Jade plants seldom need pruning, though gardeners may wish to prune a jade to propagate new plants or to control the shape of the jade plant. Ron Smith advises waiting until your jade is in a period of active growth before pruning it. In general, jade plants are dormant in winter to early spring, and actively grow during the late spring and summer. New growth indicates the plant is growing and not dormant, so check for new growth before you prune.
Identify weak, wrinkled leaves on your jade plant, or parts of the stem that are mushy. These indicate rot and should be removed to keep the rest of the plant healthy.
Pull off unhealthy leaves with your fingers or cut them off with anvil pruners. Prune rotten branches back to 1/8-inch above a leaf node or to a lateral branch. Spray your anvil pruners with disinfectant spray between cuts so you don't introduce bacteria to healthy parts of the plant.
Examine your jade plant once you've removed all unhealthy growth, determining where to prune. Ron Smith suggests pruning no more than 25 to 30 percent of the plant's leaf tissue at one time, since pruning more can hurt the plant. Visualize the shape that you want to create, then determine which limbs to remove to get that shape.
Clip off the chosen branches using anvil pruners. If the plant is healthy, you do not need to use disinfectant between cuts.
Dispose of unhealthy clippings. Save healthy cuttings to propagate a new jade plant if you wish.