The jade plant is a succulent plant that thrives naturally in the South African tropical temperatures. It is a quickly healing and rapidly growing plant that can withstand long periods of drought and limited sun. These natural qualities make the jade plant an excellent selection for bonsai growth, especially for beginners.
Purchase a small jade plant that fits comfortably in its container. Avoid plants that seem too large for the container, as the plant could be root-bound. Avoid growing jade bonsais from seeds as this can be very difficult. Inspect the tree thoroughly before purchasing. Look for signs of good health including firmly filled foliage with red to green color and sturdy trunks.
Select a new container for the bonsai. Choose a container that has a depth that is equivalent to the trunk's diameter and a length that is equal to two-thirds the height of the jade plant. Pick a plastic container before a clay one since clay containers dry out much quicker. If you select a wood container, choose an untreated container with rot-resistant features. Ensure that the final selection includes a good drainage system at the bottom.
Plant the jade plant in the newly selected container. Use a well-drained, nutrient-rich soil to promote a sandy loam for the plant. Create the loam by mixing one part nutrient-rich soil with equal parts of peat compost and fine, clean sand. This will promote a more natural growing environment.
Line the bottom of the jade plant's container with the soil mixture. Position the jade plant in the center of the container and fill the container with soil. Press the soil firmly around the plant to ensure the jade plant remains upright and secure. Water the jade plant thoroughly with tepid water until the water runs from the drainage system. Cover the top layer of soil with a layer of pebbles to promote constant soil moisture.
Allow the newly planted jade bonsai to rest until the water no longer runs from the bottom of the container. Place the jade bonsai in a warm, sunny location. Choose a location that receives at least six hours of full to partially shaded sunlight each day. Avoid placing the bonsai near sources of direct heat or cold, such as heating vents and air conditioners.
Water the jade bonsai plant regularly according to the tree's needs. Check the soil's moisture levels before watering to avoid over-watering. Place your finger in the soil approximately 1 inch deep. Water the jade plant only when the plant feels dry. Water the plant thoroughly until the excessive water runs from the bottom of the plant. Allow it to rest and then place it back into its selection location. Water the jade when the foliage begins to show signs of wilting.
Feed the jade bonsai only during its growing season. Avoid over-fertilizing as the plant does not require much assistance. Use a well-balanced, slow-release fertilizer that includes low levels of nitrogen. Select a fertilizer combination such as 10-20-20. Always apply at half strength.