JAH Bonsai – Crassula

Crassula Ovata and closely related Crassula’s can grow into fantastic specimens with time and clever pruning. Keep bright and frost free and these trees will live for decades, and more.

There are three ages/sizes of tree offered to buy in the SHOP at different prices – all delivered to a UK Address ONLY.

This Crassula Ovata succulent thrives on neglect and the conditions that destroy ‘usual’ indoor bonsai.  It likes to dry out in hot bright places like conservatories and south-facing windowsills. It tolerates living near hot radiators and stale air or draughts.

It’s a really robust succulent with starry, pink, scented flowers that glisten during winter and spring months when other plants are hibernating or barely surviving!

It’s a houseplant/conservatory plant that will live for many years.  It wont die if you forget to water it for a few months, this bonsai money tree stores water in the leaves, when they wrinkle and shrink slightly it is time to water again. Don’t water during cold, winter months. Just keep it frost free. No special feeding is needed, just a once a summer hi-potash (flowering) plant feed (1:2:3) will suffice.

This indoor plant is different to other house plants and bonsai.

Chunky, round, evergreen leaves make this a friend (not a spikey, arm-prickling enemy like a yucca) and it’s a popular feng shui plant too. It breathes out oxygen at night when other plants take it in (search for CAM to discover how and why) so it’s the perfect healthy air conditioner for bedrooms where oxygen is needed.

This tree is not a recently rooted branch with scars and wounds in the wrong place. It began life as a tiny cutting… after 5-7 years the trunk reached its desired height of 20-25cm. After that a quick prune each spring and autumn maintains a compact, balanced shape above this stocky, aged trunk with plenty of growing points above filling another 10cm with lush, evergreen leaves and starry flowers.

This money tree is so easy to prune and grow it really is “Beginners Bonsai”.

Heres some more information you may need and appreciate before and after buying your ‘tree-for-life’.  This may take a while, so….make a nice cup of tea, relax…and enjoy this.

WHAT IS A JADE MONEY TREE?

A Jade Money Tree is an evergreen succulent Crassula plant with thick branches and smooth, rounded, fleshy leaves that grow in opposing pairs along the branches. Leaves are a shiny jade green colour; some varieties may develop a red / orange tinge on the edges of leaves when exposed to high levels of heat and light. New stem growth is the same colour as the leaves, but becomes brown, woody and flakey with age. It is native to South Africa, and is common as a Houseplant and indoor Bonsai specimen worldwide. Slowly growing up to 3 metres tall and wide in the wild it can live for decades because of its tolerance of heat, brightness, wind and rain, dust, neglect and forgetfulness (severe drought).

What is Bonsai ? Bonsai is an ancient Oriental art consisting of a pot, tray or container (Japanese word Bon) and a tree that is cultivated (Japanese word sai, meaning to cultivate). The literal translation is “ planted or cultivated in a tray, pot, or container”.

Bonsai was conceived as a desire to achieve harmony between the sky and earth, man and nature, and even life and death. The difference between regular potted plant and Bonsai is that the focus of appreciation in a potted plant is the trunk and foliage itself. The focus of appreciation of a Bonsai is the beauty of the tree, its harmony with its container, and landscape surrounding the tree within the container.

Put another way – Bonsai is the culture of miniature trees, which are dwarfed by pruning and controlled nutrition. Showing old flaky bark, gnarled trunks and visible roots – bonsai gives the impression that the plant, in a shallow container, has been scaled down to a much smaller size – one capable of being enjoyed by humans in their ‘smaller, more confined home spaces’.

What are Indoor bonsai? Bonsai, kept indoors on a sunny windowsill or conservatory, especially over winter. Because they get hot behind glass and require more controlled watering, indoor bonsai are best suited to heat and drought-resistant, evergreen, tree-like succulents such as Crassula Ovata and Portulacaria Afra.

Indoor Bonsai or traditional outdoor Bonsai? Indoor Bonsai are attractive, fully leaved plants in winter instead of dormant, leafless branches. These Crassula and Portulacaria flower each winter, unlike most other summer-flowering bonsai. Other differences include the faster growth rate of tropical plants which accelerates all steps of the bonsai evolution. We call these ’10-year-bonsai’ because a fantastic tree can be shaped in just 10 years.

