Jade plants are one of the easiest growing succulents to have as a houseplant. They are very resilient and can grow even in unfavorable conditions. However, pruning your jade plant is part of the essential care needed to ensure this fat-leafed plant doesn’t topple over from too much heavy growth.
To prune your jade plant, cut below the third node using sterile pruning shears or scissors to prevent contamination while cutting branches. Always cut just above the node you want new growth to appear. Pruning is best done in the spring, and never prune more than 30% of the branches.
Letting your jade plant continuously grow without providing essential care like pruning can cause health issues for your plant. This article will provide some guidance on how to pruideane your jade plant and why pruning in itself is imperative for plant health. Let’s get started!
1. Prune Your Jade Plant in Season
Most plants have a season or “best time” to prune, and your jade plant is one of them!
While very light pruning (like a branch or two) here and there is okay, it’s best to do the heavy snipping when your jade plant can recover quickly.
Heavy pruning is typically defined as the following:
- Trimming the dead and unhealthy leaves and stems.
- Cutting several branches to stimulate new growth.
- Thinning out the dense and clustered growth.
- Reshaping for balance and symmetry.
- Pruning 25 to 30% of the plant.
Deep pruning of your jade plant is best done in the spring when dormancy breaks. This will allow the plant to heal faster due to sunlight strength and hours increasing from spring to summer. Sunlight is needed to complete the cycle of photosynthesis for creating and disbursing nutrients for plant healing and growth.
Depending on the care and nutrients you provide to your jade plant, you may need to prune it twice a year. Fall is an excellent time to do light pruning, so your jade plant has time to heal before dormancy. Once the fall season approaches, the amount of sunlight available during the day will significantly lessen as winter closes in.
You don’t want to prune plants during dormancy because plants use that time as a resting period. There’s not enough sunlight available during the day to provide the solar energy plants need to create chemical energy (foods) for growth and blooms. Plants will conserve energy during this time to survive the harsh winter months.
2. Use Sterile Pruning Shears or Scissors
Sharp pruning shears or scissors will work great for thinning out the growth of your jade plant. Bacteria can be transferred to the wounds as you snip the branches, so you should sterilize them to prevent contamination. Since rubbing alcohol doesn’t destroy bacterial spores, you can use hydrogen peroxide or bleach.
Let your shears or scissors completely dry before putting them to work on your jade plant.
If you don’t have pruning shears, it’s highly recommended to use them for even and sharp cuts. The thin blades from pruning shears make it easier to maneuver through the thick growth of jade plants.
Prevent Contamination While Pruning
Many plant species, including the jade plant, are resilient. When you’re pruning your houseplants, you are essentially injuring them. However, as long as you’re using sterile tools and not touching the wounded areas, there should be no issue with recovery.
Preventing contamination is vital to ensure your plant remains healthy and begins to produce new growth. You can use natural remedies to help your plant heal its wounds from trimming, with honey and cinnamon being two excellent examples.
Use Cinnamon or Honey on Plant Wounds
Cinnamon and honey have been utilized by gardeners for many years, and most people already have them in their pantries. Honey and cinnamon have antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antifungal properties to aid plants in healing. Once you’re done pruning, you can use one of these to dab on the injured areas to prevent contamination.
These remedies are usually able to encourage faster healing. Faster healing allows the plant to quickly recover, and you’ll notice the injuries you created will close and turn a brownish color. Your plant can then use its energy to begin new stem growth out of the node where you cut.
Honey and cinnamon are also said to naturally stimulate root growth from cuttings. This study by Sebha University confirms honey and cinnamon can activate roots to form from cuttings. So, you can even use them for propagating!
3. Prune by Cutting Above the Node
Nodes are plant sections where leaves, branches, and buds grow out. The node sections almost appear as if the plant was pieced together in those spots. Cutting too close to the nodes can damage the node section and discourage new growth for that node.
