Bonsai is the art of dwarfing plants and training them to take pleasing shapes that mimic larger natural growth. Using an easy care plant gives a beginner confidence to tackle more traditional subjects.
Jade plants (Crassula), also known as money trees, are easy to grow succulents. Thriving in containers, they like the dry, warm indoors climate. There are several cultivars with colors ranging from traditional green to bronze.
Very slow growing, crassulas can live 60 years. Extremely tough, they need occasional feeding with weak fertilizer mix and very little watering. Karen Russ, a Clemson University Extension horticulture specialist, notes they can live for years while root-bound. No root pruning is needed for bonsai training. These traits make them ideal for beginning bonsai growers who are unsure how to care for fussier small hardwood trees.
Crassulas grown in a home are nearly disease and pest free. Their one weakness is over watering. Root rot can result from too much water and poor drainage. They prefer full sun in a southern window but will be happy in filtered light.
Jade plants tolerate a lack of care and can be pinched at the tips to keep them shaped. By taking special care during training or wiring so that the stems are not bruised or broken, you can produce an interesting specimen.
- Clemson Cooperative Extension: Jade Plant
- Univ. of Arkansas Dept. of Agriculture Extension: Jade Plants
- Pennsylvania State University: The Jade Plant
- Wisconsin Master Gardener Program: Jade Plant
- The Art of Bonsai
- Succulent Bonsai
- Pruning and Pinching Bonsai
- University of Illinois Extension Plant Palette: Bonsai
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About this Author
Beth Asher began writing in 1972 for a catalog company. She has written for schools and charities, including Star Workshop Foundation. She was a John Deere representative for nine years, manager of Brown's Blueberries and an advisory member of King County Small Farms Board and the Washington Association of Landscape Professionals. Asher holds a Bachelor of Science in computer networking from City University.