Care for jade plant

Dwarf Jade (Portulacaria afra)

Originally from Africa, the Dwarf Jade tree is a fleshy, softly woody shrub or small tree up to 3m (10ft). The Jade has a thick trunk and a fine branch structure with thick oval green succulent leaves. During autumn sometimes small white flowers appear, but only when the tree has experienced droughts in the season. The bark is green and soft when young, becoming red-brown when it ages.

The Dwarf Jade (Portulacaria afra) looks very similar to the Jade (Crassula ovata) and the care guidelines below apply to both species. The Dwarf Jade, with its smaller leaves, is the most suitable of both species for Bonsai cultivation. See the photos below to see the difference between their leaves. If you need help identifying your tree, try our Bonsai tree identification guide.

Specific Bonsai care guidelines for the Jade Bonsai

Position: The Jade tree is considered an indoor tree in most temperate zones, although it can be grown outdoors in full sun (and sufficiently high temperatures). Keep temperatures above 5 degrees C (or 41F) at all times. It needs lots of light or even full sun, especially when kept indoors. If the leaves develop red tips or edges of the leaves this is a sign of enough sunlight reaching the plant.

Watering: Jade trees can hold large amounts of water inside their leaves. Water sparsely and allow the plant to dry out a little bit between watering. During winter time watering can be as seldom as once every three weeks – though only when the tree is kept relatively cold – monitor your tree closely and water the moment the soil dries out slightly. The Jade Bonsai is not as particular about over-watering as most other succulents.

Feeding: Once a month during the growth season (spring-autumn). A normal fertilizer (as described in our fertilize article) should be fine.

Pruning and wiring: As a succulent, water is contained its trunk and branches; they tend to bend from their weight. Jades respond well to pruning, which should be done regularly to force the tree to grow branches also lower on its trunk. Do not use cut-paste though, as this might lead to rotting. The bark of the Jade is quite soft, so keep an eye out when you have wired the tree as the wire will bite in fast.

Repotting: Repot the three every second year in spring, using a very well-draining soil mixture. After a repot, don’t water the soil for about a week, to allow the cut roots to dry and callous. Otherwise you’ll get root rot.

Propagation: Easy to propagate using cuttings during the summer.

Pests and diseases: The Jade is a strong plant, when watered correctly and receiving enough sunlight you should experience no issues with the plant’s health.

For more detailed information on these techniques, try our Bonsai tree care section. Thanks to Adam Lavigne for the photos.

Portulacaria

Crassula

Jade plant

Jade Plant

A branched, succulent shrub commonly grown indoors, jade plant features thick, woody stems and glossy green, fleshy, oblong leaves up to two inches long. Happily, this low-maintenance plant lives a long time—taking on the appearance of a miniature tree as it ages. And it’s very easy to propagate. Just stick its leaves—stem side down—into the soil, where new roots will grow.

genus name
  • Crassula
light
  • Sun
plant type
  • Houseplant
height
  • 3 to 8 feet
width
  • From 2 to 3 feet
flower color
  • White,
  • Pink
foliage color
  • Blue/Green
season features
  • Spring Bloom,
  • Winter Bloom
problem solvers
  • Drought Tolerant
special features
  • Low Maintenance,
  • Good for Containers
zones
  • 11
propagation
  • Stem Cuttings

Colorful Combinations

This popular indoor plant is primarily grown for its lustrous green leaves. Expect to see those leaves tinted red if the plant is cultivated in direct sun. But don’t hold your breath for flowers; jade plant’s clusters of white or pink star-shape blossoms rarely appear on indoor specimens.

See more of the easiest houseplants to grow here.

Jade Plant Care Must-Knows

Jade plant tolerates a wide range of growing conditions. But for the best-looking plant possible, make sure it gets full sun to encourage a dense display of thick, succulent leaves. Growing in part sun will result in narrow leaves that take on a grayish cast. Jade plant also prefers well-drained gritty soil; saturated soil will cause root rot. Water jade plant when the soil is almost completely dry to the touch, but not so dry it pulls away from the pot’s edge—which makes it hard to rewet. Leaf drop indicates the plant is not getting enough water. During the growing season, give jade plant an occasional low dose of fertilizer to keep it green.

