How to Take Care of Your Jade Plant
Jade Plants probably have one of the most loyal followings in the houseplant world. This could be credited to how easy they are to care for, but it is most likely due to the symbolism they are tied to. Also known as Lucky Plants, Money Plants, or Friendship Trees, Jades are symbols of good luck, growth and renewal, with roots (pun intended) deep in Asian culture. The succulent, plump, vibrant green leaves closely resemble jade coins or stones, which also links them to wealth and prosperity. Since they carry such meaning, they are one of the most auspicious plants to have in the home, thought to attract harmony, positivity, wealth, prosperity, and fortune, all of which make them a fantastic gift for any housewarming party!
△ 6" Jade Plant
Feng Shui, the traditional practice that claims to use energy forces to harmonize individuals with their surrounding environment, also recommends Jade Plants as one of the primary plants to have in the home. Houseplants with soft, rounded leaves are said to promote gentle, calming energy. The fleshy, oval-shaped leaves of a Jade Plant are just what the doctor ordered in this case, bringing their good luck charm and appeal to any home. Despite the fact that they are symbols of luck, you do not need any luck to care for these beauties because they are one of the easiest plants to grow and maintain.
Although juvenile Jades look green and succulent, the stems of mature plants can take on a woody, brown, tree-like appearance. They are not actually made up of any wood, just a fibrous, outer layer that develops and gives the appearance of a thick, scaly trunk.
The classic Jade Plant, or Crassula ovata, belongs to the Crassulaceae family and is actually native to South Africa, meaning it can adapt very well to the warm, dry conditions of our North American homes. The main downside to the Jade is that it is a very slow grower, usually only adding a maximum of 2 inches a year to its height (in prime conditions), but mature plants can grow between 3-6 ft. and about 2-3 ft. wide. Don't worry about their slow growth rate because they are extremely resilient and can often live for 50-70 years (or even longer if properly cared for!), which means they can be handed down from generation to generation - a gift that can last a lifetime.
There are also other varieties that you can collect to expand your Jade collection, some of which include the following:
Very similar to the original Jade Plant, this variety has much smaller leaves but still retains that juicy, succulent look. When kept in bright light, this not only maintains a compact shape but can also encourage the leaves to turn beautiful shades of deep red or burgundy!
Also known as Crassula Ovata ‘Gollum’ or Gollum Jade, this variety has thick, upright, tubular leaves. With bright enough light, they will develop a beautiful hue of red on the tips of these tubes.
This variety takes on a bushier appearance, hence its common name of Elephant Bush, or Portulacaria afra, and has woodier stems that can grow to incredible heights when given the proper light, nutrients, and time. The deep red stems that verge on purple accent the beautiful, bright green leaves.
Last, but certainly not least, Crassula ovata 'Tricolor', Crassula ovata 'Variegata' or Variegated Jade, is similar to its sister plant, but this variety has green leaves with cream variegation. A stunning pink border can even develop when placed in bright enough light.
Known as a generally undemanding houseplant, the Jade Plant is the epitome of the perfect plant for any beginner. Proper lighting and watering measures are truly all that they need to stay happy, but keep reading the rest of this care guide to find out exactly how to grow a healthy and lush Jade Plant.
The primary care factor to set up properly for your Jade Plant is lighting. They require very bright, indirect or direct light for at least 4-6 hours each day, therefore keeping their foliage full and bushy. This will ensure your plant grows compactly as well, rather than stunted and stretched out (also known as leggy) when kept in lower light levels. Even though they can survive where there is no direct sunlight, bright light is still necessary if you want your plant to be growing at its peak performance, which we know is everybody's goal with their houseplants.
Jade Plants rarely bloom indoors but, if your plant has reached maturity and does so, it is a truly spectacular sight as the flowers form in clusters, as if little fireworks are exploding from all over the plant.
There is a potential for too much direct sunlight so the best way to go about it is this: Keep younger plants in very bright, but indirect, light and older plants in some direct sunlight. When there are excessive levels of direct sunlight, there may be a potential for delicate new foliage (especially of younger plants) to get scorched, which is why it is also important to acclimate your plants to brighter light. If you are ever in doubt, find the brightest windowsill in your home that doesn't have too much direct sunlight and place your beautiful Jade there.
Sometimes, when a Jade Plant is kept in very high light and lots of direct sunlight, the rims of the leaves can provide a beautiful display by turning red or burgundy due to sun stress - just keep an eye on the foliage so that it doesn't burn
Some examples of prime spots include:
- Keeping your plant directly in South, East, and West-facing windows are the optimal locations to keep your Jade Plant in
- If you don't have any of the above, and only a North-facing window, make sure the plant is kept right on the windowsill with a very large view of the sky outside and no obstructions.
