Help transplanting a big jade plant

sunnysideuphill(5)February 15, 2008

I have a big jade plant,about 2' high and nearly that wide. It was a little 10" rooted cutting when my brotherinlaw gave it to me about three years ago. I transplanted it once, summer of 06, to a pot that was too big for it at the time. Now it has definitely outgrown it. It has a thick central trunk divided into three branches about 10" above soil level, with two nearly horizontal and one curving up. Those three are divided into smaller branches. All are covered with large dark green single lobed leaves that attach to the leathery branches with an easily snapped off stem. I have seen small jade plants with lighter green leaves, densely growing out of the branches with nearly invisible stems. Mine isn't like that.

It is so big that even when the pot is watered and heavy, it is easy to tip over.

Any suggestions on how to go about this without knocking off all the leaves and leaving a skeleton?

Also, given its size and shape, I am thinking of going to a shorter, wider pot rather than one similar to the one it is in, which is taller than it is wide. What do you think? Thanks.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi Sunny..Why do you think your Jade's leaves are falling? Is it possible it's not getting enough sun/light?
Is there one or multiple trunks?
What type of container is it in now? If it's in a plastic growing pot, and you don't mind destroying it, using a sharp pair of scissors, cut the plastic starting from the top down..You may need to cut and rip, (carefully) when doing this, but it can be done without losing too many leaves..
If it's in clay, break shards using a hammer..Be careful shards don't hit you in the face/eye..Use an old cloth, place over pot, and break away..
I've done both w/overpotted plants w/o harming roots or foliage..

A friend has a jade w/multi-trunks..she divided the trunks..W/one trunk, she cut roots, and about 1/3rd of the upper stems/leaves. The jade looks like a bonsai..she did a fantastic job..
I don't know if this is the look you're aiming for, but if the roots of your jade are deep, and you want to plant in a shorter pot, its roots and top foliage will need pruning.
The only way I'd attempt this is if you have mutli trunks..(just in case something goes wrong; you don't want to lose the whole plant.)
Good luck, Toni

    Bookmark   February 15, 2008 at 4:13PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Well, if the roots are truly crowded in the pot, go ahead with the re-potting.
Spread the roots out when you re-pot. Jades are tough plants, as long as
they're not over-watered.

Now, if the plant is merely top-heavy in its current pot, I'd prune it back rather
than re-pot. Jades can take a severe pruning and thrive afterwards. I suggest
you prune your plant so that the foliage is more evenly distributed over that
nice central trunk. The new leaves will tend to be both smaller and bushier.

As Toni mentioned, lack of light might be a key issue here. Jades grow
long and leggy if they don't get enough light; they'll also put out big,
dark green leaves to capture as much light as possible.

Let us know how it goes!


    Bookmark   February 15, 2008 at 5:22PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I think Toni's idea of cutting the plastic pot is great; I have a big jade that needs repotting also, and since its in a plastic pot, that's what I will do....never would have thought of that!

    Bookmark   February 15, 2008 at 7:14PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Sunnyside, actually, your Jade would prefer it be left alone. It is a much better plant when root bound.
Jade should not be overwatered and is why its soil can be made up of 1/3 sharp sand and potting soil.
The plant must not hold water too long.

If a gun is pointed at your head and you must re-pot, then now is the good time--when the sun values are returning and will promote new growth.
Fertilizer should be kept to a minimum....feeding it only twice a year...spring and fall.....10/15/10....10/30/10

If it comes down to 'you must re-pot' then I suppose a large piece of plastic sheeting is called for.
Bring the plant to the centre, lay on its side or at 45º ..and carefully run a large knife around the edges to break the hold, give a sharp whack on the bottom to jolt it out and up and hopefully it comes out in one piece.
Have the new pot ready with drainage shards (yes, clay is good) bring the soil and plant to the pot, slide it in, put it upright and fill in the spaces where necessary.

I would suggest though this be a last gasp thing to do if the plant is doing well in its present pot.
As far as its tipping about going to the side which has less weight and draw some soil out, replace with something heavier than the soil. Something that would not interfere with how the plant grows. A brick..or a portion of a brick. A rock..placed so that soil covers it but gives the pot weeigt on that side.

