How To Shape a Jade Plant Into a Bonsai Shape

To shape a jade plant into a bonsai, start with a healthy specimen. Here is a very basic summary of the process:

  • Choosing a deep, ceramic or porcelain pot
  • Plant the Jade plant, trimming the roots to ¼ inch
  • Start trimming to match your chosen bonsai shape
  • Maintain the shape, repot once a year

You have loved miniature Bonsai trees since the first time you saw one, but they have always seemed too pricey to buy.

Then, you heard about a jade plant being shaped into a Bonsai shape, and now you cannot wait to try it. How do you get started, and how long does it take?

As someone who has wanted a miniature bonsai tree for years, you can finally have one by using a jade plant. Find out how to shape and train your jade to look like a bonsai by continuing to read on. 

How to Make a Bonsai Using a Jade Plant

Types of Bonsai and Maintenance

While there are many trees or plants that can make an excellent choice for a Bonsai, we will be focusing on using a jade plant for this project.  Jade plants are succulents and make excellent choices for an indoor Bonsai tree. In addition, if you live in zones 9-12, you can keep your jade outside safely. 

Choosing Your Plant

When choosing your jade plant, make sure to pick one that is healthy. Also, try to find one that is nice and green. 

Since Bonsai can be as small as six inches tall when full-grown to as large as about three feet high, you can start with as small a jade plant as you would like.  Will you use a regular jade plant or a dwarf jade plant?

Consider the shape of the plant you choose. Does its natural form make it ideal for a Bonsai?

Other things to keep in mind when choosing your jade plant are:

  • Where do you plan to keep your Jade Bonsai?
  • How much natural light is available?
  • What size planter you plan to use?
  • What traditional shape of the Bonsai do You want to train your jade plant to grow?

Choosing a Suitable Container

When choosing the pot or container to grow your jade Bonsai, you will want to choose one large enough to accommodate its roots system.  The roots retain the moisture that keeps your plant alive and well. 

A ceramic or porcelain pot is an excellent choice for your Bonsai.  Make sure the size of the pot is a little deeper than your plant. 

Be sure it has a couple of drainage holes so that water does pool too long and cause the roots to rot and kill your plant. 

You will want to choose something pleasing to look at with the Bonsai design. 

Remember you can repot it as it grows if needed. Repotting your jade plant about once a year will give you a chance to prune it and continue grooming it to the Bonsai form.

Gather Your Tools and Supplies

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Once you have chosen your plant and a proper container, you will need to make sure you have the appropriate soil for your plant. Succulent plants like a mixture of 50% sand or gypsum mixed with 50% potting soil, giving them enough drainage to protect their roots and continue to flourish.

Tools to have on hand include:

  • Sharp scissors
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Tweezers
  • Gardening gloves
  • Aluminum wiring 

A good fertilizer for your Bonsai will help your plant grow more robust. If you use a chemical fertilizer, be sure to dilute it by 50%. After the first initial fertilizing, you will want to continue doing so about every two weeks. 

Choose Your Bonsai’s Shape

There are a few traditional Bonsai shapes. Choose the one that you like best before trying to start shaping your plant.

The leaning shape of the Bonsai is slanted and has a windswept look to it. 

With the informal upright look, the trunk of the plant will bend to the side. 

Get the Jade Plant Ready

Start by removing the jade plant from its current pot. Shake off the soil from around the roots. Trim the roots about a ¼ of an inch.

Sterilize your scissors by dipping them into the rubbing alcohol. Then, use a clean rag to dry the scissors off. 

Use your scissors to carefully trim and remove branches that are not complementary to your chosen Bonsai shape. Next, prune off the larger leaves so new smaller ones will start forming on your plant. 

Cut the leaves as close as you can to the stem without damaging them. Then, remove all the ones pointing down. 

Next, gently shape the plant into the shape chosen, using the wire to manipulate the plant and hold it into place carefully. Next, wrap the wire around the branch and then bend the plant to fit the shape you want and tie them where they must stay like that. 

Then carefully cover the roots back up along with some of the stem you bent with your potting soil mixture. Or, if you prefer, you can use lava rock and pebbles to protect it. Then water it and wait until it is almost totally dried out to water it again.

Maintaining Your Bonsai Plant

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After its pruning and it has been repotted, you will want to continue taking care of it. But, first, it will need regular watering. Jades do best when watered thoroughly and allowed to dry out before watering them again. Do not overwater, or you cause mealybugs to bother them. 

About every two weeks, you should fertilize them with fertilizer.

You will want to prune and repot your jade Bonsai about once a year to make sure it continues to shape and train the way you wanted. This process will help it to continue to have new growth. 

Check your Bonsai regularly for any signs that it may need pest control. 

InsectSignsTreatment
Mealybugs or MothsIt causes the leaves and limbs to wither and droop.Use an alcohol-drenched rag or swab to clear the colonies off the surfaces of your jade plant.
Spider MitesCan populate on the bottom of the leaves, causing the leaves to turn brown.Use alcohol on the plants to get rid of the colonies of tiny spiders. 
AphidsAphids cause the leaves to turn yellow and become distorted. Spraying water on them makes them leave. Then dry the leaves off.  Prune the affected leaves. 

Keep a spray bottle on the ready to add warm water and a little dish soap to help keep away most other insects and spray your plant regularly.

Doing this will help prevent dust mites and spider mites from colonizing your jade plant. Repeat as frequently as needed to avoid insects from gathering under the leaves.

Protecting your jade bonsai from cold or damp weather conditions will also help protect it from mealy bugs. Jades like about four hours of sunlight per day, but do not put them out in the extreme heat of the day. 

Can a Bonsai Tree Come Back to Life might be an interesting article for you!

To Conclude

Jade plants make excellent Bonsai trees when properly shaped and trained. While this is not a quick process and may take several years to achieve, you will end up with a beautiful jade Bonsai tree if you follow these simple steps. Not to mention the years of pleasure for shaping it yourself. 

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