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Here are the best bonsai for beginners that will help you capture the beauty of nature in miniature!
Hailing from ancient China, bonsai is a popular horticulture art. However, one of the misconceptions is that bonsai is a specific tree. The term “bonsai” refers to the art of cultivating, shaping, and maintaining miniature trees.
In addition to their miniature shape and like their regular-size counterparts, bonsai can live for hundreds of years. Some bonsai trees have even outlived custodians. For instance, National Bonsai and Penjing Museum have a Japanese white pine that has been living since 1625, almost 400 years old.
That said, if you wish to try your hands at bonsai, it is worth noting that even the best bonsai for beginning takes time and a lot of patience to master the art. With practice, you can quickly turn your unwieldy saplings into a beautiful work of art. So, the first step towards this lengthy yet rewarding journey is selecting the ideal bonsai for beginners.
Here is a list of our best bonsai for beginning that you can grow.
8 Hassle-Free Bonsai for Beginners
1. Bonsai Norfolk Island pine for Beginners (Araucaria Heterophylla)
Norfolk Island pine is one of the best bonsai for beginning. Due to its resemblance to a Christmas tree, it is usually sold in grocery stores and nurseries around Christmas. Some even attach mini knick-knacks and garlands to the branches. The tree’s natural habitat is quite different from these delightful little trees.
Norfolk Island pine originates in the South Pacific on a 13-square-foot island where the tree grows up to 200 feet. While usual bonsai methods must be altered, immature trees can be trained into gorgeous bonsai that will survive for decades.
Moreover, it is worth noting that Norfolk Island pine is not a pine; instead, it conifers with whorled twigs and feathery needled leaves. It has a thin trunk that grows in tiers, with each deck featuring five to seven branches. Additionally, it produces tiny, bright green needle-like leaves with slight curves.
Now that the introduction of this bonsai for beginners is out, it’s time to explore all the elements you need to focus on when growing it.
Norfolk Island pine bonsai is quite tolerant when it comes to soil. It can survive in any standard bonsai mix. In addition, while this miniature tree is not too fussy about the contents, you still want to steer towards a slightly acidic pH level. Fortunately, the needle-like leaves that fall from the tree will decompose, adding more acidity to the soil.
Moreover, we highly recommend adding a layer of pumice or perlite to enhance its drainage system and prevent root rot.
Watering is crucial as your miniature Norfolk Island pine loves water, especially during the warmer months. While you should avoid watering the tender root daily, ensure to keep the soil dry out. In this regard, you can drown the pot and soil in the water for about half an hour and then let the water drain away. Moreover, in colder months, your bonsai doesn’t need a lot of water. You can water once a week or two to keep the soil moist.
Repotting is one factor that makes Norfolk Island pine an ideal bonsai for beginners. Since it doesn’t extend its roots much, a shallow bonsai pot is perfect. Even when it hits maturity, you won’t necessarily need to use a bigger pot unless there are excessive roots.
Furthermore, since the roots grow slowly, you can repot your immature every two years, whereas mature trees will take up to four years.
Like most conifers, your Norfolk Island pine also loves flirting with direct morning sunlight. You can leave your bonsai outdoors or indoors in warmer environments as long as it gets adequate light. However, many gardeners keep their bonsai indoors to protect it from winds.
On the other hand, they cannot survive cold temperatures or frost, which means they are perfect indoors bonsai. However, if you still want to keep your bonsai outdoors, place them in a greenhouse.
A balanced fertilizer (NPK 20:20:20) will keep your Norfolk Island pine bonsai thriving during spring and summer. It contains high levels of essential micronutrients. Similarly, limit your fertilization during autumn from once a week to once a month. Remember to avoid fertilization during winter, as your bonsai need some rest for the coming spring.
2. Hawaiian Umbrella Bonsai for Beginners (Schefflera Arboricola)
The Hawaiian Umbrella bonsai tree is another ideal bonsai for beginners. It is a tropical tree that produces compound leaves. It belongs to the Araliaceae family, and as a flowering plant, the bonsai tree strikes a beautiful appearance. Additionally, ease of care and propagation makes Hawaiian Umbrella one of the best bonsai for beginning.
