Jade Plant Care: An Easy Guide for Beginners


If you’re looking for a great starter plant, then set your sights on the adorable jade plant. The simplicity of their care coupled with their hardiness makes a jade plant ideal for the plant novice.

And with all the different types of jade plants, you’re bound to find one that suits your tastes.

A jade plant is sometimes called a money plant, a lucky plant, or a friendship plant. All inviting and uplifting names, and with good reason. Jade plants are super cute, easy-care succulents that are said to bring good luck. I know they’re one of my favorites.

In this article, we’ll discuss the simple steps to good jade plant care. In no time, you’ll have one flourishing in your home.

Jade plant gollum variety.
PHOTO BY FOREST AND KIM STARR / CC BY

Contents

  1. Watering Your Jade Plant
  2. Light & Temperature Needs of Your Jade Plant
  3. Jade Plant Soil
  4. Maintaining Your Jade Plant
  5. Propagating Your Jade Plant
  6. Jade Plant Pests & Problems
  7. Toxicity

    Jade Plant Care – A Beginner’s Guide

    There’s something calming and peaceful about a jade plant. According to Feng Shui, a jade plant invites good fortune and luck into your home when placed properly.

    Jade plants have thick, glossy leaves and woody-like trunks. The leaves come in various shapes – the most common being oval. They’re not fast growers, but over a long time, jade plants can get quite tall.

    Under the right conditions and with enough maturity, a jade plant may produce tiny flowers. But if not, their cute, fat leaves are still very appealing!

    Jade plant with tiny white star shaped flowers.
    Image by TuJardínDesdeCero from Pixabay

    1. How to Water Your Jade Plant

    With jade plant care, proper watering is key. It’s the number one task to keep an eye on. Improper watering – whether overwatering or underwatering – is one of the most common reasons a jade plant falters.

    Water

    Jade plants are succulents and able to store water in their thick leaves. Because of this, they don’t have a high water demand.

    However, on the other hand, a jade plant is also considered a tropical succulent. This means, unlike, for example, a desert cactus, a jade can’t go long without water. Too little water and your plant can become dehydrated.

    In general, you’ll want to give it a good watering, then allow the soil to mostly dry out before watering again.

    You’ll also want to use a pot with drainage. Otherwise, you chance overwatering your jade plant without realizing it. The soil may be dry on top, but still too wet near the bottom of the pot.

    Young jade plant in a green plastic pot

    I’m sad to say, this was a mistake I made. I moved, and I re-potted my jade into a decorative pot that did not have drainage.

    I ended up overwatering my plant.

    Before I knew it, the leaves became soft and prune-like. The trunk turned mushy and the roots rotted. Luckily, I was able to save a number of cuttings, so the plant lives on.

    But this was a lesson well learned!

    Humidity

    Jade plants don’t need or particularly want high humidity. So, for example, a jade plant in a bathroom, while doable, may not be ideal.

    2. Light & Temperature Needs of Your Jade Plant

    Light

    Jade plants are fans of light. Their natural habitat is in South Africa, where they receive plenty of sunshine.

    Keep your jade plant in a bright spot that gets at least 4 – 6 hours of sunlight a day. Jade plants can tolerate medium light, but they won’t thrive in that setting. South and west facing windows work well for this plant.

    Leaves of a jade plant with the sun shining on them.
    PHOTO BY NICO PAIX / CC BY

    However, although you want it bright, you don’t want too much direct, intense sunlight. Especially if you have a younger plant or your plant isn’t used to such light. Too intense sun can burn their leaves.

    Keep in mind, glass can magnify the sun’s intensity. If you’re concerned your window has too strong a light, then sit your plant back a bit from the window. This way, the light is still bright, but not so intense.

    Temperature

    Jade plants aren’t fans of the cold. If you live in zone 10 or higher, you can plant your jade outdoors, but it won’t tolerate a low nightly temperature. And they certainly won’t tolerate frosts.

    Indoors it’s no different. Don’t let him become too chilled, or place him near cold, drafty windows.

    3. Soil

    When it comes to soil, what’s most important is the soil’s ability to drain quickly.

    Remember, jade plants are succulents that hold water in their leaves. And those leaves can only take up so much water. What water they can’t store, is left in the soil.

    This means if you’re using heavy dense soil any leftover water will sit around in the pot soaking your plant’s roots.

    And that increases the chance of your plant developing root rot.

    Jade plant in a terra cotta pot with a saucer underneath, sitting on a window sill.
    PHOTO BY JILLROBIDOUX / CC BY

    Ideally, you should use succulent or cactus soil for your jade plant. These types of soils have some organic matter, which helps with water retention, but they still drain quickly. You need some water retention to give the plant a chance to absorb and retain the water it needs.

