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How to Prune a Jade Bonsai Tree

By Ma Wen Jie ; Updated September 21, 2017

Bonsai is the art of growing miniature trees in pots. Jades are often overlooked as good bonsai trees, but are very good for a number of styles, including cascade and some semiformal styles. Jades are a succulent. They store their water in their trunks and leaves. As such, the trunks of jades are much softer than trunks of other trees. Use more caution if wiring a jade tree. Jades can also be pruned to direct growth and to reduce leaf size. Caring and pruning your jade bonsai is not difficult.

Prune or pinch off any leaves on the trunk of your tree. Having a distinct trunk is an important part of creating a balanced bonsai. In most cases, pinching off individual leaves with your thumb and fingers is the best way to remove individual jade leaves.

Pinch off any new buds that grow from the leaves you have pinched off. Jades tend to try and grow new branches from trunk wounds. However, in some cases you can stimulate new branch growth by removing a leaf from the trunk. If a new branch would improve the balance of your bonsai, let it grow.

Allow the soil to dry before pruning any branches that don't balance well or that cross. Make all cuts on your jade bonsai flush with the trunk, not concave as with other bonsai trees. Try not to cut into the trunk as this can trigger die off on the tree.

If this is your bonsai's first styling, don't be afraid of drastic pruning. Jades are quite resilient and will benefit from an initial severe pruning. Water the tree sparingly until the wounds heal and the tree starts to re-establish itself.

Pinch off the terminal bud, or the bud at the end of a branch, to prevent a particular branch from growing longer.

Trim branches that are too long near a leaf pair with a pair of very sharp scissors or bonsai pruners.

Regularly prune leaves to reduce the overall size of the jade leaves. In most jades, the leaves are one to two inches long. However, by regularly pinching back larger leaves, you can reduce the size of the jade's leaves down to around a half an inch. Don't be afraid to remove 50 percent or more of the tree's leaves. Jade leaves will grow back very quickly.


Things You Will Need

  • Potted jade bonsai
  • Bonsai pruners or scissors


  • Jades recover and grow very quickly. With some trees, you may need to prune every two weeks to maintain your desired form and style.
  • A common way to trigger new branches with a jade is to remove a leaf. In most cases, a new branch will start to grow there. Keep this in mind as you are styling your bonsai. In some cases, triggering a new branch can bring an out of balance tree back into balance.

About the Author


Although he grew up in Latin America, Mr. Ma is a writer based in Denver. He has been writing since 1987 and has written for NPR, AP, Boeing, Ford New Holland, Microsoft, RAHCO International, Umax Data Systems and other manufacturers in Taiwan. He studied creative writing at Mankato State University in Minnesota. He speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese, English and reads Spanish.