Jade Tree, Money Tree, Portulacaria, Small-leaf Jade Tree, Dwarf Jade
Portulacaria afra, Jade Tree or Money Tree is relatively new to bonsai in the West. In the Orient where it is considered to be an auspicious tree, it has been growing for eons. Portulacaria are ideal plants for beginners as they are very hardy to drought and seem to tolerate over watering. The species can be grown in just about any style of Bonsai and is full of year round character with its fleshy almost round leafs, and multicoloured stems which are green when young, red-brown as it matures to a graggy slate grey. Recently, there has been much research into this plant being a significant Carbon fixer, and with a capibility of holding 4-5 times as much carbon.
Formal upright, Informal Upright, Slanting, Cascade, Semi-cascade, Twin-trunk, Clump, Group planting, Saikei
In the UK and most of Europe it needs to be grown indoors as it is not frost hard. It need a significant amount of light and a well light window sill is an ideal location. Ensure that temperature do not fall below 10C. Being tropical it would benefit from being outdoors in full sun during the summer time.
It does not need much watering, but does not seem to mind being over watered too. However, if you over water the plant can get big heavy leaves and stems. Ideally to keep leafs small and not over bulged, ensure that soils surface dries out between watering. During the winter months reduce watering, allowing the soil surface to be mostly dry.
Feed between March and October, does not need feeding during the winter months. Use a balanced liquid feed monthly, or a slow release organic feed -replacing pellets every two months.
Leaf and Branch Pruning:
Structural pruning or any heavy branch pruning is best can be carried in early spring. AS it is a fast grown species pruning and pinching needs to be carried out regularly over the growing season. On larger trees you may have to pinch or prune every week, to keep branches small. If you need longer branches then it is best to let the apex grow, but remove leaves from the base of the branch upwards leaving about 3-4 nodes at the apex.
Re-potting & Growing Medium:
Spring is the best time to re-pot. Allow the soil to dry out before attempting repotting. After repotting shelter the tree in shaded warm area, and water only sparingly until new growth establishes itself. A well drained soil mixture is best, use a 100 percent Damolin Clay, or for younger plants 1 part Akadama and 3 Parts Pumice or Fuji-Grit. You can reduce the root ball by about a third. Repot only evry second year.
Shaping is best carried out buy pruning and pinching. However, you can wire the branches during the dormant periods, but keep and eye out for wire biting into the branch.