    If you don’t have succulent soil, you can use an all-purpose mix and add a little perlite to it. Personally, for my plants, I add roughly ¼ perlite to ¾ soil, maybe a little bit more. Perlite makes the soil airier and helps it drain faster.

    4. Maintenaning Your Jade Plant

    Overall, jade plants don’t require a lot of care and are fairly easy to maintain. Monitoring their water will be one of your biggest tasks.

    Jade plants like their roots a bit crowded, so you won’t need to re-pot often. However, over time, they can become top-heavy. When they do, you may need to replant into a sturdier pot.

    If you’re noticing your plant tipping or leaning as it grows, provide some plant support for the trunk.

    Fertilizing

    Fertilizing a jade plant is not a necessity. But, if you’d like to give it a little boost, you can fertilize it a couple of times during the growing season. Use a balanced fertilizer (meaning the numbers on the fertilizer should be even) and dilute the amount to half the recommended strength.

    It’s very important to add fertilizer to damp soil. So water first, then add your fertilizer. Adding fertilizer to dry soil can damage the plant.

    Over time, salt can build up in your soil – from tap water or fertilizing. To counter this, occasionally give the soil a good flush. Pour water into the soil until the water runs steadily out of the drainage holes. Don’t attempt this if your pot does not have drainage.

    Pruning

    Pruning your jade plant helps it grow thicker and appear more tree-like. Look for the brown rings around the stem. This is where you’ll make your cut. Wherever you prune, your plant should form two new branches.

    Always use clean, sharp pruners. And, it’s best to do your pruning in the spring.

    5. Propagating Your Jade Plant

    If you prune your plant, whatever you do, don’t throw away those jade cuttings! Instead, use them to grow a new jade plant for yourself or to give as a gift.

    Propagating a jade plant is fairly easy. Take your cuttings, and strip the bottom leaves so you have an inch or two of only the stem left. Keep the cuttings in a warm, dry spot, and let the ends dry.

    Four jade plant cuttings sitting on a paper towel to allow the ends to dry out.

    Once dried, place the stem in a cactus or succulent soil mix, or other well-draining potting mix and lightly water the plant. In a few weeks, new roots should grow.

    You can also use this method using a leaf cutting.

    Take a healthy leaf. Let the edge dry a bit. Then bury the leaf about ¼ of the way into a moist potting mix. Make sure to bury the end that was closest to the trunk of the plant.

    You can propagate and grow a jade plant in water. This method is a little more time consuming and is more successful with a stem vs a leaf cutting.

    Whether propagating using a stem or a single leaf, keep your jade plant in a warm, bright spot. Water sparingly, keeping the soil just barely damp until it starts to root and you see new leaves budding. Then care for your new jade plant as you would any other jade.

    6. Jade Plant Pests & Problems

    By far, the most common problem people have with jade plant care is watering. Improper watering can lead to disfigured leaves, leaf loss, and even root rot.

    In general, the best method for watering your jade plant is to water thoroughly, then let the plant mostly dry out before watering again.

    Here are a few things to watch for:

    • Leaves are wrinkled or shriveling – signs your plant needs either deeper or more frequent watering.
    • Roots are mushy, black, or rotting – too much moisture in the soil. This is a sign of root rot. You’ll need to remove the affected roots. Or, if the plant is too far gone, start a new plant from a cutting and toss out the old plant.
    • Leaves are squishy and appear waterlogged – signs your plant is getting too much water. Water less.

    I’ve written a post on overwatered jade plants. You’ll find it helpful if you suspect you’ve given your jade too much water.

    Pests & Disease

    Jade plants are generally resistant to pests and diseases.

    However, occasionally pests do crop up. The most common is mealybugs or scale. These critters can hide under the stems and leaves. To remove them, use rubbing alcohol diluted with water and spray the leaves. Alternatively, gently wipe them down using a cotton swab or paper towel.

    You may need to repeat the application several times over several weeks until there are no more signs of bugs. This article on plant pests provides more thorough information on various houseplant pests, including mealybugs.

    7. Toxicity

    A jade plant is toxic to animals and mildly toxic to humans.

    Final Thoughts

    • Jade plants are popular houseplants, said to bring good luck.
    • Overwatering is a common problem. Signs can include yellowing leaves, droopiness, or root rot.
    • You should water your jade plant thoroughly, then let the soil mostly dry before watering again.
    • Jade plants need at least 4 – 6 hours of bright, indirect light.
    • Overall, jade plants are to easy to care for and need little in the way of maintenance.
    • You can propagate a jade plant using a stem or leaf cutting.
    • Mealybugs are the most common pest problem with jade plants.

    If you enjoyed this article on jade plant care and found it helpful, feel free to share it.

    Angela

    Hi! My name is Angela Carr. I started this site to share my love for plants and gardening. My aim is to provide my readers with easy tips and tricks on plant care, fun facts, and encouragement for the new plant owner or anyone questioning the colour of their thumb!

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