Moreover, the bonsai tree is an evergreen bonsai with dark green leaves that form an umbrella-like structure. In addition, it has many characteristics that make Hawaiian Umbrella an ideal bonsai for beginners. For instance, it can survive a variety of lighting conditions, watering frequencies, and soil patterns.
Like most other bonsai, you can keep your Hawaiian Umbrella in a shallow pot with very little soil. However, it prefers sandy soil with a proper draining system. Additionally, slightly acidic soil (6.0 – 6.5) is ideal for thriving your plant.
In addition to slightly acidic soil, Hawaiian Umbrella prefers moist soil, which shouldn’t dry out. In colder months, you need to water cautiously to maintain root health. On the other hand, in warm temperatures, let the water run out of the drain hole to prevent salt buildup.
Repotting is essential, as your Hawaiian Umbrella bonsai needs to be repotted every two years. However, when repotting, cut off any dead or rotten roots and do not trim normal roots more than 10%. In addition, you can cut extra-large leaves and allow your bonsai to gain the benefits of repotting.
Due to its tolerance to a variety of light conditions, Hawaiian Umbrella is one of the best bonsai for beginning. As an indoor bonsai, you can keep your miniature tree indoors all year round. Ideal temperatures for your bonsai are 18-22 centigrade (65F – 72F). While it can tolerate dim light and low humidity, it would be best to provide adequate light.
You want a liquid fertilizer for your Hawaiian Umbrella for healthier growth. Fertilization once a week from spring to autumn will give your plant essential nutrients. However, slow down your fertilization in winter from once a week to once a month.
3. Baby Jade Bonsai for Beginners (Portulacaria Afra)
Jade bonsai is another bonsai for beginners that you can efficiently train into a gorgeous shape of a miniature tree. Also known as elephant bush, jade bonsai is native to South America and is a tiny succulent shrub striking small leaves and woody stems.
Despite their resemblance to a common jade plant (Crassula Ovata), they are different. Since it is a slow-growing plant, you can efficiently train it into an indoor miniature bonsai tree. In addition, these bonsais can also be planted in hanging baskets which will let these gorgeous plants trail down the planter’s edges.
Although an all-in-one potting mix is ideal for baby jade bonsai, it would be nice to mix additional perlite for better drainage. Alternatively, you can also use pre-made cacti or succulent potting mix. In addition, also ensure that the soil is well-draining as excessive moisture can cause root rot.
Unlike some other bonsai trees, baby jade produces leaves filled with significant amounts of water. So, watering sparsely and allowing your bonsai to dry out between watering is essential. In addition, if your bonsai is kept in a relatively cold environment in winter, it will need watering every three weeks. Minimal watering, ease of care, and gorgeous appearance make baby jade one of the best bonsai for beginning.
Baby jade bonsai needs repotting once a year in spring. However, ensure to use a well-draining soil mix for healthy growth. Moreover, avoid watering immediately after repotting until it is established. Watering your bonsai after one week of repotting will allow damaged roots to be callous.
While it is recommended to house your bonsai indoors in most temperature zones, baby jade can do well outdoors in high temperatures and full sun. However, make sure to keep the temperatures from dropping below 40 Fahrenheit. Keep in mind that baby jade thrives in substantial light, and prefers full sun, especially when placed indoors.
Feeding your baby jade bonsai once a month during the growth season (from spring to autumn) will provide it with essential micronutrients. You can use any standard fertilizer.
4. Ficus Bonsai Tree (Ficus Benjamina)
Ficus bonsai trees are trendy in temperature areas due to their immaculate forbearance to poor growing conditions. Their elegant growth in trying conditions makes ficus an excellent bonsai for beginners. In fact, these plants are the best bonsai for beginning your journey, mainly because of their ability to adapt to a variety of environments.