Learn why your jade plant has wilted leaves here.

Feel free to take your jade plant outside during the summer. The added sunlight and warmer temperatures will likely pay off with a growth spurt. While your plant is outside, spray it down to clean off any accumulated dust. Inspect the plant (including the undersides of leaves) for aphids, scale, spider mites, and mealybugs, which can be removed by wiping the plant with a paper towel sprayed with rubbing alcohol.

Explore our top 10 succulents for the home here.

More Varieties Of Jade Plant

Common jade plant

Crassula ovata develops into a durable shrubby tree that makes a great companion for cactuses and other succulents. It is also sold as Crassula argentea and Crassula portulacea.

Silver jade

Crassula atropurpurea arborescens has flattened silvery blue leaves with a red margin. It can grow to 6 feet tall and needs the same type of care as common jade plant.

Variegated jade

Crassula ovata ‘Variegata’ grows just like common jade, but has creamy white variegated leaves.

How to Care for Jade Plants

Home|Characteristics|Reference

The Jade plant is quite easy to take care of. It is low maintnance and brings life to any room.

Lighting-Jade plant needs anywhere between 3 and 5 hours of direct light a day, so a east or west facing window is ideal.

When a Jade plant receives full sun the tips can turn red.

Watering-Allow the plants soil to dry out between waterings. If the leaves become wrinkled looking then the plant needs water. If a plant is over watered then it becomes susceptable to mealy bugs and root rot. This Jade’s leaves are wrinkled, so it needs to be watered.

Soil-Jades are a type of succulant, which means that they prefer cactus soil or a soil mixture that drains well.

Transplanting-The best time to transplant is in the summer for the Jade plant. It is best if you dont water before the transplant or after. This helps the roots that have been damaged to heal and it prevents root rot.

Pruning-It is possible to prune a Jade Plant. If the stems start to look leggy it is a good idea to prune it back. Cut the stem right before a ring. The new growth will come from that ring on the stem.

Propagation-There are two different ways you can propagate a Jade plant. One is by a stem cutting, to accomplish this you will need to cut a 5-10″ stem and remove the lower leaves. Then allow the cutting to dry for a few days. That will promote root growth. After letting it dry, place it about 1-1 1/2″ in a moist sandy soil or water and allow it several weeks to start to root. The second way of propagation is through leaf propagation. In order to do this you will need to take one leaf and allow it to dry for a few days. Then stick the leaf in soil at a 30 degree angle and just enough to cover the leaf end. It will take several weeks for this to root as well.

This is a picture of a type of leaf propagation.

Description

The jade plant is a succulent native to South Africa and is commonly known by many names such as friendship tree and lucky plant. The leaves are broad and fleshy, usually dark green but can have a reddish tint around the edges. This usually only happens when the plant is in direct sunlight for a long time and is not detrimental to your plant health but it is good to keep an eye on it if this happens. New growth is green and supple like the leaves but will soon become rough and woody. Jade plants are a great candidate to bonsai because the new growth is easy to manipulate.

“California red tip” Jade

Light and temperature

Jade plants like a lot of indirect light such as from a south facing window. An east window will be just fine if you don’t have a good south facing window. If you are not sure if you’re jade is getting the right amount of light it will tell you. Red leaves mean too much light and thin spindly growth means too little. Some varieties should have red tipped leaves like the one pictured above but if more than the tips begin to redden try a little less sun.

The temperature range for a jade plant is larger than most houseplants, it can survive very hot temperatures but growth will slow to a stop when approaching 90°F. Be sure to remember that when it’s this hot it will require more watering. On the cold side the jade can go down to about 45°F and be fine, just don’t let it frost. These colder conditions are when the plant will flower.

Watering

Being a succulent the jade plant’s watering requirements are minimal compared to some other common houseplants. Make sure the pot you are using has multiple drainage holes that have been screened off so the soil does not flow out of the pot and if possible water from the bottom by placing the pot in a pan of water and allowing the dry soil in the pot to absorb the water from the tray. After an hour or two remove from the standing water and return it to its usual location. Once the plant gets large this will be basically impossible but at this point the plant should be very hearty and have a large root mass so an even distribution of water throughout the pot becomes less important. I recommend against misting the foliage as this can increase the relative humidity and lead to the growth of mold and fungus.

