Portulacaria Afra Bonsai Progression (2018 – Now)

This is my Portulacaria Afra that I started from a cutting. I am trying to grow as bonsai and I will be going through its progression below.

It is a fast grower and it has come a long way, but there is always more work to be done.

If you want to watch it in video format, you can watch the YouTube playlist below. The videos show the progression every month throughout the year, sort of like a time lapse.

Just be aware some of my earlier videos are not the best quality, but just like my trees, the quality slowly improves over time, so stick with them and they both get a little better towards the end.

Portulacaria afra is a small evergreen shrub from South Africa. It is actually a succulent and looks like a smaller version of a jade, so it is often called a dwarf jade. You can read more about their suitability in Is Portulacaria Afra A Good Tree For Bonsai?

Page Contents

2018

I was on holiday in the Canary Islands at the start of 2018 and walked past a large portulacaria afra bush.

I had wanted this species in my collection for some time, but had never seen it available in nurseries, so I snapped a branch off to try and root it.

Well, it was more of a twig to be honest, but I took it home and planted it up. This was the same holiday where I got my jade leaf that I’ve also been growing.

I planted it up and initially the leaves started to fall off. I wasn’t very hopeful that it would survive, but it eventually rooted and then started growing.

It was left alone for the rest of the year so that it could establish itself and get some vigour.

2019

It had grown very well so I pruned it back at the start of 2019.

I then let it grow out and pruned it back again once it got too long.

I also repotted it in early summer.

Once it had recovered I then give it a light prune towards the end of summer and it was then just left to grow for the rest of the year.

2020

2020 started by pruning the tree in early spring.

In early summer I wanted to sort out the branch structure. There were a lot of T- branches and just badly places branches. I defoliated the tree so I could see exactly what was going on. I then made some hard cuts, making the structure a lot better. It was kind of drastic, but it was for the long term benefit of the tree.

After this it grew out well, so I pruned it back in the summer.

It then exploded with growth and had to be pruned back again at the end of summer.

It was then left to grow out and I pruned it back at the end of the year as it was growing too crazily.

2021

It didn’t need pruned at the start of 2021, as I did it at the end of the previous year, but I did repot the tree in spring.

It grew well and needed pruned back in spring. After this it went crazy, so I had to prune again at the end of spring.

By early summer it needed another prune.

This tree is a very fast grower and it needed another prune in the middle of summer, but I left it for another month, by which point it had gotten really out of hand.

I pruned it, but it just bounced right back. I just left it and it got majorly out of control by the end of the year.

2022

At the start of 2022 I pruned it back to try and get it back under control.

I then repotted the tree in spring and since then it has been left to grow out and recover.

and that is where we are with this tree.

The plan going forwards is more of the same. I am just going to keep pruning it and maybe this time I won’t let it get so out of control.

If you also have a Portulacaria Afra and are wondering how I look after it, you can read my Portulacaria Afra Bonsai Care Guide.