Try to strategize your pruning instead of going in guns blazing, snipping whatever branch you grab first. Rotate your plant a few times and assess areas too dense with growth, misshapen, or appearing unhealthy. Keep the following reasons for pruning in mind while evaluating your jade plant:
- Remove dead or dying leaves and branches.
- Reshape plant growth and remove uneven growth.
- Thin out dense growth.
- Fix leggy growth or bald spots from not enough sunlight.
- Encourage growth for a fuller and bushier appearance.
- Remove weaker branches and leaves.
- Reduce stress on the root system from awkward top-heavy growth.
Once you visualize where you want new branches to grow, you can start cutting.
New growth and leaves will sprout from the node areas you leave behind. Cut above each node where you want new growth to appear. The top of the wound will heal and close, and two or more branches will grow out of the node below where you cut.
It may sound complex to prune your jade plant, but it really is simple once you get the hang of it. Let’s break this down into the following steps:
- Evaluate the condition of your jade plant by rotating it.
- Visualize the troubled areas and where you want new growth to form.
- Use sterile shears or scissors to cut just above the desired node for new branches to grow, making a clean and even cut.
- Cut stems beyond the third node from the trunk.
- Snip off any leaves and branches that appear unhealthy.
- Don’t cut more than 30% of your plant’s growth.
Here is a popular YouTube video that gives you a better visual of how pruning is done to your jade plant:
Don’t Prune to Baldness
Again, it’s vital that you don’t prune more than 30% of your plant’s stems.
Being snip-happy could be detrimental to your plant’s health. The more branches you snip off, the more your plant will have to focus on healing those wounds, which takes a lot of energy. You don’t want to shock and stress your jade plant into poor health.
Stress contributes highly to plant health and even how long they live. If you’ve overdone it with pruning, you may begin to see your plant in a stressed state by observing changes in the leaves. The leaves of the plant can tell you a lot, and when the plant is stressed, the leaves will begin to appear sad, droopy, and may even fall off.
Remember, the goal of pruning is to rid the dead and weak growth, reshape, and make room for new healthy growth for symmetry and balance.
4. Prune Lightly All Year Round
While spring is the best time to deep prune your jade plant, you can do very light pruning throughout the year. This will keep your plant in shape, and it can prevent a dense population of branches to thin out each spring. It also helps the plant divert energy to other areas that need it.
Light pruning can be defined as the following:
- Trimming dead or unhealthy leaves.
- Removing new growth that will compromise symmetry and balance.
- Cutting a branch here and there to stimulate new branch growth.
- Trimming the weak and dead branches.
5. Propagate the Trimmings
Most of your trimmings can be propagated into new plants. If you do not want more of these fat leafy guys, they will make great gifts for friends and family that enjoy houseplants. The jade plant is also great for beginners or those who think they don’t have a green thumb to keep houseplants alive.
Propagating jade plants is a pretty simple process and can be done throughout the year, even with light pruning.
Propagating Using The Leaves
As mentioned above, jade plants make it really easy for even a beginner houseplant owner to enjoy. Not only are they resilient by sustaining life even in unfavorable conditions, but they can also drop leaves on the soil to make new plants! Propagating jade plants really is that simple.
Follow these five easy steps to propagate your jade plant with leaves:
- Fill a pot with soil.
- Moisten the soil to encourage root growth.
- Place your trimmed leaves on top of the soil, laying flat.
- Keep the soil moist as your roots begin to grow.
- Once the roots have formed a small system in the soil, transplant the leaf to its own pot and watch it grow!
Note: A jade plant growing from leaf propagations will take longer than one propagating from stems.
Propagate Your Plant by Stem
Propagating by stems can be tricky at times, but it’s still an easy way to not waste any of your trimmings. You’ll need to use the branches with a few leaves, so trim leaves off if there are too many.
The steps to propagate your jade plant by stems are similar to propagating by leaves and go as follows:
- Fill a pot with soil.
- Moisten the soil to stimulate root growth.
- Place your stems on top of the soil, on their side. Or, let the stem wound dry and push the branch into the soil. If you put the stem in the soil before the injury has dried, you risk the stem forming rot.
