With bright sunlight, warm temperatures, moderate watering and a little fertilizer, jade plants can live for decades and grow into shrubs several feet in height. Plant food with a high phosphorus content and less nitrogen encourages moderate growth.
Jade plants, also known as money plants or dollar plants, produce thick stems and glossy dark green fleshy leaves, according to the Colorado State University Extension Service website. Known scientifically as Crassula ovata, the succulent produces small pink or white flowers in the wild, but usually not when potted. Considered an easy-to-grow houseplant, jade plants require little maintenance to thrive.
Jade plants need daytime temperatures higher than 65 degrees Fahrenheit and nighttime temperatures between 50 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the Colorado State University Extension Service website. Most commercial potting soils provide enough organic matter, but the Clemson University Extension Service suggests adding organic material such as compost to a commercial cactus mix to provide the right soil for jade plants. If soils get compacted or stop draining well, coarse sand can be added.
The Colorado State University and Clemson University extension services recommend fertilizing jade plants once every three to four months, using a liquid plant food and following the manufacturer's directions. Plant food should be applied to moist soil; adding it to dry soil can result in root injury.
The Garden Helper website suggests using African violet plant food or fertilizer with a 10-20-10 or 5-10-5 nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium ratio every two weeks during its growing period but not during its dormant period from November through March. The Succulent Plant website recommends using a low-nitrogen plant food at one-quarter strength with every watering during the plant's growing period.
Newly repotted jade plants should not be fertilized for four months after replanting, according to the Clemson University Extension Service website.
Soil should be kept moist, but not wet, according to the Colorado State University Extension Service. Jade plants quickly develop root rot if soil is kept too wet. Conversely, dried-out soil can lead to poor growth, spots on leaves and death. Water draining right through the pot or a plant requiring watering more than once per day indicates the plant is root bound and should be transplanted into a larger pot with more soil.
Jade plants easily grow from stem or leaf cuttings. Roots develop from cuttings in or out of soil, but putting them in moist soil increases early root growth, according to The Succulent Plant website. Jade plant cuttings rot before rooting when left in water.
In colder climates, jade plants should be pulled away from windows so that leaves do not come in contact with the cold glass, according to the Colorado State University Extension Service website.