Normal, traditional bonsai are shaped from ‘temperate-climate’ trees, grown in containers and kept outdoors permanently. In the artificial environment of a warm winter home these trees weaken and die – they need to feel ‘winter’ to go dormant for a few months. Indoor bonsai do not need this dormant period, in fact they look at their best over winter on a windowsill or in a conservatory and are highly prized as feng shui plants and Flowering Bonsai around the world.

Bonsai or Traditional house plants?

Bonsai are rooted in a much smaller amount of soil compared to the usual potted houseplant. They take up a smaller space and are much more interesting to look at and to care for. You can be proud of a Bonsai – you can only care for a houseplant! The average life of a ‘houseplant’ in europe is just over 3 months – from purchase to bin. That’s a lot of wasted money spent on a load of average looking plants – all doomed to failure from the day they left their intraveneuos drip of a fertilised, ph regulated irrigation system at the growers nursery.

Wise up, grow a houseplant you can be proud of for years, decades…
Not one that dies within weeks!

Why do Succulents grow into great Indoor Bonsai ? 

In the wild succulents are naturally small – they undergo “dwarfing” due to harsh conditions. Growing slowly from crevices and rocky ground and enduring abrasive winds, erratic water supply, dramatic fluctuations in daily temperature, being eaten by animals, over-bright sunlight, and thin, fast-draining soil – mature succulents usually end up looking something like bonsai after many years. Succulents also have unique morphological features that make them appealing to bonsai artists – their fleshy leaves, swollen trunks, and thickened bases are adaptations that enable the plants to store excess water to survive dry periods.

The creation of bonsai is limited only by the imagination and talent of the gardener….but some species are much more suitable than others.

We have tried and failed with other similar varieties and now we know which plants are suitable for indoor bonsai ? A few rare tropical and sub-tropical tree species will survive and grow indoors but only two are suited to shaping like traditional outdoor bonsai – Crassula and Portulacaria. These succulent plants are the only two that ‘behave’ in an indoor bonsai pot for decades…

Crassula ovata: is a very robust and drought-resistant house plant. It can sprout new shoots from brown, woody stems so an old, leggy Crassula plant can be pruned back to a stockier shape with a thick trunk. Place outdoors over summer for compact, colourful growth and starry pink flowers will grow over winter. It’s an evergreen suculent plant with thick branches and smooth, rounded, fleshy leaves that grow in opposing pairs along the branches. Leaves are a shiny jade green colour; some varieties may develop a red / orange tinge on the edges of leaves when exposed to high levels of heat and light. New stem growth is the same colour as the leaves, but becomes brown, woody and flakey with age. It is native to South Africa, and is common as a Houseplant and Bonsai specimen worldwide. Slowly growing up to 3 metres tall and wide it can live for decades because of its tolerance of heat, brightness, wind and rain, dust, neglect and forgetfulness (usually severe drought).

Common Names: Jade tree, jade plant, Friendship tree / plant, Lucky tree / plant, Money tree, Money Tree Plant, Money Plant, Jade Money tree, Jade money plant, Dollar plant, Silver-dollar plant, Fortune plant / tree, Chinese Rubber Tree, Kerkei Bush, Plekky, Blue Jade Tree, Blue Money Tree

NAMES/Synonyms: (also named / classified as) Crassula argentea, Crassula obliqua, Crassula portulacea, Crassula arborescens, Crassula Arborescens (undulatifolia) – Blue Tree, Blue bird, Blue Jay

Confused with: Cotyledon Orbiculata, Cotyledon Ovata, Cotyledon Argentea, Portulacaria Afra.

Type of plant: Succulent , evergreen, non-hardy, shrub.

Location : Frost free + bright. Warm in summer. Fresh air.

Scientific / Latin classification: Kingdom:Plantae, Subkingdom:Tracheobionta, Division:Magnoliophyta, Class:Magnoliopsida, Order:Saxifragales, Family:Crassulaceae, Genus:Crassula, Species:C.ovata

Notable Varieties: Crassula Ovata Undulatifolia, C. ovata Monstrose, C.Ovata ‘Hummels Sunset’.

