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Growing and Caring for a Jade Plant – An Essential Guide

a healthy jade plant in a white pot

The jade plant, also known as the money plant, money tree, or Crassula ovata, is a popular and easy to grow succulent houseplant. Native to South Africa, jade plants have thick woody stems and lush, rounded foliage that adds cheerful greenery inside any home or office.

With the right care and conditions, a jade plant can grow for decades, even up to 100 years!

Here is a complete guide to growing and caring for this beloved plant, covering proper sunlight, watering, soil, fertilizer, pruning, propagation, troubleshooting problems, and more.

An Introduction to the Jade Plant

The jade plant is a succulent that boasts glossy, jade-green leaves that can develop a beautiful red tinge around their edges when exposed to sufficient light. This hardy plant is not only aesthetically pleasing but also known for its symbolic meanings of luck, prosperity, and friendship, making it a popular housewarming gift.

Before we dive into the care specifics, it’s important to understand the natural habitat and growth habits of jade plants. Originating from South Africa, they are accustomed to dry, arid conditions, which explains their water-storing capabilities.

Jade plants are slow growers, but with proper care, they can reach up to 3 feet in height and live for many years, sometimes becoming a cherished family heirloom passed down through generations.

a jade plant in a bathroom

Jade Plant Benefits

Like many houseplants, jade plants are believed to have air-purifying qualities. They can absorb toxins such as toluene and benzene from the air, contributing to a healthier indoor environment.

Jade plants are often associated with good luck, prosperity, and friendship. This makes them a popular gift in many cultures, especially in East Asian countries, where they are considered a symbol of good fortune.

In the practice of Feng Shui, jade plants are considered to bring positive energy (Chi) into the home. They are often placed near the entrance of homes or in wealth corners (southeast) to attract prosperity and success.

Due to their succulent nature, jade plants require minimal water and can thrive in a variety of light conditions. Their resilience and ease of care make them suitable for gardeners of all levels, including beginners.

Selecting a Jade Plant

a close up of jade plant leaves

Selecting a healthy jade plant is the first step toward ensuring its long-term vitality and beauty in your home or garden. Look for a plant with plump, glossy green leaves.

The leaves should be free from spots, blemishes, or discolorations, which could indicate disease or pest infestation. A slight red tinge on the leaf edges is a good sign, indicating adequate light exposure.

Choose a plant with a dense, compact growth habit. Avoid plants that appear leggy or stretched out, as this suggests they have not been receiving enough light.

Opt for a jade plant with a symmetrical and balanced shape. This not only adds to the aesthetic appeal but also indicates that the plant has been growing evenly.

How to Grow a Jade Plant

a tall jade plant in a grey pot

Sunlight for Healthy Growth

Jade plants need several hours of bright, indirect sunlight per day for the best growth. A south or west-facing window is ideal.

Direct hot midday sun can scorch the leaves, causing brown crispy spots, so use sheer curtains to filter intense light. Too little light will result in weak leggy growth.

Rotate the plant periodically so all sides receive equal sun exposure. Outdoors, jades thrive in partial sun locations protected from hot afternoon sun.

Proper Watering Techniques

Water a jade plant only when the top inch of soil is dry, and then water thoroughly until it drains freely from the bottom drainage holes. This allows the entire root zone to receive moisture while avoiding standing water.

Overwatering is the number one cause of problems! Jades stores water in its thick leaves and stems, so it prefers a drier environment and can tolerate some neglect. Drooping leaves indicate under-watering.

Water less frequently in winter during dormancy. The ideal potting mix should be fast-draining cactus/succulent soil.

Choosing the Right Pot and Soil

Jade plants have shallow root systems and do best in shallow pots that are wider than they are deep. Choose containers with drainage holes and use a well-draining cactus or succulent potting soil.

Amend regular potting mixes with extra perlite or sand to improve drainage and re-pot every 2-3 years in early spring, moving up just one pot size. Gently loosen rootbound plants or trim excess roots before re-potting. When using tools to trim, make sure they are diluted with bleach to prevent disease transmission.

Fertilizer for Added Nutrients

While jade plants are not heavy feeders, they will benefit from occasional fertilizer in the growing season. Use a balanced liquid fertilizer at half-strength, such as a 20-20-20, and fertilize monthly from spring through summer.

In fall and winter, avoid fertilizer while plants are dormant or growing slowly. Flush the soil monthly by watering thoroughly with plain water to prevent mineral salt buildup.

Temperature and Humidity

Jade plants prefer room temperatures between 65°F and 75°F (18°C to 24°C) but can tolerate cooler temperatures down to 50°F (10°C) and short periods of warmer temperatures. They do not require high humidity and can thrive in the typical dry indoor air.

