bonsainewbie1
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Jade Bonsai Seems to be Dying

Hi everyone! I've never had a bonsai tree before, and I got a jade bonsai about 2 months ago. Since then, it seems to have been in steady decline, with a lot of leaves falling off. We've lost a good part of the leaves now, and recently small branches have started to fall off as well. It came with a tag that said to water it every 5-7 days. I tried to do some research online and found that overwatering is a typical problem, so I've been watering about every 7-8 days. When I water, I usually do it until there's a bit of water dripping out into the drip tray and then stop.

We have it right in the window, but I'm afraid the lighting's pretty poor because we have privacy curtains. So about a month and a half ago I got this little plant light http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00005 ... ge_o01_s00 for it, which I leave on for about 8 hours or so every day (sometimes longer). The light doesn't seem to have made a difference.

I know that something's wrong, but I can't tell if it might be root rot or if I'm underwatering it. The soil tends to seem really dry to me when I stick my finger in, but I've read that root rot is a big issue for these plants. I was going to repot it and check for root rot, but I couldn't find the right kind of potting soil locally. I've never done much gardening, so I'm a bit wary of repotting it if I don't have to, just in case I hurt the plant more than I help it.

Based on the pictures below, does anyone here have an opinion on whether underwatering or overwatering could be my issue? Or maybe something else entirely? I'm a bit lost, but I really don't want to lose my first bonsai!
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tomc
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Re: Jade Bonsai Seems to be Dying

First that is no bonsai. Jade are succulents. Second it is a tender plant that needs full sun. Lastly if you want to know when to water, you need to use a probe and check the probe for dampness.

Stick in a chop-stick. Pull it out. If dry to touch, its time to water. If damp, its not. I will wager on late summer days you are watering (liberally) more like every third day. But science and not schedule is going to need to rule here. Spring-summer-fall-or-winter you will need to touch and pick up your tree every day.

In the summer light is more virtacle and your window-sill tree is being starved for the light it needs. In winter a window sill will get more light, but not enough hours.
Think like a tree
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bonsainewbie1
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Re: Jade Bonsai Seems to be Dying

Thank you for the advice! I'll try the chopstick technique and water it more often. Hopefully that will turn things around!

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Jade Bonsai Seems to be Dying

I expect you were under watering. When you say you were watering until a bit of water dripped out, that doesn't sound right to me. Generally for bonsai, when you water, you want to water thoroughly. That means until water is running freely from the drain holes. Then don't water again until it needs it (per chopstick test).

Tom means it is not a classical bonsai, which would only be trees and maybe only certain trees. But many other plants can be treated as bonsai - maintained in miniature form in small pots. Bonsai-style has been done with ivy, poison ivy, other vines, jade plants, rosemary and thyme, and many other species.
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bonsainewbie1
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Re: Jade Bonsai Seems to be Dying

Thank you - I'll try to water the soil a bit more thoroughly each time I water it as well. And thank you for the clarification about what bonsai means too.

tomc
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Re: Jade Bonsai Seems to be Dying

The two characters used as "bonsai (bone-sigh) are tree and tray.

I like succulents and have a christmas cactus of a friend of mine. I styled it into vase shape so it sorta-kinda looks elm shaped. It hides out on the indoors bench with bonsai through the winter.
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Gnome
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Re: Jade Bonsai Seems to be Dying

bonsainewbie1,
We have it right in the window, but I'm afraid the lighting's pretty poor because we have privacy curtains.
This is your problem, not watering. These plants, Portulacaria, are remarkably adaptable in that area.

I've been growing these for a while now and they only really seem to thrive outside. When I bring them in for the fall they look great and stay pretty nice for some time. By the time spring rolls around they are rather less healthy.

Indoors is not ideal for any plant, windows reduce light and curtains are certainly not appropriate.

bonsainewbie1
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Re: Jade Bonsai Seems to be Dying

Unfortunately we don't have a yard, but we do have a plant light right over it that I keep turned on for most of the time it's light outside. I don't know if you have any experience using lights, but I'm hoping that it's supplementing what comes in through the window.

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