Jade Plant Care Guide

Indoor succulents are gathering quite a favorable rep among homeowners looking to go green. In its minuscule state, the jade plant is a darling among the low-maintenance minimalist crowd. The jade plant is easy to care for due to its minimal water requirements and slow growth habit. If you’re starting your indoor plant parenthood, this jade plant care guide should be a helpful starter resource. 

You can propagate jade plants from seed or plant cuttings. You can keep the jade plant in one pot for a while, provided the soil is well-draining with a neutral pH in full sunlight. The key to keeping your jade plant green, succulent, and alive for long is never to let it dry out or stay in waterlogged soil. You also get bonus growth years if you keep it from chilly weather.  

Care requirements for the jade plant plants

You need to consider factors such as sunlight, water, and humidity requirements if you’re keeping a jade plant. You must also provide the preferred soil type, pH, and temperature conditions.

Sunlight

Jade plant needs at least six hours of bright sunlight daily to flourish. Unlike most houseplants that can’t handle direct sunlight, this succulent is tolerant of unfiltered sunlight and won’t suffer sunburn.

The best spot to place a jade plant inside the house is next to a south-facing window or west-facing window, so it receives enough bright sunlight. However, grow lights are a great option if the plant is in a darker room.

Mature jade plants will survive in indirect sunlight but barely thrive. Meanwhile, those growing in shaded conditions become leggy and top-heavy. On the other hand, young jade plants should not be exposed to direct sunlight. They’d do best in partial sun or mild indoor growth lights. 

Water

As a succulent, jade plant requires little water to survive. It stores water in its stems and leaves, allowing it to go for 14 days or even more without watering. However, the jade plant’s formidable drought tolerance doesn’t mean that you should leave it unirrigated for too long, as the leaves will develop brown spots and drop.

You should let the soil dry out between irrigation sessions, as overwatering causes the leaves to become soggy, and the jade plant possibly dies. To determine whether your jade plant is ready to be watered again, insert a finger or a stick into the soil. If the soil is still damp and soil particles cling to your finger or the stick, wait a few more days until the soil dries out.

Humidity

Crassula ovata flourishes in low relative humidity between 30% and 50%. To provide such dry air conditions, ensure your jade plant is placed in a room with proper ventilation, and it isn’t grouped closely with other houseplants that could humidify it.

Air conditioners and heaters are great for lowering indoor humidity.

Soil pH

Jade plants flourish in slightly acidic soil with a 6.0-6.5 pH range. However, they’ll still survive in mildly alkaline soil conditions. However, this succulent will struggle in highly alkaline soils due to nutrient deficiencies.

Consider adding peat moss if you have a neutral or slightly alkaline soil mix whose pH you need to acidify for growing a jade plant. Coconut fiber also does a great job of lowering soil pH.

Soil type

The jade plant thrives in fast-draining soil. Use soil mix containing sand, pebbles, and perlite for excellent drainage. Soil containing nutrients such as phosphorus and potassium is also great for the succulent plant. 

A potting soil mix laden with organic matter such as peat moss, bat guano, bone meal, and worm castings is preferable.

Growing zones

The jade plant grows best in USDA plant hardiness zones 10-11. There is no frost during the cold season in these regions. The jade plant can be placed outdoors in these zones where the winter temperature range is typically 30-50 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Here’s a brief overview of USDA hardiness zones 10 and 11:

  • Zone 10  includes the warmer equatorial regions of North America, including Hawaii, Southern California, and Southern Florida.
  • Zone 11 comprises Hawaii and the Florida Keys.

Temperature

Crassula ovata thrives in daytime temperatures ranging from 55-75 degrees Fahrenheit. Meanwhile, optimal nighttime temperatures for this houseplant fall between 50-55 degrees Fahrenheit. Therefore, if you wish to move your jade plant outdoors during the summer, ensure you bring it back in when nighttime temperatures drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Jade plants are vulnerable to cold/frost damage and should not be kept next to drafty windows and doorways. Failure to do so, especially in the winter months, will likely cause the leaves to drop.

The table below summarizes the care requirements for the jade plant.

NamesJade Plant, Crassula ovata, Friendship tree, Money plant
SunlightBright, direct sunlight (when mature/well-established)Bright, indirect sunlight (when young)
WaterMinimal water needs. 
Temperature55-75 degrees Fahrenheit (daytime)50-55 degrees Fahrenheit (nighttime)
Humidity30%-50% relative humidity
Soil pHSlightly acidic (6.0-6.5)
Growing zonesUSDA plant hardiness zones 10 and 11
Size5-6 feet at full maturity (when grown indoors)

Mature size

Jade plants can reach heights of up to 8 feet in the wild. However, this plant typically tops off at 5-6 feet tall when grown indoors. The jade plant is a slow grower, with annual height increments of no more than 2-3 inches.

