Gossamer
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Location: Rochester, New York, USA

Mini Jade - Needs Help!

Greetings all - I was given what was labeled as a mini jade bonsai as a gift. It came with absolutely no instructions except to be in the sun and water every 5-7 days. It's been doing okay until the past few weeks. I moved, so it moved with me. Now, it has major leaf sheddage and all kinds of things going on and I'm not sure what it wants/needs!

Here are some pics:

[img]https://farm6.static.flickr.com/5079/5878636022_11fc6ded95.jpg[/img] [img]https://farm6.static.flickr.com/5068/5878075363_d375084741.jpg[/img] [img]https://farm6.static.flickr.com/5079/5878637944_e1a2423cde.jpg[/img]

As you can see my Jade is in a nicely sunny spot. It gets lots of sun. I've been trying to water when the leaves are looking shiveled, but I seem to have many stages of leaf-dom on the plant all at once so I don't know what to do! It has a humidfying tray full of rocks that I keep quite moist. I haven't been spraying it or anything like that . . .

I'm just not at all sure what to do. I cannot tell what it is trying to tell me it wants. I really don't want it to die either :( It has lots of good new growth in the top bits . . . but is daily shedding tons and tons, like the majority of the bottom foliage.

Any tips, tricks, ideas, etc, are greatly appreciated!!
Last edited by Gossamer on Wed Jun 29, 2011 7:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

kdodds
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1. Anthropomorphizing is never helpful.
2. Jades do this when moved, even moreso when repotted.
3. Jades more or less thrive on neglect. Whatever you're trying to do to help, stop. Let the soil dry completely before watering again.
4. Misting isn't required, nor is a humidity tray. Either or both can be hurting, especially if your trying to compensate for something and overdoing.
5. What cardinal direction does the window most face? Sunny at the moment of the picture and what goes on in 24 hour period are WAY different.
6. And last, this looks more like the response of an unhealthy tree to some minor stress. The internodes are proportionately too long and the leaves are larger then they probably should be, as well as there being no interior foliage whatsoever, all symptoms of etioliation.

Gossamer
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Location: Rochester, New York, USA

kdodds wrote:1. Anthropomorphizing is never helpful.
My apologies for my ignorance in this regard. I had no idea it would be so detrimental to my post, and around my household we've been referring to it as another person. My post has now been edited to remove the offending language.
kdodds wrote:5. What cardinal direction does the window most face? Sunny at the moment of the picture and what goes on in 24 hour period are WAY different.
W by slightly NW. I'm here most of the day - I'm sure that spot is quite sunny.
kdodds wrote:6. And last, this looks more like the response of an unhealthy tree to some minor stress. The internodes are proportionately too long and the leaves are larger then they probably should be, as well as there being no interior foliage whatsoever, all symptoms of etioliation.
So what exactly should I do about this? Prior to a few weeks ago it wasn't in the sunniest of spots. When we moved it got placed in its new, sunny spot . . . so if you're saying that lack of sun hurt it, hopefully that is now resolved. Otherwise, as a total gardening novice, and bonsai novice, I'm unsure the ramifications of your above quoted conclusions or any additional steps I should be taking to rectify them, if any.

kdodds
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Well, that would explain both the condition and the response, moving from a shady spot to a sunny one. IF that is the case, it should pull through just fine as long as you keep up with what I said above about not fussing too much and only watering once dry.

FWIW, cuttings can be kept, dry, for quite some time, weeks, months, even a year, unrooted, and then potted and they'll root. That should kind of tell you something aboutt he amount of moisture Jades require. ;)

Gossamer
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kdodds wrote:FWIW, cuttings can be kept, dry, for quite some time, weeks, months, even a year, unrooted, and then potted and they'll root. That should kind of tell you something aboutt he amount of moisture Jades require. ;)
Wow! That is good to know and makes me feel better that it won't die on me now :D

I will lay off watering and see how it does. And maybe pick up some chopsticks for that soil testing method I've read about . . . unless that doesn't apply to my type of bonsai :oops:

Thanks!!

kdodds
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Oh, it does, sort of. Just make sure the chopstick/skewer/toothpick is completely dry. After a while, you'll grow accustomed to how much and when to water as you probably did where it was before, and you won't need the chopstick.

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Gossamer,

Hello and welcome to the forum. As important as how often you water it is how you water it. When you do water it, have you been watering it thoroughly or perhaps only providing a small amount of water? I ask because the shriveled leaves tend to indicate that you are not watering it adequately. When I water these I always saturate the soil.

Your plant looks to have been last re-potted some time ago since the soil seems somewhat compacted. When this occurs it can sometimes be difficult to water a plant to the core, which is always important.

This species, Portulacaria afra can indeed go for extended periods without water but whenever I see shriveled leaves I know I have waited too long. FWIW I find Portulacaria to be far more tolerant of frequent watering than full sized Jades, especially during their active growth period. This is, of course, relative. Both species are succulents and require less frequent watering that many others.

The chopstick method will not be as useful to you as it would be for other species that should not be allowed to become too dry. This method, while largely used to prevent over watering, also aids in preventing under watering. This is much less of a concern for Portulacaria since they are not nearly as sensitive to drying out. In other words, you won't need the chopstick to tell you when to water since allowing it to dry down well won't hurt it.
My apologies for my ignorance in this regard. I had no idea it would be so detrimental to my post, and around my household we've been referring to it as another person. My post has now been edited to remove the offending language.
It's not offensive or detrimental, just one of those things that beginners often do that more experienced growers generally don't. Don't give it a second thought.

Norm

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