Jade plants (Crassula argentea, arborescens or ovata) are desirable for their hardy nature and ease of growth, according to Clemson University. The purple jade is a cultivar of C. ovata, which is the most commonly grown jade plant. The name of the cultivar is California Red Tip, but it is more commonly called “red jade” or “purple jade” for its leaves, which are edged in a purplish-red color.
The size of a jade plant can be controlled by the pot it is cultivated in, according to the University of Arkansas. Although jade is slow-growing in general, which makes it an excellent houseplant, it can reach up to 10 feet tall when grown outdoors. The oval, succulent leaves are thick and soft--up to 1/4 inch thick in some cases--and the flowers, which rarely appear on indoor plants, are small, white and star-shaped.
Crassulas are desert plants. They are drought-resistant and have developed a unique property of photosynthesis called “Crassulacean Acid Metabolism.” At night, jade plants open the pores in their leaves in order to absorb carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide is then stored until morning. When the sun rises, the plant closes its pores to conserve water (so the water in the leaves does not evaporate) and is then able to use the sunlight to turn the already-collected carbon dioxide into sugar.
Jade plants are warmth-loving plants. They need at least four hours of sunlight per day to thrive, according to Clemson University. Indoors, they do well when placed in bright but indirect sunlight, such as that from a south-facing window. These plants like consistently warm temperatures in the low or mid 70s F, with a drop of about 15 degrees at night.
Jade plants also need the right soil. They do not like heavy, water-logged clay soils. Instead, use a planting medium that is well-draining, such as one containing a large amount of perlite, sand, peat moss or a combination of all three. Keep the soil consistently moist (but not overly soggy) during the growing season (spring and summer) and let the top layer dry out during the winter between waterings. Feed jade plants three or four times per year with a water-soluble, all-purpose houseplant fertilizer.