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I have a Jade plant that was grown for me from a cutting about 5 years ago. Since that time, I've propagated another plant from a branch and I now have two healthy plants.

My concern is that my first plant is now starting to look pretty tall and top heavy. Which is not very aesthetically pleasing. There is a single trunk which grows up about 10" with very few leaves left. Most of them have fallen off due to physical trauma (the plant has been moved a LOT). At 10" the plant splits into several healthy branches, which are very attractive. The plant needs to be repotted, and while I'm doing that, I'd like to try to address the aesthetics. I'd like to try to save the top of the plant, but lower it down 5 or so inches so that it doesn't look quite so awkward.

I'm considering two different options:

  1. Lopping off the top of the plant (the pretty part) and sticking the bottom inch or so of the barren trunk into new soil, in the hopes that it roots and starts a new plant. Then my original plant will grow out new branches lower down, and I'll be left with two, more attractive looking jade plants. My major concern with this approach is that the roots will not grow quickly enough to support the top of the plant, and it will die.
  2. Repotting the plant, but potting it about 2-3 inches further down into the soil, and letting roots grow out of the trunk, keeping only the main plant.

EDIT: After posting, I came up with a third possible option:

  1. Breaking off the 3-4 lower most leaves when repotting and trying to propagate them as new plants in the same pot. If they survive and fill out nicely, then it could make the whole thing look fairly attractive.

Any suggestions on the best approach?

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That's a teeny tiny pot for that size jade. For true house bound plants, you want to incrementally increase the size of the pot each year so that the medium gets filled with feeder roots. If you just put a small plant in a big pot, the roots will grow outward, and then start growing round and round the pot, this leaves a huge amount of unused soil which is going to waste and not feeding your plant.

I'd leave the plant as is, but increase the pot size by 1 inch this year and continue to do so at the beginning of each new growing season (about now for the northern hemisphere). In addition, I would lop the top of the main stem to encourage branching. Your plant will pick up more nutrients and will start to branch out and fill out a bit more below.

Think of jades as kinda like basil in this manner, the more you prune the main stem, the more bushy it becomes, if you just trim leaves then it will grow tall and leggy.

  • And the bits you pinch out (if they're a little bit bigger) can be turned into more jade plants. :) – Niall C. Mar 20 '15 at 17:28
  • Sure, with jade even a leaf so long as it has a complete petiole can also root. That is its principle means of vegetative propagation. The secondary means it just laying down and layering itself when it gets big and water heavy during times of plenty. They do flower however and reproduce sexually as well. – Escoce Mar 20 '15 at 17:30
  • I disagree with your assessment that the pot is too small. Jade are very happy to be pot bound. It's true that they can become top heavy so clay pots are always a good idea. I would cut this one back and move it to a higher light location. – kevinsky Mar 20 '15 at 19:30
  • How can I tell if a leaf has a complete petiole? – Michael.Lumley Mar 20 '15 at 19:58
  • If it fell off naturally it probably does. If you pull it off youself, if nothing got left behind on the stem, you got the whole leaf. They will sometimes root if you put the stem into the dirt. – Escoce Mar 21 '15 at 3:37
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Ok, so I agree with the post that discusses increasing the pot size. If you do decide to use the leaves or lop off anything, you actually need to dry them out and wait until they start putting out new roots. They will do this most of the time. The stump that was left in the original pot will also start to regrow.

This webpage really helped me!

http://needlesandleaves.net/blog/2013/5/31/propagating-leggy-succulents

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If it were mine I would go with the first option. Be sure and let the cut part dry overnight before you put it in new dirt.

  • What about breaking off the 3-4 bottom leaves and trying to grow them as new plants around the base of the old one? – Michael.Lumley Mar 20 '15 at 16:15

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