Originally from the dry regions of South Africa, the Dwarf Jade is a fleshy, soft, woody small tree that grows up to 3m (10ft.) It has a thick trunk, but a fine branch structure with thick green oval-shaped succulent leaves. During autumn months it occasionally blossoms white flowers, but only if there have been droughts in the season. The bark is green and soft when it's young, and it transitions into a red-brown color as it ages.

The Dwarf Jade is very similar to the Jade (Crassula ovata) and the same care guidelines apply to both species. As the name suggests, the Dwarf Jade has smaller leaves which makes it more suitable for Bonsai cultivation. See the photos below for the leaf comparison of the two trees. If you'd like some help identifying your tree, take a look at our Bonsai tree identification guide.

 

Specific care guidelines for the Jade Bonsai

Placement: The Jade is considered an indoor tree in most temperate zones, although it can be grown outdoors in full sun and high temperatures. Do not let temperatures drop below 40 °F (5 °C). It requires substantial light, full sun if possible, especially when kept indoors. You'll know if your Jade tree is getting enough sunlight when it's leaves develop red tips or edges.

Watering: Jade trees can hold large amounts of water inside their leaves, so water sparsely and allow the plant to dry out a little between watering. If the tree is kept relatively cold during winter months, watering can be done as seldom as once every three weeks. Monitor your tree closely and water the moment the soil dries out slightly. The Jade Bonsai is not as particular about over-watering as most other succulents.

Fertilizing: Fertilize your Jade tree once a month, spring through autumn, during the growth season. Any normal fertilizer, as described in our fertilize section, should be fine.

Pruning and wiring: Because the Jade tree is a succulent, it retains water in its trunk and branches. The water retention makes the tree limbs heavy which naturally bends the trunk and branches. It responds very well to pruning, and you should prune it regularly to force it to grow branches, especially in the lower part of the trunk. Do not use cut-paste on Jade trees. The nature of its trunk and branches make it very susceptible to rotting. The bark is very soft, so be cautious when wiring. If you do wire your Jade tree, make sure to monitor it closely as the wire will cut into the bark quickly.

Repotting: Repotting a Jade tree should be done every-other-year in spring. Be sure to use a well-draining soil mixture and don't water the soil for about a week after repotting. This allows the cut or damaged roots to dry and callous. Watering after repotting leads to root rot, which can severely damage your jade tree.

Propagation: Jade trees are particularly easy to propagate using cuttings. This should be done during the summer months.

Pests and diseases: The Jade is strong when it's watered correctly and is receiving sufficient sunlight. If taken care of, you should not experience any issues with its health.

For more detailed information on these techniques, try our Bonsai tree care section. Thanks to Adam Lavigne for the photos.

 

Portulacaria leaves

Portulacaria

Crassula leaves

Crassula

 

 

Example of a Dwarf Jade (Portulacaria afra) Bonsai tree

Portulacaria afra, Dwarf Jade Bonsai

 

Example of a Jade (Crassula ovata) Bonsai tree

Crassula ovata, Jade Bonsai