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The bacon tree (Portulacaria afra) is sometimes also referred to as the jade tree or elephant tree and is originally native to South Africa. The plant, which looks quite similar to the money tree, is very suitable for cultivation as a bonsai for various reasons.

The bacon tree can be trained as a bonsai

Proper care for the bacon tree

The bacon tree is generally considered to be extremely robust and forgives even minor care mistakes. As a succulent plant, it doesn't need to be watered excessively either. The perfect location for the bacon tree should meet the following requirements:

  • bright and sunny
  • permeable substrate in the pot (otherwise problems with waterlogging can occur)
  • Temperatures between 8 and 22 degrees Celsius

The bacon tree can also be moved outside in summer. However, if it comes from a location without direct sunlight in the house, it should first get used to the sunlight slowly. The bacon tree can otherwise be prone to “sunburn”. As soon as the soil in the pot has dried completely, the bacon tree can be watered extensively with a saucer until no more water runs out of the pot. Ideally, you should wait until the pot is relatively dry again before watering.

Form a bacon tree into a bonsai yourself

Since the bacon tree grows relatively squat and compact by itself, it offers optimal conditions for growing in bonsai form at a young age. Between May and September, the bacon tree can be pruned very easily and thus shaped. To perfect the typical bonsai look, you can cut out inward and transverse branches to gradually achieve one of the following bonsai shapes:

  • "Forests" of several plants
  • tree shape
  • semi-cascade
  • cascade

Since the branches and trunk of the bacon tree are rather thick and soft due to the water storage in the plant, wiring is usually not necessary. Should it be necessary, the branches of a bacon tree bonsai can be tied down with wires.

Propagate the bacon tree for bonsai breeding yourself

When pruning a bacon tree into a bonsai, there are regularly a few branches that can be easily used for propagation. First let the cuttings dry out for about two days before sticking them in cactus soil and rooting them in a warm and bright place out of direct sunlight.


Use a mineral substrate to prevent dangerous waterlogging in the bacon tree bonsai pot.

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