Jade Bonsai Tree Care Guide
Crassula ovata is commonly known by several names – Jade Plant, Lucky Plant, and Friendship Tree. Native to South Africa, it is one of the most popular bonsai for beginners. Sometimes confused with Portulacaria afra – the Dwarf Jade – the two are actually in completely different families.
Jade is the largest cultivar of all Crassula succulents and is a very common houseplant due to its easy care and interesting appearance. It is also one of the few bonsai that is considered a true indoor tree, particularly in temperate climates.
Jade has the signature thick, oval, glossy green leaves of most succulents. It has a thick, sturdy truck with a fine, dense branch structure. Small, star-shaped white blooms will sometimes appear in fall if the tree has experienced drought during the growing season. The following are our Jade Plant care instructions, such as watering, fertilizing, pruning, and more.
One of the most popular indoor bonsai trees. Being a tropical, Crassula cannot tolerate temperatures below 40 degrees F. It can be placed outside in the warmer months and should be exposed to plenty of natural sunlight when indoors.
Jade plants are favored as bonsai in large part because of their tolerance for under-watering (and even over-watering on occasion) and their resilience when neglected a bit, making Jade bonsai care quite simple. Allow the plant to dry out somewhat between waterings. When it is time to water, allow enough water to run into the pot that it begins dripping out the drainage holes. This tough little succulent has been known to survive for even a few months without watering, so is a great choice for those who travel or who are new to the art-form.
Jade responds very well to fertilizing, with growth happening quickly after application. A mixture with lower nitrogen levels is ideal, such as 10-20-20. Administer every two weeks from spring to summer and monthly during winter. As with most bonsai, chemical fertilizer should be given at half-strength. Liquid, pellets, or granules are all appropriate choices.
Best Styles – while Crassula ovata can be trained to many forms, upright formal and clumps are particularly excellent choices.
In order to stimulate the growth of new branches at the bottom of the trunk, new shoots must be pinched back. This plant does respond well to branch pruning, just make sure to cut flush, not concave, as these kinds of holes will not heal well. Do not use wound paste because it could cause rot. Jade is amenable to trunk reduction and wounds from this technique will often heal as quickly as one to two weeks.
This tree takes well to wiring, and will sometimes adjust to its new shape within just three to six weeks. Take care not to bend the branch too far when wiring as the bark could crack. Use the thinnest gauge wire possible for the thickness of the branch and do not wire right after repotting.
One interesting technique to try on this bonsai is to lay the entire thing, including the pot, on its side and take advantage of its desire to reach for sunlight. This will allow you to get the plant to grow in a certain direction. Similar effect can be achieved through the use of light weights anchoring the limbs to the pot.
Succulents are known and loved for their propensity to take easily to propagation by cuttings. Jade bonsai can be turned into multiple plants without a lot of work. Take a cutting of four to eight inches in length, with two to three branches on it. Dry the cutting out for a few days or until the cut end is scabbed over. Plant the end of the cutting into a sandy soil mix and keep dry until it begins to set roots. This tree is so easy to propagate that sometimes simply a leaf dropped into the pot will take root.
This should be carried out every other year, preferably in the spring. If you're not sure if it needs repotting, see if the root ball is easily removed and is formed in the shape of the pot – if so it's time to repot. Refrain from watering the plant for a few days before repotting in order to make removal easier and discourage root rot. Use a well-draining, coarse soil and place the plant in the shade for a few weeks afterward so that the roots have time to recover.
Insects/Pests & Diseases:
While the Jade Plant is fairly resistant to disease, there are a number of pests that may invade this species, especially outdoors. Aphids, scale, and spider mites are all potential unwelcome guests on this bonsai.
Scale may be removed manually or by applying rubbing alcohol when they are in the shell stage.
It's possible to eradicate aphids and mites with a spray of dish soap and warm water; rinse with plain water after washing the pests off.
If insecticide is necessary, make sure the soil is not dry.
Root rot can be addressed by pruning all affected roots and growth and repotting in new soil.
This beautiful, hardy indoor bonsai is available in our online store throughout most of the year.