Bonsai means "tree-in-a-pot" and has been practiced for more than 2,000 years. However, simply planting a tree in a small pot does not make it bonsai. The plant has to be pruned and trained to achieve a specific shape. Pruning away branches and cutting back the roots keep the tree small. A well-cared-for bonsai will live for hundreds of years and become a family heirloom. There are several popular species of bonsai plants.
Bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) features feather-like leaves that turn an orange-brown color in the fall. The tree is considered one of the easiest to grow, and is a good choice for a bonsai beginner. Several trees can be planted in the same container to create a miniature bald cypress forest. Bald cypress thrives in full sun and extremely wet soil. The tree is usually grown outdoors.
Okinawa holly (Malphigia coccigera) features pink flowers that bloom in the spring and summer and small, glossy leaves with serrated edges. The tree is hardy, easy to care for and slow growing, reaching a height of just 5 or 6 inches by the time it is four years old. Allow the holly's soil to go completely dry between waterings, then give it a good soaking. The container must have drainage holes; while moist soil is good, wet soil is not. Keep the plant where it remains a consistent 60 to 85 degrees F.
Lavender Star Flower
Lavender star flower (Grewia occidentalis) is a native of Australia and Africa. The tree is an evergreen that reaches 10 inches tall by the time it is eight years old. Flowers bloom in groups of two or three from spring through fall. Lavender star flower requires full sun and moderate temperatures. Plant it in a soil that's two parts peat moss and one part sand, and keep it moist but not wet.
Chinese Bird Plum
Chinese bird plum (Sageretia theezans) is a semi-tropical evergreen in cooler climates and deciduous in more temperate areas. The plant is native to Asia and North America with fragrant flowers and medium-green, oval-shaped leaves that start out red and turn green as they mature. Small flowers bloom on new growth in the summer, followed by larger clusters of white flowers and finally by tiny blue berries. Chinese bird plum is bred in China specifically for bonsai. The plant requires moderate sunshine and temperatures that do not drop below 43 degrees F.