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Five Species that Make Great Indoor Bonsai Tree

Various bonsai trees on display on separate shelves.

Bonsai or the art of growing miniature trees in pots or containers originated from the Chinese culture. Later on, it was redeveloped under Japanese influence, which also led to bonsai trees becoming an essential part of Japan’s culture.

Back in the 14th century, the art of bonsai was only done by people belonging to the high ranking members of society in Japan.

However, nowadays, it has become well-known to all parts of the world, and many people are enjoying doing this craft. Not only does bonsai add life to our surroundings, but it can also be a form of relaxation for us.

Generally, bonsai trees are meant to be grown outdoors since they need a sufficient amount of sunlight for optimal growth. But because they serve as an ornament, decoration, and artistic statement for most people, they love displaying them inside their homes. Unfortunately, not all species of bonsai can thrive indoors.

You have to select the right species that can tolerate and live in an indoor environment. In this blog, you will learn about the five species of indoor bonsai trees that you can showcase inside your home!

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Most species that are ideal for the indoor environment are tropical bonsai. The temperate species of bonsai have dormancy periods that require a gradual decrease in light intensity and temperature.

The dormancy period cannot happen indoors, and that is why their survival rate is smaller compared to tropical species. However, you must always remember that proper maintenance and nurturing is still crucial to the health and survival of tropical bonsai species indoors.

For more detailed information about soil for bonsai trees, check out our article “Bonsai Soil Information & How to Guide”

Dwarf Jade Bonsai

A close look at a Dwarf Jade Bonsai on a pot.

It is a succulent plant, also called Elephant Bush or Elephant Plant. It originated and is native to South Africa. Since it is a succulent, it can retain and store water for a long time. For this reason, it is ideal as an indoor bonsai tree.

If you are a frequent traveler or if you often forget to water it, you won’t have to worry about them drying up. Unlike the other species of Bonsai, this one is not as sensitive and demanding when it comes to caring and nurturing.

This bonsai is ideal for beginners. It has thick, round, and deep green leaves. It can also grow some pink flowers over its stems and branches, which add to its visual appeal.

Since it is a tropical tree, it thrives well in humid areas with a room temperature around 65° to 75° F. Exposure to direct sunlight for at least 3-4 hours can enhance its growth as well. You can place them in areas near your windows where it can have access to sunlight. This tree also requires high humidity altitude. You can use a mist humidifier in your home to provide a moist and tropical environment for your tree.

During the summer, you have to water it every day. Meanwhile, you can do that every 2 to 3 days for the rest of the seasons. It requires regular pruning to maintain its size and to produce branches. Re-potting is also required every 3-5 years.

Willow Leaf Ficus Bonsai

A healthy Willow Leaf Ficus Bonsai on a wooden table.

The willow leaf ficus, or the Mexican Ficus, is native to some Asian countries. It has long, light green leaves and tall trunks that resemble the popular weeping willow tree. It can tolerate environments or areas with low to moderate light, which is also why it can survive indoors.

This indoor bonsai tree grows better if exposed in humid areas. However, you don’t have to worry if your home doesn’t meet that condition because you can use a humidity tray.

During summer, spring and fall, place them in areas with access to bright lights. However, during winter, place them on the window wall that faces south. It is also better for their growth if you expose them to sunlight for 4-6 hours or more every day.

When it comes to watering, never leave its soil completely dry before you water again. Apply water thoroughly until it runs out of the potholes. You can use a moisture meter to gauge its water requirement. Never apply fertilizer during winter. You can use fertilizer for other seasons, but only once every month.

In shaping, pinch down some of the new growth in the farthest safe point. Make sure that you don’t cut off all of the new growth to prevent your tree from weakening. There is no recommended time to re-pot since the growth of trees may differ.

That’s why observing and examining their root system is important. It helps you identify when the right time to re-pot is.

Flowering Bougainvillea Bonsai

A close look at a Flowering Bougainvillea Bonsai with blooming pink flowers.

The Bougainvillea bonsai is an evergreen shrub that is native to South Africa, particularly in Brazil, Peru, and Argentina. It is an ornamental plant that can grow as high as 12 meters. This indoor bonsai tree can tolerate and adapt to a warm climate. They are now grown in different parts of the world.

