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Repotting Large Indoor Jade Plants

Question:

I need to transplant 2 very large jade plants.  My Question: is how to not only remove them from old pot, but how to handle them since they have multiple trunks.  They also have branches that hang very low over the side of their  pots.  The larger plant is about 80 plus pounds and has at least 3 larges trunks.  Both plants are over 25 years old and are healthy, but have out grown their pots.  What is my best plan of action?  Should I put rocks in the bottom to insure good draining?  How much larger should I go with the new pots?  I have considered sawing the old pots and remove sections to help release them from the pot.  Is that a bad idea?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Answer:

I have news that will surprise you, but also make life a lot easier for you. Your Jades do NOT need to be transplanted! Older Jades have root systems that have long ago maxed out and should be maintained in their existing pots indefinitely. I know this goes against the conventional wisdom, but it is true.

However, older Jades do grow ever larger up top and their stems tend to get tugged downward by gravity as they grow longer. The solution is not a larger pot, which does not resolve the problem. The solution is to prune the long stems back by as much as you can stand. Pruning is the most neglected aspect of plant care because most folks are afraid it will hurt the plant or they will do it wrong.

The stems of any healthy Jade Plant can be pruned back as much as you want. New growth will emerge on each cut stem, right at the point that you make the pruning cut. So pruning not only shortens overhanging stems, it also promotes new growth in the center of the plant if you cut stems back far enough. How much you prune back depends on how you want the plant to look. It is much like getting a haircut – there is no right or wrong as it is a matter of personal taste as to the overall length and shape that you prefer. Pruning will not affect the health of your Jade one way or the other. So plunge in and do it. Pruning is much easier than attempting to repot a 25 year old, 80 pound plant!

Just for your information, when plants do need repotting, they should be moved into a pot one size larger and no more. Putting rocks in the bottoms of pots is an outdated and discredited practice. To ensure good drainage, make sure the pot has a drainage hole and the soil is properly porous throughout.