Chinese Jade Bonsai

vbolaJune 22, 2012

i brought this bonsai two months ago and the Gardner to me that its a 6 year old plant and very easy to maintain. asked me to water only once in two weeks. so i am following all the instructions given. i live in suburb of Philadelphia. initially i kept the plant outside for couple of hours in shady area. now the temperatures are raising high so keeping it inside the house only. but it is receiving plenty of sunlight.

now my issue is i observed the leaves are dropping. i lost 5 leaves so leaf a day. is it normal??...i observe the plant all leaves are looking healthy..not there anything i can do to prevent this. please see the pic and tell my plant look healthy??...please help...thank u...

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Looks like a classic case of nursery soil to me. I would get that tree out of the pot, remove the moss and any glued on rocks, etc. Place it in a well draining bonsai soil mix when you repot it back into that pot. It may be too moist.

Otherwise, that Jade looks pretty healthy to me. I am colorblind, so if someone notices discoloration that I do not...sorry.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2012 at 6:09PM
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thank you so much for the reply. i removed the moss and observed the soil. it looked like a very soft dust something that mixed with sand. i never did re-potting before. is there a particular brand of bonsai soil i should use?? now the temperature is about this a good time to repot or should i wait for little cooler days??...

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 9:57AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Your plant is Portulacaria afra. It has a lot of common names - mini-jade/dwarf jade/elephant food/elephant bush/ spekboom .... Late Jun - early Jul is the best time to repot. As suggested, a very fast draining, well-aerated soil is best. The soil I use:


    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 6:03PM
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thank u so much..your photos are really have a very beautiful old is it??...

    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 7:51PM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

Portulucarias can take serious heat. We have some along our fence line that are 7 foot tall and can weather 110 degree days with low humidity and no water without a problem.

I agree that a gritty mix would be a good idea. Don't be afraid to prune it. I prune long internode shoots on my potted ones quite frequently. When I am starting the training on them I prune them up and clip all the leaves off so that it looks like a twig. They bounce back quickly with smaller leaves and denser growth.

Nice one tapla.:)

    Bookmark   July 15, 2012 at 12:32AM
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i re-potted it as per the instructions and there are so many new leaves come up now. it is getting good indirect sunlight all day long. but somehow it still drops one or two leaves everyday. i really don't know what more i can do to stop this. please help...

    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 9:01AM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

It sounds like it's throwing off old leaves. I wouldn't worry about it too much since it's sprouting new growth. Just don't let the new growth get leggy and keep the new shoots pruned. I usually strip off the big old leaves anyway to encourage new compact growth.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 12:47AM
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Hi my tree still dropping the leaves i thought i will keep outdoors for a while and surprisingly it worked...didn't drop a single leaf from past four weeks...growing nice and healthy...but two days ago i brought it inside as the temp are becoming low (around 55F in the night) and now i see one leaf on the ground. i keep it near to my patio window and it is getting full day indirect sunlight. do you think it needs more light?? what kind of a light i can use indoors and for how many hours. please advise..thank you...

    Bookmark   September 14, 2012 at 9:12AM
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hookilau(long island NY)

Mmmm...I expect it will drop a few leaves while it re-adjusts to the indoor micro-climate. I have a couple of P.afa plants and multiple Jades. Though this is the first winter I will be going through with them, the advice I've gotten from the cactus & succulent board has been dead on so far.

Water + cold = rot, and a sad succulent plant owner. You should decrease water as the weather gets colder & give it a little time. As long as it's in a gritty mix, gets plenty of morning sunlight, & continues to put on new growth, I would say it's doing fine =)

Doing a GW search on p. afra & jade (as I believe the culture is very similar if not the same) will give you lots of insight on how to handle anything that may come up. Hanging out at the cactus & succulent board will help too.

This past summer, I put all of mine outside on my patio & they did really well for me. I'm in zone 7a & have all of mine back inside. It is said they are cool weather growers, so as long as the don't freeze or fry, all should be well =)

Good luck!

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 5:25PM
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grabmebymyhandle(6 Kentucky)

My elephant jade bonsai regularly drops all its leaves when I bring it in, they often dont regenerate regular leaves again until outside again. Its about 8 and doin fine.
I wouldnt worry much, just dont overwater it.