How to Propagate a Jade Plant

several jade plants in terracotta pots

Jade plants are simple to propagate from leaf or stem cuttings. Select healthy leaves or stems and cut where they join another branch or leaf node.

Allow the cuts to dry for 2-3 days until they callous and place the cut end into well-draining and succulent potting soil. Water sparingly until new growth appears, then resume normal care, it should start to root and eventually grow into a new plant.

Propagation from single leaves will yield many miniature plants over time that can be separated or left to form lush potted arrangements.

Jade Plant Care

Prune a jade plant in late winter or early spring to remove dead or damaged growth and shape the plant. Always use clean, sharp pruning shears/scissors and cut just above leaf joints or stems.

Pruning stimulates new branching and compact growth. Jades can be pruned more heavily to limit size. Remove yellow leaves promptly before they fall onto other leaves.

Jades typically need to be repotted every 2 to 3 years to provide fresh soil and more room for growth. Choose a pot that’s slightly larger than the current one to avoid overpotting, which can lead to waterlogged soil.

Avoid using leaf shine products on the plants; instead, gently wipe the leaves with a damp cloth to remove dust.

Troubleshooting Common Problems

a close up of jade plant leaves
  • Yellow Leaves: You are overwatering the plant. Prevent by allowing the soil to dry out between waterings and ensuring good drainage.
  • Leaves Shriveling: If you underwater the plant, the leaves may wrinkle or shrivel. Remedy by gradually increasing watering frequency.
  • Pests: Mealybugs and spider mites can sometimes infest jade plants. Treat infestations with insecticidal soap or neem oil, ensuring to cover all parts of the plant.
  • Leggy Growth: This is often due to insufficient light. Move your plant to a brighter location or consider using a grow light.

Analyze its care and make adjustments as needed. Jades will show signs of stress such as leaf drop when moved to a new location but normally adapt with consistent care. With proper growing conditions and attentive care, these plants will reward you with many years of enjoyment!

Jade Plant Types

There are many jade plant varieties, each with its own unique characteristics. Here are some popular types of jade plants that enthusiasts love to grow:

  • Crassula ovata ‘Classic’: Known for its thick, woody stems and glossy green, oval-shaped leaves.
  • Crassula ovata ‘Gollum’: This variety has tubular green leaves with red-tipped, trumpet-shaped ends, resembling the fingers of the fictional character Gollum.
  • Crassula ovata ‘Hobbit’: This features curled, tubular leaves with reddish tips, but the leaves tend to be more open and flatter at the ends.
  • Crassula ovata ‘Variegata’: This variety has leaves streaked with white or yellow variegation, adding a splash of color to the classic jade green.
  • Crassula ovata ‘Minima’: A compact variety that grows more slowly and stays smaller, making it perfect for limited spaces or as a desktop plant.

Displaying Jade Plants to Perfection

jade plant on a kitchen shelf

The plant’s thick sturdy trunk and branches coupled with its pretty paired leaves make it ideal for creative display;

  • Train a jade over time into a living bonsai specimen with shaped branches.
  • Use tall jades as vertical statement pieces.
  • Group mini plants together in matching pots for added visual interest.
  • Place small jades in unusual containers like teacups or concrete bowls.

The versatile jade plant suits any decor style from modern and contemporary to eclectic and bohemian spaces.

Valued for its longevity, resilient nature, easy propagation, visual appeal, and charming backstory, the jade plant remains a staple of indoor gardening around the world. They make thoughtful and budget-friendly housewarming gifts.

With its modest care needs and tolerance of benign neglect, jade plants are ideal for beginner gardeners and busy households. For seasoned plant parents, there is also ample opportunity to flex your green thumb with more advanced pruning, shaping, and propagation techniques.

No matter your skill level, add a jade plant to your home and enjoy this captivating succulent for years to come!

Can jade plants be kept outside?

Yes, jade plants can be kept outside in regions with mild, frost-free climates. They should be gradually acclimated to outdoor conditions and placed in a location that receives partial sun.

How do I make my jade plant bushier?

Pruning can encourage a bushier growth. Simply pinch or snip off the growing tips or any leggy branches. This will stimulate the plant to produce more branches.

Why is my jade plant’s stem becoming soft and mushy?

A soft, mushy stem is a sign of overwatering and potential root rot. Allow the soil to dry out completely between waterings and ensure the pot has good drainage.

How big can a jade plant grow?

Indoors, jade plants can grow up to 3-6 feet tall, depending on the pot size and growing conditions. Outdoors, they can reach even greater heights.

Are jade plants toxic to pets?

Yes, jade plants are considered toxic to cats and dogs if ingested, causing symptoms like vomiting, lethargy, and incoordination. Keep them out of reach of pets.

the essential guide to jade plants Pinterest pin

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