Leggy Jade Plant Care – Pruning A Leggy Jade Plant
By: Raffaele Di Lallo, Author and founder of Ohio Tropics houseplant care blog
Jade plants make fantastic houseplants, but if not provided ideal conditions, they can become sparse and leggy. If your jade plant is getting leggy, don’t stress. You can easily fix it.
Leggy Jade Plant Fix
First, it is important to know why your jade plant got leggy in the first place. If your plant is not compact and looks stretched out, chances are that it has become etiolated. This just means that the plant has stretched out because of insufficient light.
Jade plants like several hours of direct sunshine and should be placed right in front of a window for best results. If you have a nice southern exposure window, this will be ideal for your jade plant. Let’s discuss how to fix a leggy jade plant.
Pruning a Leggy Jade Plant
Although pruning scares many people, it is really the only leggy jade plant fix. It is best to prune your jade either in the spring or early summer months. Your plant will be in active growth during this time and will start to fill out and recover much more quickly.
If you have a very small or young jade plant, you may just want to pinch off the growing tip. You can use your thumb and forefinger to pinch this off. You should have at least two new stems growing from where you pinched it.
If you have a larger, older plant with several branches, you can prune your plant back harder. In most cases, try not to remove more than a quarter to a third of the plant when you prune your jade back. Use a sharp pair of pruning shears and make sure that the blade is sterilized so that you’re not spreading disease. To do this, you can clean the blade with rubbing alcohol.
Next, imagine where you’d want the jade plant to branch off and use your pruning shears to make cuts right above a leaf node (where the leaf meets the stem of the jade). At each cut, you will get at least two resulting branches.
If you have a plant that is a single trunk and you want it to look more like a tree and branch out, you can easily accomplish this with patience. Simply remove most of the lower leaves and pinch off the growing tip. Once it starts growing and develops more branches, you can repeat the process and pinch out the growing tips or prune the branches back until you achieve the desired look you are going for.
Leggy Jade Plant Care
After you’ve done your pruning, it is important to correct the cultural conditions that caused your plant to grow leggy. Remember, place your jade plant in the sunniest window that you have. This will encourage more compact, sturdier growth.
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Read more about Jade Plants
How to Fix Leggy Growth in Plants
How to Fix Leggy Growth in Plants. You started your tomato seeds inside too early, and now they're leggy--pale and stretched out, with more stem than leaf. This can happy to any vegetables, flowering plants or house plants. Lack of light or too much nitrogen are the most common causes of this, and common wisdom is that leggy seedlings must be thrown out--but there are other ways to fix them.
Plant your leggy tomatoes, broccoli, impatiens or other plants very deep so that the extra stem portion is covered. It's okay to snap off lower branches or remove leaves to accomplish this. Extra roots will grow along the length of the stem, contributing to a stronger, stockier plant.
- How to Fix Leggy Growth in Plants.
- Plant your leggy tomatoes, broccoli, impatiens or other plants very deep so that the extra stem portion is covered.
Dig a trench and bury your leggy plants sideways in the trench, gently curving the above-ground portion of the plant to be vertical. Even if it's not exactly vertical the plant will correct itself later, but you should remember where the root ball of the plant is during days after transplant so that you make sure it receives plenty of water.
Apply fertilizer that is low in nitrogen and high in phosphorous to encourage flowering and fruiting in plants that may be leggy as the result of over fertilization with nitrogen.
Prune leggy growth on foliage and flowering plants back as close to the stem as possible. The common wisdom is to prune only when necessary to remove dead wood or to fix a plant has grown out of desired shape. It is usually best to prune during the very start or the very end of the growing season.
Overview Of The Jade Plant
The Jade (Crassula ovata) is an African succulent that has become a popular houseplant worldwide. Because they thrive in a dry climate, they love the arid conditions of most homes – a nice break from struggling to provide humidity for tropical plants.
Also called the Money Tree for its fat oval leaves, the Jade Plant is long-lived and can be passed down for generations. Undemanding, it doesn’t like being disturbed and thrives on benign neglect. It makes a great set-and-forget houseplant.
Another reason for their popularity is their easy propagation: new plants root readily from leaves or stems that fall on the soil. The Jade’s one unfriendly aspect is toxicity to pets, including horses though, it’s only mildly poisonous to humans.
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!
Not got a jade plant?
Jade is one of the best plants to have in your home. Take a few leaf cuttings from a friend and learn how to grow a jade from scratch. Here’s a tutorial for doing that.
How to Make a Jade Plant Thicker
The jade plant (Crassula ovata) is also known as the money plant thanks to its coin-shaped leaves. This evergreen succulent originated in Africa and has more than 300 varieties. People grow and appreciate jade as a houseplant because of its longevity, ease of care and attractiveness. It grows slowly and its tree-like appearance makes it a good plant for bonsai. Under some conditions, the jade plant can become spindly and bare. If this happens, there are steps you can take to make it look fuller and thicker.
Prune the jade plant just above one of the brown rings around a stem, called a leaf scar, with sharp pruning shears or a sharp knife. Two new stems will sprout at the pruning site, so select the stem to prune based on where you want the jade plant to be thicker and fuller. This pruning method works well for older jade plants that have grown leggy.
Pinch off the growing end of a stem between your thumb and forefinger to remove the growing tip. Two new stems will sprout from the pinch site. This pruning method is best for young jade plants or short stems in places you want to look thicker. Visualize how you want the plant to look in the future to choose the right spot.
Place the jade plant in full sun or in a bright southern-facing window where it receives at least four hours of sunlight each day. Keep temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit in the daytime and between 50 and 55 F at night. Keep the plant out of drafts and its leaves away from the windowpane. Giving the jade plant these optimal conditions helps it grow fullest.
Plant jade plants in well-draining soil in a pot with drainage holes. Repot only every several years, if at all. Disturbing a jade plant by repotting can cause its growth to slow.
Water the jade plant in spring and summer often enough to keep the soil moist but never wet. In winter, let it dry between waterings. Water the soil only, not the plant's leaves. Providing sufficient, regulated water helps the plant grow thick naturally.
Fertilize your jade plant every three or four months with a water-soluble houseplant fertilizer to keep it as full as possible.
Things You Will Need
Propagate pruned parts of the jade plant by inserting the cut ends directly into soil.
Jade plants are hardy grown outdoors in USDA zones 9 through 11.
When pruning, always make sure to used sterilized pruning tools so you don't transfer diseases to the plant.
Karren Doll Tolliver holds a Bachelor of English from Mississippi University for Women and a CELTA teaching certificate from Akcent Language School in Prague. Also a photographer, she records adventures by camera, combining photos with journals in her blogs. Her latest book, "A Travel for Taste: Germany," was published in 2015.