How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Jelly Bean Plant

Sedum rubrotinctum, or jelly bean plant, is a striking and simple succulent to care for. Rachel Garcia explains how in this comprehensive guide.

Caring for Jelly Bean Plant

Contents

Jelly Beans. Pork and Beans. What sounds like a delicious meal plus dessert is actually a succulent! Sedum rubrotinctum is a lively plant that requires little more care than a rock. It’s perfect for neglectful gardeners.

Sedum rubrotinctum leaves resemble beans, jelly or otherwise, hence the common name jelly bean plant. These plump beans are green, but turn red on the tips when given full sun.

There isn’t much to growing the jelly bean plant successfully. Here are all the details you need to know

Overview

jelly bean plant
Jelly bean plants are low maintenance and easy to care for.
Plant Type Succulent
Family Crassulaceae
Genus Sedum
Species Sedum rubrotinctum
Exposure Full sun
Height 12″
Watering Requirements Low
Maintenance Low
Soil Type Succulent mix

What is Jelly Bean Plant?

Close up of a green plant with plump oval shaped leaves and a cluster of tiny star shaped flowers in the center.
In the right conditions, these succulents can be both indoor and outdoor plants.

This Mexico native is actually a hybrid of Sedum pachyphyllum and Sedum stahlii. It thrives outdoors in USDA Zones 9-11, but can grow in slightly cooler climates when protected. If your temperatures drop below 20°F (-7°C), plant your jelly bean plant in a container so you can bring it inside if needed.

In the spring, pork and beans produce adorable yellow, star-shaped flowers. The woody stems like to spread out and take up space, making great ground covers. Sedum rubrotinctum also grows well in containers.

If you have pets or small children, it’s best to keep them away from these plants. Jelly beans may sound like a tasty treat, but this plant can be a skin irritant to humans and animals when handled.

Planting

Row of three black pots, filled with red and green succulents, lining a wood fence.
If you live in a cooler climate, plant your jelly bean succulents in pots so that they can be easily moved indoors.

Sedum rubrotinctum is a popular container plant, but you can also plant it directly in the garden.

For those in warmer zones, plant outdoors in a sunny position and allow the branches to spread, covering any tough areas of open soil. If you live in a cooler climate, it’s better to plant in pots from the start or dig up the plants to transfer into pots in fall.

Drainage is important to consider when choosing your location. These succulents are accustomed to quickly draining, sandy soil. Avoid planting in heavy clay and amend other soils with compost and sand as needed to improve drainage before planting.

To plant, remove the plant from its container and gently tease out the roots. Plant in a shallow hole at the same depth as the container the plant was in originally. Don’t plant too deeply as this can lead to issues with fungal disease.

You can water dry soil immediately, or wait a few days to water if the soil is a little damp. This will give the plant time to adjust to its new home before root growth resumes, avoiding the risk of root rot.

How To Grow

Close up of a low growing plant with small clusters of plump, green, oval shaped leaves that fade into red at the tips.
Jelly bean plants are easy to care for and will add character to your garden.

The jelly bean plant is extremely easy to care for. With a good setup and schedule, you shouldn’t have any problems.

Light

Close up of a plant with small clusters of plump, green, oval shaped leaves that fade into red at the tips.
Too much sun or heat can cause your jelly bean plants to sunburn.

Full sun to partial shade is ideal for pork and beans. The more sun exposure your succulent gets, the deeper its colors will be. Jelly bean sedums can get sunburned if exposed to full sun and high heat for long periods, so give them extra afternoon protection in summer if needed.

If your succulent lives indoors, keep it in front of a south-facing window where it can receive direct sunlight. Limited light levels indoors will cause the branches to stretch and become leggy.

Water

Close up of tall, bright green plants with thick, oval shaped leaves. Plant is freshly watered and has drops of water dripping form each leaf.
Be sure you Jelly Bean plant is good and dry before you water them again.

When it comes to water, Sedum rubrotinctum prefers a ‘soak and dry’ method. This involves waiting for the soil to dry out completely before watering deeply again. Your succulent should never be sitting in water for long periods of time.

Overwatering is a common problem in succulents. Look out for mushy, discolored, and dropping leaves. When underwatered, the leaves will become wrinkly, shriveled, and crispy.

Soil

Several small containers filled with small, green, succulents.
Jelly bean plants can tolerate different types of soil, as long as it drains well.

These plants are tolerant of various soil types, as long as they drain well. For best results, give it a sandy cactus and succulent soil mix. You can buy this or make your own by combining potting soil with perlite and grit to boost drainage.

Some plants are fussy about pH levels, but this sedum doesn’t care much about those details. It’s about as low-maintenance as it gets.

Temperature & Humidity

Close up of a cluster of small, plump, red and green oval shaped leaves covered in small dew drops.
Jelly bean plants will do better in higher temps but aren’t too fussy with humidity.

Like other sedums, the jelly bean plant appreciates higher temperatures. They don’t tolerate cold well and shouldn’t be exposed to temperatures below 20°F (-7°C). Don’t worry if you live in a cooler zone. You can still plant in containers and move the pots indoors or into a greenhouse over winter.

Jelly bean plants aren’t fussy about humidity. Higher humidity levels can increase the risk of fungal disease, managed with regular airflow and pruning as needed.

Fertilizing

Two hands with blue gloves on holding a handful of fertilizer pellets over a bucket filled with more pellets.
For the best success, use a high-quality succulent fertilizer once a month in spring and summer.

Fertilizer isn’t a requirement but can be helpful if your plant needs a boost, particularly in pots. If you choose to, give your pork and beans a half-strength fertilizer, or any succulent fertilizer lower in nitrogen.

