Bonsai Jade Plant

Overview

Bonsai is the practice of keeping miniature trees styled to mimic the shape and feel of large, old trees. Bonsai are grown in small pots, often flat, but sometimes tall and thin with distinct designs and styles. Jade bonsai are generally best suited to small flat pots.

Origins

Jades are a succulent native to South Africa. Jades have been cultivated both as common houseplants and as bonsai. As bonsai, the jade is an indoor tree. With proper care and light, many jades can produce small, white flowers in the fall and can develop red edges to their leaves.

Light

Although jades can grow in varying light conditions, keeping them in poor light often results in leaves that grow larger. If your bonsai is a dwarf jade with very small leaves, keeping it in poor light will generally result in leaves that are lager than necessary. To keep leaves as small as possible, keep your jade indoors in as much natural light as possible. Keeping your jade in bright light will also encourage very fast growth.

Temperatures

Jades are a tropical and sub-tropical plant that don't tolerate cold. Keep your jade indoors if temperatures will drop below 45 degrees F. However, in the summer, your jade will thrive on an outdoor balcony or patio.

Fertilization & Watering

Jades are different than many other bonsai trees. Allowing your soil to become more dry than with other trees will encourage new root growth and help keep your bonsai healthy. Allowing your tree to dry out between waterings will also reduce the amount of water in the leaves and help make the tree less top heavy. Fertilize your jade once a month with a balanced organic fertilizer in the spring, summer and fall to give your tree required nutrients.

Pruning & Training

Pinch back new growth once your tree has reached the desired shape. Pinching off new growth will encourage trunk growth and help reduce leaf size. In some cases, you can trigger new branch growth by making a small wound on the side of the trunk. Often, in a week or two, a new branch will start to grow from the wound. Although many people don't wire jades, wiring can work well to direct growth. When wiring, be gentle. Jade branches give almost no warning before snapping off. Jades generally only need to be wired for 3 or 4 weeks before the shape "takes."

Keywords: jade cultivation, jade bonsai care, jade bonsai styling

About this Author

Christopher Earle is a freelance writer based in Denver, Colo. He has been writing since 1987 and has written for NPR, The Associated Press, the Boeing Company, Ford New Holland, Microsoft, Active Voice, RAHCO International and Umax Data Systems. He studied creative writing at Mankato State University in Minnesota.