GROUP II – Fairly Hardy
This Page Last Updated: July 11, 2015
Special Condition Key:

A prefers more acidic soil; try 1 Tablespoon white vinegar in 1 gal. water monthly
B brown leaf tips indicate salt burn/salt build-up, often from too much or too little watering
C subject to iron or manganese chlorosis (best iron source is a chelated mineral)
D subject to random branch die-back (which may be due to wrong-timed pruning)
F frost-sensitive, so protect with frost cloth or bring indoors if a hard freeze is expected
I more adaptable for use as an indoor bonsai than other plants, but still requires a certain level of temperature, light and humidity in order to be healthy and to thrive
L may drop some leaves when relocated or repotted
M very attractive to spider mites, so hose-spray and keep in very good air-flow
P pinch first set of leaves when opened, the next will be smaller in size
R do not root prune if at all possible; never bare root this kind of plant
S leaves sunburn/windburn easily, so provide shelter/protection
U larger specimens can take full sun most of day here when established
W bark is tender or branches are brittle, so wire carefully, if at all, to avoid scars and damage
X Outside of a container, this is considered an invasive plant in some areas: err on the side of caution and discard this plant’s clippings or a “dead” specimen in a trash bag, not just on the ground.
^ evergreen
% deciduous/semi-deciduous
* can bloom as bonsai

Note: Plants labeled as susceptible to chlorosis when grown in the ground should not have this problem in a container with a quality soil mix and regular fertilizer schedule. “Established” plants are firmly rooted and producing a good growth of new buds which have opened up into leaves.


Acacia (Acacia sp.) D,F,M,U,W ^* X


      native to Australia, Mexico and Southwest U.S.; over 2 dozen species are hardy here; rarely suffer any pest damage; may become chlorotic in alkaline soil.    [Leguminosae; Fabales]     SEE ALSO BCI Plant Sheet.


Quailbush (Atriplex sp.) %*


       small-leafed desert species make interesting bonsai.   [Amaranthaceae; Caryophyllales]


Black Olive (Bucida spinosa) F *


      hard to shape, but does form basic foliage pads by itself; horizontal branches are sent out spoke-like from distinct places on the trunk (like some pines); it is recommended to pinch off new shoots just a few at a time for the sake of the tree’s health; likes a lot of water; not a true olive.     [Combretaceae; Myrtales]     SEE ALSO BCI Plant Sheet.


Weeping Bottlebrush (Callistemon viminalis) B,C,U ^


      [Myrtaceae; Myrtales]


Hackberry, Reticulated or Western (Celtis reticulata) U %


      foliage remaining on a branch can die off after trimming that branch, so only prune in the spring when growth is vigorous; needs lots of sun; said to need at least six weeks below 41°F for healthy dormancy.    [Cannabaceae; Rosales]


Carob / St. John’s Bread (Ceratonia siliqua) U ^*


      do not bare-root; young are susceptible to cold-injury; use well-draining soil; does not die-back at stem cut so you can prune within 1/4″ of the branch you want to keep.    [Leguminosae; Fabales]


Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis) U ^*


      a vigorous grower.    [Bignoniaceae; Lamiales]


Citrus (Citrus sp.) F,I,S ^*


      most nursery citrus have an unsightly graft too high on a straight trunk, but there are some low graft treasures if you look; occasionally you can find a plant grown from seed; do not prune too much all at once, fertilize regularly with organic citrus food; should be allowed to dry out between waterings; fruit will be full-size on your bonsai, so use kumquat, calamondin or mandarin for proportional small fruit.    [Rutaceae; Sapindales]


Texas Olive (Cordia boissieri) U %


         not a true olive; better branching than on angular small-leafed species, C. parvifolia.     [Boraginaceae; Lamiales]


Silver Berry (Eleagnus sp.) P ^*


         give a little shade; when defoliating for leaf pruning or size and not dormancy, allow the petiole and one-quarter of the old leaf to remain on the branch; flowers in the fall.    [Elaeagnaceae; Rosales]


Brittlebush (Encelia farinosa) %*


       will bloom when extra long shoots are allowed to remain; only lives about 10 years.   [Compositae; Asterales]


Evergreen Euonymus (Euonymus japonica) M,U ^


       [Celastraceae; Celastrales]


Arizona Ash (Fraxinus velutina P,U %


      a vigorous grower; leaves can burn badly by late June look for the little-leaf variety.    [Oleaceae; Lamiales]


