Full grown jade plant

Crassula Care and Varieties

Succulents in the genus Crassula are native to South Africa. They include shrub (branching) varieties commonly called jade plants, as well as “stacked crassulas” with leaves pancaked along thin stems. Green jade (Crassula ovata) is a common houseplant worldwide. Nearly any nursery sells it, and it’s often added to assortments or used as a giveaway plant. Newer cultivars are more interesting, just as easy to grow and well worth having. Look for those with rippled or tubular leaves; diminutive varieties; and those variegated with gold, yellow, cream, pink or red.

Growing Conditions

Crassulas prefer mild, frost-free regions with low humidity (but not desert heat) typical of Southern California from the Bay Area south. The thicker the stem, the more drought-resistent the plant. Although jades appreciate regular water, they’re often the last plants standing in neglected gardens—an indication of their ability to do without. Leaves shrivel as plants draw on stored moisture, then plump when rains return.

Like aloes, many crassulas will stress beautifully to shades of red, yellow and orange. Sun makes the difference. In low light, even the reddest jades will revert to green.

Pests seldom are a problem. The biggest challenge with these simple succulents is protecting them from temperatures below 32 degrees F.

A sunset jade that has beautifully pruned itself.

Plants that prune themselves

A remarkable thing about jades is that random limbs will shrivel and fall off. This enhances air circulation, allows more sunlight to enter, and starts new little plants. Eventually you get a sort of bonsai—a nicely balanced shrub that resembles a small tree. This is most noticeable in old potted specimens with thick trunks. Remove any baby plants if you don’t want them.

Nurseryman Aaron Ryan shows how to propagate Crassula perforata ‘Variegata’

Propagation

It’s obvious how to take stem cuttings from shrub crassulas: Cut off the top few inches and stick it upright in the ground; as with most succulents, new roots will grow where old leaves were attached. But how about stacked crassulas? It’s basically the same, except you gently remove the lowest leaves. One stem can yield a dozen cuttings! See my video: How to Propagate Stacked Crassulas.

10 of the Easiest Succulents You Can Grow Indoors

Succulents have become super popular over the last few years, and for good reason. There are hundreds of unique varieties and just about anyone can grow them, beginners included. Their special water-storing tissues allow them to survive in environments that are too dry for most other plants, so they’ll hang in there even if you forget to water them for a while. Succulents also thrive in dry air and warm temperatures, which most homes already have, so you don’t have to change a thing to grow one in your living room. If you’re a new plant parent, here are eight of the best indoor succulents to buy as you start your collection. They adapt well to life on the inside and are easy to find at garden centers and nurseries.

Image zoom Marty Baldwin

1. Burro’s Tail

Burro’s tail or donkey’s tail (Sedum morganianum) is a trailing succulent that looks best in a hanging basket or container sitting on a ledge or shelf so it can drape over. Each stem can reach up to three feet long and is packed with gray-green leaves about the size and shape of a plump grain of rice. Although burro’s tail rarely blooms, you might see pink or red flowers at the end of the stems in summer. Native to Mexico, it prefers bright light for best performance. You can let the soil dry out between waterings, especially in winter when it isn’t growing as actively.

Buy It: Burro’s Tail 6-inch Hanging Basket, $19.99, Walmart

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2. Christmas Cactus

Unlike other cacti, the Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera x buckleyi) doesn’t have sharp spines. Its flat, fleshy, segmented stems can reach about a foot in length, often draping over in a way that earned it the nickname, crab claw cactus. It also prefers a bit more moisture than its spiky kin, so water whenever the top inch of soil in its container is dry. But if you forget to water for a while, it will bounce back easily from a little drying out. Keep it in bright light near a window, and this plant will likely reward you by blooming in winter. And if it blooms a little earlier than you expect and the flowers have yellow pollen, you might actually have a Thanksgiving cactus (they’re closely related to Christmas cacti), but the care instructions are similar for both.

Buy It: Costa Farms Christmas Cactus 2-pack, $22.78, The Home Depot

Image zoom Marty Baldwin

3. Hens-and-Chicks

Two succulent plants share the common name of hens-and-chicks. They’re closely related but look a little different. Both produce “chicks”—small, identical plants that are slightly offset from the mother (the hen). Echeveria elegans (‘Mexican Snowball’ variety, $3.99, Mountain Crest Gardens) forms flat, flowerlike rosettes with rounded edges and grows arching, bell-shape blooms every year. Sempervivum tectorum (Green Wheel Sempervivum Hens-and-Chicks Quart Pot, $6.99, Walmart) also forms rosettes, but each leaf tends to be flatter and more pointed. It has tiny, star-shape flowers. Both of these succulents come in all sorts of varieties that offer interesting shapes and colors, so they are especially fun to collect.

