The Dwarf Jade bonsai (Latin name Portulacaria Afra), also known by the many names of Elephant plant, Money tree, Small Leaf Jade or Porkbush, is a semi-evergreen tree native to South Africa. It is commonly mistaken for the Jade tree (Crassula species), the biggest similarity being that they are both succulents, but Dwarf Jade actually grows taller than the Crassula genus Jade tree and has much smaller leaves.
It is an extremely hardy and fast growing tree. Its fleshy leaves hold a lot of water, making it very resistant to drought. In its native lands in Africa, this tree makes almost 80% of the elephants’ diet. The left over pieces that fall on the ground when the elephants eat, root and multiply. The trees themselves bud back very densely afterwards, making us conclude how good they respond to pruning.
Young branches and trunk are green in color in the early stages of growth, but as they age, they end up being red-brown and then grayish in color. The oval shaped leaves are succulent, full of water and have a vivid green color, and the flowers are pink, small and star-shaped.
It is a perfect tree to be grown outdoors and can be held in full sun. In winter, however, when temperatures drop below 55 degrees Fahrenheit, place the tree back inside. Protect from freezing temperatures. When indoors, remember that your tree needs to have a sufficient amount of light, so keep it next to bright windows.
The Dwarf Jade bonsai tree needs to be fertilized once per month, except winter period. You can use fertilizers that are specific for succulent plants or cactus. Water needs to be applied when soil is fully dried. That can mean as often as one week in summer time, or even just once per month in winter.
Because it grows very fast, pruning needs to be done regularly, and is best done in early spring or summer. The new shoots can be pruned at all times. Long branches need to be cut back, and weak branches or shoots that grow directly onto the trunk need to be removed. Pinching helps to reduce the leaves size.
Must be done when the roots have filled the pot. That will more or less mean around every 2-3 years. It will vary slightly from one tree to another depending on how fast they grow, but you need to encourage a compact root system. Water your Dwarf Jade bonsai thoroughly after repotting is finished.