Propagating Jade Plants from stems has a much higher success rate than from leaves so if you’ve got a nice bushy plant in need of a prune or a snapped stem you might be in luck! It’s best to get your Jade cuttings started nice and early on in the spring growing season so they’ve got plenty of time to get established before summers over.
Preparing Your Plant
The most common reason for your Jade cuttings not taking is because it dries out before it’s able to develop a big enough root system to get enough water to the leaves. A couple of days before you take your cuttings give your plant a good water. It’ll make sure that the cuttings have plenty of water stored up to survive for a while.
To keep your odds of success high choose nice healthy cuttings. They should be around 3 – 10cm (1 – 4 inches) long. If you look along the stem you’ll see it has rings around it. They’re leaf scars and that’s where the roots will grow from so make sure you’ve got a few of those on your cutting. If you leave at least one leaf scar on the main jade plant then you’ll usually get two new stems growing from there like the top one in the picture below.
If you’ve got any really long branches then you can chop them up to make multiple cuttings.
Taking the Cuttings
To take your Jade cuttings use a clean sharp pair of pruners (if you’ve got them!). Cut close to the leaf scar that you’re leaving on the plant which’ll help keep things neat. If you’ve got a big bit of extra stem on the bottom of your stem cutting then trim it back to near the last leaf scar. Leave about a centimetre of stem on there.
Preparing the Cuttings
Next we need to strip most of the leaves off of the stem. The more leaf scars that are under the soil the more chance of them growing roots so get rid of the leaves on the bottom 3/4 of the stem by gently breaking them off – these can be propagated too. Removing most of the leaves will help the cutting preserve water because it’s only trying to support a few leaves. I leave a couple on the to.
Drying the Cuttings
The cut end of cutting is an open wound and if you stick it straight into soil it can easily get infected. Put your succulent somewhere dry and warm with bright indirect light for a few days until the end callouses over. If your cuttings large it may need longer.
As you can see on my cuttings the leaves have already started to wrinkle a bit. Because it was quite warm, I probably left the cuttings to dry for a little too long (3 days). Instead of leaving them for a set amount of time, check on them daily to see when the cut end has healed up and once it has it’s ready to go into soil.
Planting the Cuttings
It’s finally time to break out the soil. I use a standard succulent mix from the garden centre. Jade cuttings are pretty sensitive to root rot so whatever soil you use make sure it’s something that’s going to dry out fairly quickly between waterings.
Small individual pots are a great choice – yoghurt pots with some holes poked in the bottom will work just fine. Potting up your cuttings individually makes it easier later on as you’ll be able to treat them all based on where they are in the rooting process and when it comes time to repot any of them you won’t need to worry about disturbing the surrounding cuttings delicate new roots.
Poke a hole in the soil about the depth you’re going to plant your cutting with a chopstick – try and get as many leaf nodes as possible under the soil. Stick the cutting in there making sure the leaves aren’t touching the soil. Push the soil up against the stem and pat it down so the stem stays standing upright and don’t water it.
Take a picture of your cutting – it’ll come in handy later.
Pop it somewhere warm and dry where it’ll get bright indirect light for a week or two.
Jade cuttings don’t respond well to lots of humidity – it makes them rot. Don’t stick a plastic bag over the top or anything like that.
Watering the Cuttings
Watering your cuttings before they have roots can cause the stem to rot. But, it can be a little tricky to figure out whether or not it’s grown any roots. The most common method is to gently tug on the cutting, if there’s resistance then it’s probably formed some roots, if it comes out then it hasn’t. The big issue with that method is if there are any new delicate roots then tugging on the stem could damage them.
I prefer to look out for signs of new growth on the plant and its overall health compared to when I first planted them. Here’s where that picture you took comes in handy!
Once you’re fairly certain roots have started to form it’s time to give your plant its first drink of water!
The night before you plan to water, leave some tap water out overnight (unless you happen to have rain water or ro water or something). I’ve heard that leaving tap water out overnight lets some of the chemicals evaporate off plus, it’ll let it come to room temperature.
Then, the next morning give your plant a nice deep water. I prefer morning watering because it gives the soil a chance to dry out a bit over the day and it’s when the plants waking up and getting ready to put in a good day of hard work growing.
Water it until the water flows out of the drainage holes. Make sure the soil gets saturated through and the waters not just running straight through the pot – sometimes with certain soils they can become hydrophobic (the water runs off the soil instead of being absorbed by it). Sometimes the soil compacts a little with watering so top up the soil if it gets low.
It’s best not to get the leaves wet if you can help it but if you do, blow off any water that’s puddling on the leaves and leave them to dry out.
Your cutting’s still not ready for full sun so keep it in bright indirect light until there’s more signs of life.
Take another picture of your Jade Plant cutting.
Watering Your Jade Cutting
Because cuttings are at risk from root rot I use the soak and dry method of watering. Wait until the soil is completely dry, then water it until the water flows out of the drainage holes and the soils completely saturated.
Keep a close eye on it though. It’s still delicate so you don’t want it sitting in dry soil for too long. I try and catch my cuttings as soon as the soil dries out.
How Much Light to Give Your Jade Cutting
Mature, established Jade Plants appreciate direct sun but younger plants can’t handle it. They need to stay in bright indirect light for a while and then be slowly hardened off to direct light. The earliest I’d even think of introducing my Jade cuttings to direct light is once it’s been repotted and I’d gotten a peek at the root system and it had put on a decent amount of growth on top.
Pruning Your Jade Cutting
Pruning is important for Jade Plants. It encourages them to bush and branch out if you cut off the growing tip or above a leaf scar. Don’t start pruning too early though. They’re slow growers so for the first season you probably won’t need to worry about pruning.
I’d only prune mine if it was putting a lot of growth into a single branch or stem. Snip the stem above a leaf scar and after a while you should get two new branches coming from the leaf scar.
That’s it! Your cutting is now an actual plant and you can start treating it like you would any new young Jade Plant.
Not all cuttings take so don’t be too disappointed if they don’t all start growing. It’s a bit hit and miss and as long as you’ve planted a few then you should end up with at least one that grows. If not, grab your pruners and your mother Jade Plant and prune off a few more stems and try again.