There’s nothing as exciting as getting bitten by the bonsai bug.
You see a photo of a masterpiece bonsai, or better still you go to an exhibition and see wonderful specimens in person. You’re amazed that a fully mature tree which should be 100’ tall is only 2’ tall, and its leaves are tiny but perfectly shaped. You’re hooked and you want to be able to grow bonsai yourself.
This elicits the second question every new bonsai enthusiast asks, the first being, “How do they do that?”, namely: “What are the best bonsai trees for beginners?”
It’s a simple question with a reasonably simple answer.
The best bonsai trees for beginners are without a doubt those that are:
- easy to keep alive in a shallow container, and
- are quick to train into suitable representations of mature trees in nature.
As a beginner, the last thing you want is to have your tree suddenly sicken or die for no apparent cause. Often the budding enthusiast will simply give up if this happens.
What’s Out There?
Literally hundreds of species of woody plants are suited to bonsai culture. If you go around the world you can define a list of indigenous or introduced species anywhere that meets the criteria. My own experience is based on what grows in the Southern United States, but for the most part the species I like the best can be grown most anywhere in the country.
With that said, here are five of the best bonsai trees for beginners among deciduous species, in alphabetical order. Click on each to find out their best features, their worst features, where you can get them from (sources), and other information for the particular species.
- American Hornbeam
- Bald Cypress
- Cedar Elm
- Chinese Elm
If you have any questions or have some input, just leave a comment below. I respond to inquires on a daily basis.