- To keep younger Jade Plants out of the afternoon sun, simply move your plant a meter or so away from a large South or West-facing window. Morning sun from an East-facing window will not harm your plant at all
Try not to be concerned about every yellowing leaf on your plant, they are all a part of the natural process. If there are no pests on your plant and it is pushing out healthy new growth, your plant will gradually shed its older leaves over time.
Jade Plants can very quickly become top-heavy if they are left to grow leggy and stretched out in lower light so it is important that they remain full but compact. The top-heaviness will occur over time as the plant ages but we don't want to rush the process, and we want to encourage as much even growth as possible. Knowing this, make sure to keep your plant in plenty of bright light and rotate it every couple of weeks to produce the best outcome for you to enjoy.
Next up: watering. Just like with most succulents, it is important to not water your Jade Plant frequently, as this can lead to root rot, as well as a plethora of other issues we cover later on. The thick, juicy stems and leaves of a Jade mean they can survive for long periods of time on the water stored in them, which is why thinner, slightly wrinkly leaves are a sure sign that it is time to water your plant fully. Water when the soil is almost completely dry, or when the top two inches are dry to the touch - this can take up to 2-3 weeks depending on how big the pot is, time of year, light levels, humidity, etc. It is common to have to water more often during the growing season, or spring and summer, and less often during dormancy, or fall and winter - this always depends on the light levels your plant is receiving though.
Watering Tip: Wait until their leaves become a little wrinkly, this is often a good indication that they are thirsty. Excessive drying can mean you are waiting too long in between waterings but it is better to water less often than more often.
This is why keeping your plant in the proper soil, as well as in the proper lighting, is very important, ensuring the soil does not stay too wet for too long. A well-draining soil will have pumice, perlite, peat moss, and sand in it to avoid excessive water retention. A shallow pot with drainage holes is also essential, providing an exit for extra water as well as allowing for proper airflow, not allowing the soil to stay moist for longer than necessary. It is often best to plant your Jade Plant into a terracotta pot since they are fantastic at wicking away moisture and maintaining a solid base for your potentially top-heavy plant (those leaves have some weight to them!).
Jades do not need to be repotted too often because, as mentioned previously, they are slow growers. Typically, repotting will be necessary every 2-3 years for smaller plants and every 4-5 years for larger plants. However, unlike most other houseplants, don't water your Jade Plant for a few days (or a week) after repotting it, this will allow the roots to settle and recover from any damage. Finally, wait at least a month before fertilizing your plant post-repotting to avoid burning any delicate new roots that have formed, they just aren't ready for the nutrients yet. For more information, please see our Repotting Guide.
Keeping your Jade Plant slightly root bound will also help keep its size manageable! There is no need to rush repotting your beloved Jade, just leave it be and watch it flourish
When you're sure it is time to water, water your plant thoroughly until there is water coming out of the drainage holes and the soil is evenly moist. Although we don't want to water our succulent-like plants frequently, they still need a complete watering when it is the time! We want the roots to reach down as deeply as possible into the soil, especially since succulents generally have fairly shallow root systems anyways, and only watering the surface of the soil will not encourage the roots to do so. As you water, use a watering can with a thing long spout that will avoid getting any water on or between the leaves, this can lead to unhealthy bacteria and rot.
Jade Plants are incredibly easy to propagate via leaf or stem cuttings, but feel free to read more about this in Propagation 102: How to Propagate from Cuttings.
Allow any extra water to drain out of the pot and dump it, rather than letting the pot sit in this excess water since we know they are especially susceptible to overwatering. If the soil does not seem to be absorbing the water, you can use the bottom watering method! This is where you fill a bowl with water and place the plant in its nursery pot into the bowl, letting it sit for about 30 minutes, or until the top of the soil starts to darken. Then, place the plant back in its sunny home to allow the plant and its roots to do their thing.
Besides the occasional removal of any dust that has accumulated, avoid getting too much water on the foliage of your plant - this can expose them to fungus or cause a leaf to rot off if the moisture remains for long periods of time.
The proper container, proper soil, proper lighting, and proper watering measures are all parts of the equation to excellent Jade Plant care indoors. Even with all of them done well, there will be some leaf loss and taller growth, plants will grow as they are! It is excessive leaf loss, issues with new growth, rotting, and stretched-out growth that we want to watch out for. Otherwise, some changes will be completely normal and natural.
