What should I do with this jade plant?

barrettkApril 12, 2008

My boss brought her jade plant into the office to see if I could revive it. She says she has had it for many years in the same pot. It doesn't look very healthy and probably needs to be repotted. I also want to prune it because I don't like the leggy look. My question is, what would you do with this plant? Is it too much for it all at once to trim the roots, prune, and repot? See the pictures below and let me know what you think.




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What you have there is an "elephant bush," Portulaca afrans. It's a lot like a jade plant (Crassula sp.) but the leaves are smaller, stems are thinner and "bark" is a different color.

It probably does need repotting. I'd say the pruning is optional.

If it gets a bigger pot and a reasonable amount of sun, the stems could get longer, thicker and branch more, which might eliminate the leggy appearance.

If you prune, it will grow back much bushier. You could take the cuttings and start new plants easily.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2008 at 3:48PM
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rjj1(Norman OK Zone7)

Looks like a very neglected form of dwarf Crassula like Crosby's Compact to me. I tend to look at things a little differently than most so please don't take offense at my suggestion. I would take cuttings from the nicest tips and trash the rest.

For me there isn't enough time in the day to spend rescuing and babying stuff with little potential. That's what compost piles are for. But for every one with my attitude, there are 20 people that love that challenge and they don't really care how nice it looks down the road.

Good luck whatever you choose to do.


    Bookmark   April 12, 2008 at 4:05PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

I agree with Randy.
Take some healthy cuttings and start a few new plants.
I wouldn't plant the cuttings as far down in the pot as the original
potter did, either.

(Just a note: the "elephant bush" has rough bark, if I recall).

My sister has one of these smaller leafed, multi-trunked jades and
it's been a hassle. I certainly prefer single-trunk specimens.


    Bookmark   April 12, 2008 at 5:42PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Hi there,

This is NOT Portulacaria afra (leaf shape is wrong for that, & leaf size too variable from stem tip to stem tip, also their stems tend to be reddish, not so brown).

I don't know abt Crosby's Compact, but agree this is some badly grown Crassula.

Does the owner want it back? Can it be put outside? If so, I'd suggest cutting it back severely, that's the only way to get it full again, as those bare-legged stems will never leaf back out.

Personally, I agree w/ Rjj1, cut off the nicest stem tips, re-root them, re-pot & toss the rest, just not worth it unless you're able or willing to do a severe cut back. If you are, pls. do searches here on "Whacking Jades", lots of such posts w/ pix & info. Good luck w/ it.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2008 at 5:49PM
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It is beautiful too me. If it was mine, I would leave it alone and enjoy it as Jade Plant Tree.

Good luck and have fun with it.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2008 at 6:45PM
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It is Crassula Ovata, as Randy said. Jades will back bud but I don't know if they'll do it on such an unhealthy plant. A lot of what you do depends on the look you are trying to achieve. If you want a more "natural" in-the-wild kind of look, prune each branch back to about the point that two of the branches look to have been cut. You could go as far as an inch or two above the soil and it would live though. If you are wanting more of a one trunk tree look, separate it out, find the larges stem, prune it back to the point that it is not bending anymore and let it go. You could actually do both. Take one of the stems and plant it separately and pot up the rest together. Jades are very forgiving and will survive anything but being too wet! You can prune the roots, but it is not necessary unless you are wanting to put it in a bonsai pot. Get a terracotta pot. IMO they are better than plastic for succulents. Rinse most to all of the old soil off and inspect the roots to make sure they are okay. Prune at this time if you feel it necessary. Pot it up in a very free draining mix (1/2 commercial cactus mix and 1/2 pumice, high fired clay, or unpainted fish tank gravel). I have personally started using coir with my succulents instead of peat based soils because it is not so hydrophobic after it dries completely between waterings. Make sure your pot is not too big. The shorter ones made for azaleas, I think, work best. Wait one week before watering and place in a sunny window.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2008 at 11:13PM
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If this plant fell into my hands, I see myself separating everything into different pots - and then prune them back to the stronger parts.

If that's too many for you to care for, I see about two or three plants in there alone that'd be nice enough to still keep and prune before you dump the rest.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2008 at 8:08AM
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