Mini Jade Bonsai Leaf Drop

joshcj_12May 27, 2014

Hello everyone. I'm new to this site and have joined to get some feedback and a little assistance on my new jade bonsai. Last week I purchased a mini jade bonsai at one of our local local plant nurseries here in the Texas panhandle. I brought it home and have it sitting in front room directly next to an east facing window and about five feet from a south facing window. The plant does not get very much direct sunlight due to a tree growing outside the east window. The plant is also very closely located to the front door. Is this a poor location for the plant? I thought it ideal because of the two close windows, but would it be more beneficial to have the bonsai next to an east or west facing window with more direct sunlight?
I've been noticing some leaf drop on my mini jade, about three leaves a day or so. The plant looks extremely healthy and the leaves it drops are green or a slight shade of yellow.
I've only watered the plant once since I brought it home a week ago because I've heard overwatering mini jade is a common problem. However, the rocky bonsai soil seems to be dry within a few days of watering. Being in the West Texas Panhandle, should I be keeping my mini jade watered more frequently? I have purchased bonsai fertilizer as well, but have not yet used any.
I have some pictures I'll upload with this post.
Thanks so much in advance for any assistance you may offer!

Here is a link that might be useful: Link to pictures of my mini jade bonsai

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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

This is not a 'Jade,' it is called 'Elephant's [Food] Bush' or Portulacaria afra. It needs more light and more water. The leaves are more delicate than a Jade and do not tolerate drying out as well.


    Bookmark   May 29, 2014 at 9:56PM
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It's in pebbles so that if you can't 'not' water it (so any people can't resist :-), the water will just run through and not damage it, but then that's why you need to water more often (and add cactus fertilizer on occasion).

And that would be Elephant's fooT, not food.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2014 at 10:46PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

No, it's "Elephant's [Food] Bush," and I'm pretty sure that elephants eat quite a bit of it.


    Bookmark   May 31, 2014 at 12:43AM
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Elephants fooD is the above plant, portulacaria afra

Elephants fooT is another name for the ponytail palm, Beucarnea recurvata

    Bookmark   May 31, 2014 at 11:14AM
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what is the difference between the afra and typical jade. Im looking for an afra to start trimming and I cant find any around here.. nw pa...crappy area for finding nice succulents.. I also want a hummels sunset and cannot find any ...poo
Thanks Chrisitna

    Bookmark   June 19, 2014 at 10:51AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Christina, the difference is significant.

They are different Genus, entirely...different Family...and different Order, too. So there's some wide taxonomic differentiation.

More importantly, however, they have different leaf tissue and slightly different watering needs. The Port. afra has more delicate leaves that are susceptible to drying out, and so the plant looks its best when it receives more consistent moisture - even during the Winter (this, of course, requires a fast-draining mix to avoid rot). Port. afras are also more "woody" and fibrous, and take longer to callus after pruning.

Crassula ovata is a tougher plant that can tolerate longer periods of dryness...and still look somewhat decent. The leaves are much thicker.

You might want to contact Glen (gmaculata here at GardenWeb) and ask him about Port. afra and Sunset Jades.


    Bookmark   June 19, 2014 at 1:03PM
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Josh is spot on. P. afra is much more finicky, and will drop leaves to signal its disapproval for the care, or lack of, that it's getting. Jades on the other hand are very forgiving, and are much better for beginners. If your current one turns out bad, I would recommend looking for a "crosby's compact" jade, which is similar in appearance but a lot tougher.


    Bookmark   June 19, 2014 at 9:14PM
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