While the color and foliage texture varies, immature plants produce light green and wavy leaves. On the other hand, mature ficus bonsai strikes green and smooth foliage. Ficus bonsais can grow unruly roots in the wild, causing breakage and havoc on sidewalks. It is interesting to know that ficus plants produce three kinds of flowers; male, fertile female, and sterile female.
Moreover, ficus bonsai is a beautiful plant to keep indoors. They will enhance indoor appearance, whereas their gorgeous umbrella-like canopies are delightful home décor attractions.
Although ficus is quite tolerant, it prefers sandy clay. These kinds of soil will hold adequate water and essential micronutrients and let excess water and nutrients drain away. Also, ensure that the soil has a well-draining system to avoid root rot.
Despite their adaptability to a variety of growing conditions, ficus bonsai needs more watering than most other bonsai. It is because ficus needs a lot of sunlight for healthy growth. However, you can decrease watering frequency during colder temperatures.
It is essential to repot your ficus bonsai every year for the initial few years for optimum growth. Ideally, you will want to repot your bonsai when the roots start appearing at the drainage holes. In addition, try to repot your bonsai in the evening, early in the spring.
Ficus Benjamina bonsai loves growing when sheltered from the direct sun. So, we highly recommend keeping your ficus bonsai where there’s high moisture. For example, ficus is one of a few plants that you can ideally grow in your kitchen. Moreover, keeping it in dry areas of your home will force your plant to drop leaves while also causing a lack of vitality.
Ficus bonsai is quite reliant on fertilization as it needs a consistent supply of essential nutrients. So, you will need to resupply fertilizer to keep your bonsai healthy. Especially during the initial stages, ficus needs weekly feeding to accomplish strong growth.
5. Money Bonsai (Pachira Aquatica)
Native to Central and South America, Money bonsai is one of the best bonsai for beginning your miniature journey. It is an excellent plant for both indoor and outdoor growing. This miniature tree consists of many trunks wound together, producing dark green leaves sprouting from the top. Growing a money bonsai is easy, which makes it an excellent bonsai for beginners.
As a tropical member of the Malvaceae family, the money bonsai is also an excellent pick, especially if you find feng shui fascinating. The bonsai tree is also referred to as the money plant, the good luck tree, and the Japanese money tree.
It is an excellent bonsai for beginners that you can grow indoors and outdoors. Like most bonsai plants, money bonsai also like plenty of watering but ensure that the soil is well-drained. In addition, it should contain a mixture of earth and tiny gravel pebbles. Moreover, we also recommend adding some river rock which will aid in draining.
Ensuring the soil is dry out before watering is essential, even though the money bonsai plant loves plenty of watering. Remember that overwatering can cause root rot, so watering once a week should be sufficient. In addition, misting is also beneficial as it will allow your miniature tree to get extra moisture.
Money bonsai needs repotting every two years during the spring. Moreover, prune its roots and offer a soil cut with river sand for better drainage.
We recommend placing your money tree in a bright spot near a south-facing window. Remember that it needs high humidity, so placing it on a tray with gravel will promote healthier growth. In addition, you can put your miniature tree outdoors in a sunny place during summer.
It needs quality fertilization for vigorous growth. You can use a liquid fertilizer once a week from spring to autumn. However, in spring, using a fertilizer with more nitrogen is beneficial. Similarly, a balanced fertilizer in summer will promote healthier growth.
6. Flowering Red Anthurium (Anthurium Andraeanum)
Flowering Red Anthurium (Small Talk) bonsai tree is one of the most prevalent and long-lasting tropical flowering plants. These bright red-colored, heart-shaped, gorgeous plants can light up any indoor space. In addition, their trouble-free growing nature makes them one of the best bonsai for beginning your journey.
Natural Hawaiian lava rock is ideal for providing your anthurium with a happy home. Additionally, a loose and coarse growing medium is a perfect potting mix. While it is possible to use an orchid potting mix, you will need to add chunky ingredients like pumice, coconut husks, and perlite for better drainage.
