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How to Trim a Jade Plant

By Ma Wen Jie ; Updated September 21, 2017

Jade plants are succulents. A succulent stores water in both the leaves and the stem, resulting in a plant heavier than other plants. Jades can become top heavy if allowed to grow large in a small pot. Trimming your jade consists of two steps. The first step is pruning the top portion of the plant. The second step is to trim the roots to prevent the plant from becoming root bound. You can prune the top portion at any time. However, you only need to prune the roots every year or two.

Look at the overall shape of the jade. Look for areas that are growing out of balance with other areas, such as one side growing much faster than another.

Clip main trunks or leaders inside the pot to bring the plant back in to balance. If you only need to prune branches near the surface to balance your plant, don't prune back to the soil line. In some cases, trimming back to the soil line may leave your jade with a bare spot. Trim as close to above a leaf pair as possible.

Trim leaves and branches that protrude in an undesired direction. Your jade may likely produce new branching at the cut, so make sure you cut above a leaf pair. If you want to limit growth, watch for the new leaf pairs that will become branches and pinch them back.

Remove your jade from its pot once you have trimmed the top to the desired shape. If you have pruned the roots in the past year, you don't need to re-prune the roots.

Trim back about 1/3 of the roots. Be careful, however, to focus on smaller side roots. Leave the main root relatively intact. A little trimming is fine, but too much can harm your tree.


Things You Will Need

  • Sharp scissors or small pruners


  • Don't water your jade for several days before pruning.
  • Water the jade immediately after pruning.

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.