You mentioned that you re-potted once before going to a much larger pot. That can be dangerous...harmful.
The roots then are expected to draw further nutrition by being able to go further afield. This sometimes causes much harm to the leaves which are unable to use the increased level of nutrition.
Your Jade evidently liked what you did....its growth rate proved it. Now it is in a happy pot....why try to make it unhappy.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2008 at 9:48PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hmmm. Light, Pot, Action....

Re light: This plant is in a south/south west facing sunroom entry, with one wall of glass, the other two walls have clerestory windows along the full length at the top of the wall. It is the most light-filled spot in the house. And it spends its summers on a west-facing deck. During particularly hot dry spells, it is pulled in a few feet so it gets some protection from an awning. The summer before I started doing this, leaves were reddish and wrinkled, I feared either sunburn or dehydration.
So I don't think lack of light is an issue.

The branches are not at all naked, it is just that there is measurable space between leaves, unlike those tight little guys I have seen in the supermarket, whose leaves look like racked up miniature lime green poker chips.

I just went and measured. The glazed clay pot is 9" top diameter, 7" bottom diameter, 8" high. There are visible roots at the drainhole. I used regular potting soil, with a few rocks over the drainhole. I am considering a 6" high, 10" or 11" diameter cylndrical pot, unglazed. I figure the geometry is my side, as far as tippability goes, and the restrictive vertical dimension will maintain a certain degree of root frustration, so it doesn't feel the need to spread out.

As far as losing leaves - a friend suggested loosely wrapping each branch in the tiny bubble wrap before starting the Big Move, and having a second set of hands to steady plant as it gets settled. I will ask daughters to volunteer - both will be home this Wesnesday.

FIRST BIG QUESTION - should I use something other than allpurpose potting soil? Should I cover the bottom of the pot with stones, not just the drain hole, for additional tipping insurance? If so, that further reduces the vertical dimension, increases root restriction...

SECOND BIG QUESTION- am I right in assuming No Fertilizer, just water, until I see new leaf growth?

Thanks for you attention.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2008 at 7:30PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Don't use a regular potting soil.
Use a cactus and succulent soil. Then, add Perlite (or similar product) to increase drainage. Add grit: small gravel, pumice, horticultural charcoal, et cetera, to further increase drainage.

I use a shard of a terracotta pot to "cover" the drainage hole and prevent soil from washing out the bottom. A tiny bit of gravel will help hold the shard in place and give a little weight to the pot, but avoid creating a "gravel layer" at the bottom of the pot. It isn't necessary.

Mix your ingredients, spread the roots appropriately into the new pot, support the plant while it settles in, and wait to water for at least a week (so that damaged roots can heal).

Good luck! Let us know how it goes.


    Bookmark   February 17, 2008 at 8:00PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Sunny, fertilizer on any succulent until you see growth..OR, you can fertilize (diluted) from March-Sept..
We all have different ways, times and types of fertilizers for succulents.
There's plain old Cactus and Succulent fertilizer..since I don't use it, I don't know the dosage, but whatever it is,reduce..

Fish Emulsion is safe, doesn't burn roots. Its one drawback is a fishy odor, but they sell an odorless type.

All purpose..if you decide to use an all purplse chemical fertilizer, use half the dossage they recommend.
I've noticed on all-purpose brand they advise using once a month or if divided in half, every two wks..Considering Jades are slow-growing, I feel their trying to sell the product, and it's not a good idea using their so-called rate on your Jade.

Some authors, (I take their word to fertilizer sellers) state feeding Crussulas 2-3 times a yr during growing season is adequate..the disappointing part is they don't name which type or brand is best, so you'll have to use your own judgement..the thing to remember is any slow-growing plant requires little's better to under than over-feed..Toni

    Bookmark   February 18, 2008 at 1:54AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

One suggestion would also be to get another pair of hands when you repot - people don't think of doing it, but especially where you don't want the leaves breaking off when you lay the plant on its side, if someone else can support the trunk a bit while you're busy with the rootball, and certainly when you're reseating it in the new pot, you'd probably feel a bit better. But don't get too upset if some leaves are lost - it's almost inevitable and just think of all the new trees you can grow from them! I recently got a big jade (many trunks!) and found a little fig accidentally growing in the middle somewhere. I wanted to repot anyway (Jeannie - repotting is not a death sentence if you know what you're doing... where do you get your ideas!) and so carefully broke the rootball vertically in half, retrieved the fig, got both halves of the jade into a new, more stable pot (no stones on the bottom, just new gritty soil around the outsides and to fill in gaps) and it's doing just great (all things considered, it probably shouldn't be, but being so established, it's tougher than a little one would be apparently). That was a couple of wks ago, and I have yet to water it - plan to let it tell me when it needs a drink (not something I would normally do after repotting anything else!).

