tiffanylam38
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Nearly leafless jade bonsai tree

Hello!!

I fear over watering so I haven't watered my jade bonsai for a long time, especially since winter is here. However, I noticed that the leaves have been dropping like crazy. I watered it last week but leaves are still dropping so I watered it again. it now has 2 leaves, literally (it probably had around 30 leaves at its best it was never really leafy). I find it weird that the branches change colour, what does that mean?

Should I fertilize it?

It's the first winter since I've had it. Right now it hasn't gotten as much sun, but now I've placed it under a lamp.

What else should I do?

Thanks so much :(
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Gnome
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Re: Nearly leafless jade bonsai tree

tiffanylam38,

Hello and welcome. Your plant is not the actual jade that most know although one of its common names is "Baby Jade". For future reference, it is actually a Portulacaria, afra. also known as Elephant's food/bush or Spekboom. I grow this species and have found them to be very forgiving, so yours may very well recover.

Before I offer any cultural advice a few questions are in order. Are the pebbles on top the remnants of a glued on mass or are they loose? Please describe your watering method in more detail.

Your photos are rather blurry. Can you describe the soil, is it loose and gritty or dense and peaty?

What kind of light are you? How close to the light is the plant placed? How long have you been using it?

Norm

tiffanylam38
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Re: Nearly leafless jade bonsai tree

Hi Gnome,

Thank your for your reply, i really appreciate it.

The pebbles are not glued.

When i find that the plant is drying (leaves are wrinkled) I water it. in the summer that would be about every 3-4 weeks. in the winter it has been over a month. When I do water it, I add distilled water until the water starts to drain at the bottom. I let that water drain over the sink.

The soil is peaty and very fine. The soil seems packed down.

It has been in the same spot for a year. It is very close to a wall that has 3 south facing windows. I have now also given it a lamp in the last few days, which is about 30 cm away.

Can a tree come back with no leaves? hahah

Thanks
Tiffany

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Re: Nearly leafless jade bonsai tree

tiffanylam38,

Yes it can recover from a leafless state. These plants can be pruned severely and will respond well if in good health. South facing windows are good. What type of light are you using, incandescent, fluorescent? How close is the light?

Dense peaty soil is not the best choice. A re-potting with free draining soil is in order, begin to research this. Look in our learning library for info about bonsai soil.

I think that you are watering too infrequently. This species seems to like more water (frequency not actual quantity, which should always be copious) than its full sized relative. I suspect that the dense soil is not being thoroughly saturated. Try soaking the pot to its rim for 10 min or so this will ensure that all the soil is watered properly after that, allow it some time to recover. Only do this once for now until you understand the plant better.

In the future as long as the soil dries down don't wait so long to water again. If the leaves shrivel you have waited too long.

Norm

tiffanylam38
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Re: Nearly leafless jade bonsai tree

Hi norm,

I will water it and look into the repotting.

Its a fluorescent light about 30 cm away from it. Its not directly on the plant. Is that okay?

Tiffany

tiffanylam38
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Re: Nearly leafless jade bonsai tree

Also, why is fertilizing a stressed plant bad?

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Nearly leafless jade bonsai tree

because it is another stress; it's forcing the plant to grow and get leafy, when it may need to rest and recuperate, focus on growing roots or whatever.
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Re: Nearly leafless jade bonsai tree

tiffanylam38,

You should find this useful:

https://www.evergreengardenworks.com/fertiliz.htm

Norm

tiffanylam38
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Re: Nearly leafless jade bonsai tree

Norm,

Will pruning some branches be helpful?

Tiffany

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Re: Nearly leafless jade bonsai tree

Tiffany,

Although this species tolerates pruning well, I think I would leave things as they are for now. Once you see some some new growth you will be better able to decide where to prune.

Norm

tiffanylam38
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Re: Nearly leafless jade bonsai tree

Hi gnome,

I wish i had good news by now my bonsai tree seems like its shrivelling, especially the outer branches. there are no leaves left. any other radical suggestiosn ?

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Nearly leafless jade bonsai tree

so what have you tried since we last heard from you? Did you repot it in to good free draining bonsai soil? How have you been watering?

But unfortunately, shriveling is a very bad sign. You could try pruning branches off behind where it is shriveled, but I'm thinking it may just need a decent burial and start fresh with a new one, know that you know a little more. Spring would be a better time to start with a new one, rather than trying to start by figuring out how to keep it alive through the winter.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

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Re: Nearly leafless jade bonsai tree

tiffanylam38,

As long as the trunk/stem is still in good condition do not give up. As one of the common names implies Elephants browse on this species and they are able to recover from defoliation.

You can trim the shriveled portions away though. Cut to just beyond a node, nodes are the lines on the stems. Do not keep it soggy but do not allow it to remain dry for extended periods either. Monitor the soil with a kitchen skewer as described in the learning library.



Norm

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Re: Nearly leafless jade bonsai tree

Is the base still firm? If the branches are shriveling you may not have much choice. I would take it out and inspect the roots for rot. Jade will rot or dry rot from over or under watering. If the roots have rotted, but you still have firm flesh on any branch you may be able to save a cutting.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

tiffanylam38
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Re: Nearly leafless jade bonsai tree

Hi Rainbowgardener,

I've repotted with cactus soil. the roots seemed fine to me, although the roots didnt fill up the whole pot (the root ball thing was about 10 cm long and 4-5 cm deep). I didnt cut any roots off.

i water about every 10 days now.

tiffanylam38
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Re: Nearly leafless jade bonsai tree

Hi!

I've repotted it in cactus soil and have watered it more regularily.

I found it weird that the root ball was smaller in comparison to the pot.

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Re: Nearly leafless jade bonsai tree

tiffanylam38,

Thanks for the update. Now that you have made this effort don't give up too easily, these plants are very resilient. Let us know how it goes.

Norm

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