How to Grow Jade Plants (Indoor Care Guide)


How to care for jade plants

Jade plants (Crassula ovata) are some of the easiest houseplants you can grow, care for and propagate.

Why are Jade plants so easy to grow? Their adaptations to dry environments make them the perfect plant to grow in our homes!

Here is a table summarizing how to grow and care for Jade plants:

Growing Conditions:How to Care for Jade Plants:
Light:Around 4 hours of morning sun is best, with some shade at midday in the Summer.
Temperature:Room temperature is good for jade plants, with 50°F to 75°F (18°C to 24°C) being optimal for growth.
Watering:Water around once every 2 weeks in the Summer and every 3 or 4 weeks in Winter, ensuring the soil is completely dry before watering.
Winter Care:Reduce watering and locate jade in more sunlight.
How Often to Repot:Repot every 3 to 4 years.
Soil:Use a special succulent and cacti potting mix.
Pots:Use a pot that is proportional to the size of the jade plant, with terracotta and clay pots being best as they are porous.
Fertilizer:Fertilizer is not necessary for small plants. I use a succulent and cacti fertilizer in the Spring for mature jade plants.
Pruning:No pruning is necessary unless you want to create a bonsai tree.
Propagation:Propagate from stem cuttings into soil for best results. Jade plants can also be propagated from leaves.

About Jade Plants

Jade plants (Crassula ovata) are succulents that are native to Mozambique and thrive in gritty well-draining soil with infrequent rainfall.

Jade plants are well adapted to tolerating periods of drought as they are capable of storing moisture and nutrients in their thick fleshy leaves and stems.

Jade plants are my favorite houseplants as they adapt exceptionally well to indoor life tolerating fluctuating temperatures, low humidity, and indoor heating without being adversely affected.

More mature Jade plants often produce small white flowers in Winter.

There are two types of indoor jade plants that are particularly popular with Crassula Ovata being the most popular and ‘gollum’ jade being another popular option.

Jade gollum
Here is a photo of my Jade gollum plant, which I propagated from a much bigger plant three years ago.

(Read my other article on specifically How to Care For Gollum Jade).

Jade plants are relatively slow-growing compact plants that can even be used to create a bonsai tree, and with the right care, jade can live for more than 100 years!

Where to Grow Jade Plants?

In my experience with growing jade plants, I would recommend placing your jade on a sunny-facing window sill if you live in a northern latitude with less intense daylight (such as Washington, Oregon, New York, or the UK), whereas in more southern latitudes (such as California or Arizona) it is better to place the jade plant in bright, indirect light or dappled sun.

If they grow without enough light, I find jade plants tend to grow leggy with sparse leaf growth, so if this is happening to your plant, find a bright spot.

Jade plants will tell you when they are in too much sun as the tips of the leaves turn an attractive sun-kissed pink or reddish color. The pigment responsible for this colour is anthocyanin which is released as a form of sunscreen for succulents.

Some pink edges to your jade plant are fine, but if you find the plant becoming excessively red, then this is the jade plant’s way of telling you it’s time to move it out of the intense direct sunlight.

Temperature

Jade plants are native to warm climates and thrive at room temperatures, with 50°F to 75°F (18°C to 24°C) being the optimal temperature range for growth.

From my personal experience, my jade plants typically have a Summer dormancy period where growth slows right down during heat waves and resumes when the temperature cools to a more tolerable level.

Jade plants tolerate central heating, air conditioning, draughts, and cooler indoor temperatures much better than most houseplants, so they are perfect for beginners!

How Often Should I Water My Jade Plants?

It is important to wait until the potting soil is completely dry before watering jade plants. Typically I find this means watering jade once every 2 weeks.

How do we avoid overwatering our jade plants?

Pro-tip for watering: I recommend feeling the soil at the pot’s base through the drainage hole to detect whether or not it has dried out completely. If the compost still feels damp, then delay watering until it’s dry, and then give it a thorough watering.

