Bonsai, the art of dwarfing plants or trees into various shapes, originated in Japan. The tree and the pot it is planted in form a harmonious unit where each complements the other. The tree must be shaped--if you simply plant a tree and let it grow, it is not a bonsai tree. Each branch and twig must be pruned, shaped or cut off until the desired look is achieved. Many tree varieties can be dwarfed and shaped into bonsai trees.
The bald cypress is a good tree for bonsai beginners because it is easy to grow. Bald cypress trees thrive in a wide range of soils, but needs plenty of moisture and hot summers. This tree is known for its orange and brown fall foliage and delicate leaves.
Camellias are popular bonsai tree choices because they have large, green leaves and produce lots of flowers. There are more than 250 types of camellias, but camellia sasanqua is the most popular variety for use as a bonsai tree because it is small and compact. This tree needs partial shade and protection from frost.
The snowbush has large leaves that change color depending on what kind of light it's grown in. It's also known as snow on the mountain. If you plant your snowbush where it receives moderate light, its leaves will be large and white. Plant it in full sun and the leaves will be green and smaller. After four years, the tree should stand 7-inches tall.
Chinese Bird Plum
The Chinese bird plum is a subtropical evergreen in mild climates, but becomes deciduous in temperate regions. They are grown throughout China for bonsai. This flowering tree produces strongly scented flowers and small green leaves.
The Hinoki cypress is also known as the false cypress and is an evergreen conifer. It has flat, dark green leaves with blue-colored edges that fan outward. When the tree matures, it will produce small, pea-sized cones.