Portulacaria afra: looks like a small-leaved crassula ovata, but rarely flowers… A fleshy, woody shrub or small tree up to 3m, often sprawling prostrate occurring on dry rocky hillsides and in succulent scrublands .The bark is green when young, becoming red-brown with conspicuous leaf scars. Leaves are simple, opposite, almost circular, about 1.5cm in diameter and fleshy – each pair of leaves at right angles to the next along the reddish stems; apex rounded with a short, abrupt point; base tapering; margin entire; petiole very short or almost absent.Flowers are small, star shaped + pale pink.

Common Names: Baby Jade Tree, dwarf jade, elephant’s food, elephant bush, crosbys compact

Synonyms: (also named / classified as) portulaca afra,portulaca ovata, portulacaria ovata, portulacaria arborescens.

Confused with: Crassula ovata.

Type of plant: Succulent , evergreen, non-hardy, shrub / sub-shrub.

Location: Frost free + bright. Warm in summer. Fresh air.

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BONSAI – A BEGINNERS GUIDE

1 – History of Bonsai … Bonsai originated in China about 1500 years ago when followers of the Taoist faith believed that natural features such as mountains, trees and rocks contained magic, and that this could be concentrated in miniature landscapes. By adding rocks and water features, and growing old, woody plants in containers or small courtyard gardens the art of Bonsai was born. Over centuries of careful pruning the trees became dwarfed and more highly prized. The Japanese perfected the art ‘as we know it today’ over the last 700 years. Bonsai mimics natural growth and scenery in the wild, but on a tiny scale. It means ‘tray planting’ in Japanese but today most people understand Bonsai to mean ‘a dwarfed tree in small pot’.

JAHbonsai prefers to use ornaments and decorations to complement the tree and pot. We call this ‘indoor gardening’ for those of you that don’t have a pair of wellies or a spade. This is ‘beginners bonsai’ which can be fun and rewarding for decades.

2 – Cultivation of Bonsai – How to grow bonsai

Bonsai can be created from nearly any perennial woody-stemmed tree or shrub species which produces true branches and remains small through pot confinement with crown and root pruning. Some species are popular as bonsai material because they have characteristics, such as small leaves or needles, that make them appropriate for the compact visual scope of bonsai. The purposes of bonsai are primarily contemplation (for the viewer) and the pleasant exercise of effort and ingenuity (for the grower). By contrast with other plant-related practices, bonsai is not intended for production of food, for medicine, or for creating park-sized landscapes. As a result, the scope of bonsai practice is narrow and focused on long-term cultivation and shaping of one or more small trees in a single container forming a landscape.

2.2 Techniques used in Indoor Succulent Bonsai growing

The practice of bonsai development incorporates a number of techniques, but not all are suitable to growing an indoor succulent bonsai. Succulents have unique ways of dealing with their usually harsh environment and so some techniques are not always used.

2.2.1 Leaf trimming. Never trim a whole leaf – remove it whole. Older leaves may yellow but still remain attached. They live for two years, sometimes three on a large, old tree before it falls off. Little contribution is being made by these yellowing leaves to the plant as a whole so removing it will allow more light to shine on the younger shoots (unless it is the lowest leaf). (Remove a leaf sideways – it will easily slide off the stem). Sparse foliage indicates an unhealthy tree, but thick foliage that obscures the trunk is undesirable. The leaves should reveal and complement the trunk and branches. Unlike a pine which may have thousands of leaves – a small crassula bonsai may have only 30 leaves but only one or two leaves need removing each month…how easy is that?

2.2.2 Pruning and Styling– Shaping a Bonsai. Theres more on this further down.As a general rule a bonsai money tree will reach perfect proportion when it is 10 times taller than the main trunk is wide. For example – a 4cm wide trunk should have a 40cm high tree. The pot will be as wide as the plant and a tenth of the height – again a 40 cm high tree should grow in a 4 cm high pot for best effect. That’s not much space, you may think ….its not! This true survivor will grow fine in such a shallow rootspace.

Prune to encourage Y-shaped branching and proportionately smaller internodes. Pruning may prevent flowering the following season or until new growth has been established.

