Bonsai Trees with Flowers [Overview of Flowering Bonsai]

Sometimes, making bonsai tree flowers happen can be a challenge. To keep our bonsai in shape, we prune them often. By doing so, we often unintentionally remove potential flowers! This is problematic for those wanting flowers.

It is natural for bonsai owners to want their plant to flower. But professional bonsai artists first focus on the shape of the plant. Once the bonsai is mature enough to hold a display of flowers, the grower encourages it through proper fertilizers and light conditions.

Blooming Japanese Wisteria Bonsai with pink flowers (Wisteria floribunda)

This article will review different bonsai plants that bloom beautiful flowers. We will also give guidance on how to encourage your bonsai to flower more frequently.

Types of Flowering Bonsai Plants

Everyone loves flowers, but it’s important when choosing a bonsai for its blooms to consider the size of the blooms in proportion to the size of the plant.

Traditionally, plants with large flowers are used for large bonsai. Small blossoms are perfect for all sizes, especially for small bonsai sizes such as shohin.

Pro Tip: Leaf sizes can be reduced by pruning, fruit, and flowers rarely down-size.)  Maintaining proportion helps them look more like real trees rather than bushes.

Azalea

This wonderful shrub is long-lived, cold-tolerant, with brightly colored spring blooms. Because they can grow in small spaces and produce brilliant colors every spring, they are one of the most valuable garden shrubs. 

They come in two varieties: they can be evergreen and retain their leaves throughout the year, or they can be deciduous.

Bonsai Azalea Japonica

The funnel-shaped, flared flowers come in every shade except blue. They are available in brightly colored, such as vivid red, orange, yellow and white, as well pinks and lilac colors. 

Most azaleas produce simple trumpet-shaped flowers that measure between 1-3 in. Some varieties have additional petals, which create double flowers. 

Quince (Chaenomele)

The quince tree is ornamental and small in size. It can reach a maximum height of 5m and a width of 4m. As it ages, it will become a multi-stemmed tree, giving bonsai artists options for structure. 

The quince likes full sun. Choose a fertile, deep loam that is rich in nutrients and retains moisture. Use a low-nitrogen fertilizer encourages flowering.

Japanese Quince ‘Chojubai’ bonsai tree with tiny red flowers

Quince tree blossoms are stunning, often in pink or white shades.

The first flowers appear in spring, and the fruit in autumn or winter. The flesh is firm and woody, while the flowers are still green. 


Pro Tip: The tree quince (Cydonia oblanga) is primarily grown for its fruit.  The flowering quince (Chaenomeles species) is a shrub especially enjoyed for its flowers.

Bougainvillea (spectabili)


Another great choice for constant flowering bonsai is Bougainvillea spectabilis. This is a hardy, tropical plant that is originally from Brazil. It can even be grown indoors. Learn more about Bougainvillea Bonsai care.

Some artists prefer the ‘pixie’ over many other varieties of Bougainvillea.  (Mainly because of its hardwood and less rangy growth pattern.) 

Pruning and wiring the Bougainvillea bonsai

Wisteria

Wisteria puts on an amazing display of fragrant white, pink, and violet-blue flowers in the Spring and early Summer. The three most common cultivated species are Wisteria floribunda, Wisteria brachybotrys (silky Wisteria), and Wisteria sinensis.

Wisteria at the Bonsai and Penjing Museum in Washington, D.C. 
Wisteria at the Bonsai and Penjing Museum in Washington, D.C. 

Pro Tip: The most common reason young plants are reluctant to bloom is their choice of plant. The Chinese Wisteria (Wisteria sinensis) and the Japanese Wisteria (Wisteria floribunda) are the most common and best bonsai specimens. Also, make sure to get a grafted tree as Wisteria grown from seed can take 20 years to bloom.

Blooming Japanese Wisteria Bonsai
Blooming Japanese Wisteria Bonsai with pink flowers (Wisteria floribunda)

Powder Puff

Calliandra is generally a slow-growing species but the Powder Puff is an exception. This species is a favorite of bonsai growers, who are impatient as it grows at an amazing rate. The schultzei can be grown quickly with proper care. It often requires repotting every year, and plenty of water to keep up its rapid growth.

Red is the most common flower color. However, many varieties come in white or pink. These buds look like tiny berry clusters and burst into fuzzy puffball blooms.

Powder Puff bonsai trees require lots of sunshine, so the more you get, the more flowers it will produce. Powder Puff bonsai plants can be grown indoors with supplemental grow lights but will generally grow more densely the more they are exposed to direct sunlight.

Pink powderpuff (Calliandra surinamensis)

Where to Buy Flowering Bonsai Plants?

Many bonsai collectors struggle with where they can buy quality bonsai stock. The best place we’ve found to purchase flowering bonsai plants is a wholesale distributer named “Bonsai Boy of New York”. They have a large collection of one-of-a-kind plants you can choose from.

They have flowering decades-old bonsai for sale for well over $500 and starter bonsai for around $30-$50.

Click here to check their current inventory of flowering bonsai plants. Aside from quality plants, another great thing about them is what you see in their catalog is what you get.

Other Flowering Bonsai Considerations & Pictures

In the tropics, there are many excellent choices for flowering bonsai. Because they are tropical, many will grow indoors with proper light. 

This photograph of Warren Hill’s wisteria bonsai, shown here with his wife Sharon, is one of my all-time favorite bonsai pictures. 

In addition to a beautiful lady and fabulous plant, it totally expresses the design and scale of the magnificent bonsai. It’s also the perfect reason to use a white pot!

Large Bonsai Flowers

By the “rules,” large flowers should be on large bonsai to make them look more like real trees, rather than bushes. But occasionally, an artist chooses to work with large flowers.

Walter Pall acquired this Hibiscus approximately 30 years ago.


As time went on, he developed a beautiful bonsai.  Walter’s blog is called Walter Pall Bonsai Adventures.

Bonsai Tree Flowers on Small Plants

Many plants with relatively small blooms are perfectly suited for miniature bonsai. I especially like two of the Malpighias.  Malpighia coccigera (with holly shaped leaves) and the Malpighia punicifolia (very soft leaf and more of a wispy, weeping form.)

Malpighia coccigera

More Bonsai Tree Flowers!

In addition to the above trees, many bonsai flowers are scattered throughout this site.  Leave this bonsai tree flowers page and see tiny flowers on Bahama Berry.

More bonsai tree flowers:

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