The jade plant can be nice, but it can also be an overgrown mess. I see them for sale and the main attribute that’s usually considered for merit is the size. But size is meaningless when the plant becomes a massive jungle of branches, many thin with weak growth, with uncontrolled suckers hiding the trunk. This is the result of the plant never being pruned, of course.

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Example of what could have been a great jade but instead is a horrible mess.


Here’s a nice example, which was being sold under the banner “Huge Jade Plant”

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‘leggy’ example


Here’s another example, note how very leggy the branches are



For me the Jade has been a good instructor for pruning. Focus on cutting out the undergrowth and weak branches, so that you have a nicely shaped top canopy of dense, healthy foliage growing off of thick solid branches. Branches should be visible and attractive. You should not see a mass of branches and relatively few leaves, however.

You can also bonsai the bonsai and I’ll post an example of that soon (done, see bottom image). Essentially this just means cutting away branches so that the remaining ones create distinct levels of growth on main branches circling 360-degrees as they move up the trunk. The example to the left has just a single umbrella canopy so it is not a good example of the bonsai style.

Some of this is just preferences or aesthetics, but the goal of a good potted plant cannot just be it’s size. Pruning matters. Fortunately, the Jade responds well to radical pruning, so if your Jades have run amok, or you want to try your hand at plant rehabilitation, give it a go and see whether you like the results.


different angle


a larger Jade from the garden; about a meter tall from the top of the pot to the top of the plant


Jade bonsai example from the garden added – at bottom (last image)


Bonsai-ed Jade