Leaf growth is predictable – occurring in pairs and at right angles to the previous pair. Dormant buds are visible at the base of each fleshy leaf, and will nearly always produce a new shoot when a branch is pruned back to above that point. Prune by snipping or pinching just above (or after) a node/dormant bud for the new shoot. Hard pruning will induce backbudding from visible internodes on older parts of the plant. Prune terminal growths to keep shape – to encourage side shoots + stocky, sturdy growth. Prune any time the tree is actively growing. Jade money trees recover well from serious trunk pruning and reduction in as little as one to two weeks. Never use sealant on wounds, as it will trap water and cause rot. Allow wounds on this plant to dry out naturally and fall off – like a scab the stem will ‘ heal ‘ itself and eject the unwanted tissue from the wounded area..

Cut back the growing tips to maintain a pleasing shape. Doing this often will help to develop a thick main trunk. Prune back to where the old leaves were located and where there is one or preferably two healthy shoot buds. New leaves will grow from there. Do not be afraid to cut back the growth. Providing the healthy plant has a well-developed main stem, it is possible to prune back all growth until there are few or no leaves left. New shoots will soon emerge from the latent, dormant buds.

However, such severe pruning should not be carried out if cold or on weak plants – a Crassula may go into ‘shock’ and drop more branches than you intended. Slow down and step back when pruning…turn the pot round many times…each time shaping the plant by removing the offending branch end. Visualise the end result…enjoy this moment…turn the pot…prune again….and so on until you are happy with the shape. Remember that you cannot achieve bonsai Cassula perfection in five years. Maybe twenty, so don’t be disheartened by slow results… take a few pictures every year and you will notice a steady, but consistent, growth rate. Prune when needed, any time of year – shape the plant with the final dimensions in mind (See 6) but do it over many years and keep the crown of branches dense with stalks with short internodes (distance between leaf pairs). Best rule is to prune an offensive growing tip when you enjoy your tree – the desired shape will evolve with time and patience.

2.2.2.1 Root pruning is not recommended nor needed for succulents. Succulent roots are rarely vigorous when pruned so the less disruption the better. If roots must be trimmed to fit a shallow pot remove all soil, keep the wounds dry until they are completely scarred over, and then replant. Moist open wounds may rot so dust with sulphur powder. Very large cuts may require several weeks to heal so don’t rush in with the watering can yet.

2.2.3 Wiring succulent bonsai

Never wire a succulent -when the stem expands the wire will disfugure the tree if it becomes too tight. There is no need to support or bend these stems – this is achieved with clever pruning – by removing certain growing points.

2.2.4 Clamping + 2.2.5 Grafting

Not for a Crassula or Portulacaria.

2.2.6 Defoliation Is the same as leaf trimming but on a grand scale. ONLY recommended on healthy, actively growing oversized plants in need of dramatic reduction in size. Leaves are the solar panels supplying the plant … remove these and subsequent shoots will be dwarfed until there is enough energy from the soon-to-get-larger leaves ….and so on.

2.2.7 Deadwood is a dangerous thing for a succulent. Not to be encouraged. Enjoy it if it is there but don’t try to create it – this is an advanced technique working on hardwood trees and you should seek specialist advice. Crassula wood is not like PINE wood .

2.2.8 Misting and Spraying Bonsai Crassula trees

It is not necessary to mist or spray water over the foliage, and excessive humidity may lead to mildews and other fungal problems. Spraying with water may also blemish the attractive surface bloom (white powder) from the leaves of some cultivars,especially the blue trees. However, If the leaves get really dusty then a quick cool shower will suffice (tip: spray from the sides to avoid filling the pot with water and making a gritty mess). Never use cans of leaf shine to make the leaves glossy. These add to the debris on the leaf surface hindering their proper long-term functioning. If you must use this product (before a show, maybe) then be sure to wash it all off later. Hint : a spray of distilled water helps to dissolve any natural salts which have left the leaves and settled on their surface – with time a natural shine will occur.

