Portulacaria Bonsai Trees

The Portulacaria is a member of the Jade family. A succulent from South Africa. The Portularcaria stores water in its trunk and branches. In its natural environment it forms bushes and tree up to 3 meters tall.

As a bonsai Portularcaria are an easy to keep indoor bonsai. Unlike all other bonsai, they do not require regular watering. Once a fortnight or less it quite typical, so for busy or forgetful people, this is a good choice!


Site indoors in full sun. The tree can also be kept outdoors in summer if you wish. Frost and freezing temperatures will kill it. A bright windowsill is a good position.


It is quite easy to over-water and thus damage this tree by rotting the roots. Fortunately the tree will tell you when it is ready to be watered – hold off watering until the leaves start to wrinkle slightly through dehydration. Frequently this week take a couple of weeks between watering.


The fleshy trunk and branches  do not wire well. It has a tendency to cut into the flesh easily. Shaping but pruning alone is best. Cut new shoots back to one or two sets of leaves after allowing the shoot to grow a couple of inches. The tree is fairly fast growing so prune frequently.


Repot every couple of years. Repot in spring. Use a free-draining soil mix such as the mix used on pines and junipers, though any general bonsai soil mix is also fine. Like most bonsai growers, I normally wire the rootball of my trees into the pot when repotting. The difficulty with Portularcaria is that the wires can cut right through the roots when you use pliers to tighten them, so care is required to avoid this. I have found that using some potting mesh is beneficial in creating a barrier between the roots and the wire.


As its kept as an indoor bonsai, we tend to use a liquid bonsai fertiliser to feed Portularcaria. Feed from spring to autumn. A granular feed would also be suitable.


Informal upright, Semi-Cascade, cascade and groups all lend themselves well.