Medium

In their native habitat in South Africa jade plants grow in dry rocky soil. You will need to create a mix that has a high content of inorganic material to promote quick drainage. Crushed pumice or coarse sand is a good choice, then you will need an organic component, composted pine bark or redwood bark are better than peat for this succulent. The last part will be a perlite or vermiculite for aeration and drainage. Builders sand will add weight to the mix. This can be critical to stabilize a top heavy plant but can negatively affect drainage if the grains are too small. 2 parts pumice or builders sand, 1 part composted bark and 1 part perlite would be a good mix for this plant.

Pruning and propagation

Pruning a jade plant is mostly unnecessary and is generally done only for aesthetic reasons. if you do decide to prune find the part you want to remove and snip the stem as close to the next leaf node as possible. The two leaves that are now at the end of the branch will then start to lengthen and turn into new stems. Next take your cuttings and let them dry out at room temperature for a day or two. A thin callous will form over the cut, this is when it is ready to plant. Put you’re cutting about an inch (more if you have a large cutting that is unstable) into soil. If you don’t have a healthy cutting to use you can also use a leaf. When using only a leaf don’t bury it just rest it on top of the soil maybe leaning against the side of the pot with the base of the leaf on the dirt. In a week or two you will see that it has taken root and you may begin a watering routine. Remember that jade plants are very slow growing so be patient and in a year or two you will have a small jade plant. Water sparingly in the beginning with a spray mister or using the “from the bottom” method described above so you don’t disturb the new roots, this will also encourage the roots to grow more downward and become more stable more quickly. Jade plant cuttings can benefit greatly from using a rooting hormone, usually you will just dip the cut stem or the base of the leaf into the compound but some may be different.

Problems and pests

Jade plants don’t succumb to pests easily but there are a few that can be problematic. Mealy bugs are a type of scale and will feed on any part of the plant but are mostly found at the leaf joint or node. The males look like gnats and can fly during some growth stages. The females look like tiny cotton balls and adhere to the plant. To eliminate them start by manually removing as many as you can. Fly paper can catch some of the males which will slow breeding. Insecticidal products are not recommended for succulents as they can do more damage than the pest. Instead mix up diluted alcohol solution and mist the whole plant moderately (somewhere between lightly and heavily) even the seemingly unaffected areas.

There are thousands of other types of scale with many different physical characteristics and growth stages. The rubbing alcohol technique above works well on many soft scales but there are some “armored scales” that need a more highly concentrated direct application. Use a q-tip or cotton ball, soaked in pure rubbing alcohol and apply directly to the shell, avoiding as much plant as possible.

If the scale doesn’t subside in a few weeks to a month you may have lost the battle. Take a few of the healthiest cuttings you can, clean them thoroughly, and start them in new pots with new soil. Get rid of the rest, soil and all before it spreads beyond just your jade plant.

Re-potting

Re-potting a jade plant is the same as with most other houseplants. Start by loosening the dirt around the root ball. Next prepare your new pot, fill about one third with your new batch of growing medium. Carefully remove the jade from the old pot shake lightly and fluff the root-ball. Now is a good time to take a close look at the roots, inspect for any rot or parasites. When you are satisfied that the roots are in good condition, place the plant into the new pot resting on the dirt. Fill the rest of the pot until the root ball is completely covered. You should have about a half inch from the top of the dirt to the top of the pot. Water generously; allow it to drain and your finished.

Growing Jade Houseplants – Tips For The Care And Maintenance Of Jade Plants

Jade plant care is easy and simple. Many people enjoy growing jade plants in their homes and offices, and they are considered to be symbols of good luck. But you do not need to be lucky to learn what the proper care and maintenance of jade plants is. Keep reading to learn how to care for a jade plant.

Learning about the care and maintenance of jade plants (Crassula ovata) is easy. The most important factors to consider when growing jade houseplants is water, light, temperature, and fertilizer.