3 How to Care for and Grow Indoor Succulent Bonsai Trees

Further Topics covered include Repotting bonsai, watering, tools, fertilisation, location, overwintering, display (pots, mulches ,indoor gardens), styles and pruning, myths, and more growing tips, pests+diseases and other usefull stuff…

3.1 Repotting Bonsai … How to repot – Soil or Compost? :

If growing a bonsai specimen plant choose your soil carefully and wisely – dont use any cheap growbag stuff. Try to mimic nature and your tree will reward you more. Ideally, use a very earthy, soil based compost mix to grow bonsai trees. Peat based compost has a tendancy to lose volume and thus available air and the tree ands up suffocating in sour compost. Coir often goes too alkaline and attracts flies, but is useful in small amounts. Some of our trees have performed equally well in a very easy-going, happy-go-lucky mixture from the flower bed or vegetable plot. In the wild these trees don’t grow in compost – try to use a john innes loam based no.3 formulation sold under various brand names in good garden centres / home stores.

3.2 Watering bonsai- when and how to water a jade crassula money tree.

Water thoroughly and let the plant dry out. Preferably with fresh rainwater (as with most earth-plants). This plant only needs water when its lower leaves become soft and wrinkled. When water is given, these leaves will plump up again, a sign that all is well with the roots. Do not keep the soil moist all the time. Alongside water uptake the plant absorbs nutrients and oxygen which are essential to plant life. Saturated soil will not release any more water or nutrient to the bloated plant – it will ‘drown the roots’ by starving them of oxygen and they will die. It is fine to water from the base by standing the plant pot in a dish of water or the kitchen sink but never leave the plant standing in water for more than 2 days. Overwatering is worse than underwatering. In order to grow this Crassula really well you should remember their natural habitat is on dry, craggy , windy places under the blazing South African sun where rain is infrequent and it usually occurs during the winter months, which are generally frost free.

A cold (below 3 degrees, average) jade money tree in damp soil will suffer and probably die over winter. Do not water during winter cold months …its best to keep it dry and encourage flowering to enjoy the full beauty of this wonderful Succulent. If all you can offer your tree is 3 degrees cold then no problems will occur as long as it stays DRY.

3.3 Bonsai Tools . The only two tools you need are scissors and your fingernails. Oh, and a small pair of plastic tweezers are handy to remove old leaves in hard to get cracks.

3.4 Bonsai tree fertilization – Crassula feeding recommendations.

Fertilise at about one-quarter the recommended strength should be given with every watering during the growing period – these are very efficient plants. A low nitrogen formulation helps to avoid “leggy” growth, and a high potash feed should be used for healthy, compact stems and a small amount of phosphorous,magnesium and trace elements should be given whenever possible. Do not overfeed – this is very easy to do…just a little more feed than required will lead to large leaves, elongated stems and possible root damage and thus less growth…so be carefull with those cheap chemical feeds – an extra dollar, pound or euro may not seem like much to reward your prize plant with but DO NOT treat it to extra feed. Better results will occur if you follow a more organic route – try worm casts

I will write this again …Ignore any fool that says use a balanced feed on a bonsai succulent. You should use a feed high in potash and magnesium and sulphuer, and low(or no) nitrogen. A typical Summer NPK (look at the label…) would be 1:3:6. Use a special feed that includes a complete blend of trace elements, preferably one derived from seaweed ….we call it ‘the brown stuff’ and the vitamins, amino acids and natural hormones contained in these gives a money tree a kaleidoscope of colours.

NOTE: i have seen commercial feeds labelled as bonsai feed and as cactus feed with a 5:5:5 NPK. This is rubbish – just believe us …stay away from the Nitrogen or your tree will reach for the sky. Money trees will only be susceptible to Aphids and other pests when fed ‘incorrectly’ – leading to soft, rapid growth. You are better off giving a pinch of healthy garden soil and some rainwater or distilled water to your bonsai money tree than just ‘any old feed’. Trust us – 30 years of growing these into prize winning trees has taught us what does, and doesn’t work in Money Tree World! Specialist feeds are available worldwide from ‘grow shops’ online – go there to buy low-nitrogen feeds which can match your hard or soft water.

A Slightly acid ph is most suitable for Crassula to thrive – just like most other houseplants so if your tap water is ‘hard’ with lots of calcium (your kettle will gather this stuff) then try boiling and cooling water before giving to your tree. This takes the calcium (alkaline) out of your water and therefore makes it …less alkaline and thus more acidic.

