maintenance tree. All these in return have made the Juniper bonsai tree a favorite for people living in big cities due to their tight-schedules and lifestyle.

The Ultimate Guide To Bonsai Trees: Types And Species
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The Ultimate Guide To Bonsai Trees: Types And Species
There are different types of bonsai trees. Ficus Ginseng bonsai, Chinese elm bonsai, Juniper bonsai, Azalea bonsai, and Hawaiian umbrella bonsai. Know more
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