Watering a Jade Plant

One of the most important things when you care for jade plants is to make sure that they are watered properly. Never let a jade plant dry out completely. But also, do not water a jade plant too often, as this can cause root rot. Don’t water your jade plant on a schedule. Rather, water your jade plant when the top of soil is just dry to the touch.

If your jade plant is losing leaves or has leaf spots, this is most commonly caused by too little water.

Sunlight Requirements of a Jade Plant

Another important aspect of the care and maintenance of jade plants is how much sun they receive. They need full sun in order to grow properly. If they do not have full sun, they may become stunted and leggy.

Proper Temperature for Jade Plants

Jade plant care instructions say that jade plants do best in day time temperatures of 65-75 F. (18-24 C.) during the day and 50-55 F. (10-13 C.) at night. That being said, if they get lots of sunlight, they will do fine in temperatures that are higher than this.

Fertilizing Your Jade Plant

For proper jade plant care, fertilize your jade plant about once every six months. Use a balanced water soluble fertilizer. An important thing to keep in mind is that you should water your jade plant in the regular way and then water it with the fertilizer water. Never fertilize your jade plant when the soil is dry, as this will damage the roots.

As you can see, how to care for a jade plant is pretty simple. With a little TLC and proper jade plant care, your pretty jade plant might one day become a pretty jade tree.

Jade plant is easily grown as a houseplant.

Crassula ovata is a common houseplant that is usually called jade plant, or less frequently referred to as friendship plant, money plant, or silver dollar plant. Previously classified as C. argentea, C. portulaca and C. obliqua, it is still occasionally sold under these other, older (and incorrect) names. This species is just one of about 300 in a diverse genus, part of the orpine family (Crassulaceae), about half of which are native to southern Africa. The name crassula means thick or fat, referring to the fleshy nature of the genus, and ovata means egg-shaped, referring to the shape of the leaves of this species. C. ovata is a prominent component of valley thicket vegetation of the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. The very similar C. arborescens, which has almost spherical blue-gray leaves with a distinct waxy bloom, is found in a different area, in the Little Karoo and Central Karoo. It has compact, rounded heads of pink flowers. The Khoi and other Africans used the roots for food, grated and cooked, eaten with thick milk. They also used the leaves for medicinal purposes.

A bonsai-like jade plant.

Jade plant is an easy-to-grow succulent that stores water in its leaves, stems, and roots. It has been used as an indoor ornamental throughout the world, and a landscape plant in mild climates. It makes a good houseplant as it grows well in the restricted root space of containers, is relatively slow-growing, likes the warm, dry conditions found in most homes, and tolerates neglect.

In it native habitat, C. ovata grows into a small rounded evergreen shrub (to 6 feet) on dry, rocky hillsides. It has many short, thick, succulent branches on a gnarled-looking trunk, suggesting great age even in young specimens. The bark peels from the trunk in horizontal brownish strips on old plants.

The rounded, fleshy leaves.

The smooth, rounded, glossy, egg-shaped leaves are about 1 to 3½ inches long and ¾ to 1½ inches wide, and are borne in opposite pairs, with each pair at right angles to the next pair. They tend to be clustered at the ends of the branches rather than spaced evenly along them. The green, fleshy leaves should be edged or tinged with red (the plant really should have been given the common name ruby plant) when grown with sufficient light. New stems are also green and very succulent, just like the leaves, but they become brown and woody as they mature. The lower leaves will slowly drop off naturally. If the leaves get burnt – from sunburn, insecticide damage, or frost – the damaged leaves will die and fall off, but new leaves will sprout.

Tight, rounded clusters of small white or pink, star-shaped flowers are produced in response to long nights. The flowers have a faint sweet scent and are attractive to bees, wasps, flies, beetles and butterflies. Under ideal conditions of bright light flower clusters can cover the plant in masses thick enough to hide the foliage. Under good conditions, pollinated flowers produce a small capsule filled with seed. To encourage bloom, water should be withheld and the plant should be held under cool conditions (around 55˚F), especially at night, in the fall. They should be kept in an area that will not receive any supplemental light so that the natural light cycle of the season will trigger flower initiation. Several weeks of cold, dry, dark treatment, followed by regular watering should result in flowering.

