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I have a couple of Jade plants ( Crassula ovata ) that I have grown from leaf pieces over the course of the last 10 years or so. This year, for the first time, they appear to have been attacked by squirrels or something. Hunks of bark have been removed and some of the inner structure of the branches is visible. The damage has caused the branches to droop, due to some structural damage. It's been really dry here, so I assumed that it was to get at the water inside them, so I set some water out for the animals to drink a bit more easily. Is there anything I can do to help keep the Jades from getting sick while they heal?

Whole plants in 12 inch pots Here they both are. Those are 12 inch pots.

Closer view of damage Closer view of the damage.

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

If they were my Jade plants I would do something like the following...

Based on bottom photo:

  • Remove the lower right limb (bottom centre of photo, going towards the right) -- it looks like it has lost (had stripped away) quite a lot of bark and one of the end spurs (forks) is almost broken clean-through.

  • Remove any branches, twigs that have been snapped through.

  • Not touch the (big) wound on the underside of the main right hand-side forking branch (top centre of photo). If the plant is able to heal itself, it will, if it can't there really isn't anything you can do to heal a wound like that (IMHO).

    • That said, while the plant tries to heal that particular wound, I might rig something up to just take the weight of that branch (past the wound, but as close to it as possible).
  • If you require any pruning advice (best practices), "How to Prune Tress" from USDA Forest Service is an excellent resource (IMHO).

  • Keep a very! close eye on insects entering via the wounded areas.

  • Keep a very! close eye on diseases developing via the wounded areas.

    • If either of the above (insects/diseases) took hold, I would reevaluate based on exactly what was taking hold.

Based on the top photo (and bottom one):

  • While the plants (try to) heal themselves, keep larger critters (and birds) away by enclosing them in some kind of protective enclosure.

    • I'd go with something like wire mesh with hole spacing no greater than 1inch (25mm).
  • Get a mild "natural" fertilizer, something like a seaweed based one, and feed the plants with that (as directed on the product container).

  • Propagate, take a cutting or two and try to grow new stock on.

    • Therefore if worst case scenario strikes and you lose the original(s), you will have a new Jade plant or two from the parent stock.
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+1, good advice. The 1" mesh will keep larger animals/birds away, but I'm not sure it will keep squirrels out. It certainly won't keep out mice or chipmunks. If you're dealing with chipmunks, 1/4" hardware cloth will be a better choice. 1/2" will probably keep out squirrels, but they're clever little buggers... –  bstpierre Aug 31 '11 at 12:13
    
I actually just brought them inside. gave them a small amount of plant-tone (5-3-3 with micronutrients), and will keep them well watered for a while. –  baka Aug 31 '11 at 14:51
    
@bstpierre, I agree the smaller spacing size would be better... –  Mike Perry Aug 31 '11 at 14:53
1  
well, they've been somewhat underwatered for the last several weeks, just like all the rest of my outside plants. –  baka Aug 31 '11 at 16:00
1  
Just to follow up, this seemed to work, and all of the fallen branches, while not completely healed (by a long shot), can now support their own weight. Thanks! –  baka Oct 4 '11 at 23:04

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