Within the world of bonsai, there are many specimens that are not known, and yet they are perfect for beginners (even more than the ones you find in cheap stores). One of them is the Portulacaria afra bonsai, do you know it?
We talk about how it is, its characteristics and the care it needs. This way you will see how easy it would be to have this bonsai (both inside and outside the house).
And Portulacaria afra is a small tree, or also considered a shrub, that can grow up to 3 meters. It has a very soft and fleshy wood, with a trunk that is initially green and almost as if it were soft, but as it ages, it turns between brown and red.
It is also called Dwarf jade, elephant bush, African porcelain or bonsai of abundance. This last qualifier is because it is said that if you have one then this tree will attract wealth and fortune to the house, which is why it is one of the most appreciated.
It is native to South Africa and desert areas, with leaves that simulate small coins. It usually does not flower, unless at some point it has experienced drought (yes, quite the opposite of other bonsai). These usually come out in autumn and are white or pale pink.
Portulacaria afra bonsai care
Now that you know a little more about this species, we can tell you about the care it has. First of all, we must tell you that it is a very easy bonsai to take care of, and very difficult to lose. In fact, it can give you the feeling that you are taking care of a succulent, and we already know how easy it is to take care of these. Of course, it has some peculiarities that must be taken into account.
Portulacaria afra bonsai it adapts both to the exterior (its ideal) and to the interior. Outside it likes full sun, even with very high temperatures, because it enjoys them. The frosts pass them regularly, but even so it supports them well.
In the case of having it indoors, it is convenient that you put it in a very bright place and, if possible, away from the heating.
We recommend that you turn it from time to time so that all parts of the bonsai can receive the light. Also because that way you make sure that it doesn’t grow faster on one side and not on the other (to shape it, it’s important to do this).
Transplant and land
Portulacaria afra bonsai will need a transplant every two years. It has to be done in spring and it is necessary that the land you use is a soil with nutrients mixed with drainage. In this way you will prevent accumulations of water from forming inside that can rot its roots.
When the transplant is done, you have to check the roots well and cut those that look rotten, black or in poor condition. After placing it in the new pot it is important not to water it. Unlike other plants, the Portulacaria afra bonsai does not need to be watered as soon as it is changed from a pot, but it is convenient to leave it like this for a week so that the roots settle and, if you have cut any, they heal faster.
This is the important part of Portulacaria afra bonsai care. And where else can you fail? To begin with, it is a tree that It shouldn’t have a saucer of water underneath, not even so you can drink a little if you’re hot.
The leaves of this bonsai holds a certain amount of waterin such a way that it will not suffer from drought and, even so, it is convenient that, between the irrigations, it passes through it (it is prepared for it without dying).
To give you an idea: in winter you hardly have to water it (perhaps once every 3-4 weeks); while in summer it is better to wait several days (and see that the land is dry) to water it.
Otherwise, you may face root rot, the only problem that could cause you to lose this bonsai.
If you want it to flower, then in the fall you should leave it for 1-2 weeks without watering. But be careful, because we are talking about subjecting this small tree to hydric stress that can go well or, if it was weakened, end it. After those days, you should start watering moderately at first, and then more abundantly.
Note that if you have transplanted it in spring, it would not be convenient to pay it at least until the following spring. The reason is because by changing the soil you are already providing it with those nutrients that the fertilizer has, and if you give it too much you can cause it to become stressed (greater growth, more intensity and it wears out).
So, if you haven’t transplanted it, you can throw it fertilizer once a month from spring to autumn. In winter he always rests.
The pruning of this bonsai is very easy and you need it because we are talking about a fast-growing specimen, so you will have to cut the branches so that it has a tree shape (especially the lower part of the trunk).
Of course, even cutting, you should not use healing paste because it will cause that area to rot. It is better to keep an eye on it and keep it well cared for with the “air” wound. It won’t close it at all.
Do you want to reproduce your Portulacaria afra bonsai? Well, you know that you can do it very, very easily. the only thing you need is cut some cuttings in the summer for it.
Once you have them, you should plant them in a pot with slightly moist soil and wait for them to develop roots. Normally all the cuttings go through, and you will have a new bonsai to take care of.
How much does a bonsai of this species cost?
We are not going to tell you that you are going to find Portulacaria afra bonsai at 5,7, 8 or 10 euros because it is not true. But yeah you can find them between 30 and 50 euros. We know that it is a more important expense, but also that it is a much easier species to care for than the ones you find for those low prices (and more complicated for it to die). So it’s worth it.
Of course, you have to go to specialized bonsai nurseries or online bonsai stores, which is where you can find this specimen much more easily.