Jade are one of the quintessential succulent house plants that almost everyone can recognize and most plant lovers to keep in their home.
This beautiful tree-like plant is easy to care for, as it doesn’t have very particular watering or sunlight needs. Jade thrives in most household environments.
But here’s where the trouble starts…
Your jade plant may spend years growing taller and taller, and you may think it’s doing really well, but one day it will just… keel over.
Many jades grow so tall that they become top heavy, and the single trunk can’t support the height of the plant.
It’s a really good idea to prune your jade before it gets to this point, so the weight is evenly distributed from the get-go.
How to know if your jade needs a prune
Most jades will benefit from pruning at least once a year.
The best time to start pruning a jade is when they’re very small, with less than ten leaves. This will encourage branching early, so the plant is well balanced from the start.
Jades that have grown very tall (over 12 inches) without branching will also need to be pruned, as they’re at risk for bending and breaking as they get heavier.
Even overgrown jades need pruning to keep them healthy and happy.
Tips for pruning a jade:
- Always use sharp and sterile tools to avoid damaging or spreading disease to your plant. Sharp pruning shears are best.
- The best time of year to prune a jade is in the spring, before vigorous growth begins for the season. This is especially true if you keep your jade outdoors during the summer to give it some extra sunlight!
- Don’t let the pruned parts of the jade go to waste! Leaves and branches cut from the main jade plant can be re-potted to make new jades! Remember though, don’t try to propagate from diseased or damaged plant parts, those will need to be disposed of.
- Never remove more than 20%-30% of the plant.
How to prune a jade
Pruning will be done in a different way depending on your jade’s condition and size.
How to prune small jade plants:
If your jade is still very small (less than 6 inches) with no branches, you’ll be able to prune by topping off the trunk.
Two new sets of leaves will sprout from your cut, which will start two new branches.
For an added bonus, you can use this topped portion to propagate the jade, simply stick it in its own pot, or push it into the soil next to your first jade. We like to put the tops as well as pruned leaves into soil to start new jades.
How to prune too-tall jades or long branches:
Examine the jade and visually break it into quarters. You’ll be cutting off the top 1/4 of the plant or branch.
Look for brown rings on the stem approximately 1/4 from the top of the jade or end of the branch, and cut along the ring with a sharp pair of pruning shears or a knife.
Two new branches will sprout from this part of the plant, but be patient, it will take some time!
Alternatively, if you don’t want to top off your jade, but want to encourage branching, you can carefully remove a few of the leaves sprouting out of the trunk. This will encourage new branches to form where the leaves were removed. Be very selective with this process and don’t remove more than 2-3 leaves at a time.
How to prune a jade with a few branches:
Pruning a jade that already has a few branches will encourage more growth and help to balance the symmetry of the plant.
Simply snip off or pinch off the newly sprouted leaves on the end of each branch. I know this seems counterintuitive, but cutting off the newly grown leaves will in fact encourage more branching, making for a fuller jade plant!
How to prune over grown jades:
If you’ve been pruning your jade all along, but now it’s out of control and has too many branches for the plant to support, it’s time to prune for the health of the plant.
First, cut off any diseased or dried branches right at the trunk but don’t cut into the trunk.
Next, remove and dispose of any leaves that are yellowing, burnt, shriveled, or spotty.
Finally, examine the plant carefully and identify any branches that are growing at odd angles, or blocking the light for other branches and carefully remove all or part of those branches.
Remember, you can always cut more, but you can’t go back once you’ve made the cut. Start conservatively so you don’t accidentally cut off too much!
After you’ve finished pruning the jade, be sure to keep up with watering and light needs.
Jades are slow growers, so it will take some time to see the benefits of the pruning, but before long your jade will be looking bushy and healthy!
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