How to Care for a Jade Plant
The evergreen leaves of a jade plant will perk up your living space and bring the natural world into your home. Simple care can help it thrive for many years. Whether you are a novice or an expert gardener, you can learn to care for jade plants.
Jade Plants: Low Maintenance, High Beauty
Jade plants are a family of succulents, and the most common is the jade tree (Crassula ovata). In general, the care is fairly easy, so they are suitable houseplants even for beginner gardeners.
Jade plants have thick, glossy, oval-shaped leaves that grow on woody stems. They often blossom in winter. Over time, they can reach a few feet in height.
Jade plants have traditionally been thought of as a token of good luck. In fact, some people know them as money plants or dollar plants. Whether or not you believe that piece of folklore, these succulents' easy-care properties and attractive looks make them ideal for adding to your own home or to gifting to others.
Aspect of Care:
Direct sunlight for at least 4 hours a day.
In the spring and summer, keep soil damp but not waterlogged. In the winter, let the top layer of soil dry before adding water (usually about once a month).
Room temperature is ideal. 65 - 75 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and about 55 degrees at night or during the winter.
Fertilize 2 or 3 times per year with liquid plant fertilizer on damp soil only.
Long Term Care:
Use a damp cloth, as needed, to remove any buildup of dust to keep the leaves bright and increase sunlight absorption.
Cut and remove dying branches. To trim long branches, cut branch to within a 1/4 inch of the stock. Do not prune more than 1/3 of the plants height at any one time.
Rarely needed as this plant is fine being root bound. Only repot if it becomes too top heavy.
Getting Started: How to Pot Your Jade Plant
Jade plants need a soil mix that drains thoroughly. One of the best potting materials you can choose is a cactus mix. Round it out by adding organic soil.
You can also produce a homemade soil blend for your jade plant. Put in:
- One part organic material.
- One part peat moss.
- Three parts sand. Use a coarse variety.
Over time, jade plants can become top heavy. Keep this in mind as you choose a pot for your plant. Select one with a wide base that will stand firm even as the top of the plant gains weight and height.
Jade plants benefit from receiving full sun every day, but they don't necessarily need full sun all day long. It usually takes only four hours of daily sunlight to help a jade plant thrive.
A window that faces the southern side of your home can be the ideal spot for your new jade plant. This side of your house should allow plenty of daily light to reach your plant without exposing it to an excessive amount of bright sun.
Your jade plants watering requirements will vary throughout the year. The growing season for a jade plant is during the spring and summer months. This is when your plant will need more water.
In the spring and summer, keep your plant's soil damp. Water it enough to moisten the soil, but don't let it become waterlogged.
In the winter, let the soil get dry before you water it again. Once the top layer of soil is dry to the touch, you can add more water. You'll probably need to do this only once a month.
Don't rely on a set schedule for watering your jade plant. Instead of adding water at regular intervals, check the soil often so you can water as needed. if you notice that your plant is getting brown spots or its leaves are falling off, that's an indication that it isn't getting enough water.
However, take care not to overwater. All jade plants must have good drainage. Also, don't splash the leaves when watering.
As a general rule of thumb, jade plants do well at room temperature. Their ideal daytime temperature range is 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. They actually like cooler temperatures both overnight and during the winter; during those periods, they find a temperature near 55 degrees quite comfortable.
Don't stress if your house is warmer than this, however. As long as you're giving your houseplant plenty of light, it should still do just fine.
Do take care to protect it against cold, however, particularly during the winter months. Keep it out of drafty spots and don't let its leaves rest against chilly windows.
Two or three times a year, nourish your jade plant with fertilizer. A general-use liquid fertilizer for houseplants is an easy way to accomplish this. Apply it about every three months.
Always add fertilizer to damp soil. Feeding your plant when its soil is dry can be harmful.
Long-term Care Considerations
Just like your furniture, the leaves of your jade plant can accumulate dust over time. This buildup will reduce their attractive gloss and affect the amount of sunlight it can absorb.
Fortunately, restoring its beauty is easy. Use a lightly moistened cloth to gently wipe down the leaves. Your plant will soon be as good as new.
You can take broken or dying leaves off of your plant whenever you'd like. However, serious pruning is a job for the spring when new growth has just begun.
If you want a branch to keep growing, trim it within 1/4 of an inch from the spot where a branch or a leaf shoots off of it. Use this rule of thumb whether you are scaling back the width or the height of the plant. Do not remove more than one-third of the plant's height in a trimming session.
To remove a branch entirely, make the cut right up against the main stem of the plant. Take care not to cut the stem itself, however.
If you want to limit the size of your jade plant, trim its roots once every three years. After trimming up to one-third of the roots, repot the plant in fresh soil. You can keep it in its same planter since root pruning will help corral its growth.
You shouldn't need to repot your jade plant often. Unlike some houseplants, these do just fine with being root-bound. The bigger concern is that the plant will become too top-heavy for its current container.
In that case, consider the following timing tips for moving your jade plant to a new container:
- Don't transfer it until you see that a period of new growth has begun.
- Let the soil dry out before moving your plant.
After lifting your plant out of the container, gently brush away residual dirt. Prune dead roots before setting the jade plant in its new pot. Distribute the roots evenly throughout the planter before covering them with soil.
After transferring your jade plant to a new pot, wait one week to water it and four months to fertilize it.
To share the joy of a jade plant, you can use a cutting to start a new plant. Start by trimming a three-inch piece of branch or a leaf. With a branch piece, set the branch in a warm place until the cut spot heals. Leaves can be used right away.
Set the leaf or the healed branch on a blend of soil and vermiculite. Water lightly until the cutting puts out roots that take hold.
You and Your Jade Plant
Whether or not you consider yourself a gardener, a jade plant can thrive under your care. Many people find joy in cultivating a jade plant. Care for yours well, and it will bring you the pleasant satisfaction of watching it grow.
Why do you love your Jade Plant?
© 2017 Kate Daily