Bonsai - Tropicals:

Any plant that can live in the conditions of your home, produce a woody stem and tolerate pruning can be a potential bonsai.

A tropical plant is one that comes from a climate that has consistently warm temperatures all year round and receives adequate moisture. Some also are areas of high humidity - typically a rain forest. Others are warm and drier, such as the southern United States, Australia, the Mediterranean. This is pretty well what our homes are like. Any plant that can live in the conditions of your home, produce a woody stem and tolerate pruning can be a potential bonsai, although some are definitely easier than others.

Here are some that are worth trying:

Azalea (Rhododendron spp.) - flowering gift plant, easy to prune, needs bright, filtered sunlight, adequate moisture, acidic soil. Good beginner bonsai.


Bougainvillea (Bougainvillea buttiana) - flowering vine, with thorns, needs sun, easy to prune, makes good cascade bonsai


Black Olive (Bucida buceras, Bucera spinosa) - tiny dark green leaves, thorns, woody stems on small plant, easy to prune. Needs bright filtered light, adequate moisture.


Boxwood (Buxus sempervirens) - small oval, waxy green leaves, easy to prune and root from cuttings. Needs bright, indirect light, no hot sun, high humidity.


Buddhist Pine (Podocarpus macrophyllus) - tropical coniferous evergreen with long, narrow green leaves. Needs bright filtered sunlight, keep cool in winter.


China Doll (Radermachera sinica) - foliage plant with small, delicate leaves, needs bright light, no hot sun, adequate moisture.


Citrus (Citrus spp.) - includes orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit, kunquat, all with fragrant flowers, large, shiny green leaves. They need sun, good drainage.


English Ivy (Hedera helix) - foliage vine with lobed leaves, many cultivars, good for cascade. Needs bright light, no hot sun.


Fig (Ficus spp.) - large family, including Ficus natasha, with smaller leaves, zigzag fig. Need bright light, no hot sun. Lose leaves when disturbed, grow new ones.


Fuchsia (Fuchsia spp.) - trailing, flowering plant grown as an outdoor annual, can make a good cascade bonsai. Needs cool temperatures, bright indoor light, watch for whiteflies!


Fukien Tea (Ehretia bixifolia, often Carmona microphylla) - shiny dark green leaves, white flowers, red berries in fall develops thick woody trunk on small plant. Needs bright, indirect light, adequate moisture.


Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) - Large, woody shrub with large, tubular flowers, needs sun, adequate moisture.


Jade plant (Crassula argentea) - succulent with rounded, fleshy leaves. Needs sun, dry between waterings


Oleander (Nerium oleander) - flowering shrub with long, narrow, poisonous leaves. Don't eat it!


Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) - popular Christmas gift plant, colorful bracts, easy to keep as a bonsai when others are throwing theirs away. Needs bright, indirect light, adequate moisture.


Pomegranate (Punica granatum 'Nana') - shrub with light green pointed oval leaves, tubular red flowers, rarely produces fruit indoors. Needs sun, adequate moisture


Rose, Miniature (Rosa chinensis) - indoor plant, or outdoor with winter protection. Small rose flowers, small leaves, perfect except they get spider mite indoors! Needs sun, dead head for continuous bloom.


Sageretia (Sageretia theezans) - shiny oval leaves, small white flowers, blue berries, rough bark that flakes attractively. Needs bright, indirect sunlight, cool in winter, adequate moisture.


Tree of a Thousand Stars (Serissa foetida) - has tiny green leaves and miniature white flowers, either single or double. Needs bright, indirect light, high humidity, adequate moisture.