Ask a Question forum: houseplant advice please?

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(Zone 7a)
DrGT
Mar 28, 2017 8:07 AM CST
Hello plant lovers,
I inherited a jade plant 11 years ago, and have pretty much left it alone since then. It sits in a bay window that gets direct morning sun, and has been in the same relatively small (6"diameter) pot all along. After seeing jade plants at the Philly flower show it's now obvious to me that mine is more horizontal and meandering than it should be. I want to improve it, but how? Pruning? More frequent watering? Moving to a larger pot, perhaps with the main trunk positioned vertically? Any advice is appreciated. Here's a pic of the jade. (I threw in a pic of my amaryllis that just bloomed)
Thumb of 2017-03-28/DrGT/cfda6f


Thumb of 2017-03-28/DrGT/faaae9


Gogobotanist
Mar 28, 2017 8:31 AM CST
IMO a plant's form 'should' be whatever tickles your fancy. I like your birds nest jade plant. If you want to cultivate an upright specimen I'd recommend just taking stem cuttings. Also, it's possible your jade may be genetically predisposed to rambling rather than growing upright.
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Mar 28, 2017 5:10 PM CST
It is a matter of personal taste, but I recommend pruning back all the stems sharply. It is not a genetic condition.

All you need to know is that new growth will emerge on any healthy stem at a point just below where you make a pruning cut. So you can control its future growth and appearance by your pruning back selected stems.

Tip cuttings that result from the pruning can be propagated in small pots filled with a very porous potting mix.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
Contact me directly at [email protected]
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Yardenman
Maryland (Zone 7a)
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Yardenman
Mar 29, 2017 12:03 AM CST
DrGT said:Hello plant lovers,
I inherited a jade plant 11 years ago, and have pretty much left it alone since then. It sits in a bay window that gets direct morning sun, and has been in the same relatively small (6"diameter) pot all along. After seeing jade plants at the Philly flower show it's now obvious to me that mine is more horizontal and meandering than it should be. I want to improve it, but how? Pruning? More frequent watering? Moving to a larger pot, perhaps with the main trunk positioned vertically? Any advice is appreciated. Here's a pic of the jade. (I threw in a pic of my amaryllis that just bloomed)
Thumb of 2017-03-28/DrGT/cfda6f


Thumb of 2017-03-28/DrGT/faaae9



If you want a more upright plant, putting any kind of grow light above it. Your plant is seeking the light it can find. I had one for a decade and it grew towards whatever light I provided.
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
Mar 29, 2017 4:29 PM CST
DrGT, if it were mine, I would chop them to maybe 6 inch length, mark which part is the lower part, set the stem cuttings aside to callus. Once they have callused, you can stick them back to several containers, with lower side mark into the soil. You may choose to keep the main stem intact with the original roots, and it should try to regrow from those cut-off points. Root system of jade plants are rather shallow and small, so it will not need very deep containers. Typically the upper part of the stem is the faster one to grow, so the lower part of the cuttings you will just have to wait and see how it goes. I have mentioned using several containers since this plant can easily grow into one good specimen size so it will give more room for it to branch. I prefer to use shallow and wide containers than very deep containers. Each one of those leaves are potential new plants in itself if you also like to test having leaf cuttings, just twist off from the stem, set aside to callus and then lay on top of the soil and it should grow new roots or leaves.

You have mentioned it is facing direct sun in that bay window..what is the orientation of the window, is that north or south? North facing window is really rather weak, so maybe that accounts for the horizontal growth of your plant. Adding grow lights will help or once, your outdoor conditions have improved, bring the containers out slowly to part sun, so it can experience natural light, warmth and better airflow. I use cacti mix and add some more pumice or perlite in the media to really keep it open and well draining. I like to top dress my succulents with chicken grit (insoluble crushed granite). As always use containers with drainage holes. Good luck on whatever decision you make, there is still hope for that plant to improve its growth. Smiling

By the way, frequent watering is not the answer. This plant is very drought tolerant.
[Last edited by tarev - Mar 29, 2017 4:30 PM (+)]
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Name: Sally
central Maryland
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sallyg
Mar 29, 2017 6:18 PM CST
I usually poo poo plants that are not growing at their 'best', but I think this one's got it's own unique charm. And the Amaryllis and kitty are cute too.
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Ohio (Zone 5b)
AlyssaBlue
Mar 29, 2017 6:30 PM CST
Wow, that's a cool looking plant! I think it's a personal preference. I personally would leave it and see what it looks like in a hanger.

