Broadleaf evergreen trees can have two leaf growth patterns: alternating or opposite.
Opposite leaf growth
Leaves that emerge opposite of each other
Alternating leaf growth
Leaves that grow alternating
Broadleaf evergreen - Opposite leaf pattern trees
A genus with many different, mostly evergreen and sometimes variegated leaves. Privet ramifies well, is easy to care for and is robust. White flowers and black fruit can occur it the tree is not constantly trimmed. Care guide for the Ligustrum Bonsai tree (Privet).
Often used for small hedges, topiary and pot plants. Boxwood has small, rounded, bright green leaves and a light beige bark. The plant is poisonous, but can nevertheless be infected by several pests. Care guide for the Buxus Bonsai tree (Box, Boxwood).
Lonicera nitida / pileata
This species is often confused with boxwood and indeed has some similarities. The flowers and fruit are different however and honeysuckle has slimmer leaves and a bark that flakes off in stripes. As the leaves are small and a fine ramification can be achieved, the honeysuckle is well suited for very small Bonsai. Care guide is similar to the Buxus Bonsai tree (Box, Boxwood).
Serissa japonica and foetida
A small shrub from southeastern Asia, with very small leaves, little white flowers and trunks with a light bark. Some cultivars have variegated leaves. When the plant is pruned there is a displeasing smell. The snow rose cannot endure frost and needs constant warm temperatures. It is very sensitive to changing conditions and replacing and suffers from lack of light and low air humidity. Care guide for the Serissa Foetida Bonsai tree (Snow Rose).
A medium sized mediterranean tree which has been cultivated by men for thousands of years. Its trunks thicken very slowly but the trees can become very old. The leaves are lanceolate and grayish green on the upper side and silvery grey with little hairs underneath. The olive is easy to care for, tolerates temporary droughts but can not endure frost. Care guide for the Olive Bonsai tree (Olea europaea).
Portulacaria and Crassula
A succulent shrub or small tree from Africa with thick shiny leaves and thick trunks. It can produce small white flowers. The Portulacaria afra needs a lot of light and likes to be exposed to the sun. It can live outside during summer but cannot endure frost. Very similar to the Jade (Crassula ovata). Care guide for the Jade Bonsai tree (Portulacaria afra).
A tropical shrub or tree with pretty light green leaves, thorns and light blue flowers. The yellow-orange fruits are poisonous, but wild doves like to eat them. The tree needs a lot of sunlight but doesn't tolerate frost.
There are many Fuchsia species with different colorful flowers. They must be protected from frost. Care guide for the Fuchsia Bonsai tree.
The Gardenia is a subtropical evergreen shrub with dark green leaves and beautiful creamy white flowers with a strong scent. If the flowers are pollinated, orange fruits with an interesting shape can develop. Care guide for the Gardenia Bonsai tree.
The Crepe Myrtle is a subtropical deciduous tree with beautiful pink, white or purple flowers and smooth beige dappled peeling bark. Care guide for the Crepe Myrtle Bonsai tree.
Eugenia myrtifolia or Syzygium australe
The Brush Cherry is an evergreen tree or shrub with dark green glossy lance-shaped leaves. It bears small white flowers and edible red fruit. Care guide for the Brush Cherry Bonsai tree.
Eugenia uniflora, Surinam cherry
Although native to the Brazilian Atlantic Forest, Eugenia uniflora (Pitangueira / Pitanga / Surinam cherry) is found in several countries. It has a smooth trunk of beige-gray color.
The premna is a sub-tropical plant, the Obtusifolia, Microphylla and Serratifolia are popular choices for Bonsai. Care guide for the Premna Bonsai tree.
The myrtle is a small evergreen tree or shrub which is native to the Mediterranean and northern Africa and has been used as a house plant since ancient times. Care guide for the Myrtle (Myrtus communis) Bonsai.
The wattle (Acacia) is a large genus of more than 1200 species, many of which are suited for bonsai. They are broadleaf evergreen trees or shrubs with compound pinnate leaves in most cases. Care guide for the Acacia Bonsai (Wattle).
