How to Propagate a Jade Plant
Jade Propagation Overview
Jade is a succulent plant native to South Africa, and is a very common houseplant. Jades are evergreen plants with smooth, round, fleshy leaves that grow in opposing pairs along the branches. It is also a slow growing plant and occasionally flowers when conditions are right. Jade is easy to care for, requires little watering, and is easily propagated. Propagating jade is the most rewarding part of growing jade.
The trick to propagating jade is understanding the conditions for jade cuttings to succeed. Performing cuttings can be easily done with a few household items. A single parent jade plant can be used to propagate many younger jade plants, similar to mint propagation. Care must be taken to keep the parent jade, younger jades, and cuttings healthy.
Types of Jade Cuttings
Jade cuttings are very simple to perform, but time and attention must be given to encourage the cuttings to root. Jade is succulent and dislikes constant moisture. Constant moisture will eventually rot the very delicate, young roots. Cuttings can be taken from a leaf or part of a stem. Areas of the jade to select for cuttings is very important as well. Aesthetic appeal is key when growing jade, because jade grows slow and any "ugly" areas of the plant will remain until leaves and stems grow large enough to cover unsightly areas.
Jade Cutting Materials
- Sharp Scissors/Knife
- Container for Cuttings
Perform Jade Leaf Cuttings
Leaf cuttings are the easiest to perform, but have a higher chance of failing compared to stem cuttings. This type of cutting will take a long time to become established and sizable, compared to stem cuttings. Leaf cuttings can be done by simply removing a leaf from a stem like so...
- Select a suitable leaf to remove. Younger medium sized leaves have a better time adjusting after being removed from a stem compared to older leaves.
- Use scissors to snip the leaf flush with the stem.
- Place the cut leaf in a dry area and avoid moisture as much as possible. The wound from the cut needs to dry and become callous. This drying process prevents rot and disease, while allowing roots to begin poking through the callous wound.
- Very small white roots will begin to protrude from the wound within a few weeks. Once the roots are growing, the leaf will begin to shrink and shrivel up. This is normal and means the roots are drawing moisture and energy from the leaf to produce roots.
- Place the leaf into a soil medium that drains quickly, such as a sand and perlite mix. Only water occasionally. Root rot is still a threat to the young roots.
- A tiny leaf and stem will begin to grow from the leaf once the roots have become prominent. The leaf cutting will be very shriveled by the time this occurs. (See picture to the right. Notice the dried, shriveled leaf to the right of the new, tiny jade.)
- Water occasionally. Judging when to water can be done by noticing wrinkles in the leaves. The wrinkling is a sign that the plant is drawing moisture from the leaves due to lack of moisture within the soil.
Performing Jade Stem Cuttings
Jade stem cuttings are relatively easy to perform and grow. Stem cuttings are performed by removing a section of stem from a parent plant and allowing the cut stem to root and create a new plant.
- Select a desirable stem that is several inches tall.
- Cut a portion of the stem above a node. The cut portion should also have at least one node above the cut with a few internodes between.
- Remove the lower leaves near the cut end of the stem. Larger, mature leaves draw energy away from the rooting process and are unneeded on a cutting. Leave only a few young leaves towards the uncut end of the stem.
- Allow the cut end to dry and become callous, while avoiding moisture and intense light. This will prevent rotting on the cut end.
- Small white roots will emerge from the calloused cut end after a few weeks.
- Carefully place the stem into a container with a soil medium that drains well, such as a sand and perlite mix. Common potting soils contain moist organic matter that can cause the cut end to rot. The container needs drainage holes on the bottom as well.
- Pay close attention to the leaves once the stem has been potted. Wrinkling of the leaves means there is a lack of moisture. Water when the leaves begin to slightly wrinkle. Watering only when necessary will prevent root rot and promote strong roots and resiliency.
Soil for Jade Plants
The correct soil medium cannot be stressed enough. As stated above, a sand and perlite mix works well for cuttings. Quick drainage is key to avoid root rot and disease. Succulents, such as jade, are native to arid environments and cannot withstand constantly moist conditions. Potting soil has a high amount of organic matter that retains moisture and should be avoided. Amending potting soil with sand and perlite works, but it must contain enough sand/perlite to allow quick drainage.
Learning how to water newly propagated jade is absolutely vital. Many jade owners will over-water and end up killing their jade due to root rot and disease. This has all been stated above, but needs to be reiterated. It is better to under-water jade plants than to over-water them. The leaves show signs when watering is needed. Small wrinkles will begin to show on the leaves. This is when watering needs to occur. The leaves will shrivel up and die if wrinkling is left unchecked, which ultimately kills the jade.
Thoroughly water when wrinkling occurs. Saturate the soil until water drains from the container. Be sure that the water soaks into the soil. This technique of watering builds a resilient jade plant, promotes strong roots, and prevents disease. Remember, jade is native to arid climates and does not receive rain regularly.
Once the plant has become established over many weeks, a small amount of fertilizer should be added to help promote growth. A balanced fertilizer such as a 10-10-10 (10% nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) is suitable. Only add a small amount of fertilizer at first. If the fertilizer is meant to be mixed with water, then mix in half of what the directions require. This will prevent possible over-fertilizing, which is detrimental to the plant. Granular fertilizer slowly adds nutrients to the soil over time and is more stable to use. Only use a few granules at first to prevent over-fertilizing. It is better to have less fertilizer than too much. There is no going back once a plant has absorbed a high amount of fertilizer, especially that of a young jade plant.