Jade plants are beautiful, come in many varieties, and are easy to care for. This is why they’ve become one of the most popular houseplants for both beginner and expert gardeners alike.
In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about jade plant care, including pruning, propagation, and how to deal with pests and diseases.
Jade Plant Overview
|Common Name(s)||Jade plant, friendship tree, lucky plant, money tree|
|Scientific Name||Crassula ovata|
|Origin||South africa and mozambique|
|Height||Up to 12 feet|
|Light||Bright, indirect sun|
|Temperature||Nothing colder than 50 degrees|
|Humidity||No special requirements|
|Soil||Any good potting mix|
|Fertilizer||Only occasional use of fertilizer; every three months|
|Propagation||Lightly bury leaves in dry, warm soil that is in direct light|
|Pests||Mealybugs, spider mites|
Jade is native to South Africa. The leaves on these plants have a leathery look with a glossy finish to them. The leaves are thick and stems are quite woody.
Types of Jade
There are over 1,000 types of jade out there. Some are extremely rare and can cost thousands of dollars, but we’ll only cover the more common ones you can find at garden centers and nurseries.
Some common varieties of crassula ovata are:
Tricolor jade is yellow, green, and white. It will also grow beautiful pink flowers during the blooming time of the year. It’s one of the shorter varieties, growing to 2-4′ tall.
Many houseplants have a variegated variety, and jade is no exception. The ‘Variegata’ type has a streaky green and white appearance and is a much bushier variety than other types of jade. If it is grown in good conditions, it will produce white flowers.
This is my personal favorite variety. ‘Sunset’ has yellow-red leaves that bunch together. It is one of the more popular varieties to grow in a container.
The ‘Monstruosa’ variety is actually two types: hobbit and gollum. Named after Lord of the Rings, these two types are very different from one another. ‘Hobbit’ has tiny curled yellow-green leaves, while ‘Gollum’ has long, fingerlike leaves.
This is a simple variety that has bright red and purple leaves. It’s a popular variety in California where there’s plenty of daytime sun.
‘Blue Bird’ source
‘Blue Bird’ jade, also known as ‘Silver’ jade, has grayish-blue leaves. This variety has a tendency to grow very short and wide.
‘Ripple Leaf’ is a unique type of jade that is actually a hybrid. It’s one of the most unique varieties out there and does well in full sun, unlike most types of jade.
Jade Plant Care
Learning how to care for a jade plant is simple, which is why they’re one of the most popular indoor houseplants.
Jade plants need medium to bright light. Place them in front of a window that gets around 4 hours of direct or filtered sunlight.
Keep in mind that if you place it in direct, strong sun, the edges of the leaves will turn reddish, leaving a red border around the leaves. In less direct sun, the leaves will be a dark green and will look healtheir.
So place them about 3-4″ away from a window, because the glass will act as a magnifier, making the sun’s rays hotter on the plant. The redness of the leaves is a sign that your jade leaves are getting scorched.
The best temperatures for these plants are just normal indoor temps but they do not like high humidity. They like the temps at night time to be around 50-55°F and during the days 75-80°F. They can survive in temps as low as 40°F but it is not a very good idea to let them get that cold.
Jade plants are a member of the crassula family, meaning they’re a succulent. Being a succulent, they do not need much water as they store most of what they need in their leaves.
When watering your jade, let the soil in the pot dry out — but don’t let it get too far. If the soil becomes dusty, then it’s too dry. Another tell-tale sign that your jade plant isn’t getting enough water is that it’s plump leaves will start to wither and wrinkle up like fingers that become prune-like.
You don’t need to water much during winter as they become somewhat dormant during these months. Water less and you’ll prevent root rot and leaves falling off.
Jade plant soil needs to be well-draining because it’s a succulent. The perfect recipe for jade plants is:
- 1/6 sand
- 1/6 peat moss
- 1/6 perlite
- 1/2 succulent soil mix
Mix those ingredients well and they will help keep the soil from losing all of its moisture, but will also be compact and keep roots in place.
The perfect pH for jade plant is around 6.3.
The best fertilizers for jade will have a 10-20-10 or a 5-10-5 ratio. When fertilizing Jade, use only liquid fertilizer and dilute it to at least half strength.
They don’t need to be fertilized often — once every 2-3 months during the spring and summer is just fine. Avoid fertilizing them during the winter months, as jade goes dormant during this time.
It’s not required to re-pot jade when you get it, but they can grow too big for their pots over time. If you do decide to re-pot, do it during the spring months when they are coming out of their dormant phase and new growth is appearing.
Pruning Jade Plants
You can prune your Jade plant when ever you feel the need to and pick off the dead or dying leaves on it. If you have stems that is growing out of control, feel free to cut them back to the main stem.
Pruning your jade plant isn’t necessary, but a lot of gardeners choose to prune to encourage it to grow thicker.
To prune your jade properly:
- Look for a ‘leaf scar’, or the brown rings around a stem.
- Prune with a sharp pair of pruning shears
- Two new stems will grow from the area that you pruned, causing your plant to grow bushier
- Be careful not to over-prune your jade
Propagating Jade Plants
Jade plants can be propagated by either leaf or stem cuttings. Both are effective as long as you give the cuttings what they need to root successfully.
Leaf cuttings are easy to take, but have a higher failure rate than stem cuttings. If you decide on leaf cuttings, know that they will take a very long time to establish into full-sized jade plants.
To take a leaf cutting:
- Choose a younger, medium-size leaf
- Use scissors or pruning shears to snip off the leaf from the stem
- Allow the cut area to dry completely
- After 2-3 weeks, tiny white roots will poke from the cut area and the leaf will begin to wrinkle
- Put the leaf into a well-draining soil mix and water sparingly
- Once roots set, you will see a stem and leaf begin to grow
- Water sparingly and keep a watchful eye on your new jade plant
Stem cuttings are fairly easy to take off of your jade plant and have a higher success rate than leaf cuttings. Not only that, they will grow a full-sized jade plant quicker than the leaf method.
To take stem cuttings:
- Choose a stem that is at least 4-5″ tall
- Cut the stem above a node, making sure that at least one node is above the cut area
- Remove the leaves off of all nodes near the cut
- Allow the cut stem to dry completely in a dark and dry area
- After 2-3 weeks, tiny white roots will emerge from the cut
- Place the dried stem in the same type of soil mix recommended for leaf cuttings
- Water only when the leaves have small wrinkles on them and keep an eye on your new jade lant
The two major pests that affect jade plants are mealybugs and spider mites, which affect a lot of common houseplants. Fortunately, they’re relatively easy to control and prevent.
Mealybugs are the most common pest for jade. They’re related to scales and aphids and look like little white blobs at the bottom of leaves. They will suck sap out of the leaves of your jade and can decimate it in short time.
To get rid of them, you need to wipe them off of your jade with cotton swabs covered in rubbing alcohol. If you want to ensure no mealybugs will ever attack your jade again, get a systemic insecticide that works its way into the jade plant.
Although these are less common, spider mites are still a problem for jade plants. You’ll spot them on the underside of your jade leaves, where they form colonies and spin white fibrous webs.
Just like mealybugs, remove them with cotton swabs of rubbing alcohol. If the infestation is bad, cut off infested sections of jade completely.
Jade doesn’t suffer from too many diseases, but there are a couple you should watch for.
Bacterial Soft Rot
The Erwinia bacteria is the culprit behind this disease which causes your jade plant to collapse.
If you notice this disease, remove the affected areas with clippers and dispose of them as soon as possible. The key is to spot it before it affects your entire plant.
Ah, powdery mildew. One of the most annoying plant diseases out there. To get rid of powdery mildew, use a spray of baking soda, water, dish soap, and garlic.
Black Ring Disease
This virus will create black rings on the bottom of the leaves of your jade plant. It doesn’t harm the plant, but makes it look pretty ugly. Right now, no one knows how to cure a jade plant from black ring disease.
Q. My jade plant plant is tall and sparse, how can I make it shorter and bushier?
A. Pruning is the key here. Aggressively prune your jade plant, remembering that every time you cut above a ‘leaf scar’, you will create two new stems. So prune in a way that the new stems will cause it to be both shorter and bushier.
Q. My jade plant is limp and has fallen over. The stem is even a little mushy. What is happening?
A. The root of the problem is root rot, causing the stem to weaken and your jade to fall over. This is cause most often by overwatering, but could also be because you are using a soil that doesn’t drain well. Remember, jade needs very well-draining soil.
Q. I have a jade plant that was out in the cold, causing the stems to droop and leaves to become soft. Can I save it?
A. If the temperatures stayed above freezing, your jade plant should be able to come back. To speed up the process, you can cut it back to only the branches that didn’t droop in the cold.