- Keep the soil moist as the roots begin to grow.
- When your stem has a small root system formed, transplant it into its own pot and watch it grow!
Note: You can also propagate stems by allowing their wound to dry and placing them in a small jar with the stem barely submerged in water.
Why Pruning is Essential For These Plants
Pruning houseplants provides room for healthy growth with symmetry and prevents stress on the plant’s roots and structure.
As mentioned previously, pruning your jade plant keeps it in shape and healthy by doing the following:
- Reducing the stress on the root system.
- Removing the dead and weakened parts.
- Reshaping and fixing awkward growth.
- Thinning out the dense growth.
Less Stress on the Roots
Because jade plants have thicker branches and leaves, they become top-heavy the larger they grow. If not regularly pruned, the heavy growth can create stress on the trunk and root system.
And depending on the size pot, you have your jade plant in, the roots may not be able to spread to support the rest of the plant.
The root system doesn’t only absorb moisture and nutrients from the soil. It also has an essential function as an anchor for the whole plant. Rot, stress, or damage to the roots affects the entire plant, and you may see changes like discolored or falling leaves.
If you’re not regularly rotating your jade plant to expose all areas to sunlight, your plant can lean toward the sun’s rays. If this happens, you may find your plant toppled over from the uneven weight distribution. This can also damage the root system in the process.
Dead and weakened parts are not attractive and definitely won’t benefit your jade plant. Use those sharp shears to trim the dead and weakened areas of the plant. Cut the unhealthy branches just above the node you want new branches to appear—remember, there will be two or more branches growing from that area.
Fix That Leggy Look and Reshape Awkward Growth
The leggy look of plants should never be trending at your house, nor should bald spots and other awkward growth. This is actually a sign your plant isn’t receiving the ideal care and growing conditions it needs to be healthy.
More importantly, awkward growth typically happens because your plant is not receiving enough sunlight on one side or all around.
Solar energy is essential to photosynthesis because, without it, your plants will struggle to create food energy to sustain health and produce new growth. This is why you’ll see leaf growth spaced so far apart, the plant leaning, or bald spots. Plants are happiest when all their components get even sun exposure, so rotate your plants to help with this.
Jade plants are part of the succulent family, and they love areas of your home that provide full sun most of the day.
So, what can you do to fix this? Between the pruning and sunlight, you will have a beautifully bushy jade plant in no time!
Try the following suggestions to fix your awkwardly growing jade plant:
Fix Those Leggy Branches
- Stimulate new growth by trimming the leggy stems above the desired node.
- Pruning stimulates new stems and leaves, but you’ll need to place your jade plant in sunlight for it to create the energy required to produce new stems and leaves.
- Even if your plant has a lot of leggy growth, cut no more than 30% of the plant.
Encourage Growth in Bald or Bare Areas
- Provide more sun exposure to stimulate growth.
- Trim a few branches close to the bare spots to encourage new branches to fill the void.
- Thin and reshape the area of the plant with more growth to make it appear more balanced and allow room for new branches to form.
Straighten and Secure Top-Heavy, Leaning Jade
- Rotate the plant to expose the non-leaning side to the sun, encouraging the plant to straighten while growing.
- Trim the reaching branches to balance the plant and stimulate new branches to grow correctly and fill out.
- Secure the trunk to a stake with a string (not too tight) to keep your plant supported while being trained to straighten.
Thin Out the Clutter
Leaves and branches can quickly get out of hand with jade plants. The stems can grow awkwardly with bushy leaves that create a dense cluster.
Using pruning shears with thin blades makes completing this task easier because you can maneuver through the dense growth to cut the branches causing issues.
Pruning your jade plant is part of the essential care you should provide to keep your plant growing and thriving. By trimming and cutting awkward or dense growth, you can reshape your jade plant to grow evenly and prevent stress on the root system. Prune no more than 30% of your plant’s growth so that it can quickly recover from the wounds.
Try dabbing honey or cinnamon on the wounds to help your jade plant heal faster and prevent contamination.