I personally find this method better than using a water meter, which I find has too great a margin of error with succulents.

I would also recommend picking your jade pot up periodically after watering to assess its weight. As the pot feels lighter and lighter, you can judge when the soil has dried out and water accordingly.

Water with a generous soak so that excess water trickles from the pot’s base to ensure that the potting medium is evenly moist.

How do I know if my Jade plant needs water?

If you are overwatering jade plants, the leaves become weak and often fall off either by themselves or with the slightest bump or knock. If this is happening, reduce how often you water your jade plant and always ensure the jade’s soil is dry before watering.

If your jade plant needs water, then the leaves will become thinner, and the surface can wrinkle. Jade plants store moisture in their leaves as a survival strategy in dry climates.

You should notice the leaves become thinner as the jade plant draws upon its moisture reserves, which also reduces the surface area of the leaves, reducing further water loss.

Jade plants can tolerate underwatering far better than overwatering, so do not worry if the leaves shrink or wrinkle as their appearance should be restored as it replenishes their moisture reserves after watering.

For more tips, read my related article: How to Water Jade Plants.

How Do I Care for Jade Plants in Winter?

  • Temperature. Jade plants can cope well with cooler temperatures in Winter and can even tolerate temperatures of 45ºF (7ºC), which is, of course, well below room temperature.
  • Light. Jade plants often benefit from being moved to a brighter room. I have noticed that my jade plants perform better and are less inclined to grow leggy when I move them to a south-facing window to counteract the lower light intensity and shorter days of Winter.
  • Watering. When the temperature is cooler and there are fewer hours of sunlight, the rate at which the jade plant draws up moisture decreases significantly. This means the potting soil dries out much more slowly, and you should adjust your watering accordingly. I personally find that watering once a month in late Fall and Winter is enough for all my jade plants.

How to Re-pot Jade Plants?

Generally, it is best to re-pot mature jade plants every 3 or 4 years and less mature specimens every 2 years. Always re-pot jade plants in the Spring, and this is when the plant is most tolerant to the stress of transplanting.

Jade plants are relatively slow-growing plants and tend to stay in a nice and compact shape when in bright light/partial sun, which is why the species Crassula ovuata is so popular for bonsai.

Best Pots for Repotting Jade Plants

Always re-pot the jade plant into a pot that is just 1 or 2 inches larger than the previous pot. Do not use a significantly larger pot as this leads to ‘overpotting,’ which can cause the soil to dry out too slowly for the jade plant to tolerate, which increases the risk of root rot.

Choose a pot with drainage holes in the base.

My personal preference when choosing a pot for jade plants is to choose a clay or terracotta pot, as I think they look stylish and are porous, which means the soil dries out more evenly.

Plastic or ceramic pots are impermeable and can retain too much moisture around the jade plant’s roots.

Use Well Draining Potting Soil When Repotting Jade Plants

Succulent soil
A gritty succulent and cacti potting mix is best for growing jade plants.

The best potting soil for repotting jade plants is a well-draining special succulent and cacti potting mix. The succulent and cacti soil replicates the gritty, low fertility, well-draining soil conditions of the jade plants’ native environment.

In this photo, you can see the difference between normal houseplant soil and a gritty mix of succulent soil. Normal potting soil drains too slowly and holds too much moisture for succulents like jade plants to tolerate.

When repotting the jade plant try to remove as much of the previous soil medium from around the roots before replanting.

Water the potting soil around 2 weeks after repotting to reduce stress on the plant and allow the roots to adjust to a different pot and potting medium.

Fertilizer

Fertilizer for succulents
This is the fertilizer that I use on my mature jade plants.

Jade plants are naturally slow-growing due to the harsh conditions of their native environment restricting their growth potential. Therefore, jade plants do not necessarily require a lot of fertilizer, particularly if you are repotting them every 3 or 4 years.

I have grown jade plants without fertilizer, and they have grown well. I have found that the need to use fertilizer increases with the size and maturity of the plant.