Due to crossbreeding, there are now different colors of bougainvillea like red, purple, orange, and many more. They have woody vines and spiky horns that allow them to spread and climb over other nearby plants.

They feature leaves that shape like a petal where the actual flower is at the center. This indoor bonsai tree has a stunning and attractive feature that you would surely want to display in your home. However, this indoor bonsai tree is not as easy to grow as the other species previously mentioned.

It thrives well with sunlight, but long exposure to intense heat, especially during the late afternoon, is not recommended. However, an insufficient amount of sunlight may also result in lesser leaf production.

The recommended exposure to the sun is 6 to 8 hours every day. It needs good drainage since wet feet may cause root rotting, fungal and insect problems, and even death.

So, make sure that you don’t overwater it. If you tend to forget watering from time to time, it is never really a problem since it can tolerate dryer surroundings.

Wire them while they’re still young since their branches get brittle as they get older. The best thing about this tree is that it allows you to shape them in any form you want. Repot them every 3 to 4 years during spring.

Tropical Boxwood Bonsai

A focused look at a Tropical Boxwood Bonsai in a terracotta pot.

This indoor bonsai tree is, in reality, a type of bougainvillea that is native to Puerto Rico. It has tiny leaves and greenish-yellow flowers that resemble a hanging bell.

Boxwood bonsai attracts bees, and it is more stunning during the growing season where red-colored new shoots appear. It is sturdy and can thrive even in infertile ground.

During summer, spring and fall, place them in indoor areas that have high and bright light. When the temperature reaches below 45 degrees, put your indoor bonsai tree on a windowsill.

During the winter, when the temperature reaches the 40-degree mark, place them in a window sill that faces south. Although it can tolerate a short period of dryness, make sure that you water thoroughly during summer.

However, as much as possible, avoid wet feet. You can also use a moisture meter to know if your bonsai tree is getting the right water requirement.

When feeding this bonsai, use organic fertilizer. During its growing season, apply fertilizer once a month or apply liquid fertilizer weekly. Never apply fertilizer during the winter. You can also use water-soluble fertilizer every other month by spraying it to your boxwood bonsai tree.

The boxwood tree can tolerate aggressive pruning. Trimming of its canopy is important, especially when it becomes very dense. You must observe and evaluate your plant’s growth, so you’ll know when is the perfect time to trim and prune them.

In wiring, make sure that you are cautious because you might damage its bark. You need to re-pot every 2 to 5 years.

Dwarf Pomegranate Bonsai

A close look at a healthy Dwarf Pomegranate Bonsai with autumn-toned leaves.

This type of indoor bonsai tree is easy to grow, but it is not ideal for beginners. Dwarf Pomegranate Bonsai is loved by many because of its appearance and vibrantly-colored flowers that are usually bright red or orange-red. They can grow to up to 6 feet.

However, if you want them in a smaller height, you can just prune or trim them. Since it is a tropical tree, make sure that it is getting enough sunlight, preferably 6 hours every day.

You can place them in windows, patios, or other indoor areas that can access sufficient sunlight. It can endure cold temperatures below 14° Fahrenheit. However, too much exposure might freeze their roots and kill them.

Although this species of bonsai can tolerate drought, it is not good to let the soil get completely dry. Compared to other bonsai trees, this one dries out much quicker. Water it generously, but never leave them soaking or too wet.

Overwatering might cause a fungal infestation that will result in root decay. You can use a moisture meter to gauge when to water and how much water will you give.

Also, it needs fertilizer since the nutrients in its soil leaves quickly with water. You can use liquid or pellet fertilizer every 1 to 2 months and during its growing season. The best time to prune them is during spring.

You can use your fingers to pinch or remove new growths. You can report every 3 to 4 years during mid-summer or late winter when the tree is not very delicate and fragile. If infected with pests, use a non-toxic insecticide in a smaller dose. Spray it every few months, but never apply insecticide when the soil of the plant is dry.

Learn how to take care of a Japanese Juniper Bonsai in our How to Guide.

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