Indoor Bonsai for Beginners.

We have been frequently asked which are the best indoor bonsai for beginners.
This depends a little on the conditions in the room where you want to grow your bonsai.
I hope this guide to the different varieties of indoor bonsai trees will help you make the perfect choice for you.

Chinese Elm Bonsai (Ulmus parvifolia)
The Chinese Elm makes a truly beautiful bonsai with small bright green leaves. This bonsai has excellent twig structure and has great character throughout, making it the perfect representation of a woodland tree. In our opinion the Chinese Elm is the most perfectly proportioned, easy to care for and adaptable tree and makes a superb bonsai; which can be grown either indoors or outdoors. I think that I would rate this as my number one choice , it is a perfectly proportioned bonsai, is easy to care for and if not fussy about location. It also has the best twisty s-shaped trunk!

Fig Bonsai (Ficus retusa)
The fig has dark green glossy leaves and is unusual in that it will tolerate lower light levels. The fig makes a fantastic indoor bonsai; it buds back very quickly after pruning and has an immense amount of character in the truck and aerial root system. A very powerful bonsai, fun and easy to care for. It is also less susceptible to pest attack. I believe the Fig to be a highly under-rated bonsai. It is with out doubt the easiest bonsai to care for and the one variety of bonsai which will do well even in low light levels. This bonsai has to be near the top of the list for beginners. I can only assume that it is less popular because it has larger leaves, but it more than compensates for this by the stunning trunk, root system and lovely glossy foliage.

Sweet Aromatic Pepper Tree Bonsai (Zanthoxylum piperitum)
This lovely fragrant Pepper Tree bonsai has a sweet aromatic peppery fragrance and bright green glossy foliage. Small clusters of tiny white flowers develop from January onwards. The bark is fissured and adds character and age to this very elegant and exciting bonsai. This bonsai is for those who want something a little different. It is an easy bonsai to grow so would be great for beginners but it offers something a little different , I love the fresh fruity fragrance when pruning or when the foliage is rubbed. The leaves are very nicely proportioned and grow along fronds and are lush. This bonsai tends to have a slightly less twisty trunk or gentle twisting.

Chinese Sweet Plum (Sageretia theezans)
The Chinese Sweet Plum is a pretty indoor bonsai which has great character at an early age due to the flaky bark revealing tones of red/tan. The stunning foliage has hints of rusty red turning to glossy green. Small white flowers give rise to tiny plum-shaped fruits. A really pretty bonsai. I think this bonsai is one of our favourite indoor bonsai trees, it is easy to care for, has lovely shapes and interesting foliage colour. It can suffer a little from die back so you need to keep on top of the pruning on this bonsai and not allow it to become too leggy. This bonsai would complement a Chinese Elm very well.

Oriental Tea Tree Bonsai (Carmona microphylla)
The Oriental Tea Tree is a simple and elegant tree ideal for growing indoors. This bonsai has pretty white flowers during summer months and lovely green, shiny and waxy foliage. The leaves are unusually shaped and well proportioned. The leaves grow in neat clusters allowing the flowers and branch structure to be highly visible. A highly appealing and artistic bonsai. When I first grew the Oriental Tea tree bonsai I was a little disappointed, but I have learned the secret of this bonsai. It likes a warm location! This is the perfect bonsai for all those Aga lovers or warm living rooms. It likes a steady temperature and hates to be cold , but this bonsai will reward you. It has very pretty white flowers and is neat in habit. The shiny waxy leaves make it highly appealing.

Tree of a Thousand Stars Bonsai (Serissa foetida)
The 'Tree of a thousand stars' or 'Snowrose' is a lovely indoor bonsai with an abundance of beautiful star-shaped small white flowers during mid-late summer. The textured creamy bark and artistic root structure make this a truly ornamental bonsai. The trick with this bonsai is to feed it well and provide a bright location. It is not difficult to care for but would not be my recommendation if you have a dark room. Well fed; this bonsai makes a great show out of its small white star-shaped flowers and has smooth edged perfectly proportioned leaves. The bark is a soft tan in colour and this bonsai can also give a nice 'exposed root' effect.