Sometimes the quirky ones are the coolest ones. Thumbs up
Name: Tiffany purpleinopp
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purpleinopp
Apr 1, 2017 6:14 AM CST
It IS cool! And doing all it can in the available light. Unless you have more light somewhere else, this is what your plant is going to look like. Uprightness, or lack thereof, is a result of available light, or lack thereof.
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Name: Will Creed
NYC
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WillC
Apr 1, 2017 8:17 AM CST
I have always found it interesting that so many folks have an aversion to pruning. I suspect fear is a primary reason. Pruning is much like getting a haircut - it doesn't affect your health at all, but it does alter your appearance. If you like the wild, unchecked and often leggy appearance, then by all means don't prune. But you can alter the appearance of your plant if you are willing to purine. You are not at the mercy of mother nature.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
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Contact me directly at [email protected]
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Tiffany purpleinopp
Opp, AL 🌵🌷⚘🌹🌻 (Zone 8b)
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purpleinopp
Apr 1, 2017 8:56 AM CST
I don't think anyone was expressing an aversion to pruning. If your post was a response to mine, Ken, I think I failed to convey my point.

Leggy = etiolation, excess distance between nodes, and is a result of exposure, or lack thereof.

I'm trying to explain that cutting anything off of a plant that is not growing uprightly, because it is in insufficient light, will not cause the new growth to be upright. Once/if a change to more light can be made, upright growth can be manipulated to maintain a pleasing shape. These principles apply to any plant that has branches, and is quite the opposite of being at the mercy of mother nature. When there is not enough sun for a plant to grow in a normal fashion, pruning can't change that.

In plenty of light, Jade leaves point up at the tips, and the whole plant is stiffly upright, without any human manipulation. I want this plant to look like a bonsai, a shrunken tree:
Thumb of 2017-04-01/purpleinopp/545d4c

Leaf tips pointing up.
Thumb of 2017-04-01/purpleinopp/c251dd

Another plant that I want to sweep sideways, so I have maniuplated it into that shape, hard to see with so much foliage on it.
Thumb of 2017-04-01/purpleinopp/a3513e

Kalanchoe blossfeldiana, same thing. These plants have been heavily manipulated to have more branches and smaller foliage.
Thumb of 2017-04-01/purpleinopp/6f3259
Even though it started winter as a very stiffly upright specimen, being too busy to turn it constantly, everything started to lean toward the window almost instantly, within 2 days.
Thumb of 2017-04-01/purpleinopp/574f3e

That is the only option for plants getting their light from a window, turning very often, which cuts the exposure in half. Each side is only facing the direct sun for half of the time.

The Kals are back outside now & starting to upright themselves, because I've manipulated their location, and removed some leaves from the low side, and it is their habit to grow upright in their new location/condition.

Coleus, just over a foot tall, growing in the shape I dictated, many branches with a mass of foliage, by the mechanical adjustments I have made to it since it started as a cutting in October. I do not turn potted plants over winter because I don't have time and they don't fit in other positions, so the Coleus also looks like it has a front/back. After a few weeks outside, that will ameliorate itself, and is cool for now because it gives us a chance to observe the structure created through intentional, selective manipulations over time.
Thumb of 2017-04-01/purpleinopp/929266
Thumb of 2017-04-01/purpleinopp/3c8fdb
Coleus is a wonderful starter plant to learn pruning because they grow so fast.

None of my words are meant to degrade any plant as looking less attractive than another, just trying to explain uprightness in more sun, actual sun shining right on the plant for hours per day, vs. the droopy appearance that is unavoidable in much lower light. Not all plants have the option of getting more sun, which is perfectly fine. It's simply fantasy to say that any type or frequency of pruning will make those plants grow/look like plants in more sun.

These things are not my ideas, and I don't intend to imply that they are, just basic pruning/bonsai principles and techniques available in many books/websites about pruning/bonsai, but can only be truly grasped by doing. And I would never insult the venerated practice by attempting to call myself a practitioner, just an admirer and casual dabbler.


👀😁😂 - SMILE! -☺😎☻☮👌✌∞☯🐣🐦🐔🐝🍯🐾
The less I interfere, the more balance mother nature provides.
👒🎄👣🏡🍃🍂🌾🌿🍁❦❧ 🍃🍁🍂🌾🌻🌸🌼🌹🌽❀☀🌺
☕👓 The only way to succeed is to try.
[Last edited by purpleinopp - Apr 1, 2017 9:10 AM (+)]
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(Zone 7a)
DrGT
Apr 1, 2017 7:27 PM CST
Thank you all for your thoughts. The window faces east/southeast, so really only gets morning sun. I water once or twice a week. Is it beneficial to fertilize a plant like this periodically? I've never given it any in 11 years.

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