Why is My Jade Plant Dropping Leaves?

Is your jade plant dropping leaves? Find out possible causes and solutions in this article with tips from gardening expert Paige Foley.

A small jade plant grows in a white pot near a sunny window. Two leaves have dropped onto the windowsill.

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Jade is a popular houseplant due to its ease of care and decorative appeal. There are over 200 species within the genus, giving you many choices in shape, color, and size. While relatively carefree, they are susceptible to a few issues. Are you wondering why your jade plant is dropping leaves?

Dropping leaves is a common sign of stress. Too much or too little care can impact how your plant thrives. Providing the proper care for jade will ensure it lives for many years.

These succulents are low-maintenance. When you love them just a little too much, they may show signs of stress. Let’s discuss why leaves are dropping and how to fix the cause.

Short Answer

Although jade plants don’t need much of your attention, providing them with proper care will help prevent signs of stress. If you begin to see leaves dropping, you need to take a look at the environment. This houseplant prefers soils on the drier side.

Overwatering is the number one cause of dropping leaves. The plant is extremely prone to root and stem rot when the soil is too wet for long periods of time. It can hold water in its leaves and trunk for long periods of time, and since it has its own moisture reservoirs, well-draining soil is crucial to its success. Allow the soil to dry completely between watering sessions to help prevent root and stem rot.

Just like other succulents, this species needs plenty of sunlight to thrive. But the great thing about jade plants is that they can tolerate shade throughout the day. Providing too much shade is not ideal, however. This can also cause leaf drop. Limit the shade to only short, transitory periods through the daytime.

Excessively cold weather can also cause leaf drop, as can age and a few other minor factors.

Long Answer

Jades are great for beginner succulent owners because of their ease of care. You don’t have to spend much of your time caring for the jade plant.

You can set it and forget it in a sense. However, you’ll still need to provide the proper light, water, and soil conditions to make them happy.

Overwatering

Close-up of a woman's hands watering a young succulent plant Crassula ovata from a white Teapot with polka dots, in a garden, on a wooden table. The succulent plant is in a small terracotta pot. This plant has fleshy oval-shaped leaves, glossy, dark green in color. They grow in opposite pairs along the branches. There are also potted rosemary and Sage on the table.
This drought-tolerant succulent requires proper watering to prevent leaf drop and root rot.

Jade plants are succulents. Like most succulents, they are drought-tolerant and can survive for periods without water because of their thick leaves and stems. But drought-tolerant does not mean it can live without water forever. Establishing a good watering schedule will be key in preventing the leaves from dropping.

Watering too much and too often will lead to the development of root and stem rots. Never let it sit in standing water for long periods.

Root rot starts below the soil surface. As this fungal disease progresses, the leaves turn yellow and drop from the stem. Remove your jade from the container and inspect the roots if you see yellowing leaves. Dark brown and mushy roots and stems indicate root or stem rot.

Don’t panic. Root rot can be treatable if caught early enough. Remove any rotten parts, being careful not to harm any intact roots, and place it back into fresh and well-draining soil. A new batch of well-draining potting mix can increase drainage and reduce the risk of fungal pathogens lingering from the earlier issue.

Low Light

Close-up of a Crassula ovata plant on a wooden windowsill. There is a succulent plant in a small blue flower pot. Crassula ovata produces upright, thick stems with fleshy, oval, dark green leaves.
This succulent can tolerate lower light but needs 6 hours of direct sunlight daily.

This is one of the few succulents that can tolerate lower light conditions. That doesn’t mean you can place them in a dark corner and expect them to survive. Jade needs at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day to thrive and bloom indoors.

You can grow them outdoors or indoors. The light requirements are different for each environment. When grown in too much shade, the leaves can begin to drop. This is more common during the winter when sunlight is less intense.

The best solution is to move it to a brighter location with more sunlight hours. Beware of placing it on a window sill during the winter. The draft and colder temperatures in a window sill can cause damage.

Inadequate Temperatures

Close-up of Jade plant leaves on a sunny windowsill. The plant has upright stems covered with glossy green, oval, fleshy leaves. The leaves have a slightly pinkish edge due to sun exposure.
Crassula ovata thrives in temperatures between 55 to 75 F..

Jade plants thrive best in temperatures between 55 to 75 F. If temperatures drop colder or warmer than this range, you run the risk of leaf drop. They are very sensitive to frost, and exposure to freezing temperatures can result in plant loss.

If you are growing jade outdoors in the summer, providing shade can also help prevent leaf drop due to excessive heat. Temperatures are cooler in the shade.

Fluctuating temperatures from air vents, windows, and heat sources can cause the plant to lose leaves quickly. When you move its pot to a new location, monitor for any signs of stress.

Age and Maturity

Close-up of a Jade plant in a large white clay pot with green patterns, on a blurry yellow background. The plant has vertical branched stems and medium oval leaves. The leaves are fleshy, dark green, smooth, shiny.
This plant naturally drops older leaves from lower on the plant.

As your plant gets older, it will likely drop leaves from the bottom portion of its stem. The oldest leaves on the bottom part of the stem will begin to yellow and eventually fall off. But if you notice more than just the bottom leaves falling off, this is a sign of a bigger problem.

You should only see a few leaves dropping here and there. This is unavoidable and a natural part of jade’s life cycle. Remove fallen leaves from the container or surrounding area. If you are worried about bare spots, you can prune your jade to encourage more growth. Always wear gloves when handling as it is mildly toxic to humans and pets.

When it seems like more than just part of the natural life cycle, look at the other causes for leaf drop in jade plants we’re covering and see if they match what you see!

Too Much Or Too Little Fertilizer

Close-up of female hands adding soil with fertilizer to Jade plant on a white table. Crassula ovata planted in a small pink pot. It is a succulent plant with fleshy, oval, dark green leaves with a smooth, shiny surface. In the background is a white bowl full of a mix of soil and fertilizer.
Leaves may drop due to nutrient imbalances.

Jade plants aren’t heavy feeders, but leaves will begin to drop if they don’t have enough or have excess nutrients. If you apply too much fertilizer at once or too often, the succulent may go into shock. Leaves will begin to fall from the bottom upwards. These leaves will begin to turn yellow or shrivel up before falling to the soil surface.

Slow growth and loss of color and shine are common signs of low nutrients. If your plant looks hungry, provide small quantities of organic fertilizer. Typically, jade plants don’t need a lot of food, but if it’s been in that same batch of soil for a while, it could just be overdue.

If you notice these signs, fertilize with a well-balanced fertilizer or repot with fresh soil. Fertilizer should only be applied every three to six months during active growth periods. Always apply fertilizer at the soil level, as fertilizer can burn the leaves if applied overhead.

Final Thoughts

These low-maintenance succulents don’t require much time, but if you notice leaves dropping, you must take action. Observe the environment your plant is growing in for signs of low light, overwatered soil, and inadequate temperatures. Your plant should be happy and healthy once you identify and fix the problem!

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