By Matt Gibson
The succulent jade plant goes by a long list of alternative names, some of which are very common, others are specific to a particular region or culture. Aside from Jade, the plant is also called Money Plant, Baby Jade, (Chinese or Japanese) Rubber Plant, Dwarf Rubber Plant, Baby Jade, Jade Tree, and Money Tree.
Jade plants are warm-weather succulents, which are usually grown indoors in a warm,dry areas, but they can also be planted outdoors in USDA growing zones 11 to 12. In most US areas, the cold weather season is the end of the line for succulents left outdoors to decompose and return to the earth. Succulents that are cared for and valued by their owners will have to be brought inside to winter over once the temperature drops below 50 degrees. .
Jade plant is a succulent, and is therefore very easy to grow and care for as long as you follow two simple rules. Number one, take care not to expose it’s plump leaves to too much direct contact with intense afternoon sunlight. Number Two, whatever you do, do not overwater it, but treat it just like any other succulent that you may have cared for in the past.
The directions for care are incredibly simple and easy to follow. If you heed the warnings of rule number one and two, you are practically an expert in growing Jade. The rest is as easy as a stroll through a summer meadow barefoot.
All you have to do to keep keep your Jade plant alive and well is to keep it primarily stored in a warm and dry environment, to dry out completely between deep waterings. But don’t stress, we’ll touch on how to care for Jade a little later on in the article.
Symbolically, the jade plant represents good luck and financial prosperity, and we could all use more of both of those highly sought coveted treasures
Growing Conditions for Jade
Jade is not super picky about every aspect of the environment it is provided with, but when the care instructions become extra detailed and specific, it means that you should be following them closely before jumping into giving your new Jade plant any special attention without consulting the specific needs of the plump green succulent that you are caring for. Read each of the following sections in their entirety, this one especially.
Watering – Over Watering can lead to root rot, and it is a beast of a burden to deal with once it has taken its hold on your jade plant’s root system. Underwatering should also be avoided, as it will lead to lost leaves, leaf shrinking, and leaf spots. So, how do you solve this watering issue and get your Jade plant just the right amount of hydration that it requires to thrive? It’s actually very simple to get the watering routine down to a science once you know the trick.
With Jade and most other warm weather succulents, you do not need to use a timer or a schedule to remind you to water them. Instead, occasionally check the surface layer of soil with a dry finger or thumb for moisture. If the top layer has become dry to the touch, then it is time to give your Jade plant a tall glass of water to drink. Monitor the moisture levels at least twice per day, everyday, so that you don’t stress the plant by over or under watering it for extended periods of time. It may also help to keep a log of when you did water your Jade last, in case you lose track of what you watered. Eventually, you will notice a pattern of when the top layer of your Jade is dry to the touch and ready to be watered again.
It is also important to skip watering for the first few weeks after planting or repotting Jade, as it needs time for its root system to settle down after all the excitement of the relocation. Withhold water for four to seven days time before giving your Jade plant its first soak of the season.
Soil – The most important factor to consider when selecting a soil mix for your Jade plant, is ample drainage. Ideally, you could purchase a potting mix that is made specifically for succulents and cacti. However, if you have the ingredients at home, you can always strap on some gardening gloves, grab a trusty spade and a large container and make your own succulent and cacti friendly soil base. The following recipes are both made to support desert plant life, and the mixes that you have here will work splendidly for both cacti and succulents alike:
A 2:1 Ratio of standard potting mix to perlite should work nicely for Jade, but a store bought cactus and succulent bag of fresh potting soil shouldn’t be too expensive to make the soil base. If you purchase your own soil, Add in a healthy serving of organic matter to the cactus and succulent mix to give your Jade a nutritional boost. Alternatively, the recipe below has worked well with succulents in my garden beds in the past, and it will work well for yours if you give it a try:
1 part soil
1 part peat moss
3 parts builder’s sand
Sunlight – All varieties of Jade should be provided with at least four hours of sunlight exposure per day. Young plants should be spared direct sunlight exposure, especially during the heat of the day during the summer months. Larger, more established Jade plants can handle more direct sun contact, especially during the cooler morning hours. Full sunlight exposure is essential to the health and maturation of your lucky houseplant, but too much direct sunlight will scorch the plant’s leaves, causing unsightly burns and scars that will mark the plant for years to come.
Temperature – Jade plants do best in day-time temperatures of 65-75 F. during the daytime and a comfortably chilly 50-55 F. at night. That being said, if Jade plants get lots of sunlight during the day, they will perform well in temperatures that are even higher than the ones we .
How To Plant and Repot Jade
First, pick out a wide and sturdy pot that has moderate depth so that it will support Jade’s small base, while providing support for the succulent’s top-heavy nature. Ideally, the container that you select, will securely house the base of the jade plant, as well as its big, awkward top-heavy torso, keeping the clumsy Jade plant from deciding to take a tumble and abandon your container.
Jade is not a quickly growing plant, and it prefers a container that it fits rather snugly, so it will not require a larger pot each time you give it a new home. However, because you need to change the soil every three to four years, you should still repot your Jade plant in similar sized or slightly bigger container than the one you previously used during the task.
Care of Jade
Jade plants should be watered when the surface of the soil in their pot becomes dry to the touch with distilled water or filtered water, especially if the tap water in your area is high in sodium. Jade should be provided with at least four hours of direct (preferably morning) sunlight each day. Feed your Jade plant occasionally using a water soluble fertilizer for houseplants. Feed your Jade plant once every three to four months. Hold off on feeding new transplants and transplanted Jade plants for three months before their first application. Once or twice per month, use a damp cloth to wipe down the leaves on both sides. This task will effectively remove indoor dust particles, as well as 90% of the plants pest issues (if any exist at the time of the wipe down).
Jade Toxicity Warning for Animals!
Attention Dog, Cat and Horse Owners! Ingesting any parts of the Jade plant is toxic to dogs, cats, and horses. Ingestion of even a small amount of the jade plant, could lead to immediate signs of vomiting, depression, incoordination and lack of balance. If you see one or more sign of ingestion, call the APPC at (888) 426-4435, or take your pet to the veterinarian as quickly as you can. So, keep away from indoor pets by moving indoor jade plants into an out of reach and secure location in a room that your curious pet companions rarely explore, such as high up on an empty shelf in your bedroom or office area. If growing jade outdoors, keep it far away from fields where your horse likes to graze and snack on various vegetation, or where other beloved pets, like your dog or cat enjoy an occasional roam to explore the world outdoors.
Garden Pests and Diseases of Jade
Luckily, Jade has had no serious issues with pest infestations, though they have been known to harbor the occasional mealybug or scale insect on the underside of stems and leaves, though they can be removed easily with a quick blast of water from your garden hose.
The diseases that have been tied to the Jade plant are all caused by over or under watering issues. Once you get the watering cycle regulated, you shouldn’t see any signs of disease troubling your Jade plant. However, the most common disease factors affecting Jade plants are Root Rot, Leaf Drop, Powdery Mildew, Shriveled, or Wrinkled Leaves, or Squishy, Waterlogged Leaves.
Want to learn more about growing jade plant?
The Old Farmer’s Almanac covers Jade Plants
ASPCA covers Jade Plants
Gardening Know How covers Jade Houseplants
Gardenista covers Gardening 101: Jade Plant
SFGate Homeguides covers Caring for Jade Plant Indoors