I believe it is underutilised in our country, so I think we need to make more use of our indigenous species. Portulacaria pygmaea is a dwarf succulent type of shrub with small, thickly fleshy, grey green leaves and occurs on rocky hillsides in Namaqualand, South Africa and is also not suited to bonsai cultivation. Portulacaria afra (Porkbush) or “Spekboom“ as we all know it , is one of my favourite specimens to work with. In fact, it’s a good idea to let your plant dry out slightly between watering. Your bonsai mix depends on where you live, your climate, your watering routine etc. Even in their native habitat, the plants need to be very mature before they form flowers. But there is this confusion regarding identification. Tie down the tree or support it with a rock as the foliage is so heavy it will tumble the tree over and break all the new delicate fleshy roots. If you are building structure, wait until the “reddish“  stem hardens off to a “greyish“ colour before your cut back hard to the direction of the new branch. Smith (1966) there are two strains of the plant, the sour spekboom and the sweet spekboom, the latter practically eaten out of existence by all stock and wild antelope." With fertilizer they can push growth and if left in the sun, they need very little care. How to Grow Crassula Portulacaria. In this first part of a series on aquariums, the Dunhin’s introduce the reader to some of the decisions a hobbyist will need to make when getting started. Farmers will tell you that a small sprig of Porkbush steamed with a tomato bredie (stew) imparts a delicious flavour. If you notice that the leaves have developed red edges, you are doing okay with the amount of sunlight you are providing. As succulents, they don’t need to be watered very often. The existing leaves may even shrivel before new leaves appear. Instead, avoid watering for about one week. In fact, if you care for it right – or maybe even if you don’t – your bonsai can actually outlive you! Specific care guidelines for the Jade Bonsai Placement: The Jade is considered an indoor tree in most temperate zones, although it can be grown outdoors in full sun and high temperatures. 8 of my top tips are shared in this easy to follow blog post in the continuing series on growing great shohin pines from seed. Portulacaria afra or Porkbush is a popular succulent garden plant in use around the world and is often used for bonsai. Interesting Facts about Spekboom: In previously overgazed areas, Spekboom can be planted to compact the soil; this prevents it from being washed away. The Dwarf jade, otherwise known as ‘Spekboom’ in its native Africa, is a delightful succulent commonly grown as bonsai. ), abseiling skills and the proper equipment and technique. It is High in Basic Nutrients This plant is edible and high in nutrients, especially Vitamin C, and a perfect addition to a salad. The juice is also used as an antiseptic and as a treatment for sunburn. The foliage of Portulacaria Afra is used as food in some native cultures. Some spekboom trees can reach heights of 5 metres. I cover "cage" wiring to working the nebari. Spekboom do well when fertilized with organic fertilizers, or those organic pellets in abundance on the surface (or even inorganic, a few 2:3:2 granules in used tea bags just below the surface at the rim of the pot) will let them grow like crazy, so you have to keep up with pruning right through the active growing season, which here in George, Southern Cape, is almost throughout the year. Here’s what you need to know. Some will argue, no “shari” or “jin” as this will invite disease, but nature will prove us wrong again! Spekboom bonsai s an indigenous plant that is common in South Africa. If an overwatered tree is the problem, remove the tree from the pot and change the soil, as this invites fungal rot disease When you remove the saturated soil from the roots of your tree, be gentle as those roots are very delicate! Elephant Bush Succulents Elephant bush plant may get 6- to 20-feet (2-6 m.) tall in habitat where it is a favorite food of elephants. It’s tropical by nature, so can do well indoors as long as you give it enough light. Portulacaria afra plant prefers growing in dry, rocky slopes and outcrops. It has the same appearance as the unrelated jade plant. It’s the best variety to grow as bonsai, not just for its looks, but also for ease of care and maintenance. Remove large leaves to open the plant and allow light to reach inner stems where you want new, smaller leaves to grow. ), Hoffman’s (this is more cost-effective if you have a lot of succulents but you might have to add pumice or perlite), or Superfly Bonsai (another fast-draining 1 like Bonsai Jack which is great for indoor succulents). My plants. It can absorb a lot of atmospheric carbon and in recent years, people have started using it to prevent climate change. The Jade Bonsai is great for beginners because it is drought tolerant, cold tolerant, easy to style and very adaptive to different environments. Sometimes referred to as the “money plant”, South Africans have a saying: “as long as your Spekboom (Elephant Bush) grows and prospers, so will your finances.” Fortunately, this branching bonsai will thrive to a ripe old age with very little care. Take the usual care as for cuttings like described before, try to save those delicate roots and make clean cuts. Image caption: For example, fix the cuttings in an open plastic cooldrink bottle with riversand and fill up the top with 13 – 17mm stone. Spekboom Overview. Luckily, it’s a bonsai plant that has plenty of alternatives (elephant bush, porkbush, dwarf jade plant, and spekboom, in Afrikaans, just to name a few!). Because they’re so tough, spekboom are often used as firebreaks. A majority of the time, a bonsai pot is not needed until it is ready to be displayed as a bonsai. The same as when you want taper, to then scar the main stem or branch with a very sharp clean blade and let nature takes its course with creating a naturalistic looking scar. Portulacaria afra needs less frequent watering during its dormancy period, but because the leaves on Portulacaria afra are so thin, it can handle more frequent waterings than other succulents. It is a favorite snack for elephants, rhinos, tortoises, and goats. 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