Ideally, you should let the soil dry out between watering. Watering your anthurium every two to three days should be sufficient if you live in a warmer region. On the other hand, living in rainy areas means watering sparsely. Ensure to keep your miniature tree roots moist but not soggy.
Anthuriums should be repotted every two-three years or once they start outgrowing their current pot. In addition, repotting should be done in spring when days are lighter. It will stimulate the formation of buds.
Ideally, you should keep your miniature anthurium in a place with plenty of bright, indirect light. Since these bonsais grow well in warm rooms, avoid putting them near draughts and radiators. In addition, a place with high humidity will also promote vigorous growth.
Your anthurium bonsai needs fertilization once a week. Ideally, you want a fertilizer with high phosphorus for vibrant colors and vigorous growth in summer. However, if your bonsai is experiencing poor growth, stick to a mild dose to avoid shocking your plant.
7. Dracena Bonsai Tree (Dracena Marginata)
Dracena bonsai is an easy-to-grow bonsai for beginners. It is one of the best bonsai for beginning your journey to the world of bonsai. These plants can thrive indoors all year long and can survive low light conditions. In addition, these bonsais are also quite tolerant towards watering and feeding.
While they can grow up to 12 feet in the wild, you can put them indoors and grow them as beautiful miniature trees. These plants produce thick green leaves with a yellow stripe. In addition, these plants are also known for purifying air by reducing formaldehyde, benzene, and xylene.
Your Dracaena bonsai will thrive in cactus potting mix with some perlite or vermiculite. Adding these ingredients to the soil will increase aeration. Alternatively, you can use balanced amounts of loam, peat, perlite, or vermiculate to create a happy dracaena potting mix soil.
It would be nice to let the soil dry out between watering. However, ensure it doesn’t get scorched through the pot. Watering once a week will help you maintain an ideal level of moisture.
Repotting should be done in summer, spring, or early fall. If you live in colder climates, repot your dracaena bonsai in spring or summer.
While your dracaena bonsai is tolerant to the dimmer light, it prefers bright, indirect light for vigorous growth. It also grows well in average house temperatures and humidity.
Remember that these plants are low feeders, so fertilizing once in spring and early autumn should be sufficient. However, some gardeners suggest feeding your plant once a month in spring and summer for vigorous growth.
8. Mistletoe Fig Bonsai (Ficus Diversifolia)
Mistletoe Fig bonsai is an evergreen plant with a rounded growth habit. The slow-growing plant is native to the tropical regions of Asia and Africa and produces tiny oranges and fruits that resemble mistletoe. In addition to their gorgeous appearance, mistletoe fig plants are excellent bonsai for beginners.
Moreover, their slender gray trunk with oval-shaped bright green foliage looks delightful. Leaves feature brown spots, and the plant develops an exciting aerial root system. In addition, these plants are also the only ficus species that produce fruits.
Your mistletoe bonsai tree prefers sandy clay soil. This type of soil is ideal for retaining water and essential nutrients while allowing excess water to drain.
While it is essential to avoid watering when the soil is still dry, do not leave your bonsai thirsty. Use your fingers to analyze the soil moisture before watering. If it is slightly dry, go ahead and water your bonsai.
Since they are tropical plants, your bonsai will need repotting every three-four years. In addition, repotting in mid-summer when your bonsai is going through a fragile state is ideal. Also, ensure to remove your tree along with its soil when repotting.
While it is one of the best bonsai for beginning that can grow indoors all year round, you can keep it outdoors as long as the temperatures are above 40 degrees. Your bonsai likes light so try to place it near an east or south-facing window.
Since your mistletoe fig bonsai is planted in a small pot, you will need to provide it with essential nutrients. A slow-release fertilizer is ideal, and you should add it sparingly (one-two month) during the growing season.
Ready to try one of the best bonsai for beginners?
We hope we’ve helped you find the best bonsai for beginning your journey. These bonsai for beginners are easy-to-grow and require minimal maintenance. They can light up any indoor space and let you bring nature into your home.
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