How to Prune Jade Plant into a Bonsai


Jade plant, scientifically named Crassula ovata. This succulent plant is known as the Money, Dollar, and Lucky Plant. While it doesn't produce money as its name suggests, it's considered a symbol of good luck, wealth, and positive energy.

Jade plant has become one of the most popular indoor plants in households due to its low maintenance, rapid growth, and longevity. Let’s dive in and learn how to prune Jade Plant, make it grow better and adorn your home. 

Why Prune the Jade Plant


Normally, we honor the natural growth of succulents and avoid excessive pruning. However, the jade plant is an exception. As previously noted, this plant exhibits rapid growth and can attain heights of 3-6 inches. Without care, Jade palnt can develop into a messy shrub-like form. No one wants a "wild and unruly" jade plant on their table or in the living room. 

Here are the main reasons for pruning the jade plant:

  • 1. Encourages branching and the thicker trunk.
  • 2. Jade Plant becoming top-heaviness may lead to potential tipping.
  • 3. Maintaining a compact bonsai in the jade plant.
  • 4. Treating diseases and pests in jade plants.
  • 5. Propagation

Therefore, mastering the skill of pruning is crucial in caring for jade plants as it can greatly assist you at crucial moments. 

How to Prune Jade Plants


Prune the Young Jade Plant


If your ultimate goal is to create a standard jade plant or even a bonsai, it's highly recommended to start training from a young succulent. Here are the steps for pruning a young jade plant:

1. Select a jade plant with at least 10 leaves, ensuring enough foliage for pruning.

2. After cleaning your hands, gently remove 2-4 leaves from the bottom of the jade plant.


3. Regularly monitor the plant's growth, removing lower leaves to encourage upward growth of the main stem and stimulate branching and new leaf growth.

4. You can also use small sticks for support to maintain the young jade plant's upright growth.

Training a young jade plant is to help it develop a thicker stem more quickly. You can read "How to Make My Jade Plant Stem Thicker".

Prune Large Jade Plant


Next, let's delve into the main topic: how to prune a large jade plant into a bonsai. It's not a difficult task. You can achieve great results if you have a clear idea of the kind of jade plant you want and follow some basic pruning guidelines. Let's start by understanding a few pruning methods for jade plants:

1. Top Leaf Removal for Encouraging Growth 

Removing the top leaves encourages more growth. When the top dominance is removed, nutrients spread to the surrounding areas. So, if you want to fill in a sparse area of the jade plant, this method can help achieve that.


2. Node Pruning

You'll notice many nodes along the stem of the jade plant. If you prune at a node, growth will stop at that node. If you prune between two nodes, a new branch will sprout from the node. To promote growth, ensure pruned branches have at least 4-5 notes long.


3. Pruning New Branches

The jade plant might develop branches that affect aesthetics, like branches too close to the base, inward-growing branches hindering growth, and horizontal or downward-growing branches. Prune at the branching nodes to remove unwanted branches, effectively maintaining the jade plant's shape.


4. Removing All Leaves and Keeping Only the Main Stem

This involves cutting all branches close to the main stem, leaving only the stem. This sounds radical; we often see this in videos and find it puzzling. This pruning aims to make new branches grow compactly alongside the main stem, creating a succulent bonsai.


Note: Before pruning, wash your hands and tools, especially if used on other plants. Disinfect them with alcohol to prevent bacterial or fungal contamination that could affect the jade plant's health. We recommend not pruning more than one-third of the leaves or branches for beginners during the initial attempts.

When to Prune the Jade Plant


Generally, the best time for prune Jade Plants is during the active growing season, typically spring and summer, when these succulents exhibit vigorous growth. This is the opportune period to encourage new growth, reshape the plant, and rectify any unwanted irregularities.

Pruning aged jade plant in the early spring allows a lot of time for wound healing and new shoot growth. Checking the plant's shape and new branches every 1-2 months during regular care is enough. Following the mentioned guidelines keeps the plant's shape intact. For those passionate about shaping plants, weekly pruning creates perfect bonsai art.


Other care tips to help jade plant grow into a bonsai


Fertilizing: If you want your jade plant to grow quickly, providing fertilizer is the fastest way. Apply fertilizer once in spring and once in autumn. The recommended NPK ratio is 10:20:10. Follow the instructions on the packaging.

Light: Jade plants indeed prefer more light than typical indoor plants. Allowing it to receive about 6-7 hours of sunlight in the morning is ideal. Avoid intense afternoon and summer sun.

Soil: Loose and well-draining soil provides better growth conditions for the roots of jade plants.


Repotting: When you notice your jade plant isn't growing much, consider repotting. Choose a slightly larger pot than the previous one and repot in spring. You can retain about one-third of the original soil to protect the roots.



Remember, the journey of turning a jade plant into a bonsai is a patient and rewarding one. With careful consideration of the jade plant's growth patterns, the appropriate timing of pruning, and adherence to proven techniques, you can transform your jade plant into a work of living art.


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