The jade plant is native in South Africa, the tree can grow to 6meters tall in the forest. The jade plant is becoming a popular bonsai have deep succulent leaves, that are evergreen. It has a green bark and soft when young, and later turns to red-brown when it ages the leaves blossoms on them pink or white flowers. There are many varieties of the Jade plant although, the Crassulla ovata is the most popular, it is commonly referred to as the money plant. Jade trees are good to bonsai because they can handle the heavy pruning required to achieve the desired shape and the small size. Bonsai plants are made up of regular trees that have been stunted to their size through massive pruning from a young age. The massive pruning combined with root restrictions in small containers leads to growth of small plants that resembled big ones in the field. One advantage of the jade plant is you can grow new plants from cuttings, they can also thrive in any indoor environment anywhere.
The succulent nature of the jade plant makes it an extent bonsai plant, its swollen trunk and fleshy leaves emphasizes the miniature status. The jade plant can also be trained by everyone from master bonsai designers to newbies because the stem does not break easily during handling.
From inspirations from the original plant structure, popular deigns for a jade plant bonsai are informal, upright, root-over-rock and slanting.
Why the jade plant is gaining popularity?
- It has shallow roots that take into the shape of the shallow container
- It grows easily indoors and outdoors without additional conditions
- It is easy to train, due to the succulent nature, the stem can be manipulated using wires, strings and light weights.
- Small scissors or bonsai pruners
- Long tweezers
How to Bonsai a Jade Plant
Step 1: Potting
Fill your antique bowl or pot with a rooting medium, this should include one part of topsoil to two parts of sand and two parts of peat. Place the plant into the bowl and allow it to grow.
Step 2: Pruning
After your plant have sprouted leaves and small branches prune it to attain the desired shape. The tree can withstand massive pruning, therefore remove all the leaves and branches growing in the odd places, for example the clustered ones and the ones growing downwards. Ensure that you frequently prune during when the plant is actively growing. Disinfect the bonsai pruners each time you move on to new plants to prevent transferor pests and eggs. Perform flash cuts instead of concave ones, you should also ensure that you take care not to injure the stem. Allow the cut to heal naturally, otherwise covering it up will cause rotting to start at the cut points. Prune the roots to minimize their growth, ensure that the plant is stable to avoid overrunning.
Use the tweezers to remove the small pieces of pruned materials.
Step 3: Training
You can train the plant to take any of the styles of a bushy jade plant, they include leaning, informal upright, slanting style and root over rock style. The bark of the Jade is quite soft, and therefore a tight thin wire will bite in faster than a thick wire. Prefer aluminum wires as they tend to be thicker.
- Leaning/ Slanting Style, the trunk is trained to lean at a 45degee angle. Branches are allowed to grow from the two sides of the trunk. The design depicts the way wind naturally push the tree. To achieve balance, ensure that the roots that are opposite the slant are firm.
- Informal Upright Style, this results into a triangular, irregular, relaxed tree. The bonsai style depicts a tree in nature that have survived nature. the trunk is designed to lean 15degrees left or right. for more realistic results, you can train the trunk with a wire to show its growth process through the seasons as if it were in the wild.
- formal upright, this bonsai style creates an approximately triangular tree shape, that is upright and perfect in all its right places.
- Root-Over-Rock Style, this one requires a lot of patience among the styles. It depicts a tree growing in the wild from a seed that fell into a crack. The tree grows to cover the rock as the roots move, burying a rock in the plant’s roots can cause the same effect. Allow the roots to grow for a while and later harden them off. Pick the desired rock of the appropriate size and place it on the potting mix, place the plant on top and distribute the roots according to design and firm.
Use weights to manipulate the shape of the bonsai, aluminum wire can also be used where it is tied around the stem or branch to shape. Ensure that the wire is thick enough not to injure the tree stem as thin wire might cut through the branches.
Step 4: Repot
Repot the bonsai plant regularly after several years. Do not water the plant immediately after a repot, instead wait for about one week to prevent root rot. The time will allow the cut ends t dry off.
Step 5: Fertilize
Using a balanced fertilizer formulated for bonsai fertilize during the growing season of spring and summer Fertilize once a month. Do not fertilize during the winter months.
Step 6: Watering
Administer just enough water to the plant for its survival, do not overwater, only ensure that moisture reach the roots and water less during winter. The succulent leaves hold water and therefore does not require heavy watering like other houseplants.
Care against pest, one common pest is the mealybug that appear as white cotton like substances on the stem. Use the disinfectant kill the bugs by and to clean the tools to avoid transferring the bugs to other plants.
The good thing about the jade plant is you can get a lot of trees from a single plant through cuttings. For faster rooting harden off the cuttings through laying them on the shade for a couple of days. The plant is easy to train and prune and even newbies can do it like pros. The trees grow in tropical climates and therefore need protection during harsh winter.