Its tough as nails, and the cuttings root with ease.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 1:09PM
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dethcheez(Sunny SoCal Z10)

Can't really comment on having to bring them indoors over the winter living in SoCal

But there's one suggestion I'd like to make & I say this about all plants
Might just be one of those IMIO things
But I don't believe you should move plants
i.e. from indoors to outdoors back to indoors etc & so on

Plant acclimate to their surroundings & constantly moving them & changing their surroundings/environment can't be good for them

Like one day they get full sun & the next they get filtered indoor light & one day they get 16 hours of sun then 10 the next day & 13 the day after that

I feel that that stresses them out as you're not giving them time to settle in & acclimate or adapt to any one growing condition because your constantly changing

Just my 2 cents

    Bookmark   October 18, 2012 at 8:26AM
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it dropped all its leaves....and the tiny branches looks alive but no new leaves coming up...i didnt water it from past four weeks....its getting indirect sun light..and i arranged for a plant light too...i really dont know what else i can do...can't understand what's really the problem can i save my tree...please help....

    Bookmark   November 21, 2012 at 9:23PM
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dethcheez(Sunny SoCal Z10)

It looks far from happy but it doesn't look dead
So there's a good chance of it bounching back
Jade is a pretty tough plant

Not sure where you're at or the weather conditions there
But I would suggest moving it outdoors / Somewhere where it'll get a good anount of sun
If it's not freezing out

I would consider jade more of an outdoor than indoor plant
Don't really know of to many succulents that do good indoors long term

Best Of Luck

    Bookmark   November 22, 2012 at 1:18AM
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i can't move it outdoors as the temp are freezing...always below 40F...if i can keep it safe indoors for another 3 months i can move it out in March....

    Bookmark   November 22, 2012 at 6:14AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

What did you use for soil when you repotted? Did you inspect carefully for spider mites? do you know how to do that? Have you been fertilizing? with what? Did you bare-root when you repotted and were the roots free of root mealybug?


    Bookmark   November 25, 2012 at 11:45AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

You didn't water for FOUR WEEKS?!

No wonder it dropped all of its leaves. This isn't a Jade - not in the same Family, not in the
same Order even - and the culture is different. The leaves are more delicate and will drop readily
if the plant is allowed to go too dry. During the Winter indoors, I have a difficult time keeping my
Port's happy...but they do re-grow their dropped leaves once the sunlight increases.


    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 11:04AM
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I have always had Jad/ElephantFood in my garden but never considered it for Bonsai material. If this picture shows up you will see two different types. The one in the front with small leaves and grows more apical and has a red tone to the trunk.This plant is about 2 1/2 feet tall. The other in the back ground is very large probably about 4 1/2 feet tall with a large grey trunk about 4 inches in diameter. The leaves on this one are 1 to 2 inches long and thick. Because they are succulents and have such soft/wet tissue they break very easily. I think the larger one would have smaller leaves if it got more sun. We throw these away when ever they break pieces off or we trim it for size. I have seen them before used as Bonsai but never thought any one was serious about them. I mean would a Japanese trained Bonsai artist use a Jad plant? I've always been interested in Bonsai and just joined a club and will be taking some classes this January. If I took a Jad into the club would they laugh at me?

    Bookmark   December 8, 2012 at 11:28PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

All you need do to see if anyone is serious about Portulacaria bonsai is use the words in bold to do a search, and look at the images. It is indeed a plant entirely suited to world class bonsai, whether the artist was trained in Japan or not. Crassula ovata, on the other hand, doesn't lend itself well to being a subject that makes believable bonsai. That said, I have a nonbonsai-growing friend that is happy to be lightened by a good bottle of wine or two in exchange for an annual pruning of her C ovatas and potulacarias, and I employ the same pruning principles on the Jade as I would on other trees. It's a very large specimen with a 6"+ trunk, and it looks quite believable as a very large bonsai, but lacks the grace and fine texture with which other trees can be endowed.

Once 'bonsai' is ingrained in the way you think, it will influence the way you prune anything, even if the subject is entirely inappropriate as bonsai material. It can't be helped, lest you simply maintain a hands-off policy and leave the plant to it's own devices.


    Bookmark   December 9, 2012 at 11:30AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Al is absolutely right! :-)

Iamdunn, in your pic you have Elephant's Bush (Port. afra) in the front, and a true Jade (Crassula ovata)
in the back. As Al wrote, the Port. afra is an excellent bonsai candidate; the Jade, not quite as much.


    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 10:25AM
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