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Jade Plant With A Broken Trunk

Jade Plant With A Broken Trunk

The jade plant, or Crassula ovata, is a beautiful plant that is incredibly tough. These things have to deal with elephants, rhinos, and baboons in the wild. They are adapted to survive abuse, and knowing how to tend to your jade plant is important. This plant thrives on neglect. If you have a Jade plant with a broken trunk, I will explain how to turn this into an advantage!



What Is A Jade Plant?

This is a small to medium size succulent plant from Southern Africa. I have seen them attain 7 feet in height in the wild, but in gardens, they normally attain a lower height in our lifetimes. These plants are relatively fast-growing plants, but when they get to a specific height they slow down.

Scientifically, the  Latin name for the Jade plant is Crassula ovata. These plants grow in a vegetation type known as sub-tropical thicket. This ecosystem is drought-adapted and these plants have what is called a CAM photosynthetic cycle. If you understand this, and how it works, you will then find it easy to care for your plant.

What Is CAM Photosynthesis?

Crassulacean acid metabolism photosynthesis is a rather crafty adaptation some succulent plants use to survive in very harsh environments. Normal non-CAM plants absorb sunlight – this drives photosynthesis – the use of solar energy to convert carbon dioxide and water into glucose the energy molecule. In order to photosynthesize, plants need to have their stomatal pores open so that carbon dioxide from the atmosphere can diffuse into the leaves. Oxygen produced then exits these stomata and floats around where it can be used for useful things such as our breathing (or foolishly burnt in vehicles).

The problem with having pores open during the day is that if it is hot and dry, a lot of water gets lost in the atmosphere. What if a plant could photosynthesize at night you say? Well, there is no sunlight….. But wait – CAM plants are crafty – they store energy captured from the sun in Crassulacean acid, and then use this energy at night to drive the photosynthetic cycles. This is rather clever actually because the plants can open their stomatal pores and then not worry about losing water to the atmosphere. What is even cleverer, is that the CAM process absorbs heat – so the plant leaves get cold – and cold leaves attract moisture – the CAM plants literally create their own rain.

Yep – even the name of that cycle has something to do with our Jade plant which is Crassula ovata. 

Understanding Elephant and Jade Plants

In its natural habitat, the Jade plant spreads by being eaten by elephants. These huge animals grab a trunk and snap it off and wave it through the air and shove it into their mouths. They are messy eaters! Little pieces break off and fall in the bushes below the elephant, and many of these will in fact root and become new plants!

The jade plant has actually evolved to be easy to break – this helps it disperse and spread. Hence it is quite natural that branches will break off your plant from time to time. Cats, kids, vacuum cleaners, feather dusters, and so on are all quite capable of breaking a branch or two off the plant. Hence a Jade plant with a broken trunk is a normal sort of occurrence and part of the plants’ lifecycle.


In nature megaherbivores such as elephants break and spread jade plant pieces in the thicket. These cuttings sometimes roots and create new plants. In the urban environment pets and kids and similar destructive influences break the plants. You can see the plant in the barrel pot in front has been heavily damaged in a Rottweiler incident. My parents have grown many plants from cuttings detached from plants in such incidents.

How To Grow A Jade Plant From A Cutting

I normally leave a broken branch on a windowsill for a week. This helps the break harden off. It will turn into a white callus. Maybe two weeks. Don’t worry – you cannot kill these plants. Once the plant is ready, put it in a pot.  If you want to be fancy use specially formulated succulent soil. You can basically grow this plant in rocks if you want to! I have seen them growing in shale with no soil at all. This plant is tough. But it grows faster in good soil.

The cutting will root in a few months and the plant will start growing. Do not water it very much – make the soil damp once a week, or even less.

Tricks To Make The Plant Happy

These plants need some Sunlight. And they do not like being overwatered. Remember they have CAM photosynthesis, so they enjoy being able to get a little cold at night. They are moderately frost tolerant in the wild. People make the mistake of not letting them have warm days and cool nights. If you give them enough light, and some temperature fluctuations the plants build up strong leaves and are very disease resistant.

If the leaves get cool at night, the plant is able to store sugar in its leaves because its metabolic rate slows down. When this happens, it becomes less attractive to its most common pest, the mealybug.

If you keep them warm day and night they just don’t do as well because they run low on sugar in their leaves due to rapid metabolism at night. This then means they go through the next day storing CAM, and run low on sugar the next night making the plant weak and sad, and disease-prone.

I find that my plants enjoy being hosed down every month. Take the pots outside and spray the leaves down with a fine hose spray and this doubles as a nice deep watering. Let the plant dry out in the pot for two weeks and water again. Lightly. This regular watering removes the salty layer that sometimes appears on the leaves and this makes the plants glow a lovely green color in the sunlight.

 Read more about: Jade Plant Leaves Crystallizing – Find Out Immediately Why Do They Crystallize


How do you save a broken jade plant?

Jade plants break often in their natural environment. Elephants and rhinos break them, and pieces fall of and grow into new plants. You can do the same. If your plant loses a branch, plant it and it will become a new plant.

How do you grow a jade plant from a broken stem?

Take the broken stem and let it dry out on the broken end for a week or two. Insert the stem as deep as possible into soil - 6-7 inches in potting soil and it will root. These plants are very robust and root easily.

Can you cut the main trunk of a jade plant?

Yes you can. After you cut it, let the piece you cut off dry off on the cut wound for a week or two and then plant it. It will grow into a new plant. With time these things can become a forest.

Why did my jade plant break?

Jade plants are naturally fragile and shed branches. This is how they spread in nature - an elephant or rhino breaks off a branch and little pieces fall on the ground and grow. So these plants break very easily. Do not worry. Just plant the piece that broke. You will get another free plant!