How to prune a jade plant

green_claws(7, 8)June 19, 2008

I've seen many postings on how to prune jade plants but they all seem to be for larger, well established plants. The plant I have is about 9 months old and it would be laughable to even compare it to a tree or bush. I need detailed instructions on where to trim it. For example, above the lowest leaf, or below the topmost leaf? right on the edge of the leaf growth or more in the middle of the stem?)

Here is a picture of my plant. I want to encourage a wider, stronger trunk and a more "tree-like" appearance with more branches.

also, can anyone tell me why my leaves are more pointed and not as thick as the other plants on here? i water my plant about once a week which i now realize is waayyy too often. is that why the leaves aren't storing as much water?

As a side note, can anyone identify this plant for me? I got it at wal-mart for like 50 cents when it was 3-4 leaves big.

Oh, this is my first post on the forum by the way! Hello, everyone =]

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If you are serious about wanting a more tree like appearance, you have to provide this plant with way more light. Over the course of three weeks or so, gradually introduce it to more and more light. Ultimately it should be getting full sun for a minimum of half a day, but would even be better all day. You plant is currently etiolated (severely lacking light) which is why it looks so stretched out and the leaves are elongated. Pruning it now will only result in more of the same, unhealthy growth. The other thing the plant needs to get thicker stems is time. Not a year, not two years, but many years. In maybe five years you could expect to have a plant that doesn't look like a cutting anymore, assuming you start giving it an appropriate amount of light. When properly grown, the stems will be much thicker and the plant will generally look much more substantial.

Despite the fact I've recommended against pruning at this point, no one ever wants to do things the patient way, so here are some quick tips about pruning Jades.

  • Always prune just above a leaf node. The stem will die back to the node, so there is no reason to leave any more than necessary.
  • Jades will almost always branch at the node you just pruned above. So, if you want it to branch in a particular spot, prune just above that node.
  • You can prune as little or as much as you want. You could prune all the way down to the soil, and as long as the plant had some roots to begin with, and is kept warm, it will produce new leaves and go right back to growing.
  • Spring and early summer are the best time to prune.

That second plant is "Elephant's Food," Portulacaria afra. Everything I said for the Jade goes for that plant too.

Finally, welcome to GardenWeb!

    Bookmark   June 20, 2008 at 11:26AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Yep, Welcome, Green Claws! I agree with everything Jo wrote!

Pruning will encourage a thicker trunk.

Next question: what kind of soil is it in?


    Bookmark   June 20, 2008 at 3:33PM
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green_claws(7, 8)

=[ just in regular old potting soil. i didn't know what it was when i originally bought it, it only had two leaves at the time and was 2' tall! i read somewhere that a mix of 50% potting soil and 50% perlite makes a good succulent soil. so, where do i get this magical perlite? or is there a better thing on the market that's easier to find like... at walmart or something?

oh, i pruned my plant!! I cut it all the way down and left about 1.5 inches of the two stems. each stem has one leaf on it, and one of those leaves has a tiny cluster of baby leaves on it (maybe you can see it in the picture?) it was a pretty risky move on my part, but knowing that i could replant the cuttings helped ease the anxiety. should i go all out and wack off those two remaining leaves? if all else fails, i've got 4 cuttings which have atleast 4 leaves each, and also one large leaf to replant.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2008 at 11:29PM
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as far as those few leaves you left on before pruning, personally id leave them till they either decide to remove themselves or look ungainly... your choice of course....

just like to say, phew!!! been trying to find a cool site like this for a while... From Ca, living in France now, and yikes they dont like gardening here.. hahahha

luckily, in the south, that means finding stray succulents is nearly around every corner... i must have 20 unidentified types growing on my balcony now... having a little bit of an aphid problem atm, or i'd post some fotos...

let me get them looking tops again, and ill share then... probably near end of summer... again... great to be here....

    Bookmark   March 26, 2009 at 3:15PM
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Hello all,
I've been reading green claws back and forth Q & A been very helpfull to me in "how to prune a jade", only problem for me is the when. I'm in new jersey where its still in the high 40 mid 50's in the middle of april. if anyone can come back with a good tempurture so the jade will at least feel like its spring time, that will help alot.

When I prune the plant how big does the cutting have to be to propigate?


    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 8:44AM
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Ryan(z6 MO)

Hi Stephen.

Last year I was at my financial advisor's office, and during our meeting, a stem (~1") of her jade plant with two leaves on it fell off her plant. She handed it to me, told me to put it in some dirt when I got home, and now I have a foot tall jade plant. My understanding is that if you put just about any part of a jade plant in the ground and water it, it will grow.

I'm afraid that I don't know about the temperatures. My plant is indoors in Toronto. Although the temperature of the plant hasn't changed, it has been growing much better in recent months, so I think it knows that it's spring because of the hours of light that it's getting.


    Bookmark   May 17, 2011 at 8:34PM
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I'd be very careful with sun on the jade plant..I once put one in full sun & it got "sun-burned" Many of the leaves got scortched...just give it lots of light & some sun. Good luck

    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 8:56AM
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