How To Grow and Care For Jade Plants
With their cute, pillowy leaves and their low maintenance lifestyle, jade plants (Crassula ovata) make excellent housemates for all types of gardeners and plant parents. Jade plants boast thick, tree-like stems and succulent leaves that function as water storage. Native to South Africa, where it grows on sandy slopes, in open fields and forest, this succulent houseplant is drought-tolerant. Read on and learn how to care for this easy succulent.
Jade Plant Cultivars and Types to Try
Jade plants are popular, and there are plenty of cultivars to add to your collection! Try out ‘Hummel’s Sunset’ for its flashy gold and red leaves, and ‘Gollum’ for its totally unique tubular leaves that resemble fingers. 'California Red Tip' has green leaves edged in a deep red that becomes bolder when grown in full sun.
Best Growing Conditions for Jade Plants
Jade plants prefer at least 4-6 hours of bright, indirect sunlight per day. Plants kept in low light will survive but will likely grow leggy and top heavy. Jade plants can tolerate some direct sunlight after a period of acclimation
Like other succulents and cacti, jade plants require grainy, well-drained soil. Cut a basic potting mix with sand or use a premade cactus growing mix. Jade plants will happily sit rootbound in a too-small pot for several years, but you’ll want to repot every 2-4 years to encourage new growth. Jade plants require well-draining soil that is slightly acidic with a pH of around 6.5.
Jade plants are adapted to arid environments and do not require high humidity levels — standard household humidity should work just fine.
How to Care for Jade Plants
Water your jade plant when the top inch of soil is dry. Overwatering can lead to root rot, so make sure the soil is well-draining and not waterlogged. Jade plants do best when soil is watered deeply and then allowed to dry thoroughly. During active growing periods (spring and summer), jade plants may require more water than during their dormant winter months. Unsure if you’re providing the right amount of water? Check the leaves, which should be plump and saturated in color: if leaves look shriveled or splotchy, the jade needs more water; if leaves are squishy, yellowing, and starting to drop, the jade plant is getting too much water.
Jade plants have low nutrient requirements; fertilizing is not critical to a happy jade plant. If you choose to fertilize your plant, apply an organic, balanced fertilizer every 2-3 months during their growing season (spring and summer).
You can also remove any yellow or brown leaves to promote new growth, otherwise, your jade plant shouldn't require much pruning at all.
Jade plants are fun and easy to propagate! Propagate your jade plant by taking stem cuttings from the plant and rooting them in water or soil. Make sure the cutting has at least one node (where a leaf meets the stem) and keep it in a warm, humid environment until roots form.
Jade plants typically don't mind being a bit "rootbound" — large plants can go 4-5 years before being repotted! When you do repot your jade plant, aim to do so during the sspring or summer, when the plant is actively growing. Wiith their heavy, fleshy leaves, jade plants can get top-heavy, so choose a sturdy replacement pot.
Jade Plant Pests and Problems
The most common jade plant pest is the mealybug, which can leave white splotches on the plant. You can control these pests by wiping down the leaves with a damp cloth or using an insecticidal soap spray.
Common diseases that can affect jade plants include root rot, bacterial leaf spot, and fungal leaf spot. You can prevent these diseases by avoiding overwatering and ensuring good air circulation around the plant.
Signs of Stress
While relatively easy to care for, jade plants still occasionally get stressed:
Shriveled leaves: Limp, shriveled leaves can be a sign that the jade plant is not receiving enough water.
Yellowing: One or two yellow leaves isn't cause for concern, however if the whole plant is yellowing, it may be overwatered. Check for blackened/rotting roots; if your plant has these, its time to repot in fresh potting mix in a new container, and cut back on your watering frequency.
Jade Plant FAQ
Q: How often should I water my jade plant?
A: Jade plants are succulents and store water in their fleshy leaves, making them quite drought-tolerant. It's crucial not to overwater them, as excessive moisture can lead to root rot. Water your jade plant thoroughly but infrequently. Allow the soil to dry out completely between waterings, typically every 2-4 weeks depending on environmental conditions and the size of the pot. During the dormant winter months, reduce watering even further.
Q: I'd like to create a mixed succulent planter — what else can I plant with my jade plant?
A: Combine your jade plant with other drought-tolerant succulents that prefer a gritty potting soil; think Zebra plants (Haworthia spp.), hens and chicks, and burro's tail.
Q: How do I propagate my jade plant?
A: Jade plants are relatively easy to propagate through stem or leaf cuttings. To propagate via stem cuttings, take a healthy cutting from the tip of a stem, allow it to callus over for a day or two, then plant it in a well-draining succulent or cactus potting mix. Keep the soil lightly moist until new roots develop. Leaf propagation involves gently removing healthy leaves from the plant, letting them callus for a few days, and then placing them on top of moist soil. After a few weeks, new plantlets should begin to grow from the leaf.
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