For optimal growth, use a high-quality succulent fertilizer once a month during the spring and summer. You can also apply fertilizer if your plant hits a growth plateau. Also consider refreshing the soil in containers if growth slows after a few years. Don’t fertilize in fall and winter when the plant goes dormant.

Maintenance

Small orange container with a bright green plant with plump green leaves and stems hanging over the edge of the pot.
Once the plant gets to be a certain size you will need to transplant it into a larger container.

If your jelly bean plant is getting bigger than you want or has some unappealing stems, you can easily prune it. Use sharp pruning shears, making a clean cut without crushing the stem. Keep the cut area dry until it calluses over in a few days.

Sedum rubrotinctum will also need to be repotted if it outgrows its container. The stems are sprawling, so don’t worry if they hang off the edge. What you’ll want to watch for are the roots. Sedum rubrotinctum can handle being rootbound but grows best with a little extra space.

The leaves fall off easily, so don’t be surprised if there are casualties. With these, you might as well try no-effort propagation by setting them on the soil next to your newly repotted plant (they usually root on their own).

Sedum rubrotinctum can cause skin irritation, so garden gloves are highly recommended.

Propagation

Overhead view of a small green plant in a white pot, that has clippings of the plant laying on the table all around the pot.
There are several different methods when it comes to propagating these plants.

Pork and beans are so easy to propagate that sometimes they propagate themselves! Fallen leaves root where they land and stems grow roots while still connected to the plant. This makes for fast and easy propagation for gardeners.

To propagate from leaves and stems, choose a healthy part of the plant. For leaves, gently twist them off the stem without leaving any part behind. Stems can be cut an inch or two from the top.

After you’ve gathered your cuttings, let them dry out for a few days. During this time, keep them out of full sunlight so they don’t get burned.

After the wounds have dried, place them on top of or in well-draining soil. Mist the cuttings with water until the roots are firmly in the soil. Gradually give the new plant normal water and sun as it matures.

Common Problems

Small light green and pink plant with plump, oval shaped leaves in a small orange container.
These plants are resistant to most disease and pests.

Jelly beans are fairly resistant to pests and diseases and their growing problems are typical for succulents. Overall, this is a tough plant that shouldn’t give you much trouble.

Dropping Leaves

Top view of a plant in a white container that has several dropped leaves in the soil around the plant. The plant has plump, round leaves that fade from green to red at the tips.
Dropped leaves is fairly normal, however it could be an indication that it’s being overwatered.

It’s pretty normal for pork and beans to drop leaves when handled or even brushed against. However, this can also be a symptom of overwatering.

If the fallen leaves seem mushy or discolored, check the soil to make sure it’s draining properly. If it isn’t, stop watering until it dries out or repot with dry soil.

Wilting

Close up of a plant with red and green, plump, oval shaped leaves and a thick stem.
Wilted leaves can be a sign your plant is being underwatered.

If your Sedum rubrotinctum is drooping or the leaves are wilted and wrinkly, it’s underwatered. Give it a good soak and it should revive in a day or two.

It may be tempting to keep the soil wet for a while, but you should let it dry out before soaking again.

Etiolation

Plant with tall brown, thick stems with clusters of bright green, round, plump leaves at the top
A tall, leggy, Jelly Bean plant could be a sign that it needs more sun.

Stretched stems are common in succulents. This is caused by a lack of sunlight. If you notice your jelly bean plant is growing tall and thin, move it to a sunnier location. If the damage is done and you’re stuck with long stems, prune them back so they can regrow normally.

Pests and Diseases

Close up of a mature plant with lots of stems and clusters of bright green, long, plum, leaves.
The biggest issue these plants face is root rot which will manifest as wilting leaves or mushy flesh.

Sedum rubrotinctum rarely attracts pests. To further prevent any from showing up, keep the plant healthy and the soil relatively dry.

Like most succulents, jelly beans are susceptible to root and stem rot. This is usually caused by too much moisture in the soil or on the leaves. Rot can easily make the plant vulnerable to other diseases and bacteria. Once infected, these spread quickly, so it’s important to fix it right away. Symptoms include wilting, discoloration, and mushy flesh.

The most effective control method is to remove the rotted sections. With a sterile knife, remove any sections of the stem or roots that appear diseased. If this includes the majority of the plant, you’ll be better off removing and using the healthy stems for propagation. 

After eliminating the rotted parts, repot your jelly beans in new, dry soil. Let the wounds callous over before watering the plant. Prevent rot from happening again by not overwatering.

FAQs

Is Sedum rubrotinctum poisonous?

Yes! Not only is this succulent toxic to humans and pets, but it can irritate the skin. If you have pets or children, this may not be the plant for you.

Why are the leaves falling off my jelly bean plant?

The leaves fall off easily when the plant is moved or brushed against. However, this is also a sign of overwatering. If the fallen leaves are discolored or mushy, adjust your watering schedule.

How do you revive a dying succulent?

The most common cause of death in succulents is overwatering. If your plant is mushy and discolored and the soil is retaining water, lay off the watering can. Repot the succulent in dry soil and give it a couple of days before watering again.

Other causes of succulent death are underwatering and rot. Underwatered plants need a more consistent watering schedule. Rotted sections need to be removed.

Final Thoughts

The jelly bean plant is a fun succulent to grow, and not just because of its name. If you’re looking for a new stonecrop, this is one not to miss.

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Vibrant young succulents in varied sizes and hues - green, pink, blue, and purple, each showcasing unique shapes. Thriving in compact black pots, they bask in direct sunlight, displaying their resilience and vibrant colors.

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