Silk Oak (Grevillea robusta B,I,U,W ^


      prefers drier soil; tree exudes an allelopathic chemical which prevents growth of other types of plants, so don’t use in multi-culture forests; G. rosmarinifolia said to be easier foliage type to work with.    [Proteaceae; Proteales]


Yaupon Holly (Ilex vomitoria) W ^*


      angular branch growth can be challenging; pinch back new growth; wiring doesn’t seem to work, branches said to go back to original lines, “Clip & Grow” better; too much fertilizer results in large leaves; rose food recommended; nursery specimens often have very attractive flaring roots half an inch below the level of the soil; separate male and female plants needed to produce berries; “Stokes” is smallest-leaved variety available; “Easy Berry” is reported to self-pollinate.    [Aquifoliaceae; Aquifoliales]     SEE ALSO BCI Plant Sheet.


Juniper, Shore (Juniperus conferta) ^


      see other junipers ; you’ll get even more needle die-back with needles that end up under wiring than you would with other junipers, but this species has longer and softer needles.    [Cupressaceae; Pinales]


Juniper, Prostrate (Juniperus prostrata‘Foemina’) M,U ^


      see above.   [Cupressaceae; Pinales]


Juniper, San Jose (Juniperus squamata M,U ^


      see above ; this one has wonderfully small needles; best to get a specimen at the nursery right off the truck from California, you can then trim back the outer branches before the important inside growth gets fried by our heat and sun and dies off.    [Cupressaceae; Pinales]


Texas Sage / Texas Ranger  (Leucophyllum frutescens) M,U ^*


      do not overwater; buds back easily with spring pruning; can be slow recovering from repotting; keeping new growth trimmed back to a few leaves is said to prevent new growth from falling off entirely; “Green Cloud” is best variety.    [Scrophulariaceae; Lamiales]


Japanese Privet / Wax-Leaf Privet (Ligustrum japonicum) F,S,W ^


      do not overwater, yet do not dry out; too wet soil will result in root rot; subject to scale; roots grow fast and fine; “Clip and Grow” is the preferred method of training; cut scars and wire scars heal slowly; wiring takes several seasons to position a branch; broken but attached branches said to heal O.K.; propagate from cuttings of any size.   [Oleaceae; Lamiales]     SEE ALSO BCI Plant Sheet.


Desert Fern / Feather Bush (Lysiloma thornberi) U %*


       [Fabaceae; Fabales]


Barbados Cherry (Malpighia glabra) A,C,F,I ^


        prefers high humidity and rich soil mix; water well to flush out salts; likes a lot of light; one older report says Diazinon® is potentially harmful, so use with extreme caution on this plant.    [Malpighiaceae; Malpighiales ]     SEE ALSO BCI Plant Sheet.


Pink Melaleuca (Melaleuca nesophila) B,U ^


      requires lots of water; buds back on old wood.    [Myrtaceae; Myrtales]


White Mulberry (Morus alba) P,U %


      a fast grower; takes heavy top pruning, especially if in a growing bed.    [Moraceae; Rosales]


Orange Jasmine (Murraya exotica) F ^*


      likes the heat; water generously during the growing seasons, not so much in winter; can prune all year, but flower buds begin to appear in early summer.    [Rutaceae; Sapindales]     SEE ALSO BCI Plant Sheet.


Twisted Myrtle (Myrtus communis “Boetica”) ^*


      when new growth begins in spring, clip all leaves off or in half with scissors; sunlight on dormant buds will bring an abundance of growth; sun or partial shade; hardy down to 28°F.    [Myrtaceae; Myrtales]


Elephant Tree (Pachycormus discolor) F,U,W %


      the combination of thick trunk, papery bark and short, fine pinnate leaves is hard to beat; winter grower; often summer deciduous; in cashew family; full sun; don’t over-water, especially in cold weather; slow growing; requires early pinching and pruning to induce branching and trunk-thickening; from Mexico.    [Anacardiaceae; Sapindales]


Palo Verde / Palo Brea (Cercidium and Parkinsoniasp.) D,R,U %


      trimming dead branches off could kill part of the trunk around those branches; Little Leaf or Yellow or Foothill Palo Verde (C. microphyllum) is slow growing; Blue Palo Verde (C. floridum) grows faster, as does Palo Brea or Sonoran Palo Verde (P. praecox) from Mexico which has a nicer pale green trunk, but is more frost-sensitive than the two native species.    [Fabaceae; Fabales]