Pyracantha is a genus of 10 species. The small trees or shrubs are native to mediterranean countries and temperate zones of Asia. Care guide for the Firethorn Bonsai Tree (Pyracantha).
The Water Jasmine is a tropical tree species which is native to China, Indochine and Malaysia and can become up to 20 ft tall. It has a smooth grey bark and prominent surface roots. In Southeast Asian countries the water jasmine is often used for bonsai. Care guide for the Water Jasmine (Wrightia religiosa) Bonsai.
Broadleaf evergreen - Alternating leaf pattern trees
It is a shrub or small tree from southeastern Asia and Australia, with a fissured grey-brown bark and dark green shiny leaves with tiny white dots and little hairs. White flowers and dark little fruit can occur during summer. The carmona needs constant warm temperatures and must not be exposed to frost. Care guide for the Carmona Bonsai tree (Fukien Tea).
There are many different species and cultivars with very attractive flowers. The satsuki azalea – Rhododendron indicum – is most popular for Bonsai and offers hundreds of lovely cultivars. Azaleas need special soil and fertilizer and lime-free water (rain water) and should not be allowed to dry out. They should be protected from strong frost. Care guide for the Azalea Bonsai tree (Rhododendron).
A shrub or small tree from Asia, with small shiny green leaves. It can produce little white flowers and small black fruit. The bark is dark brown and peels off in flakes, leaving brighter smooth spots. The sageretia needs constant warm temperatures and must not be exposed to frost. Care guide for the Sageretia Theezans Bonsai tree (Bird Plum).
Is a subtropical shrub, small tree or climbing plant from southern America. It has egg-shaped to lanceolate leaves, long thorns and large flowers which can be magenta (in most cases) but also white, yellow or orange. The Bougainvillea needs a lot of direct sunlight to produce flower and tolerates no frost. Care guide for the Bougainvillea Bonsai tree.
Is a tropical shrub or small tree with compound alternate leaves, small white scented flowers and small dark orange egg-shaped fruit with two seeds each. The bark is beige, almost white. A constantly warm place with a lot of light is needed.
The cotoneaster is a shrub native to southwestern China and closely related to the crataegus species. Care guide for the Cotoneaster Bonsai.
The Elaeagnus it is a deciduous or evergreen shrub with the majority of species native to Asia, it flowers and produces fruits.
The Pachira aquatica (Money tree) is a popular indoor plant, often with a braided trunk. It is an old token of good luck and fortune. Care guide for the Money tree.
The Dwarf Umbrella Tree is a tropical tree with compound leaves which is very suitable for indoor bonsai. It can live with dim light and low humidity, but it must be protected from temperatures below 10° C / 50° F. Care guide for the Dwarf Umbrella Tree (Schefflera arboricola.
The Japanese Holly is native to east China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan. It is an evergreen shrub with small leaves, tiny white flowers and black fruits which tolerates constant pruning very well. Care guide for the Japanese Holly Bonsai.
Camellia is a genus with several hundred species and thousands of hybrids and cultivars that belong to the tea plant family (Theaceae). Care guide for the Camellia Bonsai.
Deciduous trees can have two leaf growth patterns: alternating or opposite.
Opposite leaf growth
Leaves that emerge opposite of each other
Alternating leaf growth
Leaves that grow alternating
Deciduous species - Opposite leaf pattern trees
A very popular and easy to care for species with distinctive hand-shaped leaves with five pointed lobes. It needs protection from strong frost and very intensive sun. Care guide for the Maple Bonsai tree (Acer Palmatum).
The Jacaranda is a subtropical tree native to south-central South America that is very popular as an ornamental tree because of its beautiful and long-lasting blue flowers. It has pretty compound leaves. Care guide for the Jacaranda Bonsai.
The Flame Tree is also called Royal Poinciana, fire tree or flamboyant tree. It is a tropical tree species from the legume family which produces large, fiery red or golden flowers that blossom from spring through summer. Care guide for the Flame Tree (Delonix regia) Bonsai.
Hawthorns are a genus of 200 – 300 species of deciduous thorny shrubs which are native to the temperate zones of Europe, Asia and Northeastern-America. Care guide for the Hawthorn Bonsai (Crataegus).
