Conifer Bonsai Trees

Conifer trees are recognized by their vascular tissues, and they are most commonly associated with high and firm forests of evergreen woods that have been used as a source of great building materials for a very long time. These species belong to the Pinophita division that is also known under names of Coniferopita and Coniferae. This division has over 600 species, and scientists have discovered fossils of conifers that are several hundred million years old. Interestingly enough, almost any type of coniferous species can be grown as a bonsai, but some are more challenging than others.

Conifer bonsai trees, also known as shohaku, are considered one out of two basic types of bonsai trees. They have characteristic growth of needles and are considered the original, or prototype of all bonsai species. The roots and trunks of these species have a well-known vitality and can be found in many shapes and sizes, and each of them poses a particular meaning and unique display.


Spruce used for bonsai trees majorly originate from the Northern American soil. Two types of spruce are most commonly used for training: the Picea abis, known as the Norway spruce, and Picea glauca, also called the White or Canadian spruce.  The Picea bonsai is most appropriate for outdoor gardening. It requires positioning where it will be exposed to the Sun during summer, but it is important that during hard winters it has appropriate protection from freezing. What is characteristic about the spruce is that, unlike other conifer bonsai trees, pinching needles should be performed later, when the shoots have matured. Wiring is recommended in late autumn and winter for both species, while repotting can take place every 2-4 years.

White cedar

Cedar species are native to Africa and Asia, however, they can be found in harder climates around the world. This tree is highly adaptive for planting in groups, and due to its longevity and slow deadwood decay, it is a very interesting choice for those who are familiar and fond of deadwood techniques in bonsai gardening. The white cedar, also known as the Atlantic cedar can adapt to harsh growing conditions. For example, in cold and dry climates, its wood becomes twisted and it grows very slowly, approximately one centimeter per year. In addition, this wood is soft and easy to bend, making it grateful choice and a beautiful garden display.


Being a deciduous type of tree, it is a creative and interesting process to watch the larch bonsai change along natural seasons. There are two most widely used species of this tree, the European Larch, and the Japanese Larch. As most conifers, it requires Sun to achieve well and healthy growth. Because of its strength, it can endure regular pruning sessions, that are most recommended during winter. It should be repotted every year, with paying special attention to roots while pruning them.


When it comes to Yew, the most common species used are the Baccata and Cuspidata. Peeling the bark of this tree is one of the preferred features as it makes the tree look old. It requires regular fertilizing and provides beautiful leaves and fruits, which are poisonous, and should only be grown for decorative purposes.


The most common species of Hemlock are Eastern and Western. This species can be recognized by a pyramid organization of the branches that are more characteristic for the Western type. With age, the leaves of this tree will darken. For this species pruning is recommended during summer. It requires watering during in growing season, and it is recommended that the watering is performed with foliar spraying.


This tree species comes from New Zeeland, and in nature, they grow very high. Its botanical name Agathis Australis implies on the shape of the trunk or forest organization. The term Agathus is Greek, implying a ball of thread that refers to the trees that grow in a circular cone. Starting Kauri as a conifer bonsai should be done from a seed as they are not adaptive for reduction during training, and are fast growing plants. However, for those who are already skilled this tree would be an interesting challenge, particularly if grown in a group.


This tree species was discovered by Archibald Menzies in 1792 (botanical name of the tree is Pseudotsuga menziesii), but it was introduced to Britain a century later by David Douglas, which is why this try type is known as Douglas fir. This tree type is native to North America, particularly growing along the Rocky Mountain. It has a characteristic color of the bark that ranges from brown to red.


The Podocarpus tree is also known as the Buddhist pine. It is a very common conifer bonsai type, that is low maintenance and easy to care for. This plant can handle both indoor and outdoor surrounding. It requires regular watering and feeding every two weeks. Because it grows slowly, it can be repotted every 2-3 years.


Relative to the giant Californian sequoia tree, redwood bonsai has several varieties, such as the Dawn Redwood. This tree native to China was considered extinct. However, with the help of passionate botanists, this tree recovered back from extinction successfully. Its wide trunk and branches allow the observer to enjoy the majestic and dramatic growth that rushes slowly towards the high sky. These millennial species is related to Wellington Redwood and Giant Sequoia trees that are also used by bonsai botanists.