Portulacaria Afra

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Portulacaria Afra

Post  bonsaidude978 on Thu Jun 02, 2011 3:05 am

I am extremely new to bonsai, just today I realized that I was doing it completely wrong. I was buying pre-bonsai and potting it into bonsai pots. WRONG!

Anyway, I joined this forum in hopes that I would learn and hopefully give back to this community.
Right now I have a few pre-bonsai in small nursery pots that they came in, and a few that I re-potted (as a neophyte) into expensive clay bonsai pots.

The first one that I will show you is this portulacaria afra. (Deathly)
I had it shipped to the northeast from Wigert's in Ft. Meyers and it has lost all its leave, I believe due to repot and premature root prune. The leaves that are left are mini and weak. The stems are wrinkled, but when I cut into the plant its fresh green all the way through.








Any hope for this thing?

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Re: Portulacaria Afra

Post  DreadyKGB on Thu Jun 02, 2011 5:19 am

Looks rough but can probably be saved. I would water very sparingly letting the pot almost completely dry. Also it should go outside as the weather warms with night 50f or above. Slowly adjust it into full sun exposure. Interestingly I have found that these plants like decent humidity but dryish roots. It can be watered more when it is leafed out and growing well.

Todd

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Re: Portulacaria Afra

Post  bonsaidude978 on Thu Jun 02, 2011 5:30 am

I have been keeping it outside. Also keeping it out of the rain. My yard doesn't get full sun only partial throughout the day. hope this works out.

thanks todd

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Re: Portulacaria Afra

Post  DreadyKGB on Thu Jun 02, 2011 5:45 am

I would also recommend looking into better species of trees for the northeast. Portulacaria afra will grow indoors through the winter but it will struggle. Since you have outdoor space look around local nurseries for hardy species that stay outdoors year round. Don't spend money on "pre-bonsai" until you know exactly what you are looking for and how to care for it. Start out using less expensive nursery stock until you are comfortable with the horticultural side of bonsai, this goes for putting trees into bonsai pots as well. Leave nice pots for later. Maybe join a bonsai club if there is one nearby.

Todd

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Portulacaria afra

Post  bonsaisr on Thu Jun 02, 2011 3:55 pm

This species is often recommended for "indoor bonsai," but I have found it to be very unsuitable for my conditions, either indoors or outdoors. Leave it in Florida. No
Iris

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Re: Portulacaria Afra

Post  DreadyKGB on Thu Jun 02, 2011 8:40 pm

I agree with you on that Iris, I have had poor results with it as well.

Todd

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Re: Portulacaria Afra

Post  bonsaidude978 on Fri Jun 03, 2011 12:24 am

Yeah this purchase was made because I was "in Rome" and did nit realize that it wasnt going to do well. Most of my other bonsai are outdoor. I will post pics when i Get around to it.

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Re: Portulacaria Afra

Post  bonsaidude978 on Fri Jun 03, 2011 11:42 pm

Japanese maple





Jbp





Satsuki azalea




Ficus neriifolia '89






I think I'm going to plant the jbp the jm and azalea in some larger buckets or the ground.
Here's a question, what is the difference between fert for tropical bonsai and feet for decidious tree? I've been using mostly slow release granular. Doing minor pruning of shoots and candles seems to be fine during the growing season. I just hope I don't kill them.
scratch

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Portulacaria afra

Post  bonsaisr on Sat Jun 04, 2011 1:59 am

The Japanese maple could be planted in a large shallow training pot for a coupe of years. But you have to do some constant pruning & pinching to get some compact growth. The pine must grow in the ground for quite a few years. Feed it like mad.
The correct name for your Ficus '89' is Ficus salicaria.
There is no difference in nutrition requirements between tropical and temperate plants. The only difference is that the tropicals require feeding all year round. Some people advocate feeding needle conifers 0-10-10 during May & June to make the needles shorter.
Iris

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Re: Portulacaria Afra

Post  Ravi Kiran on Sat Jun 04, 2011 6:40 am

I think you are on the right track in terms of saving the Portulacaria Afra or Jade as we call it here in India. Its a very tropical tree so I am not too sure of its suitability in your local climactic conditions like Iris has said. Full sunshine(never indoors) and sparse watering besides praying is all that you can do. All the best. The JM and JBP have years to go before being called bonsai and yes you are on the right track again. Dunk them into growth pots and forget them for the next 3-4 years. If you can plant them into the ground it'd be even better and faster. All the best.

Ravi

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Re: Portulacaria Afra

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Sat Jun 04, 2011 11:38 am

On the '89' remove all the leaves so you can see the structure, then start removing branches. You have way too many and some growing in places and directions that will lead to design problems later. This is one of the strongest growing tree for bonsai.

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Re: Portulacaria Afra

Post  bonsaidude978 on Sun Jun 05, 2011 12:03 am

Just defoliated the ficus.