Echeveria and Sempervivum have similar needs when they’re grown as houseplants. Both should be allowed to dry slightly between waterings because constant moisture often causes their stems and roots to rot. They’ll do best in bright light near a window. You can easily propagate these succulents by removing the chicks and moving them to their own container, but make sure to use a sandy potting mix that drains well.

Image zoom Jay Wilde

4. Jade Plant

The jade plant (Crassula ovata) is an old-fashioned favorite for a reason: It’s a cinch to grow! This long-lived South African native grows stocky, branched stems with thick, glossy green leaves sometimes tinged with red around the edges when grown in full sun. Over time, they can get several feet tall, but when grown as a houseplant, they usually stay about a foot tall. They can get a bit top-heavy, so it’s a good idea to plant them in a heavier container like terra-cotta. The key to keeping a jade plant happy is to let the soil dry completely between waterings. Some gardeners only water jade when the leaves start to pucker or lose their shine, but these are signs that the plant is already stressed; if you wait that long, it might start to drop leaves.

Buy It: 6-inch Potted Jade Plant, $7.50, Walmart

Image zoom Peter Krumhardt

5. Aloe Vera

Aloe vera grows as a cluster of long, slender leaves on a short stem. Over time, it produces more clusters of leaves called offsets that can form a colony large enough to fill the whole container. It’s easy to divide them and move to other pots when things get too crowded. And while aloe vera might be most well-known for its healing sap used for centuries to treat wounds and sunburn, it does have sharp “teeth” along its leaf edges that can cut an unsuspecting passerby, so handle with care. Aloe vera is a forgiving, easy-to-grow houseplant that’s tough to kill. Like other succulents, it prefers being kept on the drier side rather than having constantly damp soil. And while it does best in bright light, if you were to suddenly move it into a hot, sunny window, its leaves can get burned.

Buy It: Costa Farms 4-inch Potted Aloe Vera, $14.00, The Home Depot

Image zoom Marty Baldwin

6. Panda Plant

There are dozens of kinds of Kalanchoe plants, but the panda plant (Kalanchoe tomentosa) is one of the most common. A native of Madagascar, panda plants have fuzzy, gray-green leaves covered with soft, silvery hairs and tipped with brown or rust-color spots. They can reach about two feet tall as a houseplant, but they grow very slowly. Give it bright light by a window, and let the soil dry between waterings. When you water the plant, make sure not to get any on the leaves or they may rot.

Buy It: 4-inch Potted Panda Plant, $11.99, Walmart

Image zoom Jacob Fox

7. Ponytail Palm

Ponytail palms (Beaucarnea recurvata) aren’t really palm trees, but they do look a bit like them thanks to their long, woody-looking trunk and tuft of leathery leaves at the top. They grow slowly but can reach tree-like proportions of 12-20 feet, though indoors they top out around four feet. Although ponytail palm doesn’t look much like a succulent, the swollen, bulbous base of the trunk stores water and gives the plant its other common name: Elephant foot. Whatever you call it, it’s very adaptable to life as a houseplant, but does best with bright light, warmer temperatures, and low humidity. It’s the perfect houseplant for a neglectful gardener because it doesn’t need much water, especially in winter when it isn’t actively growing.

Buy It: Cottage Farms Direct Ponytail Palm, $22.99, The Home Depot

Image zoom Jacob Fox

8. Snake Plant

This succulent seems nearly indestructible. Snake plants (Sansevieria trifasciata) can survive weeks without light and water without losing their good looks. Their thick, stiff, pointed leaves grow straight up, reaching about three feet long, and often have patterned markings reminiscent of a snake. Over time, it will multiply into a thick clump that fills the whole pot, but it’s easy to divide and repot as needed. While snake plants tolerate low light they look best in medium to bright light. They also appreciate a little water whenever the soil feels dry.

Buy It: Table-Size Snake Plant, $49.99, 1-800 Flowers

Image zoom Bob Stefko

9. African Milk Tree

While African milk tree (Euphorbia trigona) is capable of towering to nine feet tall, it isn’t actually a tree. As a houseplant, this succulent reaches up to three feet tall, producing upright, triangular, branched stems lined with short but sharp thorns. The tips of the green stems also have small leaves with a reddish tinge. African milk tree is related to the poinsettia, so it produces a milky, sticky sap that can irritate your skin if you don’t wash it off. Plenty of light and evenly moist soil is the key to keeping it healthy.