3.5 Location and overwintering – where to grow a jade money tree?

A Money Tree needs very bright light to grow well and a sunny position if it is to flower. Good air circulation will help to avoid scorch on hot days and excessive humidity in cold wet weather. A plant should not be moved suddenly from a shady position into full sunshine it needs to be acclimatised slowly or damage to the upper leaves is likely in hot sun. If this happens, the leaves will be dropped and replaced in time, so the damage is not permanent but is will hinder growth due to the damage on the leaves reducing photosynthesis and therefore slowing growth.

Money Trees will grow well outside as patio plants from Spring to Autumn and their leaves will colour up in the sun, but remember to bring them indoors before any frosts.

The plant will stop growing correctly at temperatures above 90°F or below 10°F. Ideally – day-time temps of 80 and night-time temps of 15 grow the best succulent Bonsai. Jade plants will survive cold conditions to just above freezing if the soil is kept dry but must be kept frost free at all times. Note: Windowsill growers be aware that cold condensation may damage leaves that are touching the cold (sometimes freezing) glass. On extremely cold nights a piece of paper or even better, bubblewrap, between the glass and the tree will avoid any leaf blemishes.

Colder night temperatures help to promote flowering on mature plants so heat from a radiator may delay this.

3.5.1 Outdoors over Summer is ideal providing hail, sleet, snow and frost is avoided at all costs. Put it somewhere under cover during rainy weeks to avoid waterlogging the soil.

3.5.2 Indoors over Winter is essential. Even a usually warm,protected balcony can be seriously chilled by a cold winter wind so be prepare to bring indoors over frosty periods if needed.

Alternatively, cover with fleece or thin material to beat the occassional light frost, but not recommended for deep extended frosts – this is a tender plant and it will die overnight if it gets too cold so be warned..its an INDOOR BONSAI TREE.

4 Display of Bonsai – How to show off your mini-tree.

4.1 CONTAINERS , POTS , TRAYS, PANS and other vessels

The size of tree determines the size of container required. As a bonsai jade money tree grows taller and wider it becomes the more unstable and at risk of falling over. A guide is to choose a pot as wide as the tree and 1/10th of its height to accomodate the roots and ensure stability. Choose a container with vertical sides and or wide edges or stability wil be comprimised. A drainage hole is NOT essential but preferred. Always place a waterproof barrier between the windowsill and the plant – even if its only a mousemat, it will protect the paintwork. Solid, wide at the edges

4.2. Mulch and decorative toppings – decorating and showing off you bonsai succulent tree

This is ‘your tree and your space’ … try to match or complement existing colours in the room like curtains. Preferably use non-organic items such as …

Glass beads, marbles, stones, clay pebbles, sand, grit, sea shells, plastic ‘grass’,

We recommend finding a rock SIMILAR TO THIS and placing it next to the stump LIKE THIS. Place 3 or 5 ‘medium’ stones nearby and indoor garden comes alive.

Added items of interest can be unique to you – a mini bicycle can be leant against the trunk, a small garden bench could be hand-crafted especially for your indoor garden or a tiny tyre can be hung from a branch on a rope. Small imitation birds , rubber snakes , fake insects , camouflaged gekko’s can all be used to put a smile on any onlookers face. So long as its in good perspective – imagine the tree is ten metres high …at 2 metres high a very tall person would be one-fifth of the trees’ height. If your indoor garden tree stands proudly at 50cm tall then a 2m tall person would be ..one-fifth of 50 cm = 10cm high. Smurfs, as cute as they are, stand about 6cm high and look too small next to our trees. Ideally 7-13cm high figures should be used.

4.3 Indoor gardens – ‘pimp-my-windowsill’

Succulent Bonsai live for many years so its worth investing some time and money on creating an indoor landscape that makes you smile proudly at your windowsill each day. The tree is just part of this miniature scene – a rock, some bolders and a figure can enhance the overall look of the ‘display’. For kids theres smurfs and all-sorts of action figures which are colourful and fun. Use coloured stones to match the figures and it comes alive. Hang a tiny tyre from a lower branch with some ‘rope-like’ string or lean a bicycle next to the tree …the possibilities are endless if you have a well stocked kids toybox to rummage in!!!

Heres a few examples of Bonsai plastic figures for kids

images to do!

Adults can be a little more classy with real-life miniatures …schleich manufacture a fantastic range of plastic figurines and i recommend you go there to see what can be miniaturised.

In my shop you will also see a super miniature Treasure Hut that sits beside these trees in perfect harmory.

