How to Care for Your Jade Plant

Updated 08/06/19
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Jade plants (Crassula ovata or C. argentea), also known as lucky plant or money plant, 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.

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 a 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, then move it to a sunnier spot after several days, then an even sunnier spot until it is 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 in your jade 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 and 70 degrees are preferred, these 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 the window 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. 

How to Care for Jade Plants

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 tall when mature. 

Allow your jade’s soil to nearly dry out between waterings, but always be sure to water thoroughly. Jade plants displayed in areas with less light 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 at any time of year. Choose a pot no more than two sizes larger than the current vessel. 

Troubleshooting for Jade Plants

Since jade plants store water in their fleshy leaves, it’s important to avoid overwatering, which will cause roots to rot. Leaves dropping, stems and leaves that are dark or soft, and brown, mushy roots, are all signs of root rot that 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 the open air for a few days, then repot in fresh succulent mix when you see that 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, 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.

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How to Propagate Jade Plants Via Stem Cuttings

Jade plants are one of the easiest plants to propagated by stem or leaf cuttings, although leaf cuttings will take longer to show new growth. 

Step 1: Use a clean, sharp blade to cut a thick stem with healthy-looking leaves that is three to five inches long. Remove the leaves on the lower half of the stem, 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 will work) 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, 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 in 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 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. 

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