Growing Jade Plants
Growing Jade Plants
Designed by Brenda Hyde
All Rights Reserved
Jade, Crassula argentea, is a succulent. It does bloom under just the right circumstances, similar to Christmas cactus, but mine have never bloomed in four years. Many times when they are grown as houseplants they don't bloom, or at least not until they are very old. In their native environment jade plants can grow up to 10 foot tall!
Jade plants are slightly finicky, but given the conditions they need, they are a good houseplant that will last for years and years. You can water too little, or too much and the plant isn't very happy. The soil should not become bone dry, but yet you don't want it to be moist either. I water a little more in the winter since it's so dry in the house. Light can be bright to average, but in the summer you may want to avoid the hot direct sun. A sunny southern window is great in the winter. If you notice brown edges on any of the leaves then it may be getting too much direct sun. If the leaves look a little "withered", it's not getting enough water. If you notice new leaves forming then it's going through a growth spurt and you can water more freely for a time.
The potting soil should be average with a little sand added. Start out with a small, inexpensive Jade plant to try it out; they grow at a nice pace, as most succulents do if given enough light and the right conditions.
Most of the emails I receive ask about various problems with the plant. Jade needs temperatures above 55 degrees, and it should be fairly consistent--not up and down. You also don't want to provide too much humidity, so don't leave water in the bottom of the tray if you are using one or keep it in a humid room. There are quite a few things that can happen to a jade plant such as scale, pythium rot, and certain kinds of mold. If you notice any white spots or bumps, try placing the plant in the tub or kitchen sink and spraying it off with a hand sprayer or handheld shower head. Make sure you get the underside of the leaves and the stems too. If this doesn't seem to make a difference, you can also clean the leaves with a cotton ball that has been soaked in rubbing alcohol.
Rot can be by overwatering or watering from overhead rather than from the side, or too much humidity or temperatures. The jade is not a cactus, but it needs even less watering than an African Violet, and a similar type of soil. Be sure to water it before it completely dries out, but don't keep the soil moist. Try to establish a pattern to your watering--once a month is generally a guideline. Put your jade plant on a schedule and keep it whenever possible. You can fertilize lightly during the warm months, but withhold it around October through February, when it's somewhat dorment.
Another thing that is important is to always remove dead leaves or stems from the plant and pot. Keep the jade neat. They will tend to get dusty, especially in old homes such as mine. Wash them gently with water, but don't use any type of plant cleaner on the leaves or oils. You can trim your jade plant or "pinch" it to encourage branching. The removed stems or leaves can be left out for the ends to dry for a day or two, then place the ends in a pot with commercial potting soil that you've mixed in a little sand. Plant the cutting an inch or two deep and give it VERY little water until it roots.
Most people want to know why their jade is losing it's leaves. Unfortunately there isn't just one answer. Overwatering or underwatering can cause leaf loss. Also, too much sun or not enough can cause this too. The best thing to do is try to provide the best care based on what I've mentioned and if all else fails, take a cutting and start over.
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
I have a Crassula argentea and I live in Florida in the forest and I was wondering if I could plant my Jade in the ground and where should I plant it? In the sun or the shade? ~Vickie
The jade plant needs a warm climate in winter, and it also needs some protection from very hot direct sun. The leaves can scorch and then it needs to be moved to a cooler place. It can only survive outside in temperatures above 20 degrees or so. This would usually include Zones 9, 10, 11 and 12. Also avoid a wet soil or the roots could rot. A partial shade in a dryer soil should be good for it. If your forest location isn't soggy and has some sun it should work fine for the jade.
I took a clipping off of a friends jade plant, and I'm wondering if it will grow. I put it in a cup of water to try and make the roots come out, but I'm wondering if that is what I should have done and how long the roots will take to sprout if I did it right.
My jade plant has grown so much that the stems can't support the weight. I have tried staking it up but the weight still makes it droop. Should I cut it back severely, I tried repotting it into a larger pot but that didn't help. ~Thanks, Marian
Let's start with the rooting of a jade plant. Use a very sharp sterile knife and cut the piece off. Make sure it's healthy with no signs of rot or disease. If you have it, dust it with a rooting hormone. Leave the cutting in a warm, dry place until what looks like a callous forms over the cut. This usually takes 1-2 weeks, and at this point you can plant the cutting into sterile potting soil. VERY lightly water it just to dampen the soil. Gradually add a little more water each week as the root develops. Keep the pot at 70-75 degrees F. Do not use fertilizer during the process till the plant is established.
As far as the jade plant falling over, this usually means it's not being watered deep enough. I've had this happen. First I took a thick piece of wood-- I used a piece of trim I had laying in the basement. It's about an inch thick, and I put it in the soil carefully so I would injure any of the roots and I leaned the plant on it. Every plant is different, but if you get the right spot it will work. I didn't have to tie it, but you can. Next don't water MORE often, but water the pot deeper. If you do this, your stems will become stronger and will stand on their own.
Rooting techniques for jade plants....firstly jade is slow growing so patience is required. I had found it difficult to root from a stemmed cutting because the roots that grow are so small that it is difficult to support such a "large" plant. When we visited the Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus Ohio, there were jade leaves lying on potting medium, so I thought I'd give that a try....Amazing! Since spring I have a small jade that is about four inches tall with another beginning to grow from that sprout as well, and the roots seem very able to support the plant since they have grown together. ~Carol
Image: Jade Plant by Peter Griffin