Jade plant produces clusters of small white or pink, star-shaped flowers.

Jade plant does best with four or more hours of direct sun, but they will survive in bright, indirect light. Inadequate light will produce a plant with deep green leaves and drooping stems – there is nothing wrong with the plant other than it doesn’t have enough light to produce normal compact growth and reddish coloration. This plant is tolerant of a wide range of temperature and humidity, and may even tolerate light frost, but will be killed by freezing conditions. Houseplants can be moved outdoors for the summer, but need to be acclimated gradually to the higher light intensity outdoors to prevent sunburn. They must be brought indoors before the first frost.

Plants can remain in containers for a long time, becoming root bound and top-heavy.

These plants need well-drained soil, and do best in potting mixes without peat or other moisture-retentive components. Use topsoil mixed with perlite, sharp sand, pea gravel and/or chicken grit to create a planting mix that will drain quickly. Individual plants can be grown for many years while root-bound, although it is best to repot them every two to three years or when a plant becomes top-heavy and susceptible to tipping over. The best time to repot is as new growth starts. Prune the roots when re-potting into the same size pot and cut back the stems to maintain the shape and encourage development of a thick main trunk. Water sparingly until established in the new container.

Foliage and flowers of jade plant.

As with almost all succulents, they do best when the soil is allowed to dry out between deep waterings. Plants can be watered liberally during active growth, in spring and summer, but should dry out slightly between waterings and should not be allowed to sit in water. In winter, when they are semi-dormant, watering should be restricted and the soil should remain on the dry side. Overwatering will cause the leaves to drop and the stem to rot. Even though they are succulent plants, they do need water; drought can result in dwarfing, foliage spotting, leaf drop and death. Jade plants can be fertilized every two months during active growth, or use a dilute fertilizer more frequently.

Jade plants benefit from pruning to keep them compact and growing vigorously. This is best done in spring, cutting stems back to a lateral branch. Pruning encourages the trunk to develop to be able to support the weight of the heavy leaves and stems, and also encourages root growth. They can be pruned into miniature trees, and make an excellent choice for a succulent bonsai specimen or a wonderful sculptural plant. The cuts will heal over in a few days and new growth will sprout within a few weeks.

A rooted cutting.

Jade plant is especially easy to propagate from stem or leaf cuttings. In the wild or when planted outdoors in mild climates, leaves or pieces of plant that break off and fall to the ground will root in a few weeks. When taking cuttings, it is best to allow the pieces to dry for a few days so the cut surface will be healed over and less likely to rot. Inserting the cut end into fairly dry, well-drained soil will speed rooting, although they will produce roots even out of soil. Cuttings root most easily in summer, but jade plant can be propagated at any time of the year. This plant can also be grown from seeds sown in spring or summer.

This plant has few pests, but mealybugs are the most common insect pest. Infestations of the white, fluffy insects can deform new growth. The insects can be wiped off with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol, but the plants need to be cleaned frequently for several days or weeks until all of the pests have been eliminated. Use caution with insecticides, as there can be problems with phytotoxicity on the succulent leaves. Spider mites can also occasionally infest jade plants.

There are a number of named cultivars of C. ovata, although these may not be readily available in all areas.

  • ‘Bronze Beauty’ has small coppery green leaves on extremely slow-growing stems.
  • A jade plant with tubular leaves.

    ‘California Red Tip’ has purplish red edged leaves when grown in bright light to full sun.

  • ‘Gollum’ has leaves that are nearly tubular, with a reddish tint, and look as though the end is a suction cup.
  • ‘Hobbit’ has tubular looking leaves with reddish ends and dense foliage.
  • ‘Sunset’ has green leaves streaked with cream/white and pinkish red.
  • ‘Tricolor’ is a chimeral variety with creamy white-and rose-striped pointed leaves and pink and white flowers.
  • ‘Variegata’ has bicolored leaves.

– Susan Mahr, University of Wisconsin – Madison


Download Article as PDF

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *