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Jade plants (Crassula ovata or C. argentea), also known as lucky plants or money plants, are a favorite houseplant thanks to their adaptability and attractive, gem-like green leaves. With a bonsai tree-like growth habit, these charming and easy-to-propagate plants can beautify your space for years with the right conditions and a little routine care.
- Botanical Name: Crassula ovata or C. argentea
- Common Name: Jade plant, lucky plant, money plant
- Plant Type: Succulent
- Mature Size: 5 feet high
- Sun Exposure: Bright, indirect sunlight
- Soil Type: Fast-draining soil
- Soil pH: 6.1–6.3
- Toxicity: Toxic
Jade plants are some of the hardiest succulents available. With the right care and growing conditions, your plant can live a long, flourishing life. While some varieties are dwarf types, others can grow up to five feet high when mature.
Allow your jade plant's soil to nearly dry out between waterings, but always be sure to water thoroughly. When displayed in areas with less light, it will need watering less frequently. During the summer months, when your plant is in growth mode, keep the soil slightly moist. Fertilize your jade plant every four months or so.
Since jade plants are so slow-growing, it's not urgent to repot a pot-bound specimen—they can live happily in a too-small container for years. Jades should be repotted every few years as a matter of routine, and they can be safely repotted any time of year. Choose a pot no more than two sizes larger than the current vessel.
Best Growing Conditions for Jade Plants
Jade plants are succulents, and they grow best in dry conditions with bright light, low humidity, and cool temperatures. It's important to plant your jade in fast-draining soil. Use a ready-made potting mix formulated for cacti or succulents.
Choose a spot in a south-facing window; shoot for at least four hours of direct sunlight each day to give your jade plant the brightest light possible indoors. To create that signature reddish tinge on the paddle-shaped dark-green leaves, display your jade in a spot with more bright, direct light.
If you plan to move your jade plant outside in full sun for the summer, let it acclimate gradually. Bring your jade to a shady spot outside, move it to a sunnier spot after several days, and then place it in an even sunnier spot until it's in full sun.
On the hottest days of the year—when temperatures reach over 90 degrees—move your jades into the shade to avoid sunburn. Be vigilant about checking the soil moisture levels during this time, and water accordingly so the plant doesn't dry out.
Despite the fact that they're sun-loving succulents, jade plants can grow indoors particularly well thanks to their adaptability in regards to temperature. While temps between 50 degrees and 70 degrees are preferred, jade plants can tolerate temperatures as low as 40 degrees and as high as 100 degrees without damage.
If your space regularly goes outside this range during very hot or very cold weather, it's a good idea to modulate your jade plant's temperature by moving it away from windows on cold nights during the winter and on the hottest summer days. Variegated jades may benefit from being displayed a few feet back from a window in bright, indirect light.
Because jade plants grow very slowly indoors, young plants are ideal for use in dish gardens. Some specimens, particularly those that are pot-bound or mature, will sprout little white or pink flowers in wintertime. If your jade is in a space that has the lights on at night, moving it to a place that's dark at night in the fall can help to promote blooming, which is triggered by the longer nights in winter.
Jade Plant Varieties
While there are over 1,400 types of jade plants, some of the most common cultivars include 'Tricolor' (grows pink flowers at certain times of the year), 'Variegata' (ivory leaves streaked with green), 'Sunset' (yellow leaves with red tips), 'Red' (reddish-purple leaves), 'Monstruosa Hobbit' (curled yellow-green leaves), 'Monstruosa Gollum' (elongated leaves), 'Copper' (green leaves with a bronze edge), 'Bluebird' (gray-blue leaves with red tips), and 'Ripple Leaf' (wavy-edged leaves).
How to Propagate Jade Plants
The jade plant is one of the easiest plants to propagate by stem or leaf cuttings, although the latter take longer to show new growth.
How to Propagate Jade Plants via Stem Cuttings
Step 1: Use a clean, sharp blade to cut a thick stem with healthy-looking leaves that's three to five inches long. Remove the leaves on the lower half of the stem, and then set the cutting in a sunny spot for a few days to allow the cut end to form a callus. You'll know this has happened when the cut portion is firm and lighter in color.
Step 2: Fill a small pot with succulent soil, and poke a hole in the center with a long, thin implement. To help new roots to grow, apply rooting hormone (powdered or liquid) to the bottom inch of the callused stem. You may skip the rooting hormone, but your cutting may take longer to root. Gently place the stem end into the soil, and then pat down the soil around the stem so that the cutting stands up on its own.
Step 3: Keep the cutting out of direct sunlight until after new growth appears, which should be within three to four weeks. Then, gradually move it closer to a window with bright sunlight. Water sparingly during this time.
How to Propagate Jade Plants via Leaf Cuttings
Step 1: Use a clean, sharp blade to remove a large, healthy-looking leaf from your jade plant’s stem.
Step 2: Place the leaf onto dry succulent soil, and leave it in a place out of direct sunlight until you observe root growth from the end of the leaf. You can also use a mix of half succulent potting mix and half perlite or vermiculite to lighten up the soil texture, which can help with propagation success. Apply optional rooting hormone to the cut end of the leaf to help speed the process along.
Step 3: Look for tiny new roots to sprout from the cut end of the leaf, which can take as long as several weeks. The original leaf will shrivel up as new growth appears.
Step 4: Place the rooted leaf in a small pot filled with a fast-draining soil mix such as a perlite-sand blend. New growth will appear, and the original leaf will shrivel completely as the roots are established.
Common Growing Problems
Since jade plants store water in their fleshy leaves, it's important to avoid overwatering, which will cause the roots to rot. Dropping leaves, dark or soft stems or leaves, and mushy brown roots are all signs of root rot, which could be caused by overwatering or poorly draining soil.
Treat this by removing the plant from the soil and removing as much of the soil from around the roots as possible. Allow the plant to dry out in open air for a few days, and then repot in fresh succulent mix when the roots have dried out.
Spotty, discolored, or dropping leaves on a jade plant that hasn't been watered in a while can indicate drought stress. If you see these signs, give your jade plant a thorough watering, and monitor the soil moisture more closely going forward.
Watch out for mealybugs, which can infest your jade plant and produce a white cotton-like substance on leaves or stems. Treat mealybugs by swabbing the entire jade plant with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol, and then rinse the leaves and stems well with water or insecticidal soap.
Keep a close eye on the plant, and continue treating until signs of infestation have disappeared. The little critters like to nestle into the space where the leaves and stems meet, so be sure to check those crevices when you're examining or treating for mealybugs.
Is Jade Plant Toxic?
Unfortunately, any and all parts of the jade plant are toxic to dogs and cats. Signs of ingestion and poisoning include vomiting, weakness, lethargy, aggressiveness, weakness, loss of muscle function, and loss of coordination. So be sure to keep your plant away from any four-legged friends.