Aleppo Pine (Pinus halepensis) B,R ^


      yellow needle tips probably indicate that soil is too wet; do not overwater, especially in spring and summer — allow soil to ALMOST dry out in between waterings, and then thoroughly rewater; NEVER bare-root ANY pine; pull off longer mature needles to maintain size and shape; Aleppo is different than most other pines in that this produces both juvenile and mature needles; February and September are best pruning months; in May and June use chelated Iron fertilizer, and in July and August when the monsoon comes, use Organo rose food; do not pinch new growth during July and August; NOT an indoor bonsai candidate; buds back better than other pines; do not prune and repot at the same time.    [Pinaceae; Pinales]


Pistachio (Pistache lentiscus) U %


        keep soil constantly moist, but not saturated; wire in late summer or early fall; likes full sun.   [Anacardiaceae; Sapindales]


Arborvitae, Oriental (Platycladus/Thuja orientalis) M ^


      needs partial shade; after wiring, curve each branch to improve appearance; buds plentifully back on old wood.    [Cupressaceae; Pinales]


Mesquite (Prosopis sp.) D,U %


      cuttings easily propagated; seems to take pruning well; allow a small stump to remain when a branch is cut off, the stump will dieback; when plant gets too dry will lose leaves quickly; don’t cut the tap root.    [Leguminosae; Fabales]


Pomegranate, Dwarf (Punica granatum ‘Nana’) D,S,W %*


      needs very good drainage; fast grower; lots of light; don’t style and repot all at once; let the plant set fruit only every other year; low Nitrogen fertilizer after the first set of leaves, high Nitrogen a month later; high Phosphorus fertilizer in the spring and summer; old specimens tend to dieback and throw shoots at the base, which then can be shaped for your “new” tree.    [Lythraceae; Myrtales]


Schefflera, Hawaiian Elf (Schefflera arboricola) B,F,I,M,W ^


      cuttings easily propagated; if growth becomes leggy, cut back freely; evidence seems that if you cut with standard knifeblade only the next leaf under the cut will produce a branching bud, but if you use a heated blade — effectively cauterizing the cut — the next two leaves will produce branching buds; remove largest leaves but let about 1/4 inch of petiole (leaf stalk) remain attached to the plant, this little piece will be pushed off by the new growth, then where you remove the leaf you will not get another leaf, but the beginnings of a new branch; as soon as this new branch has two or three small leaves, cut the tip of the branch, which will halt the growth of the leaves; some say wiring is seldom used with, others indicate that careful wiring of young branches seems to harden up their wood faster; don’t overwater.    [Araliaceae; Apiales]     SEE ALSO BCI Plant Sheet.


California Pepper Tree (Schinus molle)


      buds back on old wood; susceptible to Texas root rot; low to moderate amounts of water; foliage can cause dermatitis.   [Anacardiaceae; Sapindales]


Tamarisk / Salt Cedar (Tamarix sp.) D,L,R,W %* X


      easy to grow from 1/2-1 in. cuttings set in soil where they are to grow; transplanting them can be touchy; in containers they have no tap root and require lots of water; they are classified as weeds in Arizona and are rarely found in nurseries; they are able to limit competition from other plants by taking up salt from deep ground water, accumulating it in their foliage, and from there depositing it in the surface soil where it builds up concentrations temporarily detrimental to some plants; the salt is washed away during heavy rains (or deep watering); very susceptible to scale (leaves start to turn yellow and small, stationary, flattened, elliptical, grey or blackish scale insects are present — use Malathion® immediately).
T. chinensis has blue green foliage; also called Salt Cedar; semi-deciduous, may not loose any leaves in a warm winter; resists both heat and cold; flowers at branch ends.
T. parviflora has pink flowers in spring; graceful arching branches, excellent for weeping style; will freeze in cold weather, but the main trunk will come back with new branches in the spring; the leaves will yellow if it does not get enough water.    [Tamaricaceae; Violales]     SEE ALSO BCI Plant Sheet.


European Grape (Vitis vinifera) U %


      must have very good drainage; allow surface drying between waterings; likes soil on acid side; a deeper than normal pot may be better; give lots of sun; large old specimens from a vineyard are best; fruits out of new wood; pinch new growth rigorously; NOT an indoor plant; “Thompson Seedless” said to be hardiest variety; another recommended species is V. rotundifolia, a Muscadine grape.    [Vitaceae; Euphorbiales]     SEE ALSO BCI Plant Sheet.