The guayacán is a tree widely spread through all of Central and South American countries. It is a leafy and rounded tree, giving rise to yellow or pink flowers.
The horse chestnut is a species of flowering tree in the soapberry and lychee family Sapindaceae, it has large opposite and palmately compound leaves.
The Jabuticaba, or Myrciaria cauliflora, is a small evergreen tree or shrub which belongs to the Myrtaceae family. Care guide for the Jabuticaba.
Deciduous species - Alternating leaf pattern trees
A classic Bonsai species, that is mostly seen as a delicately ramified broom-style. It derives from the elm family. The zelkova is easy to care for and responds very well to constant trimming. Care guide for the Zelkova Bonsai tree (Japanese Elm).
The European beech from our forests is well suited as a Bonsai, but needs protection from strong frost when planted into a Bonsai pot. Care guide for the Beech Bonsai (Fagus).
It is much like the European beech, but its leaves are slimmer and the especially appreciated smooth bark is nearly white. Care guide for the Beech Bonsai (Fagus).
It is no beech in the strict sense, but belongs to the birch family. It looks quite similar to the beech, however. The flowers and fruit are different and the buds (smaller, rounder) are not like the sharp pointed brown buds of the beech. When planted into a shallow pot, the hornbeam needs frost protection. Care guide for the Hornbeam Bonsai (Carpinus).
The silver birch is a deciduous tree native to Europe and parts of Asia and is well-known for its characteristic white bark. On old trees the bark becomes partly rough and blackish. Care guide for the Birch Bonsai (Betula pendula).
Carpinus turczaninowii or coreana
An asian hornbeam species, which has smaller leaves, a finer ramification, very interesting knobby trunks and a beautiful red and yellow autumn color. Care guide for the Hornbeam Bonsai (Carpinus).
A vigorous twining vine with compound leaves which produces long tendrils and hanging flower clusters in blue, purple, violet or white (depending on the cultivar). It is a robust species which needs very much water in summer and does not tolerate late frosts in spring. Care guide for the Wisteria Bonsai tree.
Magnolia are trees with quite large leaves that produces beautiful large flowers in spring. Depending on the cultivar the flowers can be white, pink, dark red or purple. Magnolia Bonsai should be protected from strong frost. Care guide for the Magnolia Stellata Bonsai tree.
Crabapple and Apple
A nice flowering and fruit bearing species. The fruit can be yellow or red, depending on the cultivar. The trees are quite robust, but must be frequently observed in order to detect pests and diseases. Care guide for the Crabapple Bonsai tree (Malus).
A tree with a rough dark trunk and a stunning pink flowerage in spring. The flowers occur in clusters. Old Japanese cherries must not be root-pruned too heavily and they can be prone to fungal diseases. The beauty of the cherry flowers is unique. Care guide for the Cherry Bonsai tree.
A classic herald of spring in Japan, with simple, strongly scented white, pink or red flowers, which appear singly on the leafless tree and make a lovely contrast to the black, gnarled trunks. Training of the apricot as Bonsai is quite difficult, especially pruning, because the inner branches tend to die, and the twigs and branches are hard to wire because they are very brittle.
Japanese flowering quince
Chaenomeles japonica ‘Chojubai’
Chaenomeles japonica ‘Chojubai’ is a cultivar of the comparatively coarse Japanese flowering quince. A popular Bonsai in Japan.
A strong species with a beautiful bark that peels off in patches, glossy leaves, pink flowers and big egg-shaped, smooth, yellow fruit. As the ramification is quite coarse and the leaves large, it is best suited for larger Bonsai. The quince is easy to care for but needs some protection in winter. Care guide for the Chinese quince Bonsai tree (Pseudocydonia).
A genus with several different species (among them also a few Mediterranean evergreen species), most of which have characteristically lobed leaves. Oaks produce nuts called acorns which are enclosed by a cup-like cupola. They are very strong trees which grow very tall and old in nature. In a Bonsai pot oaks must be protected from strong frost (Mediterranean oaks should be overwintered frost-free). Care guide for the Oak Bonsai tree (Quercus).