    Bookmark   February 18, 2008 at 5:07AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thank you! Off to garden center for the right soil this afternoon. And my daughters will both be here Wednesday, as well as the granddaughters, so there will be plenty of willing hands.
I have never started new jade plants from the leaves - my guess is it isn't like sticking a sprig of ivy in water....How hard is it?
Thanks again - I have bookmarked this forum!

    Bookmark   February 18, 2008 at 9:41AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Not in water - let them dry for a day, just on a shelf, then stick 'em in barely moist soil and wait. I should have been clearer above - I didn't entirely break up the whole rootball, but VERY carefully sort of separated a couple of trunks outwards, very carefully kind of listening for cracking (vs slight tearing) and the instant I felt NO give when stretching, I stopped and worked on a different two trunks, as no give can mean your breaking trunks vs just separating roots. I got lucky - good luck to you.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2008 at 12:33PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks for the rooting tips. Mine is a single trunk, so no splitting necessary, thank goodness.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2008 at 10:17AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
puglvr1(9b central FL)

Hi sunnyside,

Good luck with your re-potting tomorrow. Also for what its worth, I have read on some of the bonsai forums and also someone on this forum had suggested using window screening for covering the drainage hole. I have used these in all my pots and have worked very well. Really keeps the soil from washing away, yet provides excellent drainage.

Could you please post a picture after you accomplish this very big project. I'm sure I'm not the only one that would LOVE to see your beautiful Jade. Thanks...

    Bookmark   February 19, 2008 at 7:47PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Window screen is not the best thing - it rusts and will disintegrate eventually. Plastic canvas from a craft store is a much better bet.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2008 at 9:38PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hmmm, rather than buy plastic canvas for such small piece, I wonder if the plastic netting from an onion bag would do, folded up into a flat pad?

    Bookmark   February 19, 2008 at 10:42PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Window screen isn't always metal.
Also, it's meant to get wet, as long as it isn't scratched - and, it'll more than likely last through your first re-potting (at which point you could swap out the old and put in a new). That said, you could always go with plastic screening, or any sort of smaller mesh.

Hope it goes well!


    Bookmark   February 20, 2008 at 9:41AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
puglvr1(9b central FL)

Hey Josh,

I absolutely agree, as a matter of fact I use "Fiberglass" window screen, it doesn't rust. I would never use metal screen. Even if they make it I would never buy it nor use it. For me this works fine, I repot in a year or two, the screen is always fine, but I always replace it when I repot. Let us know how you make out.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2008 at 8:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

I worked at an ACE Hardware for a few years when
I was in college, and re-screening doors and windows
was one of those services we provided. The metal
screen would fray and leave little wire-segments
everywhere, and the screen itself would crease.

Almost always we'd replace the metal screen with
an alternative material, making life much easier
the next time the window/door frame came around.


    Bookmark   February 21, 2008 at 11:08AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I am nervously on the verge of repotting my very large jade. Part of nervousness is sentimental... it was a gift from my daughter some 15-20 years ago. It's 2.5 feet high and same in diameter, has 9 trunks, is top-heavy, and in its original pot.
It has been spending summers outside, faces the northwest and has been faithful and splendid 100%. Spoke with local univ. horticultural contact & we agree it should be repotted by an experienced horticulturist at a respected nursery. I'm still very nervous. This blog has helped tremendously. Thanks all.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2008 at 2:47AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My jade plant is so top heavy that it has drooped over. the thick trunk is splitting. Can I cut off the three big limps and root and is so how do I root it. Also can I re-root the main trunk if it breaks off?

    Bookmark   August 8, 2011 at 9:58AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
My Spider Plant Again......
Out of all my plants this one just seems to get everything....
Will the aphids come back on my overwintered potted strawberry plants?
I had a severe aphid infestation on my potted strawberry...
Fiddle Leaf Fig Trunk Help
Hi, I recently purchased a Fiddle Leaf Fig and it’s...
Febuary Flowers
This is my month!! I finally have a decent amount of...
Spot for Calathea ornata and Ctenanthe oppenheimiana tricolor
Will they like the same spot as my Marantha leuconeura? Beside...
MsGreenFinger GW
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™