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Portulacaria Afra Bonsai Care Guide

March 18, 2018

Portulacaria Afra - Drawf Jade


Updated: 7/17/2018



Make sure to prune with sharp tools. If you prune young shoots with dull tools you will crush the branch rather than cut it. Pruning large branches to leave a stub will provide a better healing scar as it dries out. Pinching the end set of leaves helps to promote back budding. 


Full sun with afternoon protection. Can be an inside plant, but outside with full sun is much better. 


Above freezing is a must. It has been said that bringing them in before temperatures drop below 40 is a good idea.


Discussion from the P. Afra Bonsai Facebook page:



Very flexible plant and care is needed with wire biting into the bark. Since the tree grows quickly and can be directionally pruned wire isn't always needed for all circumstances. Weight of the branches with water-filled leaves can be used advantageously in place of wiring. 


Basically my suggestion on watering is don't. 9/10 times this plant dies to being overwatered. You can use wrinkling leaves as a guide to watering at first and then try to keep up with that relative need. The soil needs to dry out between waterings and stay dry for several days. Be even more wary of watering if you have any organics in your soil. If your P. Afra is not in inorganic bonsai soil I would advise watering 2 times a week at a maximum. 


Example of wrinkled leaves:

Leaves without wrinkles and not in need of water:




When repotting Dwarf Jade you need to let the roots dry out and callous for a few days before watering. Once you see growth you can be sure of additional root growth and water. Repot in the Spring (Can theoretically be done anytime with proper care, but just wait until Spring). ​


Propagation can be done through leaves and cuttings. Cuttings need to dry for several days before being planted. Once planted DO NOT WATER until new growth has appeared. Once new growth has appeared you may water.


They can be propagated with water as well. Let the cutting dry out and callous over, then place in water as you would a Ficus cutting. The following quote is additional information about when to remove them from water. 


"In cuttings set in water, the resulting white cluster of  roots reaches about 10 mm in length before the cutting starts to rot after about one month." - Robert J. Baran

Additional Comments:

Amazing bonsai species. Grows quickly and is a wonderful way to quickly propagate more bonsai trees through cuttings. Gives us more trees as a way to fulfill our addiction-like obsession with bonsai


For more information on the specific of Portulacaria Afra head here. 




To learn about specific species and their care head to my Bonsai Information page