image of well watered dwarf jade in hypertufa

At It Again – My Portulacaria Afra Bonsai Pruning

Portulacaria afra is such a great succulent to grow. It is fast-growing, forgiving of neglect, simple to plant. What more could I ask of a succulent? Since it is called Elephant Bush as a common name, no wonder it grows fast. After all, when it is munched on by elephants and just grows back again quickly, we can expect a lot from our little plants.

image of lady in red shirt with hypertufa planter and P afra plant

Most recently I have been growing my Elephant Food plant in a glass bowl so that it could cascade down the sides and create a great hanging plant. Well, as I am always wanting to change things, now I have had my cascade, I want to prune it into a small bonsai!

image of portulacaria after being planted into bowl

This particular plant has had an infestation of mealybugs previously but I was able to save her and get rid of them all. If you haven’t seen that post, here is a link to it and to the video that shows you what I did to get rid of those “cottony bugs.”

Portulacaria afra Bonsai Pruning

Since this particular succulent plant grows so quickly, it adapts itself well to trying out a bonsai-inspired shape. I would really like to try and prune it so that the outer branches grow into “pads” or groupings of sprouted leaves that form a level growing from the side of the main trunk. The bigger the trunk, the better, but that will take some time.

image of bonsai labeled as pads on the tree

I think I have a way to go on this one. Here is what my final product looked like after settling in her new hypertufa pot. Deeper than the usual bonsai pot, but I want her to “stretch her legs” a bit before a final cutting frenzy…I mean artistic attempt at pruning.

This stage of my pruned bonsai of P. afra

As you see in the video, I started out with a pretty large plant, but removed all the branches that I had asked to cascade. They cascaded and now I have changed my mind and want a bonsai shape out of it.  What can I say? I am a Gemini and I change my mind.

Planting Portulacaria Afra in Hypertufa - Pruning It Into A Bonsai (Amateur Style)

This hypertufa planter will make a great bonsai dish temporarily while I allow it to grow quickly, meanwhile snipping all the leaf buds off the main stems growing out to the sides. I am hoping to strengthen them to support a good branch with tiny leaves. If the branching goes downward, I will cut them off, but the leaves growing upward, I will just tip off the ends.

image of square hypertufa planter

I do have a lot of branches left over from my pruning…a LOT! With all these leftovers, I think I will bundle them and try sprouting a new short bonsai bundle in another hypertufa. If they root, I will show you those. Or make another video about it.

A few on you have asked about my Bonsai Scissors, so here is an affiliate link for a pair like these if you are interested.

image of leftover branches from P afra

Well, thanks for visiting and reading. Be sure to watch the video and PIN the image. I am grateful for all of my faithful readers. See you next video and post.

image upclose of portulacaria afra leaves

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