Jade plants are members of a succulent family native to South Africa. Jades store water in their trunks and stems, as well as in their thick leaves. There are many variety of jade plants that can range from small bonsai size to over 3 feet tall when grown in pots. Because jades are a tropical succulent, they are generally only suitable to container growing in North America.
Jades require bright light to grow and flower. They will, however, survive in shady locations. When moving your jade from a shady to a bright location, move the plant slowly to allow the plant to become accustomed to the increased light.
Because jades are tropical plants, they will not survive freezing temperatures. However, they can survive temperatures close to freezing as long as there is no frost or soil freezing. The Succulent Plant Page suggests that jades stop growing when the temperature exceeds 90 degrees F to help conserve plant resources.
One of the biggest mistakes people make with jades is watering too much and too often. Because jades store water in their trunks and leaves, they don't need as much water as many people seem to think. In general, allow the soil to dry out between waterings. If you forget to water for a while, water when the leaves feel soft. Be sure to water if you see the leaves beginning to appear wrinkled.
Jades do well in most soils, as long as they drain well. However, jades require frequent soil changes. Repot your jade in a larger pot with fresh soil every two years or so. If you want to maintain a smaller jade, trim around 1/3 of the roots and place the plant back in the original container with new soil every two years, a common technique with bonsai.
Jades are very easy to propagate. To create a new plant, pinch a leaf from the plant and place it wound side down on soil. Don't water the leaf until you see roots beginning to grow.
Jades can become top heavy. Prune your jade by pinching off individual leaves. If you need to trim entire branches, use a pair of sharp pruning shears or scissors to cut the branches close to their origination point. Watch pinched or cut areas for new leaf growth. In most cases, the jade will try to create new branches and growth by sending out new leaves. Pinch off those new leaves as they grow until the wound heals.