Origin: South Africa
Growth season: Spring to autumn
Flowers: White, star-shaped blossoms (autumn)
Location: Indoors or outdoors, full sun
Minimum temperature: 5° C
Known as the ‘lucky plant’ or ‘money tree’, jade bonsais are thought to bring wealth and good fortune to their owners. As such, they have become a popular houseplant in homes all across Australia and the world.
The jade tree has a sturdy trunk and an intricate branch structure. As a member of the succulent family, its leaves are thick and oval-shaped — perfect for storing water. Robust and naturally accustomed to a hotter climate, jade makes a brilliant bonsai for beginners or those looking for a low-maintenance option.
What’s the difference between a Jade and a Dwarf Jade?
As you can probably gather, the dwarf jade is simply a smaller version of the regular jade (Crassula ovata). The dwarf jade’s leaves are littler than its larger counterpart, making it ideal for bonsai cultivation.
Dwarf jade trees are small, soft and sturdy bonsais that can eventually reach up to three metres tall (over twenty years). They are extremely slow growers and will easily adapt to their environment.
The care instructions listed on this page apply to both species. If you are still unsure about your bonsai and want some more guidance, feel free to reach out to us — we’re always happy to talk plants.
Caring for a Jade Bonsai Tree
In terms of feng shui, it is believed that placing a jade by the front door of the home invites luck into the dwellers’ lives — as they say, “Jade by the door, poor no more!”
For the bonsai’s best interest, however, light is an absolute must. Whether indoors or outdoors, make sure to place your jade somewhere where it can soak up lots of natural sunlight. You will know that your bonsai is getting enough when the leaves develop red edges and it begins to bloom in autumn — the shortening of days is what triggers the plant to develop its gorgeous flowers, meaning that jade that stays inside in limited light will not blossom.
If inside, make sure your bonsai is not close to a vent or air conditioner/heater, as this can dry out the foliage.
The jade is made for drought conditions, meaning its leaves can hold a large amount of water. During winter, depending on the temperature, you can get away with watering once every two or three weeks; in summer, make sure you lightly water the plant and let it dry out before watering again. If you’re unsure, try lifting the pot — if it feels lighter than normal, it may be time for a drink.
Overwatering your jade bonsai will lead to root rot and damages your plant. It can be a hard balance between too much and not enough, but you will eventually develop a good sense of your plant’s needs.
Misting may be an option to consider for indoor jade bonsais, as the air can be very dry. This takes the strain off the roots and allows the leaves to look their best. A humidity tray is another way to make sure that your plant is receiving optimal moisture without overwatering. Fill a shallow tray with small stones and a bit of water — the water should not touch the bottom of the pot.
Fertilising is essential for your bonsai’s health and should be carried out throughout the growing season. Start giving your jade tree fertiliser in spring and continue once a month until autumn ends. Jade trees are not picky about what you feed them — any fertiliser suitable for succulents should be fine.
As a succulent, the jade tree’s trunk and branches store water and may be heavier than expected. This results in a natural bend. Regular pruning ensures the jade tree grows healthy new branches, especially towards the bottom of the trunk. Otherwise, it can become top-heavy.
Make sure that you are using sharp tools; dull pruning equipment makes messy cuts and can damage your plant.
It is best to use thin wire for this bonsai. All wiring must be done with the utmost of care, as the soft bark is sensitive.
Begin at the base and slowly wrap the wire around the trunk to anchor the branches you wish to train. Be careful not to wrap the branches too tight — this will cause them to scar.
The branches are quite compliant and will be able to hold their shape anywhere from three to six weeks after wiring. DO NOT UNWRAP the wire from the bonsai. Instead, cut it free to avoid breaking the branches.
Jade bonsais require repotting in the spring every second year. A good indicator that your bonsai is ready for a new pot is if you can easily remove the root ball in one piece — if it remains in the same shape as the pot when you pull it out, it’s ready.
When repotting, you must use a well-draining Succulent soil mixture and ensure the pot you use has a drainage hole; this allows water to drain faster and keeps the jade tree well-hydrated without drowning. You should use a pot that is close in size to the original, as the roots can go into shock if put in too large of a container.
DO NOT water the bonsai for at least a week after you have transplanted it. The roots need a chance to dry out before they are ready to take on more water. If the drainage is inadequate or the plant is watered too soon, it may develop root rot, which can severely impact growth and overall health.
Jade trees clippings can be easily propagated. This is best to do in summer, at the height of the growing season, for optimal results.
Generally, jade trees make a pretty hardy houseplant. As long as the bonsai receives the correct amount of sun and water, it can survive pretty much anything you throw at it.
It is not immune to pests, however; be on the lookout for scale, mealybug and aphids. Indoor jade bonsais can also be more susceptible to root rot, so be conscious of how much water you’re giving your plant.
Need more advice about how to help your jade tree thrive? Get in touch with us today!