How to Grow a Jade Plant into a Tree | Crassula Tree Bonsai

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If you are looking for a low-maintenance bonsai specimen that would look like a miniature tree, then learn How to Grow a Jade Plant into a Tree in this post.

How to Grow a Jade Plant into a Tree

A succulent with a thick trunk! This is what makes the jade stand out from the rest making it one of the most loved plants and what’s more–you can grow it both indoors and outdoors. If you too like it how about learning How to Grow a Jade Plant into a Tree!

Find how to grow coleus as a tree here

Can You Grow a Jade Plant into a Tree?

You can and it’s not at all difficult! However, growing a jade plant as a tree demands a careful mix of training, pruning, feeding, and patience as it will take its own sweet time to develop into a beautiful specimen.

In its native environment of Africa, the jade plant can naturally achieve a height of 6-8 feet. This plant can live for a very long time and if you take care of a few things, it can be passed to generations.

Choose the Right Variety for Growing a Jade Plant into a Tree

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Keep in mind that all jade varieties can not grow tall and take the shape of a tree. You can go with Crassula Ovata, which can grow up to 4-8 feet tall, ‘Hummel’s Sunset,’ which reaches an impressive height of 3-5 feet, Portulacaria afra which can achieve a height of 2-4 feet, and Crassula Ovata ‘Lemon & Lime,’ which can also grow up to 3-5 feet tall.

Check out the best jade plants here

How Long will it Take for a Jade Plant to Turn into a Tree?

If provide the jade plant with the right growing condition, it will start to take the shape of a tree in 3-4 years but will take its own sweet time to reach a height of 3-5 feet, which can be anywhere between 6-12 years. How much time it would take also depends on the size of the plant you’ve bought from the garden center.

How to Grow Jade Plant as a Tree?

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1. Select the Right Pot

Generally, a 4 to 6 inches container does well initially for a jade plant. Once it’ll grow a bit and if you want to grow it as a tree, then provide the plant a little more room to expand its roots. For this, once the plant grows slightly bigger transfer it to an 8 to 14 inches pot, again it depends on the size of your jade plant.

Always go for just one or two sizes bigger pot than the existing one because using an overly large pot means more soil and more moisture retention, which can result in waterlogging, and this–the jade plant won’t appreciate. The best bet is to pick a pot that’s one size bigger than the root ball of the plant.

2. Training the Trunk

Growing a jade plant as a tree is all about training it to become one. This includes:

  • Choosing the main stem as the main trunk and then getting rid of the side stems.
  • In the beginning, snip off all the stems that would hamper the growth of the main stem/trunk. Also, prune the lower half of the plant including all the leaves and stem to give it a top-heavy, tree-like look.
  • Ensure that you give the main stem some support by means of a bamboo stick or something as the plant can become top-heavy.

3. Give it Plenty of Sunlight Exposure on the Top

The Jade plant is a succulent and needs a combination of direct and indirect sunlight to do well. However, if you can control–make sure that the light falls equally on the plant from the top as it will make it grow straight and tall.

If the plant gets sunlight exposure from the side, then it will start to grow sideways, reaching toward the light source. It may also start to grow new stems from the sides.

You can also use a stake to give it support and prevent it from growing sideways or downwards and help it grow straight and tall. This will also promote the main stem to become thick and hard.

4. Fertilize it Correctly

Fertilize your jade plant once in 2-4 weeks during the active growing period with a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted to 1/4 of its recommended strength. Feeding will speed up the growth process and soon the plant will have a tree-like shape.

Note: Avoid overfeeding, and if you don’t live in a frost-free warm climate, stop fertilizing from mid-fall till winter.

Learn how to get a jade plant big and bushy here

Points to Consider While Pruning Jade Plant to Turn into a Tree

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Pruning helps the plant attain a tree-like shape and encourages airflow around and safeguards it from pests. 

  • Jade plants can be pruned at any time of the year, but spring and summer are perfect. As the plant actively grows during this time, it will help it to heal better.
  • Do not trim more than 20-30 percent of the branches in one pruning session.
  • Make sure to wipe out the shears with rubbing alcohol as pruning with dirty tools might expose the plant to infection.
  • When removing the branch entirely, cut it directly where it joins the trunk of the plant.
  • Snip the very top of the trunk. This will promote the lateral growth and the succulent will produce two new branches, which is essential to give it a lush and full, tree-like look.
  • Also, jade plants can be easily grown from cuttings and of course, the leaves–you can use both to create new plants!

Learn how to grow a jade plant from cuttings here

Jade Tree as Bonsai

You can also use bonsai wires to train the tree into your desired shape. They are easy to use and will also help you mold the shape of the stem from a very young age, helping them to grow stronger and more robust as the tree takes its final form.

Bonsai jade would be small and compact and will look very much like a mini tree but the shape totally depends on you. You can keep it near any bright window of your home or office. Here’s a cool video you can check out.

Maintaining Jade Plant as a Tree

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  • Make sure it gets at least 3-4 hours of direct sun. Avoid keeping it in complete darkness or shade if you want great results.
  • Too much and too little watering can affect the jade plant—it’s best to water it when the topsoil turns completely dry.
  • Keep an eye for spider mites and scales. Using insecticidal soap solution or a strong jet of water can solve the problem.
  • Be cautious for powdery mildew and black ring disease. Use a sharp shear and remove affected parts of the plant.
  • Wipe the main trunk with a damp cotton cloth once it 15-20 days to get rid of all the dirt and debris. It will also take away the traces of pests if any.

Learn how to save a dying jade plant here

Watch this video for more information

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  1. This was an amazing read! Just what I needed. I recently bought a jade plant in the shape of a tree. But it is dropping all is old leaves. The new growth also seems to be coming less succulent. After reading your article I realised it needs more direct sun. Thank you!

  2. I would really like to know how to trim a jade when the top branches develop a “U” shape ? How should it be trimmed as the trunk of the jade tree I have is quite thick.

  3. Is it possible to cut essentially the whole tree off? To promote the growth of an extra branch near dirt level?

    • My experience is that these plants can take pretty much anything. I’ve seen people rescue damaged plants by cutting all the branches off, leaving only the trunk, and after a while new growth starts to come. Obviously no one can give you any guarantees, but it should be fine as long as the plant is actually alive when you cut everything off. (You can also put the parts you cut off into soil, and have new plants within in a few weeks…)


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