The Most Common Bonsai Trees

most common bonsai trees

There are many different kinds of bonsai trees, but there are some that are incredibly popular among both amateurs and pros. So, we put together a list of the most common bonsai trees that are perfect for beginners and moderate to advanced bonsai caretakers alike!

The Brazilian Raintree, Norfolk Pine, Hawaiian Umbrella Tree and Portulacaria Tree are all great options for anyone looking to add a tropical touch to their home. But before you start shopping for your next bonsai, make sure you understand the basics of these species.

Brazilian Raintree

The Brazilian Rain Tree is one of the most common and most popular bonsai trees in the world. It is native to Brazil, but it has also captivated the attention of bonsai artists worldwide, thanks to its unique trunk and exfoliating bark.

The leaves of the Brazilian Rain Tree are a lovely mix of tiny green leaflets that fold up each night and open up in the morning. They belong to the legume family (Leguminosae), with species such as peas, beans and chickpeas. They are also part of the Acacia and Tamarind families, so they can be used in combination with these plants to create a tropical collection.

This tree is able to grow up to 30 degrees Celsius and is quite tough in nature, but it likes to be evenly moist in a bonsai pot. This tropical plant is resistant to most pests and diseases, but nematodes can attack it.

As with most trees, it is important to prune the Brazilian Rain Tree at the right time of year. It can be pruned during the spring and summer, when it is actively blooming or putting on new growth.

When pruning, be sure to leave a small nub behind on the branch so that it doesn’t die back in the future. Don’t use concave cutters because they can make it hard to see which branches are dead.

As with most tropical bonsai, the Brazilian Rain Tree requires frequent watering to keep it healthy and well-shaped. It can also be repotted every two or three years with moderate root pruning in a well-draining soil mix to prevent root rot.

Norfolk Pine

The Norfolk Pine (Araucaria heterophylla) is an elegant, pyramidal evergreen conifer of symmetrical habit with regular tiers of whorled horizontal branches radiating outward from a strong, upright trunk. It is an endemic of Norfolk Island, in the Pacific Ocean between Australia and New Zealand.

It is a tall, slender conifer that grows to a mature height of 60 metres (200 feet) and can tolerate harsh onshore winds that contort most other species. Its bark is gray-brown, exfoliating in fine scales.

In nature the Norfolk Pine produces globose female seed cones, weighing 10-15 pounds, that mature within 18 months and drop to the ground where they release their seeds. The leaves are needle-like in juveniles, becoming scale-like and densely arranged in mature trees.

As a cultivated plant, the Norfolk Pine can grow to a large size and is highly prized in tropical gardens as an architectural tree. It thrives in full sun and does well indoors.

Propagation: It is best propagated by seed, placed flat on a moist, peaty, sandy mix and lightly misted. Germination typically occurs after three or four weeks, though it can take up to 12 months.

This tree grows slowly and can be a wonderful houseplant that will brighten up any room. It will reach about 5 to 8 feet in a decade as a potted specimen.

It is a tropical plant that does well in bright light, and it also requires moderate humidity. It will tolerate some dry conditions when first planted, but if it is a plant that is often exposed to cold temperatures, you should water regularly and protect it from frost. It is also safe around pets.

Hawaiian Umbrella Tree

The Hawaiian Umbrella Tree is a popular indoor plant because of its ability to grow in moderate temperature environments. It is also a good choice for beginners who are new to bonsai because it does not require too much maintenance.

It grows to about 6 feet tall and 5 feet wide when grown indoors in the right conditions. It can be trimmed back to size in the spring before new growth begins, and should be fertilized every four weeks with a low nitrogen liquid Bonsai fertilizer.

One of the more common houseplants in the Umbrella family (Araliaceae), it is native to Australia and Papua New Guinea rainforests, but has become widely planted in garden centers and other indoor locations in the United States due to its ease of care. Its clumping growth habit and glossy, green foliage make it an attractive plant for any home.

The umbrella-shaped leaves of this tropical plant are up to 12 inches (30.5 centimeters) long, and have 5 to 10 oval leaflets. When in flower, the umbrella-shaped clusters of small red flowers radiate from up to 2-foot (60-centimeter) stalks, resembling tentacles of an octopus.

In the wild, this tree grows in humid coastal areas, but it also grows in wetlands and rainforests. It is a fast-growing perennial that can reach 50 feet in its natural habitat.

This tree has a very dense, rounded canopy of thick foliage that forms an umbrella shape when in full bloom. It is a great choice for a tropical-looking garden, and it can also be used as a specimen plant in a forest planting. It is highly responsive to pruning, and it thrives in both standard and hedging styles.

Portulacaria Tree

The Portulacaria Tree, also known as the Elephant Bush, is one of the most popular bonsai species. This beautiful succulent tree is an easy plant to grow and has a long lifespan.

It grows quickly and is an excellent choice for beginners. However, it requires careful attention and patience to grow into a dense and attractive plant.

This plant is native to South Africa and can be easily grown indoors. It is known for its green, waxy leaves and thick brownish-red stems.

Several subspecies of this species exist, ranging in leaf size and shape or the growth habit of their stems. Some of these include Variegata, Limpopo, Prostrata and Medio-Picta.

In addition to its ornamental value, this species is a great air purifier and helps to combat climate change by absorbing carbon from the atmosphere. In its natural habitat, this plant thrives in dry landscapes and thickets.

It is also a useful medicinal plant. It is traditionally used to treat sore throats and mouth infections, as well as for soothing skin ailments like pimples and rashes.

These plants are also commonly found in Southern African cuisine and added to salads, soups and stews. Their astringent juice is used as an antiseptic and can be taken to relieve exhaustion, dehydration or sunburn.

The astringent juice is also used to treat coughs and sore throats. The leaves are also chewed as a tea to help soothe the stomach.

Portulacaria afra is a hardy succulent that can grow to a height of 2 meters, but is usually kept at a much smaller scale in the garden. It is an ideal plant for hanging baskets and makes a beautiful addition to any succulent collection.

Grewia occidentalis / Lavender Star Flower

Lavender Star Flower, or Grewia occidentalis, is an evergreen shrub that blooms with a long blooming season and produces its signature star burst shaped flowers almost all year round. It is a very low maintenance shrub, and requires little pruning or other care.

It can be grown in a variety of soils and is very drought resistant. However, it is best to provide consistent moisture rather than letting the soil dry out between waterings.

This plant is a good choice for beginner bonsai growers as it requires less maintenance than most other varieties. It is also relatively easy to propagate by stem cuttings and seeds.

The foliage of this plant emerges chartreuse in spring, and turns dark green throughout the summer and winter. It is a fast-growing tree and will reach about 9 feet in the wild.

As a result, it makes a wonderful specimen tree in any garden or landscape. It is very adaptable to a variety of growing conditions and will thrive in sun, shade or mixed plantings.

In its natural habitat, this plant grows in open woodlands, forest margins, and semiarid lands. Its native range extends from South Africa to the United States and Mexico.

A deciduous climber, this tree or shrub can be cultivated in the ground or trained into an arbor or espalier. It grows in a wide range of altitudes, from 0 to 1500 m.

It bears small, star-shaped pink to mauve flowers with yellow centers that are arranged in axillary cymes. They are followed by fleshy, four-lobed fruits that are initially green and turn yellow and then purple. They are an attractive food source for birds and butterflies.