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How to Care for a Jade Plant

By Fern Fischer ; Updated September 21, 2017

Jade plants, Crassula ovata, are native to the arid, warm regions of southern Africa. There they grow wild, as large as small trees. Several varieties of jade plant are all interchangeably called jade plant, jade tree, money plant, dollar tree or dollar plant. All are similar looking and have similar growing requirements.

Keep your jade plant in bright light. Jade plants thrive in sunny locations. However do not move a jade plant from indoors to an outdoor area where it will receive prolonged direct sunlight, especially if temperatures are over 90 degrees. Leaves of an indoor jade plant are susceptible to sunscald, and the plant can suffer from rapid dehydration as a result of a sudden change. If you want to move your jade plant outdoors, acclimate it slowly. Add a little time per day of exposure to direct sunlight, and consider keeping it in an area where at least part of the day it will have some shade until it has adjusted.

Water your jade plant sparingly. It is a succulent, and stores water in its leaves and stems. Remember, the jade plant’s native terrain is arid and it is suited to that kind of climate. Allow the soil to become almost dry between watering. The lower leaves will become a little soft when the plant needs water. The leaves may become wrinkled if the plant is too dry. Make sure the container has good drainage so excess water will not collect around the roots and cause rot.

Keep your jade plant from frost or freezing. Jade plants will live through temperatures that dip into the mid 30s if the soil is dry and there is no frost or freeze. Move your jade plants to a warmer, sheltered location for sure protection.

Examine the roots of your jade plant if there is excessive leaf drop or wrinkling, and you have provided water. Look for soft roots, or the onset of rot. The root mealy bug, a small insect in the soil, can also cause root problems. Save the plant by cutting away the bad parts of the plant if damage is evident. Save the good top growth, leaving it out to dry for a couple of weeks; the cut areas should form a callous over the cuts. Then place the cuttings in dry potting mix, and don’t water them until new roots appear, usually in about two weeks.

 

Tips

  • Overwatering and not enough light are the main causes of problems with jade plants.
  • Direct sun sometimes causes the leaves of a jade plant to color. This is natural. The color is usually a rusty brown or reddish hue.
  • If repotting or changing the location of your jade plant cause the leaves to drop, maintain its care. Jade plants usually replace dropped leaves quickly.
  • Mealybugs on the jade plant leaves will look like small cottony fluff. Get rid of them by wiping them away with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol.

About the Author

 

Fern Fischer's print and online work has appeared in publications such as Midwest Gardening, Dolls, Workbasket, Quilts for Today and Cooking Fresh. With a broader focus on organic gardening, health, rural lifestyle, home and family articles, she specializes in topics involving antique and modern quilting, sewing and needlework techniques.