Although pruning a jade plant isn't necessary, many people like to control growth and shape by pruning. Whether you are pruning for a better shape, or to trim back dead or damaged leaves and stems, pruning a jade plant is not difficult, and does not require any particular skill in horticulture.
TIP: Our expert gardening advisor, Susan Patterson adds, "Always sterilize garden tools with hydrogen peroxide before pruning."
Prune Above Leaf Nodes
A jade plant, like most plants, should always be trimmed just above a leaf branch, on the branch tip side of the leaf. Cutting behind the leaf node results in a large and vulnerable portion of damaged stem remaining, endangering the plant by increasing the chance of disease and rot.
Crassula ovata, or jade plant, is actually in the cactus family. Because of this, it can be trimmed to nothing but a short stem, as long as there is a strong root system in place. For most purposes, you wouldn't want to prune down to the roots, but in some cases, such as disease or freeze damage, pruning down to the roots may be the only way to save the plant. Remember to save the parts you cut for recycling in your compost bin, returning elements from the soil back into the soil.
If you want your plant to split off into numerous branches, clip a branch extending off the main stem just above a leaf node. Because the stimulus is at the node, a split branch will develop, turning one branch into two.
TIP: Susan advises, "You can start a new jade by cutting a healthy portion of stem about three inches long and put it in a pot with a sandy growing medium. Water once a week for best results."
When to Prune
Spring and early summer are the best times of year for annual pruning, because the plant will recover from the prune better during its active growing period. At that time, plants are strong and full of life, and the trauma of pruning has a reduced effect. You can and should remove dead and damaged leaves any time, to remove possible threats from disease and decay. Also, fewer winter leaves draw fewer pests, so prune back during the winter months to help the plant survive until spring without being eaten by insects.
If pruning your jade plant seems to draw insects, use neem oil, and spray the leaves lightly. Neem oil is a natural pest repellent, driving away parasitic pests before they have a chance to do any damage. For best results, keep the jade plant in a controlled environment for at least a week after pruning, and condition the plant soil with compost and a small amount of cotton seed meal.
Low-maintaintance had plants will add beauty to any room. With this knowhow, you can keep it in good health by pruning it.