The beautiful jade plant is a succulent that originated in South Africa. It was once believed to bring good luck, which is why it is still a popular house-warming gift, even for those who don’t believe in superstitions.
Jade plants are indoor plants, with very little required in terms of care, so they are a great option for beginners. If you aren’t sure of the proper procedure when caring for your jade plant, the following tips may help.
Jade Plant Bonsai
Jade plants are an excellent candidate for bonsai growing, and many gardeners choose to go this route. This article won’t go in depth on the specifics on bonsai care, but we have a separate article for jade bonsais for those interested.
Like most succulents, jade plants don’t like a lot of water, so the proper pot is a must to reduce excess moisture and keep this plant happy and healthy. Clay or terracotta is best since these materials actually pull water away and prevent waterlogged soil and rotten roots. They’re also cheap and plentiful which also makes them an attractive choice.
You don’t need a huge pot for the jade plant, either. In fact, keeping it in a smaller pot will discourage growth for a pint-sized plant. Jade plants only grow up to 2 inches each year but can reach heights of 6 feet if allowed, so for those with limited space, a smaller container is best to keep the plant at a manageable size. The plant will grow to fit your container, so look to use a container that matches the size you’d like the plant to be.
The best soil for jade plants and other succulents is a succulent-specific blend, which is designed to prevent root rot. The soil in these blends is well-draining and supportive, containing plenty of organic matter, like peat moss or coir and finely ground bark. These don’t absorb too much water and dry quickly.
You’ll also need some inorganic materials, including perlite, pumice, crushed granite, or calcined clay. These increase aeration and improve drainage for drier soil for the jade plant to thrive in. You can make your own succulent soil or purchase a ready-made blend from any gardening store or home center. You can also use regular potting soil, though you should add some perlite to increase drainage for less chance of overwatering.
The type of sunlight your jade plant needs depends on its maturity level. A new plant prefers 4 to 6 hours of indirect light, so south-facing or west-facing windows are best to give them the light they need. When the plant is more established, you can open those curtains and give them some direct sunlight once in a while, though not too much.
The harsher light can turn their dark green leaves a reddish color. Lots of bright, indirect sunlight is best for jade plants of all ages.
One of the biggest mistakes people make with jade plants is watering them incorrectly. Jade plants don’t like too much water but how much they need can vary, depending on the season. These pretty plants are actively growing in the spring and summer, so they require a bit more water during this time than they do in the fall and winter when they usually go dormant.
During their growing season, water them deeply so that the moisture reaches the bottom of the container, then let it dry out almost completely before watering again. Depending on the lighting and temperature of the area they are in, they may only need watering once every week or two. In the dormant period, you can reduce how often you water the jade plant, letting the soil dry out completely before adding any more moisture.
Using filtered or distilled water is best, though if you need to use tap water, let it sit for 24 hours or more to allow the chemicals to evaporate. Avoid the leaves when watering and watch for squishy ones since this could mean you’re overwatering the jade plant. If leaves start to drop off or develop brown spots, this succulent needs more water.
Temperature and Humidity
Normal room temperatures of 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit are best for jade plants, though they like cooler night temperatures of about 55°F. They do not like temperatures below 50° and can’t handle frost at all, so it’s best to keep them indoors. Even inside, you may want to move them away from cold or drafty windows in the winter to avoid leaf drop. Jade plants also don’t need overly humid environments, and most indoor spaces should be fine humidity wise.
Jade plants don’t require a great deal of fertilizer but they should be fed now and then to provide them with the nutrients they need to thrive. You can add a controlled-release fertilizer in the early spring when it begins its growing season or use a diluted liquid fertilizer every week when the plant is actively growing. The best option is a ¼-strength 20-20-20 fertilizer on mature plants, though fertilizer with less nitrogen is best for young jade plants.
As we mentioned above, jade plants don’t mind being confined in a smaller pot, especially if you want to keep them small. If you have more room or want a larger plant, you can repot your jade every 2 to 3 years for young plants and 4 to 5 years for more mature jades. The best time to repot this succulent is in the early spring before it begins its growing season. Avoid repotting in the fall or winter when it’s dormant as this can be harmful to the plant.
The most common pests that the jade plant has to deal with are mealybugs, spider mites, and scale. These pests hide beneath the leaves, so you may not notice them until the leaves become discolored. The best way to rid your jade plant of these unwanted pests is to wipe the leaves gently with a cotton ball or paper towel dampened with rubbing alcohol. You may need to repeat this process weekly to keep the bugs at bay. Luckily, indoor jade plants are rarely targets of pests so you likely will never encounter them.
Every part of the jade plant is toxic to dogs and cats. To keep your family pets safe, it is best to keep this succulent out of their reach at all times.
Propagation of a mature plant is quite easy, though it is best to do so in the summertime when both the new plant can be guaranteed plenty of light and humidity. You can make a new plant using a cutting or a stem that includes a single leaf. You can then add the new plant to your other indoor plants or give it to a friend or family member to enjoy.
Jade plants are often used for feng shui and are said to bring good luck and fortune to those that grow them. Outside of that, jade plants have a bold, green color that stands out. They're also easily pruned and shaped, and also can be grow to a variety of sizes. This makes them very versatile, and allows you lots of options depending on your space. A bold move is to accent the dark green leaves with a lighter color like white or tan. This really helps to accentuate the deep, bold color of the leaves.
Caring For Your Jade Plant
Jade plants are beautiful and easy to grow plants which is why they are such a popular choice for gardeners. Their small space and low light needs means they make a great addition to nearly any home. If you’re looking for a small, easy to grow plant the jade plant is a perfect choice.