Houseplants forum: Advice needed for neglected jade: Pruning? Propagating? Potting? Plant lights?

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Name: JC
Philadelphia-ish, PA (Zone 6b)
BadAtPlants
Aug 8, 2017 8:58 PM CST
Hello! I'm new! I'm bad at plants! Crying

I "inherited" a cardboard box of 4 neglected but healthy plants. They all need some pretty aggressive TLC. With my black thumb, though, I'm afraid I'll turn them from overgrown but healthy plants... into pruned but dead plants. Crying

My primary concern is the jade. It was my late great aunt's. I REALLY don't want to kill this thing.

Thumb of 2017-08-09/BadAtPlants/c27e6d
(^ Front view. Jade cannot support its own weight. Not even close.)

Thumb of 2017-08-09/BadAtPlants/8ef9c0
(^ Side view. Poor thing is a mess.)

Thumb of 2017-08-09/BadAtPlants/cfc752
(^ The cardboard box where it's been living)

(1) It obviously needs some pruning.

(a) Is there a particular time of year/ type of weather that's best for pruning? Or worst for pruning? Is now (August) OK?
(b) How aggressively do I need to prune it?
(c) How do I baby it, to make sure it goes back to being happy and healthy, after I prune it?
(d) Side note: aesthetically, I don't mind it being all leggy and etiolated like this...

(2) How do I best go about starting new jades with whatever I prune? Do I just cut off those two ungainly trunks, let them callus over, and plop them into a pot of soil? I read something about starting a jade from a leaf; how does that work? Do you bury the leaf?

(3) It needs a bigger pot, too, I'd wager.
(a) How long after the trauma of pruning do I need to wait before repotting?
(b) I know you're supposed to repot in the spring, but are there seasons when you really shouldn't repot?
(c) This is probably about a 3" pot. What are my repotting options? A 5" pot but no bigger? A big shallow bowl-like pot?

(4) My apartment is not bright. What can I do to make this jade as happy as possible??


Thank you!! I'm sorry if ya'll have answered these questions a million times before... I just want to make sure I'm doing this as correctly as possible.
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Aug 9, 2017 6:01 PM CST
Your great aunt's Jade looks healthy but overgrown. You should prune it back as much as you can stand. Pruning does no harm to the plant at all. It will change its appearance, but not its health. Pruning is like getting a haircut. At worst, you prune it back too much but it will grow back. Wherever you cut a stem is where new growth will start to come in. Pruning back is the way to eliminate leggy stems that have leaves only at the top.

Jades like a location on a sunny windowsill and they do best when kept quite potbound. Unnecessary or incorrectly done repotting is a much more serious threat than pruning. Allow the soil to get quite dry between waterings.

Pruning non-seasonal tropical plants can be done at any time of year.

The legginess may be fine for you now, but it will only become more leggy and lean ever more. I think you may be avoiding the inevitable because you are afraid to prune. I vote for pruning aggressively!

Pruning is not traumatic, but repotting often is. I see no reason to repot at this time. Repotting, like pruning, can be done at any time of year.

After the tip cuttings have healed over night, insert them in a small pot filled with a porous potting mix that is half perlite. Keep it damp, warm and on a sunny windowsill.

Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: JC
Philadelphia-ish, PA (Zone 6b)
BadAtPlants
Aug 9, 2017 9:40 PM CST
Thank you!!

I guess I'll alcohol-sanitize my hedge clippers, lop off the two main branches near the height of the new pot-level growths, and propagate as many segments of the cut-off branches as I can.

Crossing Fingers! Crossing Fingers! Crossing Fingers!

Does it matter where I cut? At the stem rings, between the stem rings?

And should the jade be freshly-watered, or starting to get thirsty, or does it matter?
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
Aug 10, 2017 11:37 AM CST
Cut wherever you want. I like to take cuttings 2-3 days after watering well, but I doubt it really matters.

Try to provide more light if you can. As much light as possible indoors (like right by your sunniest unobstructed window). This is much more of an issue in late fall and winter when the days are short and the sun is low in the sky.

Pruning is easy and propagation is fun, but a jade plant in proper light never requires any pruning. One easy way to track the exposure is to watch the internodes (successive distance between leaves along a stem)... Longer internodes (accompanied by weak branches and an unstable growth habit) are the classic sign your plant needs more light.

You can repot any time you like but ideally in the spring (if light is limiting indoors), with not too big a jump in pot size (1-2" at a time), and using good fast-draining soil. There is no advantage to leaving your plant in too small a pot (ie. leaving it totally potbound for years on end). It looks like it needs a bigger pot in the near future.

The important thing is moderation when you go up a size. These plants can grow to be a few feet tall and wide in the ground, but it takes them a good while to get there, and they are going to be even slower in a pot. So take it one small step at a time for best results.
[Last edited by Baja_Costero - Aug 10, 2017 12:02 PM (+)]
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Name: JC
Philadelphia-ish, PA (Zone 6b)
BadAtPlants
Aug 11, 2017 6:17 AM CST
Thank you!!

I've got everything next to my sunniest window, but the apartment just doesn't get all that much light. Sad
My hope for propagating is that maybe I can give the plant babies to people with sunnier windows, so some little part of my plants can live on if (when?) I kill the mamas.

I'll try pruning/propagating this weekend (along with the other three neglected plants, while I'm at it), and save all the repotting for spring.

Crossing Fingers! Crossing Fingers! Crossing Fingers!
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
Image
WillC
Aug 11, 2017 12:53 PM CST
Not sure if you are serious about hedge clippers. A pair of sharp household scissors or a sharp paring knife work just fine
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: JC
Philadelphia-ish, PA (Zone 6b)
BadAtPlants
Aug 12, 2017 6:47 AM CST
I was serious. I own scissors, and I own hedge clippers (inherited from the same late great aunt, actually), and nothing in between. I had visions of scissor-hacking at those thick jade stems for minutes on end... like a decapitation with a dull axe, where they have to take several swings at the neck before the head finally comes off?? Shudder.

Turned out, those woody trunks were less like wood than I thought they "wood" be.

I did the deed last night. Hedge clippers worked like a hot knife through butter. You're right, it may have been overkill, but it worked fine.

Thumb of 2017-08-12/BadAtPlants/98b546

I'm letting all my cuttings dry out right now. I'll put 'em in dirt today or tomorrow.

(Please nobody tell me I did it wrong now!!!)
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
Image
WillC
Aug 12, 2017 7:38 AM CST
I knew the Jade stems "woodn't" be as woody as you suspected. That's why I mentioned it. You did good!
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care

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