Bonsai culture offers the greatest and most beautiful tree species on this planet. Since bonsai originate from asia, most likely from China and Japan, the most popular tree’s are originating from this region.
Doing bonsai elsewhere in the world can be tricky. If your climate doesn’t match the climate in Japan, you may not be able to grow successfully some of the most popular species. Your temperature range could be too cold in winter or too hot in summer. The best examples are the tropical species that cannot be grown year long in the northern climate unless you have the proper setup indoor or the winter could be too cold for hardy species.
Rest assure, nothing is lost. Many tree species originating from certain region or growing locally can be great substitute for a bonsai candidate. The most praised maple is without a doubt the trident maple. (Acer buergerianum) This specie is cold hardy to USDA zone 5 which is around minus 27 celsius. In Canada, the winters are getting harsher temperature. A great substitute would be the Amur maple (Acer Ginnala) which is cold hardy to USDA zone 2, minus 45 celsius. This species is a great replacement since it is very cold hardy, possesses small trilobed leaves and is a fast grower.
Other species liked from bonsai enthusiast are the Japanese pines. But, once again, cold can be a disadvantage. To the rescue comes the mugho pine. This pine will tolerate some very cold temperature plus it is a very tough plant tolerating many bonsai mistake. The mugho pine needles can be reduced much like the Japanese counterpart plus it displays a textured bark.
Another popular specie is the Chinese elm (ulmus parvifolia) but once again, cold is hard on this specie. For a replacement, the less known Siberian elm (ulmus pumila) can be as beautiful as the chinese one. Much like the Chinese elm, the Siberian elm as twiggy branching, grows fast and leaves are reducing well with proper technique.
Some others tree species are the American or tamarack larch (Larix Laricina) for an evergreen, the sargeant crabapple (malus sargentii) for a flowering and fruit producing tree or the European birch (betula pendula) for a broadleaf tree. These all displays beautiful characteristics. For instance, the American larch is the only evergreen to loose it’s needles when fall show itself, the needles will turn from green to yellow for a few weeks before shedding. The sargeant crabapple will give you some nice white to pink flowers in spring and produce red fruit in autumn. The European birch as a nice white paperish bark that peel itself easily. Plus all these are moderate to fast growing tree that would yield a nice bonsai in a few years.