Chinese Blush Tree Bonsai (Loropetalum Chinensis Rubrum)
The Chinese Blush Tree is a member of the Witch-Hazel family and displays stunning purple foliage and bright pink spidery flowers. This is undoubtedly the most striking and colourful indoor bonsai. If you want an indoor bonsai with striking colour foliage and fabulous hot pink flowers then this is the bonsai for you. This bonsai has a slightly more open habit and is not known for dense foliage pads but offers something equally striking. It tends not to form the lovely s-shapes but would enhance any room with colour. It is also great for beginners.

In summary; my advice would be to choose a bonsai which would be right for the environment you want it to live in. All the indoor bonsai mentioned above are perfect for beginners. Some varieties will do better than others in adverse conditions such as poor light.

I hope the 4 following tips will help you grow wonderful indoor bonsai:

  • During winter place your bonsai in the brightest place possible, trying to avoid hot objects like radiators and televisions. Good daylight is essential to the trees health. In summer time beware of hot south facing windows, a little sunlight morning or evening is beneficial, but too much and your bonsai could over heat.
  • To aid the health of your bonsai place it on a humidity tray. This will catch the water draining through the holes in the bottom of the bonsai pot. This water will create some humidity around your bonsai. Please take care that the tray does not overflow onto your furniture and make sure that your bonsai does not sit in the water.
  • Watering is the most important part of growing bonsai. Check your bonsai morning and evening to see if it needs watering. If the soil looks dark and feels wet then it will not require watering. Only when the soil looks light brown and feels damp will your bonsai require more water. Water thoroughly all over the soil until the water drains through into a tray or saucer. Never let your bonsai dry out and avoid keeping it constantly wet. The soil should go from wet to damp between watering. Remember the hotter the position the more water your bonsai will use. If the soil surface becomes hard during hot weather simply submerge your bonsai in water, to cover the soil surface, for about ten minutes.
  • To keep your bonsai strong and healthy we recommend the use of a good bonsai fertiliser.

If you would like any advice please add your comments in the box below. Please remember all our bonsai are provided with
basic care details.

10 thoughts on “Indoor Bonsai for Beginners.”

  • Brian

    Hello all,
    I have just received my Chinese Elm through the post and you should see the smile on my face!
    So over the moon I have ordered another straight away.
    Fantastic service,great packaging & care, with tip top advice.
    Thank you so much,

    • Bonsai Direct

      Dear Brian,
      Thank you for your lovely comments. I am delighted that you love your Chinese Elm Bonsai - they are fantastic indoor bonsai; my favourite.
      kind regards
      Bonsai Direct

  • Alison Matthews

    Hi, I want to buy an indoor Bonsi tree for my partner as a christmas present. He is a complete novice so could you please advise:
    1. which would be the best to buy
    2. which book he can read for advice on keeping the tree
    3. where to get them from
    4. when to order for Christmas delivery?
    Thank you

    • Bonsai Direct

      Dear Alison,
      Thank you for your enquiry.
      You have some great questions.
      1. I would recommend a Chinese Elm, Pepper Tree, Chinese Sweet Plum or Ficus for a beginner.
      2. We do sell a Bonsai care handbook - this is included with some of our packages and is an optional extra on others.
      4. You can order anytime now and choose a delivery date to suit you nearer to Christmas.

      I'm not sure what your budget is but these Premium range Christmas Bonsai kits would be absolutely perfect - obviously we have less expensive options.

      I hope this helps,
      if you have any other questions please do not hesitate to ask,
      best wishes and kind regards
      Sarah - Bonsai Direct
      07815 836 533

  • Angela


    I want to buy a bonsai. I am just starting out and would like a recommendation on which bonsai to buy based on the following criteria:
    1. Leaves all year
    2. it will live indoor all year round with somewhat limited light in the winter months of Canada
    3. Long life span
    4. For a beginner
    4. Flowers (preferred)

    • Bonsai Direct

      Dear Angela,
      We are based in the UK.
      The varieties of bonsai which thrive in different countries vary so I think you would be best to take a recommendation more locally,
      Sorry we cannot help
      kind regards
      Sarah - Bonsai Direct

  • Johanita Viljoen
    Johanita Viljoen 25th October 2018 at 2:10 pm

    Hi there,

    What age should a tree be to start bonsaing it?


  • Gabrielle

    The watering can in your kit - is it plastic or metal?
    This might sound like a strange question but I’m trying to reduce the amount of plastic things that I buy!
    If it is plastic can I but the set without the watering can?

    • bonsaidirect

      Dear Gabrielle.
      Thanks for your message.
      I regret the watering can is plastic.
      Kind regards

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