5 Common style + shape used to create a Crassula or Portulaca Bonsai…

Chokkan (Formal Upright) style is one of the easiest of the styles to achieve, and perfect for the novice Bonsai enthusiast to achieve. A Chokkan Bonsai has a single, straight, upright trunk that tapers to the top.. The trunk is thicker at the bottom and grows increasingly thinner with height. The branches above should be symmetrically balanced and well spaced. Branching should begin about ½ way up of the total length of the trunk. The first branch should be the most developed and extend beyond the length of the other branches. It should be balanced, but doesn’t need to be symmetric. The formal upright occurs often in nature, especially when the tree is exposed to lots of light and doesn’t face the problem of competing trees. On a smaller scale you are creating a ‘mini-standard’.

6 Size classifications used in the Bonsai world

Class Size

Tiny Mame – Keshi-tsubu up to 2.5 cm, Shito 2.5–7.5 cm

Small Shohin- Gafu 7.5-10 cm, Komono -18, Myabi–25 cm

Medium Kifu- 25-40 cm

Medium to large Chu/Chuhi-n 40–60 cm

Large Dai/Daiza-Omono 60 up to 120 cm Bonju 120+ cm

7 Money tree Myths , legend and folklore – FINALLY ..THE TRUTH

Myth 1 Plants should not be in a bedroom – its not good for humans… True with the exception of Crassula plants. Internet search ‘crassulacean acid metabolism’ (CAM) to see why this plant is EXACTLY WHAT YOU NEED in your bedroom to freshen your night air and keep you healthy.

Myth 2 Money trees give you good fortune and wealth… that’s open to interpretation but a bonsai can enrich your life and wake you up with a smile from your windowsill …a happier person will probably amass fortune and wealth over the years… Or… maybe turn the coin and see that if you can afford bonsai then you’re probably wealthy. Who knows – do you ? email me!

Myth 3 Why it’s called the money tree… In the USA this plant is often referred to as Crassula Argentea. Argent, in french, is MONEY…fallen, decaying, rounded leaves take on a silvery colour and look like … dollars on the soil. It is called CRASSULA OVATA, Ovate is a shape of the leaves.

Myth 4 My money tree smells. This can be a reality IF you allow old leaves to fall on the soil and decompose for months, or if there is old water in the tray below. This should never happen with a bonsai tree but may occur in a wet bucket growing a crassula bush. Leaves rot like cucumber so you must throw away any diseased, dying or dead material (gardening term – the 3d’s) before it gets a chance to rot

WHY IS IT called the Jade Tree ? crassula ovata is also called the jade tree – quite simply because of the leaf colour …’jade’ named after the green ‘Jade’ stone.

HOW TO GROW A Crassula Ovata (Jade Money Tree) into a Bonsai

A Crassula Ovata jade money tree is incredibly easy to grow and with proper care and time can make a fine bonsai specimen.

Dropping leaves : Why are the crassula leaves falling off?

Old leaves drop off naturally, usually over winter… each leaf will live for one, maybe two years, sometimes three on large, old trees. If new leaves wrinkle or drop off excessively something is wrong with uptake of water into the plant. Do not immediately assume that the plant wants more water if you have been watering it regularly. If the roots are not taking up water, then adding more will lead to soggy compost and cause more problems. Check the roots by removing the plant from its pot and pull some roots away – if they resist you and are pale/white then there is no problem here. If they are brown roots which offer little resistance and fall away easily then disease or overwatering are usually to blame. Repot as described in Repotting a Jade Money Tree.

ROOTS of a Crassula Ovata

Examine the roots of the un-potted plant for sign of pests such as root mealy bug. Look for rotten roots and soft rotten areas at the base of the stem, which can be caused by fungus and/or soggy conditions and which prevent effective water uptake. If the bottom of the stem has gone soft, allow the plant to dry off out of its pot and then assess the condition of the stem. In emergency, it is possible to salvage the plant by re-rooting the healthy part. Cut the stem well above the damaged area, allow the cut end to dry off for a couple of weeks and then re-plant into a dry potting mix. Water very sparingly until root formation has started. Root pruning is not recommended for succulents. If roots must be trimmed for aesthetic reasons, remove all soil, keep the wounds dry until they are completely scarred over, and then replant. Moisture on open wounds almost certainly invites rot. Very large cuts may require several weeks to heal.

