The jade plant or money plant (Crassula ovata or C. argentea) is a branching succulent that is often grown indoors. It is traditionally believed that the presence of a jade plant in a house or business will bring good fortune and money, perhaps because the rounded leaves are coin-like. Jade plants are hardy and tolerant of neglect and are one of the most common pot plants.
A branching succulent with a thick, gnarly trunk and short stubby stems, the jade plant can grow up to 10 feet high but is normally grown as an accidental bonsai in pots. The rounded, shiny, succulent leaves are up to 3 inches across and are fringed with pink, especially if the plant grows in the sun. The leaves are borne in opposite pairs bunched towards the ends of the branches, giving mature plants a defined crown. Dense bunches of small, star-shaped pink flowers grow on the end of the stems and are followed by small, brown seed pods full of tiny seeds. The cultivar Crassula ovata hobbit has elongated cylindrical leaves with a concave tip.
The jade plant is native to western South Africa and grows in Cape Province, KwaZulu-Natal and the Transvaal, as well as in Mozambique. It has now become naturalized in canyons close to urban areas in Southern California.
The native habitat of the jade plant is know in South Africa as Albany thicket and is dominated by grasses and mixed succulent communities of aloes and euphorbias as well as other native shrubs and herbs. Jade plants grow on rocky valley sides and hillsides in intermontane valleys.
Most jade plants are grown as indoor pot plants but the jade plant is hardy down to 40 degrees F and will thrive outdoors in a sunny spot with well drained soil. They should be planted in inorganic substrate with plenty of grit or sand. Jade plants are resistant to drought and benefit from being allowed to dry out completely between waterings. Fertilize with a low nitrogen succulent fertilizer at one quarter strength with every watering during the growing season. Pruning of large plants encourages further branching and encourages fresh growth.
This species is one of the easiest plants to propagate and can even be grow from single leaves planted in damp, inorganic compost. Stem cuttings should be allowed to dry out for a week prior to being planted in the same way as the leaves. Seeds germinate easily in warm, conditions if sown in damp sand and covered with a fine dusting of sand.
Jade plants can be grown as a specimen shrub or even pruned into a hedge. Potted plants are widely grown indoors as good luck charms and are excellent low-maintenance plants for hotel lobbies and window displays. In South Africa the roots were traditionally eaten by the Khoi tribe after grating and cooking.