Succulent plants thrive in arid climates, and can survive these harsh conditions by storing water in their thick, fleshy leaves and stems. Some species are popular amongst Bonsai enthusiasts as these grow well indoors.
Succulents are popular ornamental plants as they are incredibly strong and need very little care. Some of the most popular species used for Bonsai include succulent plants like the Jade (Portulacaria) and Desert rose (Adenium) - these are especially loved by beginners. Large stores like Walmart and Home Depot sell these Bonsai Succulents as they are easy and hence cheap to grow, and are easy to keep alive by their customers.
With nearly 10,000 Succulent species available to choose from, it can be hard to pick one that is especially suitable to be kept as a Bonsai. We recommend that you start out with a Jade or Desert rose, which are easy to find and care for. Some other popular plants include the Floss silk tree, Australian bottle tree and Crassula. It depends very much on where you live what succulents are available so it makes sense to try out what is available near you. Popular styles in which Succulent Bonsai trees are shaped include the broom style and slanting or cascading styles.
Specific care guidelines for Succulent Bonsai
Placement: Succulents are considered indoor plants in most temperate zones, although they can be grown outdoors in full sun and high temperatures. Do not let temperatures drop below 40 °F (5 °C). They require substantial light, full sun if possible, especially when kept indoors.
Watering: Bonsai succulents can hold large amounts of water inside their leaves, so water sparsely and allow the plant to dry out a little between watering. If the tree is kept relatively cold during winter months, watering can be done as seldom as once every three weeks. Monitor your tree closely and water the moment the soil dries out slightly. The Jade Bonsai is not as particular about over-watering as most other succulents.
Fertilizing: Fertilize your succulents once a month, spring through autumn, during the growth season. Any normal fertilizer, as described in our fertilize section, should be fine.
Pruning and wiring: Succulent plants retain water in their trunk and branches. The water retention makes the tree limbs heavy which naturally bends the trunk and branches. They respond very well to pruning, and you should prune it regularly to force it to grow branches, especially in the lower part of the trunk. Do not use cut-paste on Jade trees and most succulent Bonsai trees. The nature of its trunk and branches make it very susceptible to rotting. The bark is very soft, so be cautious when wiring. If you do wire a succulent, make sure to monitor it closely as the wire will cut into the bark quickly.
Repotting: Repotting succulent plants should be done every-other-year in spring. Be sure to use a well-draining soil mixture and don't water the soil for about a week after repotting. This allows the cut or damaged roots to dry and callous. Watering after repotting leads to root rot, which can severely damage your jade tree.
Propagation: Jade trees and most succulents are particularly easy to propagate using cuttings. This should be done during the summer months.
Pests and diseases: Succulent Bonsai trees are strong when they are watered correctly and receive sufficient sunlight. If taken care of, you should not experience any issues with its health.
For more detailed information on these techniques, try our Bonsai tree care section.
This plant is a Jade Bonsai (one of the most popular species of Succulent Bonsai).