The average humidity and temperature levels of your home will be perfect for your Jade Plant, they don't need any additional pampering in this area. You will simply want to avoid keeping a Jade near vents, radiators, open windows (and doors) in the winter, or in a closed glass terrarium - in fact, excessive humidity will do more damage than good. Considering their natural environments are dry, arid, desert-like habitats, too much humidity would actually cause fungal, bacteria, or rotting issues. Just like we don't want to mist the soil for watering, we don't want to get water on the leaves for the same reasons. All-in-all, your plant won't need misting, showering, pebble trays or humidifiers to stay happy, just proper lighting and watering.
Another area in which they are rather low maintenance is fertilizing. Jades don't require too much and should really only be fertilized once a month during the growing season, which would be the warmer months of spring and summer. Make sure the soil is slightly moist before feeding your plant as fertilizing dry soil could burn the roots. Use a balanced, all-purpose, liquid fertilizer (such as a 20-20-20 one) diluted to half the strength recommended on the package instructions for the duration of the spring and summer months. Once the fall rolls around again, stop fertilizing until the following spring!
If you feel like being a little bit more selective, use a fertilizer with less Nitrogen for younger plants and a balanced one for more mature plants.
Unfortunately, all parts of the Jade Plant are toxic and should not be ingested. Keep your plant away from children and pets in the case that they like to munch on our beautiful green friends.
Common Pests & Problems
Jade Plants are generally unbothered when it comes to disease and pests but there are some potential issues you may experience while owning one, such as the following:
Although they are typically not an issue, there are certain pests that can present themselves when it comes to succulents, primarily mealybugs. They will often leave white patches on the plant, usually where the leaf meets the stem, so keep an eye out for fuzzy, white bodies hidden in crevices, as well as stunted, unhealthy or misshapen new growth. Jades are sensitive to insecticides so treat by removing the adult bugs with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol.
If it is happening at a frequent rate, this may be a sign that your plant is not receiving enough light, that it is too cold, or there is a watering issue. Make sure to check that you are following all of the guidelines above, or reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org for further support. If it is older leaves that are shedding once in a while, this is completely natural.
Signs of this could be leaf loss, overall yellowing of your plant, waterlogged and squishy stems and leaves, mushy and rotted roots, overly soggy soil, etc. Make sure you are only watering when the soil is almost completely dry and the plant is in bright light, remember that Jades are still succulents!
This is often indicative of a watering issue, typically not enough water. If there are dry, shrivelled leaves, if the overall look of the plant is thin, or if the leaves are not as lush or vibrant, your plant is most likely very thirsty. Try out our bottom watering method described above in the watering guidelines, this should fix the problem in no time.
Have you ever noticed any white spotting on the leaves of your precious Jade? If so, here are some possibilities for what that could mean:
- Hard water spots: This occurs when tap water is used that has lots of salts and minerals in it that will remain on the leaves if water droplets land on them. Just take a damp washcloth and gently wipe them off
- Salt deposits: Similar to above, most water has some amount of salt in it. After watering your plant, you may notice little crystals on the leaves of your plant. This is leftover salt residue from the moisture that has evaporated during transpiration because plants store salts and then sweat them out. A soft, lightly moist cloth can wipe them away easily
- Powdery mildew: Low light, improper circulation, temperatures issues, overhead watering, and excess humidity can lead to fungal issues on foliage, such as powdery mildew. When the leaves stay damp for too long, this can promote fungal spores that look as though flour has been dusted on them. Spray all leaves with a solution of baking soda and vinegar (there are plenty of recipes online) and pinch off the affected areas. Avoid overhead watering in the future and make sure your plant is getting lots of bright light and decent air circulation
This is most likely something called edema (or oedema), and occurs when roots take up water faster than the plant can use it, causing corky blisters. When plants have been subjected to overly dry conditions followed by abundant moisture, the plant cells take on too much water rapidly and burst, which then dry out and create that brown tissue. Making sure to only water when the soil is dry and increasing air circulation will help but the blisters will occur all at once and never go away. They won't spread but they are unsightly so we want to avoid them happening in the first place - they are especially common on the Variegated Jade.
As you can see, it really doesn't take much effort to keep a Jade Plant happy, which is why they can be found in almost every home, even in the homes of those that are not avid houseplant collectors. The next time you are unsure of what to bring to a housewarming, or if you simply wish to bestow on someone a delightful houseplant, bring along a little Jade Plant. They can live for years and years, passed down from generation to generation, and can bring so much joy and meaning. With a little TLC and a lot of patience, your Jade Plant will grow big and beautiful.