Buy It: 4-inch Potted African Milk Tree, $14.99, Amazon

Image zoom Dean Schoeppner

10. Zebra Haworthia

Zebra haworthia’s (Haworthia fasciata) striking stripes and spiky foliage might make it look like a rare and exotic plant, but it’s often available at garden centers and is very easy-going when it comes to growing it. Set this succulent near a window where it’ll get a few hours of bright, indirect light every day, and let the soil dry out completely between waterings. Zebra haworthia is also a good choice for terrariums or growing alongside other succulents because it will stay small, maxing out at about five inches tall.

Buy It: 3.5-inch Potted Zebra Haworthia, $7.99, Walmart

Ripple Jade Plant Info: Caring For Ripple Jade Plants

Compact, rounded heads atop sturdy branches give a bonsai type appeal to the ripple jade plant (Crassula arborescens ssp. undulatifolia). It can grow into a rounded shrub, with mature plants capable of reaching 3 to 4 feet (.91 to 1.2 m.) in height, according to ripple jade plant info. Bluish leaves are twisted and erect, sometimes with purple edging when this plant is growing in the right place. Growing ripple jade, also called curly jade, is a joy when it’s located in a happy spot.

Growing a Ripple Jade Plant

Place your ripple jade outside, if possible, when temperatures allow. If you live in an area that doesn’t have freezing temperatures, grow ripple jade plants in the ground. These plants make an attractive border or background plant for shorter succulents. Happy, healthy plants produce white blooms in spring to summer.

When planted inland, morning sun is preferable. Locate ripple jade plants in full morning sun to keep them vigorous. When planted in coastal areas, ripple jade may take afternoon sun as well. While this specimen can take some shade, too little sun creates stretching, disturbing the appearance of this plant.

Jade plants growing indoors need a sunny window or exposure to a grow light. If your plant is stretching, ripple jade plant info advises pruning for shape and acclimating to a full-sun location. Increase sunlight every few days by a half hour to an hour until you’ve reached six hours of sun. Use cuttings left from pruning to start more plants. Let the cut end callous for a few days before planting.

Ripple Jade Care

Caring for ripple jade begins with planting in amended, fast-draining soil. As with most jade plants, limited water is needed for ripple jade care. Wrinkled leaves indicate when your jade needs a drink.

Well-established ripple jade plants that are settled into a container or a planting bed need little attention. Succulents, overall, need little to no fertilization, but if your plant looks pale or unhealthy, sometimes a springtime feeding of succulent fertilizer is just the pick me up your plant needs.

Bottom leaves may yellow and fall off before the plant enters winter dormancy. This is normal for the plant and usually does not indicate a need for feeding. Find the happy spot for your ripple jade and watch it develop.

The jade plant (Crassula ovata), known as the friendship tree or a tree to bring good wealth and fortune, is part of the succulent family, and is notoriously known for being difficult to kill. For all of those who don’t have a green thumb, jade plant care is easy, making for a great addition to one’s home or a perfect gift (hence why it’s known as the friendship tree!).

The jade plant comes from South Africa and can live for a very long time. No matter what climate you live in, with the proper care, a jade plant can grow very quickly. Some of the more popular jade plants include the sunset variety (yellowish leaves with red tips) and the variegata variety (ivory colored leaves streaked with light green), but there are over 1,400 types of jade plants!

Jade Plant Care Overview

In Asia, the jade plant is an extremely popular housewarming gift, since it is said to bring positive financial energy into the home. Placement of the plant is important — it’s known for thriving and bringing in good energy when located at the front of homes, restaurants and offices. Avoid showcasing a jade plant in the bathroom or bedroom, since these areas are more closed off.

The jade plant will sometimes grow into a small tree or shrub, up to five feet tall indoors. Very easily maintained, the jade plant only needs water when dry to the touch. The plant also prefers at least four hours of direct sunlight at room temperature (65º to 75ºF). They are much more common as an indoor plant and can be easily propagated to make many jade plants around the home.

5 Types of Jade Plants

If you’re looking to be a jade plant collector, you may end up searching for the rest of your life — as mentioned earlier, there are over 1,400 different types of jade plants! Each plant varies in size, color and thickness of leaves/stem. Read on to learn about some of the most common types of jade plants.

Crassula ovata tricolor (Tricolor)

Great for covering a large area, the tricolor varieties can grow between two and four feet in beautiful colors. The three main colors on the stripes of the leaves are white, green and yellow. At certain times of the year, this jade plant can grow pink flowers.