Most of the active growing takes place during the spring and summer. In the winter, the jade plant growth rate slows down significantly as the plant enters dormancy.

Potting and repotting

Follow the steps detailed below to plant a jade plant inside a pot correctly.

  1. Choose a planting pot with a drainage hole whose width doesn’t exceed that of the root ball by more than 2 inches.
  2. Fill 1/3 of the pot with a soil potting mix specially formulated for succulents like jade plants. Such a mix ensures good drainage and nourishment to the plant.
  3.  Plant the jade plant, ensuring the top of the root ball is about one inch below the pot’s rim. Doing so leaves enough room for irrigation.
  4. Apply more potting soil mix around the root ball and water the jade plant. Place a saucer underneath to allow proper drainage before transferring your newly-potted plant indoors. 

Jade plants are slow growers and don’t need to be repotted as often as most common houseplants. Moreover, keeping the jade plant root-bound helps to keep it at a more manageable size. 

Ideally, you want to repot your Crassula ovata only once every 2-3 years. The best time of the year to repot jade plant is in early spring, before the onset of the growing season. 

After replanting, don’t water the succulent for at least seven days. Also, to avoid killing the fresh roots, don’t fertilize for at least one month after repotting.

Note: Keeping a jade plant root-bound in a small pot promotes blooming. However, repotting encourages growth.

When to prune

To spur new growth and boost plant health in jade plants, it’s vital to cut back overgrown or leggy branches and drooping branches. Jade plants should only be pruned once they’ve passed one year. Pruning jade plants younger than one year isn’t recommended, as the roots and trunk are still developing. Pruning too early causes stunted growth.

The money plant is a top-heavy houseplant; weaker branches droop when they can no longer support the weight of the water-holding leaves. Pruning such branches encourages the growth of thicker, stronger branches that can support the weight of the leaves and lead to taller, wider growth.

The best time of the year to prune weak stems on jade plants is in the spring or early summer when they’re actively growing. Pruning at this time of the season ensures new growth sprouts faster. Additionally, the temperature and warmth in the spring and summer season ensures faster plant recovery from pruning.

Note: You can prune your jade plant at any other time of the year, but the recovery won’t be as fast.

Toxicity to humans, cats and dogs

The jade plant is only mildly poisonous to humans if ingested. However, it’s highly toxic to dogs, cats, and other dogs. Place it on a high platform if you have pets that like to nibble on the houseplants.

Jade plant common diseases

Jade plant often suffer from diseases including bacterial soft rot, powdery mildew, and sooty mold.

Bacterial soft rot

This bacterial disease is caused by a pathogen called Erwinia. It causes the interior tissue of the jade plant to become soft and soggy. Also, it causes the collapse of the stem and branches. Moreover, the soft leaves turn brown, and the plant develops an unpleasant odor. 

The best treatment for bacterial soft rot is to cut off affected shoots to revive the plant.

Powdery mildew

This fungal disease is caused by a pathogen called Sphaerotheca that causes the appearance of white powdery film sections on the jade plant’s foliage and withering of the leaves. Overwatered jade plants or jade plants exposed to excessive humidity are more susceptible to powdery mildew.

You can control powdery mildew by applying a fungicide such as potassium bicarbonate, Bacillus subtilis, or neem oil. You can also use a blend of baking soda and vinegar.

Sooty mold

This disease develops on the honeydew formed on the leaves whenever mealybugs or aphids invade jade plants. Sooty mold looks like soot and diminishes the plant’s ornamental appeal.

Wipe the plant’s leaves with a wet towel to control sooty mold.

Jade plant common pests

The most common Crassula ovata pests include mealybugs, scales, and spider mites.

Mealybugs

Mealybugs are tiny, white, fluffy pests that hide underneath the leaves and branches and suck the sap from the plant. They also form honeydew that reels in other pests. 

You can get rid of these pests by spraying the plant with a stream of water or wiping them off the plant using a cotton swab dipped in 70% isopropyl alcohol. 

For more severe infestations, use a systemic chemical pesticide such as dinotefuran. 

Scales

Scales are tiny black or brown insects that stick to the lower side of the leaves and suck the sap from the leaves, attracting bacterial infection. 

These pests are largely pesticide-resistant due to their hard outer shell and are best removed manually.

 Spider mites

Spider mites are tiny insects that suck the sap out of jade plant leaves, causing the plant to lose its vigor. The webbing this pest forms on the leaves and branches also diminishes the plant’s aesthetic appeal. 

Spider mites can be easily controlled using chemical treatments. 

References

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