I'm going to take a look at some designs on the web and see what I can do with my tree.

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Re: Portulacaria Afra

Post  LSBonsai on Sun Jun 05, 2011 3:49 am

bonsaisr wrote:This species is often recommended for "indoor bonsai," but I have found it to be very unsuitable for my conditions, either indoors or outdoors. Leave it in Florida. No
Iris
Actually I have to disagree here. I live in a similar climate to upstate NY (zone 6) and I find portulacaria to be the easiest tropical to deal with. It is extremely tolerant of dry, low-light winter conditions. Note the key word here is tolerant. It definately does not thrive, but it stays looking pretty all winter long without any supplemental lighting, and grows slowly but steadily. The fact that it prefers dry climates makes it do better than most tropicals indoors over winter.

Keep in mind I provide absolutely no special conditions to any tropicals I keep. Which is why I have killed nearly all of them except this portulacaria. Think of it as a cruel selection process Smile

Bonsaidude978 - don't be discouraged. Here is what works for my portulacaria in a temperate climate, based on 4 years of care (modified from a previous post):

Winter care
  • leave it in front of a window. Direct sun is nice, but not necessary. Mine stays in a north-west facing window and gets max 1-2 hrs direct sun all winter. Avoid cold window sills.

  • Don't be surprised if it drops lots of its interior leaves. New ones might grow back, depending on how much light it is and how warm the window is.

  • MOST IMPORTANT TIP NEVER water it until it is bone-dry. I don't just mean dry soil. These plants store huge amounts of water in the trunk and leaves. Let this get used up. Wait until the leaves are deflated and wrinked. Then give it a good soak. This might mean watering it once a month or even less frequently. Remember, this is more of a cactus than a tree. If you overwater, the roots will never establish and it might drop leaves. I have a feeling your tree was overwatered. If there is any moisture left in that soil, don't water. Just let it sit in the sun and it just might pop back.

  • Fertilize every watering, full strength.

  • If you are less lazy than me and want to put a fluorescent light overhead, it will grow much much better over the winter


Summer Care
  • Move it outside as soon as night temps are staying above 10 degrees Celsius and put it right in full sun. It might take it a month or more to adjust and start growing. I find if it got any direct sun over the winter, it won't drop its leaves.

  • You should rarely have to water it over the growing season, assuming it rains once every couple of weeks in your area. The only time I water is to fertilize, since I use synthetic liquid ferts

  • If there is a long spell of rain, bring it indoors or put it under an overhang. It doesn't like being soaked.

  • Given the above, a very coarse, soil-less mix is helpful since it dries out faster. I use a mix of lava rock/haydite... no organics

  • This species is very apically dominant so keep the apex thin if you are trying to develop low branches


Here is mine, it still has a long way to go. You can see that it is a bit thin, as it was only recently moved outside when this pic was taken, and still has not started to really grow. When I bring it back inside in the fall, it will be nice and dense, and will be wired and pruned.

I am not saying this is a great species for temperate climates - in fact, I don't think any tropicals are worth the hassle up here. This is one of only two tropicals I have... just enough to give me something to play with over the winter.

Development will take forever but again, its just something to play with.

All that said... native plants are always the best way to go!


And to give you an idea of just how slow this species is up here, here is a pic from the first day I got this tree and cut it back, about 4 years ago. The same amount of development could probably be done in about 3 months in florida Sad


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planted jbp, leaf pruned '89

Post  bonsaidude978 on Sun Jun 05, 2011 8:29 pm

Leaf pruned the ficus




Ground planted jbp






I really like your portulacaria. The trunk looks really nice.

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Re: Portulacaria Afra

Post  bonsaidude978 on Mon Jun 06, 2011 7:55 am

I am truly appreciative to all that have helped me. I have read many books and watched a lot of youtube videos. Becoming part of this club has made me realize how much we all can learn from plants and most certainly bonsai. The pleasure i feel from working with people and with the plants has made me feel somewhat addicted.

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Potulacaria afra & Friends

Post  bonsaisr on Mon Jun 06, 2011 3:21 pm

Very interesting. Doubtless I was overwatering my Portulacaria, but with our sometimes rainy summers, I couldn't be bringing it in & out.
Follow Billy's advice about the Ficus. Thin out those branches & bring more order to the chaos.
Iris

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Re: Portulacaria Afra

Post  bonsaidude978 on Mon Jun 06, 2011 8:30 pm

Thinned the branches on the ficus


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Potulacaria afra & Friends

Post  bonsaisr on Tue Jun 07, 2011 3:16 am

Much better. I would reduce that big branch on the left, maybe just leave the horizontal part, otherwise it might get too heavy. You need to cut those pruning scars flush with the trunk or a little concave. Get yourself a concave pruner. Pruning branches on a bonsai is not the same as pruning on a standard tree, where you leave the branch collar.
Iris

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Re: Portulacaria Afra

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