Crassula ovata blue bird (Blue Bird)

The blue bird jade plant has more circular and flatter leaves than other common jade plants. The leaves are light green and the edges are outlined with bright red, making the plant very distinct from others surrounding it. The slow-growing shrub can be found in nature.

Crassula ovata sunset (Sunset)

A very popular houseplant, this jade plant has cylindrical leaves and lime green or yellowish leaves with red tips. The plant is very drought tolerant compared to other jade plants. They also don’t grow very large, making the sunset variety an appropriate choice for a small space.

Crassula arborescens ssp. undulatifolia (Ripple Leaf)

As the name of the plant indicates, the leaves have a ripple effect and grow in different directions from every other leaf in a curvy fashion. The leaves are deep green and the plant can grow up to four feet tall.

Crassula ovata ‘Gollum’ (Monstruosa)

Also known as the “Hobbit” of jade plants because of the reference to Gollum’s fingers from Lord of the Rings, this jade has yellowish-green leaves. This variety of jade can also be easily turned into a jade bonsai tree.

How to Grow and Care for a Jade Plant

Even though jade plants are hard to kill, you should follow proper care techniques closely for the best growth and longevity. Take a look at the care guidelines below to see how you can keep your plant strong and healthy.

Sunlight: A jade plant is one of the best plants to keep in an area of your home with direct sunlight. They need full sun in order to continue to grow happily and avoid becoming stunted and short. A good rule of thumb is to allow your jade plant to have at least four hours of direct sunlight a day, or leave in a sunny spot for the whole day.

Water: The plant requires different watering schedules in the summer versus the winter. In the winter, the plant might only need watering once every two to three weeks. In the summer, be sure to water the plant once a week. You never want to over water the jade plant, but if you accidentally do, make sure before you water the plant again that the plant has had time to soak up the extra water. A quick test to see if the plant needs a drink is to touch the soil. You want the soil to stay moist, it’s time to water when it dries out.

Temperatures: Jade plants grow best at room temperature, such as 65º to 75ºF, and prefer direct sunlight. Jade plants are not able to tolerate the cold since they are not frost-tolerant. Once temperatures drop below 50ºF, we recommend finding a warmer place for your plant. They will do just fine in temperatures above 75ºF for shorter periods of time.

Toxicity: The jade plant is a great addition to any home, but it can be toxic to children and pets. Touching or eating these plants will potentially lead to ill effects. like vomiting, fatigue and itching/burning skin.

Pests: The most common pest that attacks jade plants are mealybugs. To detect these pests, look for cotton patches along the joint between the stem and leaves. These pests will feed off the plant’s sap and eventually create an infection known as sooty mold due to the sticky substance that mealybugs secrete.

To solve the mealybug issue and protect your jade plant, clean your jade plant with rubbing alcohol several times to fully get rid of the bugs. In extreme cases, you will need to dispose of the jade plant.

Problems: One of the only issues that a jade plant will face is becoming droopy. The leaves will begin to sink towards the floor, meaning the jade plant is dying. The most common factor leading to droopiness is overwatering in the winter. Instead of fully watering your jade plant during colder weather, mist your plant with a spray bottle.

During the summertime when fully watering the plant, make sure the jade is placed in a drainage pot, so that excess water can escape and the roots do not drown.

Repotting: Repotting a jade plant might be unnecessary unless you see mold or unhealthy soil surrounding the jade plant. Try to hold off from repotting a jade plant for several years. Repotting might cause the plant to slow in growth as it adjusts — do not be concerned by this.

Propagation: Rooting jade plant cuttings is a pretty easy process and does not cause distress to the plant. To find where to take a piece of the plant off to propagate, find a healthy branch that has no diseases or browning surrounding the leaf. The branch should be at least three to four inches long in order to root the jade plant into another pot. Make sure to use a sharp knife.

When you have successfully cut the branch, make sure to let the wound of the jade plant dry for one to two weeks. This is because if you plant the branch wet, the piece will develop a disease and will not be able to grow. You may dust the wound with rooting hormone, which might quicken the rooting process. After waiting, you may plant the branch in your soil mixture by first making a hole with your finger or a pencil, then placing the branch inside. Do not water the plant until roots start to grow (two to three weeks).

Whether you’re looking to buy a jade plant for yourself or a friend, we hope this guide covered how to properly take care of your jade plant. There are many ways to showcase your new jade plant, such as a plant stand or as a centerpiece for your dining room table. Your jade plant isn’t the only greenery that needs your care. If you’re looking for more tips and tricks, check out our houseplant care printables.

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