Trees with grey bark and round drupes, growing a fine ramification and serrated leaves. Not all hackberry species are frost hardy. Care guide for the Celtis Bonsai tree (Hackberry).
The Chinese Pepper is a subtropical tree with small paripinnate leaves which is very common as indoor bonsai. It must be protected from temperatures below 10° C / 50° F. Care guide for the Chinese pepper Bonsai (Zanthoxylum).
The Ginkgo is a deciduous tree with fan shaped leaves and a columnar silhouette. The tree is indigenous to China and is considered a living fossil, dating back 270 million years. Care guide for the Ginkgo Bonsai (Ginkgo biloba).
The Desert Rose is a small succulent tree native to Africa and Arabia which has fleshy leaves and develops a bulbous base. It produces large pink and white or red flowers when it gets enough sunlight. Care guide for the Adenium Bonsai (desert rose).
The Japanese Winterberry is a deciduous shrub or small tree with dark green serrated leaves and light pink flowers. The female trees bear beautiful red berries which can last until next spring. Care guide for the Japanese Winterberry Bonsai (Ilex serrata).
It has drooping branches and long yellowish twigs which hang down almost to the ground. It is native to China and is widespread in the northern hemisphere. Care guide for the Weeping Willow Bonsai.
The baobab is the characteristic tree species of the dry savanna of the African lowlands south of the Sahara. It can grow 20 m (65ft) tall and develops a very massive, sometimes bottle-shaped trunk which is often deeply furrowed. Care guide for the Baobab Bonsai (Adansonia digitata).
Cercis is a genus with ten species which are found in mediterranean zones of the northern hemisphere in North-America, Asia and southern Europe. Two species (Cercis siliquastrum and Cercis canadensis) are often used as ornamental plants. Care guide for the Judas tree (Cercis Bonsai).
The Stewartia is native to east Asia and is easy to identify because of its flaky orange bark.
Pines and Conifers
Pines and Conifers can be divided into three categories; those with elongating growth patterns, whorled growth patterns, or deciduous conifers.
Elongating growth patterns
Whorled growth patterns
Needles arise at a common point
Sheds needles in fall
Coniferous evergreen - Elongating growth patterns
Juniper species have delicate scale-like foliage, which, depending on the cultivar, can be light green to dark or bluish green and it can be finer or coarser. The trunks often have twisted and bent shapes and most older specimen have deadwood. It is a very popular species for Bonsai. The Chinese juniper is easy to care for, but must not be watered too much. Care guide for the Juniper Bonsai tree (Juniperus).
A Japanese juniper species with sharp leaves which is only available in Bonsai shops, imported from Asia. The suitability for Bonsai and its care is similar to the Chinese juniper. Care guide for the quite similar Juniper Bonsai tree (Juniperus).
A European species with sharp leaves, which are smaller and softer than those of the Japanese needle juniper. The species is protected and must not be collected in the wild, but there are cultivars in the nurseries which are well suited for Bonsai and often more robust. Care guide for the quite similar Juniper Bonsai tree (Juniperus).
The common spruce is quite popular for Bonsai, in contrast to the fir, which is often confused with it. Its needles are short and sharp and are placed around the twigs. The cones are hanging (the cones of the fir stand upright). It is not very easy to train though, because it doesn't backbud easily. Spruces need a lot of sun and as a Bonsai some protection during winter. Care guide for the Spruce Bonsai tree (Picea).
The Japanese spruce, is rare, sought-after and expensive. It has shorter needles than the European spruce and sometimes a more elegant shape, but has very similar needs. It should be protected from strong frost. Care guide for the quite similar Spruce Bonsai tree (Picea).
It is a shrub or small tree that is also often used for hedges. The foliage is dark green and the fruit catch the eye with bright red arils. The yew is a conifer, but bears no cones (which is a contradiction...). It is one of the few conifers that can live in the shade. In a Bonsai pot it should be protected from strong frost because its carnose roots are sensitive. Care guide for the Yew Bonsai tree (Taxus, Taxaceae).