MAINTENANCE – Careing for your bonsai.

Pruning and Styling:

Prune any time the tree is actively growing. Jade money trees recover well from serious trunk pruning and reduction in as little as one to two weeks. Never use sealant on wounds, as it will trap water and cause rot. Allow wounds on this plant to dry out naturally and fall off – like a scab the stem will ‘ heal ‘ itself and eject the unwanted tissue from the wounded area..

Cut back the growing tips to maintain a pleasing shape. Doing this often will help to develop a thick main trunk. Prune back to where the old leaves were located and where there is one or preferably two healthy shoot buds. New leaves will grow from there. Do not be afraid to cut back the growth. Providing the healthy plant has a well-developed main stem, it is possible to prune back all growth until there are few or no leaves left. New shoots will soon emerge from the latent, dormant buds.

However, such severe pruning should not be carried out if cold or on weak plants – a Crassula may go into ‘shock’ and drop more branches than you intended.

Slow down and step back when pruning…turn the pot round many times…each time shaping the plant by removing the offending branch end. Visualise the end result…enjoy this moment…turn the pot…prune again….and so on until you are happy with the shape. Remember that you cannot achieve bonsai Crassula perfection in five years. Maybe twenty, so don’t be disheartened by slow results… take a few pictures every year and you will notice a steady, but consistent, growth rate.

Pests and diseases

Keep your plant clean and tap off and discard old leaves. Dont pull or tap too hard. Remove any dead leaves that have dropped off onto the surface of the soil or they will begin to resemble small coins as they age and grey in colour…Hence the name MONEY Tree.

Air circulation – fresh air – is great for all plants – especially this one. This helps prevent most pest problems along with a quick shower!

Examine suspect leaves with a magnifying glass as some pests like red spider are too small for the insect to be seen by most people. Don’t confuse normal leaf markings of tiny white dots with pests. Overfed Crassulas will often ‘leak’ calcium salts from their leaves – these look like pests if your eyesight isnt very good!!!

Crassulas can be treated with most systemic insecticides (1/2 strength), but do not use contacts like malathion or other pyrethrin-based sprays. Avoid spraying species with powdery ‘bloom’ on the leaves. Watering with a systemic insecticide should keep your plant pest-free for months and avoid the problems of overhead spraying. More can be achieved with the jet of a hose than what is at risk when using chemicals. Get it wrong and leaves can be marked and disfigured…forever (until they fall!). A sickly, pale tree may be less able to resist chemical damage than a healthy one – even if you use the same strength on both.

Our advice is to remove mealy bugs or scale insect with alcohol on a cotton bud ..it dries out and falls off. Spider mites are blasted off with a hose and we use nematodes to deal with any root weavils. We prefer not to toxify the tree soil with anything uneccesary …its to be grown in for a very long time and you will hinder growth if you take the chemical route. Do not overdo some of this stuff – if you must use it dilute it , then dilute it again because xylene is not good for the waxy leaf surface. If you see an orange X on the bottle then ….you have been subtly warned not to<

Sick Bay for your Bonsai Money Tree – How to Rescue a dying Jade Money Tree

Place a sick tree in a bucket and wash the roots with a hosepipe to free any old compost and soil. Or,hold by the trunk and dunk the roots repeatedly in water. Repot in fresh compost and do not move the roots for 6 months or more. Keep in a shadier, warm place until new growth appears

Damage sometimes occurs from footballs, frisbees and other flying objects. Move the tree – don’t try to move the kids, it won’t work!!! Branches may take a while to show any damage. Leave alone and hope nature will help to heal.

Flowering Crassula Ovata. Mature Money Trees will flower during the winter. The white/pink flowers have a faint perfume – like scented soap. The tree needs to be old and healthy for it to flower well. Blue trees are more willing and earlier to flower. In spring the colourful show will cease the flower parts will brown, wither and fall off by early summer (or prune back the small twiggy, stick like ends to the branches that result after flowering.)

HOPEFULLY THAT’S COVERED EVERYTHING. Feel Free to ask for clarification on anything, or bonsai help in the future after a purchase from our SEDUMSHACK SHOP

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