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Here in coastal Southern California, a jade tree can survive on rainfall (usually about fifteen inches a year) if summers are cool. I've had great success and disappointment with this plant. The plants grow so thick and tall that they become too heavy for the trunks to support. While the trunks seem to be woody on the outside, a cross-section reveals that they're just water like the rest of the plant. High winds have toppled about half a dozen of my jade trees in as many years, usually after they reach about four feet in height. If left in place, the fallen branches will eventually root and form new plants if supplemental water is provided, but in the meantime they look awful...
This fall I experimented with thinning about 30-40 percent of the foliage. Boy, a garbage bagful of jade-tree leaves is heavy -- all the stored water, I suppose. We had a very strong Santa Ana wind last week which took down some trees in the neighborhood, but the pruned jade trees made it!
Really, this is a great plant. A friend of mine in Ventura actually constructed wooden armatures over his jade trees when they were about two feet tall. The plants grew up through the armatures and completely hid them with lush growth. They are securely staked, but no one would know it.