A tree native of Japan with a characteristic formal upright shape, which is in most cases also used for cryptomeria Bonsai. The tree must be kept moist and needs protection from strong frost. Care guide for the Japanese Cedar bonsai (Cryptomeria).
A tropical shrub or tree with large needle-like dark green leaves. The fruit have an aril, just like the yews. The tree needs constantly warm temperatures and tolerates no frost. Care guide for the Podocarpus Macrophyllus Bonsai tree .
A tree from Japan with delicate scale-like foliage which is arranged like fans on some cultivars. Hinoki Bonsai should not dry out and needs protection from strong frost. Care guide for the Hinoki cypress Bonsai (Chamaecyparis obtusa).
Also from Japan and there are many different cultivars offered in nurseries. Sawara cypress Bonsai should be kept moist and need protection from strong frost.
The Mediterranean cypress is a species native to the eastern Mediterranean region.
Cedrus trees grow tall, level branches, with dimorphic shoots. The tree is adapted to mountainous climates. Care guide for the Cedar Bonsai.
A tall upright, evergreen tree with soft needle-shaped foliage, native to the coastal regions of northern California and Oregon. The tallest tree in the world is a Coast Redwood. Care guide for the Coast Redwood Bonsai.
Coniferous evergreen - Whorled growth patterns
Japanese black pine
A strong pine from Japan's southern coastal regions with strong, sharp needles growing in pairs and with an attractive rough bark. Training and care of the black pine is not easy because special techniques are needed to reduce the needle length. The black pine needs much sun and warmth and should not be exposed to strong frost. Care guide for the Japanese Black Pine Bonsai tree (Pinus thunbergii).
An elegant pine species native of Japan's mountain regions, often with bluish needles. Very special is the fact that five needles grow in a bundle, while most of the other pines grow only pairs of two needles. The white pine has a smooth bark in young age but is often grafted on black pine which has a rough bark. The white pine needs a well-draining soil and should be protected from strong frost. Care guide for the Japanese white pine / five needle pine (Pinus parviflora).
This pine species is widely common in Europe and can easily be recognized because of their reddish bark on the upper trunk. Its needles are thinner than those of the mountain pine. The scots pine is well suited for many Bonsai styles, has a nice ramification and delicate foliage. It is easy to care for and can endure frost, but like all pines it needs a lot of sun and does not like constantly wet soil. Care guide for the Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris).
The European mountain pine is well suited for Bonsai purposes and can develop very short needles. In the wild it often has twisted and bent trunks which are very interesting, its deadwood is beautiful and durable. The mountain pine is frost hardy and easy to care for, but must not be kept too wet. Care guide for the Mountain pine (Pinus mugo).
The ponderosa is a large pine native to the US, its bark helps to identify the tree as it has relatively large plates with black cracks. Care guide for the Ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa).
This tree grows in the European mountains. The needles grow in clusters on short shoots and evenly distributed on long shoots. They are flexible and soft, not sharp. In autumn the foliage turns yellow and falls off. The larch is easy to care for, loves sunlight and can endure frost. It is very well suited for Bonsai. Care guide for the Larch Bonsai tree (Larix) .
This deciduous conifer is very similar to the European larch and hybridizes easily with it. The Japanese larch has a broader shape, reddish long shoots and furled scales on the cones. Care guide for the Larch Bonsai tree (Larix) .
A crossing of the Japanese and European larch. Its characteristics are a mix between both species, but it is even more robust. Care guide for the Larch Bonsai tree (Larix).
It is a tree from southern USA and Central America which can grow on very wet soil. The leaves are alternate, light green in spring, later dark green, they are soft and not sharp. In contrast to the larch there are no needle clusters, but the needles are distributed spirally around the long shoots and laterally on side-shoots. In autumn the foliage turns reddish brown, before falling off. Bald cypress Bonsai must be protected from frost. Care guide for the Bald cypress Bonsai.
This species comes from China and looks much like the bald cypress, but has opposite leaves. The dawn cypress does not like soil wetness, in contrast to the bald cypress. It needs protection from late frost in the spring. Care guide for the Dawn Redwood Bonsai.
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