How To Trim And Prune A Jade Plant

Jade plants are a beautiful addition to any home. I have seen how the bright green leaves of a full and compact jade plant have been the perfect, eye-catching pot plant in a room. Unfortunately, I have also seen how a sparse and elongated jade plant can look out of place and sad. Luckily, jade plants are great for trimming, shaping, and pruning to get just the right look, and everyone from novices to experts can do it. Here’s how.

How to prune a jade plant? A small or potted jade plant can be trimmed or pruned by pinching off the tip or a whole branch with your thumb and forefinger, but larger jade plants may require cutting. The plant will grow new shoots from the next segment down. Trimming and pruning can be done at any time of the year.

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You may perhaps be tempted to get rid of a jade plant that has become scraggly and leggy, but it is so easy to trim and get it back to a beautiful looking plant with a shapely canopy and densely packed leaves that it’s hardly worth the effort of tossing it and buying a new plant. You will be amazed at the results and what your ‘green thumb’ can do! Let the trimming begin!

Why Do Jade Plants Get Long, Leggy Stems In The First Place?

Inquiring minds will always want to know why something has happened, so many of you will be asking yourself why your jade plant is growing long stems in the first place.

It was probably dense and beautiful when you first got it, so what changed? Jade plants are indigenous to dry, sunny areas in South Africa, because of this jade plant branches are always searching out sunlight.

At a nursery, a jade plant is often treated to many hours of good sunlight; but when it is moved into a house or office it may be placed somewhere with less light and so the branches go on a light-seeking expedition and stretch out in different directions to find it.

Accompanied with that is often the dreaded droop of some branches. Because the leaves are quite heavy, if they seek out the light a little too fast to develop a strong branch the thinner parts will droop under the weight of the leaves.

These light-seeking expeditions and the drooping branches leave your plant in need of a good trim and spruce.

Read How often to water jade plant?

What To Remember When Trimming Your Jade Plant

The first thing to remember about pruning and trimming a jade plant is that, unlike some other plants, you do not need to trim it for health reasons – a leggy and un-shapely jade plant probably isn’t unhealthy, it just doesn’t look great.

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Trimming and pruning a jade plant is almost always for aesthetic reasons. This means you won’t necessarily be looking out for diseased or dead leaves or branches when trimming as you may do with other plants, but rather you will be looking with a critical eye for what trimming will make the plant look the best.

The one time the health of your jade plant may be at risk though is from over trimming. Never purposefully trim more than 20-30% of the plant, especially if it is young or has very recently been re-potted.

Because jade plants are generally very hardy plants there is not much risk of serious damage if you go over this, but it is always better to take it in stages and allow time between trimmings if you plan to remove more than 30% of the plant in the trim.

Also, remember that the branch you are trimming will die back to the node below the cut. The node is where the leaves grow out of the branch.

In most cases, two new branches will grow from that node. This means that the more you trim, the denser the plant will become!

Check out, Jade Plant Wilting – Reasons and Fixes

How To Keep A Smaller Jade Plant Full And Compact

While you can prune a jade plant at any time of the year, to get quick growth after the trim, do so in spring and early summer when it is in vigorous growth. You will see results much quicker which will boost your confidence (and you’ll have a great looking plant sooner)!

If your jade plant is the size you want it, but the leaves have thinned out more than you would like, you should remove the tips from as many branches as you can.

As I have said, each trimmed branch will produce two new sprouts, in a short time, there will be double the amount of new growth giving the plant a much fuller look.

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Read Why Jade Plant Leaves Falling Off [Causes & Fixes]

How To Cut An Overgrown Jade Plant To Be Full And Compact

If your jade plant has grown more than about 5 inches, however, and you are not happy with the size, you may want to consider cutting the top quarter of the plant off.

If it is a single stem plant, don’t cut it so that there is only stem/trunk left as this may put your jade plant under too much stress. In this case, rather heavily trim the main branches at the top.

Do this by looking for thin brown lines or rings on the stems (these are usually around 1/4 away from the end of the branch), using your fingers, snap the branch off at this point.

If you are worried about snapping in the wrong place or bending, but not breaking the branch, rather use sharp shears or a sharp knife to cut the branch cleanly.

For good results do these three things first:

  • Find and cut off any diseased, bent, or dried branches. Cut these off as close to the trunk as you can without damaging the trunk. 
  • Pinch off any yellowing, spotty, or shrivelled leaves. 
  • To keep a good shape, find all the branches that are growing at odd angles, or growing into other branches and remove them. 

If sufficient stems are growing, then consider cutting off the top quarter of the plant to stimulate quick and dense growth. Cutting will also reduce the height of the plant, leaving space for it to grow a good canopy.

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How To Stop Your Jade Plant From Getting Leggy Again

Earlier I said your jade plant is always seeking out light, if you don’t want your jade plant to thin out and get leggy again, maybe look at where you have placed it.

Put your Jade plant in a spot where it will get a good few hours of sun a day and it will not have to send its branches on a (very slow) expedition to find that sun.

Keep trimming the ends of the branches so that they grow new sprouts and fill in as much as possible, and lastly don’t let the branches get too long before attending to it.

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Conclusion

A jade plant is a beautiful and low maintenance plant, but if it gets too tall too quickly or isn’t trimmed regularly it may become leggy and take on a look you didn’t bargain for. By removing the tips of many of the branches you can quickly get a denser look to the plant. By cutting about a quarter off the top of longer branches or stems you can shape your jade plant into the dense and beautiful plant you had when you first got it.