Jade Plant Care and Propagation
The Wonderful World of Jade Plants
The jade plant is an interesting and rewarding houseplant to grow, but it requires particular care. It is one of the few houseplants that seem to do better with less meddling, but like all houseplants, it does require our help to grow indoors. Excellent jade care is possible with the right knowledge. These plants are also remarkably easy to propagate.
I began this collection of interesting and relevant information regarding jade plant care and propagation from information I have stumbled across over time. I wanted to organize it and share it with other home gardeners.
Country of origin: South Africa
Latin pronunciation: "Krass-yew-luh ar-JEN-tee-uh" (Crassula argentea)
- Light requirements: Moderate to bright
- Moisture requirements (spring and summer): Let dry
- Moisture requirements (winter and fall): Very dry
- Soil requirements: Sandy and quick-draining
- Soil pH requirements: pH 6.1 to 6.5
- Fertilizer requirements: Every 2 to 3 months with a mild succulent fertilizer
- Temperature requirements: 55°F nighttime and 75 to 80°F daytime
- Repotting: Springtime, when necessary
How to Care for a Jade Plant
- Light requirements: Moderate to bright. It's recommended that you provide at least four hours of direct sunlight daily. Keep the plant 2 to 3 inches away from window glass to avoid scorching the leaves. The glass can act as a magnifier and intensify the sun's rays.
- Moisture requirements (spring and summer): Let dry. Water your plant thoroughly, but allow the soil to dry out at least 2" deep between waterings.
- Moisture requirements (winter and fall): Very dry. The plant will enter a dormant growth cycle as the days grow shorter. Reduce watering to once or twice a month during the cooler months to help prevent rot and leaf drop.
- Soil requirements: Sandy and quick-draining. A soil that is quick-draining works best for these plants. A commercial mix suitable for cacti and succulents is good but can be expensive. I've read that cactus and succulent soil mix contains peat moss, sand, perlite, small amounts of lime, and occasionally gypsum. Perlite is used to help prevent water loss and soil compaction. My go-to mixture contains 1/3 parts peat moss, 1/3 parts coarse sand, and 1/3 parts perlite.
- Soil pH requirements: pH 6.1 to 6.5. Jade plants thrive with a pH balance of around 6.3. You can also use a soil pH guide to understand pH balance and how to change your soil's pH.
- Fertilizer requirements: Every 2 to 3 months with a mild succulent fertilizer. Fertilize with a 10-20-10 or 5-10-5 ratio soluble plant food once every 2 to 3 months during the spring and summer months. Use only liquid fertilizer, and reconstitute it so that it is weaker than the directions recommend. Do not fertilize from November through March during the plant's dormant cycle.
- Temperature requirements: 55°F nighttime and 75 to 80°F daytime. The plants seem to do well between 55°F at night and 75 to 80°F during the day. They can even hang in there when temperatures drop to 40°F, but it's not recommended to allow them to get so cold—they are from South Africa, after all.
- Repotting: Springtime, when necessary. It is recommended to repot your plant in the springtime when new growth appears. Remember: You control the size of the plant by the size of the pot, so keep the pot small if you don't have a lot of space for your jade.
Are you a jade plant owner?
Propagation of the plant is done mainly with cuttings, and either leaf or stem cuttings will work. Although leaf cuttings are easier to work with, they take much longer to become a "jade plant".
Remember to use sterile equipment and soil when propagating. It helps to prevent many common ailments, such as fungus, mold, and insect infestations.
Supplies Needed for Plant Propagation
- A sharp knife or scissors
- Rooting hormone (liquid or powder), or try a recipe for homemade organic rooting hormone
- A pot or container
- Suitable soil (a cactus or succulent soil works best)
- A parent plant (the plant you will take the cutting from)
- An area where you can work
- Some paper towels or a surface to help you clean up and/or place cuttings on
How to Start Propagation
- Place soil in the pot or container you will be using for your new plant and water it thoroughly; let it drain while you prep the rest of your items. This step is not necessary if you plan on allowing the cuttings to callous (see step #5).
- Select the branch you wish to use to start your new plant.
- Using your sterile knife, cut as close to a node as possible. Nodes are the sections of the stem that allow for the growth of new leaves and stem. Make the cutting 3 to 4 inches long.
- Trim the leaves from the bottom inch of your cutting. This section will get anchored in the soil.
- Place the cutting off to the side to dry. Some experts recommend allowing the cutting to dry for 2 to 3 days, or until the cuts to the stem and leaves callous over.
- At this point, use some liquid or powder rooting hormone (you may need to moisten the stem to get the powder to stick) on the bottom inch of the cutting.
- Make a 1-inch deep hole in your pre-moistened soil with a pencil or chopstick.
- Place the cutting in the hole and try not to rub off too much of the rooting hormone in the process.
- Press the dirt around the cutting. If it doesn't stand on its own, insert a straw or chopstick to support it.
- Place a plastic sandwich bag over the top (2 straws work to keep the bag supported) to help prevent moisture loss through transpiration.
Tips for Propagation Follow-Up Care
- The cutting will not require much light at this stage, so keep it in a shaded area that is fairly warm.
- Keep an eye on your cutting and remove the bag if condensation appears.
- In 3 to 4 weeks, roots should be forming, and you can gradually move the cutting closer to a window. Don't place it right on the windowsill just yet—gradually build its tolerance by moving it closer to full-on sun week by week. Think of it as tanning your jade.
Have you ever grown a clipping from a jade plant?
Propagating Your Plant Using Leaves
The leaves are even easier to grow. It seems this hardy succulent has an unstoppable urge to live (though I know a few people who've ended the reign of a jade plant and who'd disagree).
What does letting the leaf callous over mean? Letting the leaf callous means letting the cut you made to it dry. Placing the leaf on moist soil seems to work just fine. You can add a drop or dusting of rooting hormone to the cut area after it drys to greatly increase the odds of it rooting. Remember, it takes quite some time to resemble a mature plant, so be patient.
Tips and Tricks for Growing Your Plant
- The plant's root growth seems to be stimulated by dry conditions. The roots will seek out moisture by growing off in all directions and securing the plant firmly to the soil. This keeps the plant from becoming "top heavy" and falling over, which is another good reason to let the soil dry between waterings.
- If you use succulent or cactus potting soil for your jade (which you should!), a clay pot will work best. Instead of trapping moisture in the soil and around the roots like a plastic pot, clay or terracotta will aid in the evaporation of moisture and help to dry the soil.
- After owning a jade plant for some time, many owners can tell when the plant needs water just by the look of its leaves. If the leaves aren't their usual plump and happy selves, it might be time for some water.
- The plant is a succulent, which means that it stores moisture in its leaves and stems. This trait makes the plant very sensitive to water availability. Too much water is just as bad as too little.
- Jade is a slow-growing plant, so exercise some patience, and give it time to do its thing.
- A window that receives ample light and even four or more hours of direct light suits this plant best.
- Never let the leaves touch the window pane if it's placed on a windowsill. It could cause the plant to be burned in the summer or receive some nasty frostbite in the winter.
- Some compensation while watering in the winter might be necessary. If your home gets particularly dry during cooler months, your plants may need more than the recommended amount.
- Jade will bloom with the right care and right conditions. If I figure out how to make it happen, I will let you know.
- The plant seems to prefer dry air and does not respond well to water on any part of their leaves or stem, so take care when watering them.
- The cuttings make great gifts. A nice terracotta pot and some soil will make your cuttings a wonderful addition to a friend or family member's home.
- Jade plants are sometimes referred to as jade trees, money trees, and dollar plants.
- The plants lack eye-catching color, so consider using brightly colored pots.
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