Ordinary houseplant fertilizer is too strong for jade plants (which naturally grow in low fertility, stony soils).

When I was working in a garden center, cultivating plants for sale, I saw good results with using a succulent and cacti fertilizer once a month which I personally observed boosted growth compared to mature jade plants with fertilizer, which is backed up by this academic study on fertilizer and growth rates of jade plants.

How to Prune Jade Plants

Jade plants do not typically need to be pruned when growing indoors. However, it is best practice to cut off any dying parts of your jade plant, which can happen even in optimal indoor environments. Jade plants are very hardy and can be cut back with a pruning tool at any time of year.

You can even prune jade plants to create an indoor bonsai tree. I personally prefer jade plants specifically (crassula ovata) for creating a bonsai tree as they are much better adapted for indoor life than most species of bonsai tree.

If you are pruning with the aim of creating a jade bonsai tree is best explained visually, here is a helpful YouTube video explaining how to prune for a bonsai tree effect:

How to Propagate Jade Plants

Propagating the most popular cultivar of the jade plant (crassula ovata) is very easy. My personal favorite method is to propagate a stem cutting as, in my experience, I have found this method has the highest success rate. It can also be done at any time of year, but the roots will form much more quickly in the Spring and Summer.

  • Take a cutting from a stem of at least 3 inches. Choose a healthy-looking stem with nice plump leaves. If there are any shriveled or discolored leaves, then choose another stem.
  • Strip the bottom leaves from the bottom half of the jade’s stem, leaving at least 3 or 4 leaves at the top of the stem.
  • Let the cutting dry out for a few days so that the wound can heal over and dry up to prevent infection.
  • Use a small pot that is proportionate to the size of the jade cutting and fill it with a gritty succulent soil mix.
  • Make a hole with a pencil to accommodate the stem cutting and plant your jade.
  • Leave the cutting in a nice bright, warm spot and just leave it for 2 weeks. Do not water it, as this can cause rot.
  • After 2 weeks, it should have started to develop roots, so water your jade and care for it as usual, and it should start to show signs of growth.

The jade does not need watering initially because moisture and nutrients are stored in the thick, fleshy leaves, which is why it is so important to choose a cutting with healthy leaves.

You can also propagate jade cuttings in water but find the roots that develop in water are not very robust and can break when you transfer the jade to the soil, hence why I prefer to propagate straight into the soil.

Propagating from leaves is also a good option as it is also exceptionally easy.

  • Gently twist off a leaf and let the wound heal for a day or so. Place the leaf onto the soil and locate it in a lovely, bright area. Do not water the soil, as the leaf has the necessary resources to develop roots and start growth. Watering the soil only promotes rot.
  • After two weeks or so, the leaf should have developed tiny roots or a small plantlet, at this point, I recommend spritzing the soil with mist, as watering can be too heavy, and washing the soil around your leaf’s tiny roots away. It should develop into an independent jade plant over the next few weeks.

I have around a 60% success rate for leaf-cutting propagation in Spring and Summer (it’s a good idea to propagate several leaves at once), but this can drop below 40% in Winter, whereas I have always had a 100% success rate with propagating from cuttings into the soil which is why it’s my personal favorite method.

Whilst rooting hormone powder is not necessary for propagating jade, there is some evidence that it can stimulate stronger root growth.

Growing Jade Plants: Common Problems

Jade plant dropping leaves.
My jade plant dropped a leaf in response to overwatering.
  • Jade Plant Dropping Leaves. This is the first sign of overwatering (or slow-draining soil). Scale back the frequency of watering so that the soil dries out completely. Check that the pot has a clear drainage hole in the base and empty any excess water in saucers underneath the pot to ensure water can drain properly.
  • Jade Plant Turning Red. Whilst some red to the edges of your jade plant is okay, excessive red indicates stress from too much direct sunlight. Protect the jade from direct sunlight at midday and the jade can recover fully.
  • Jade Plant Turning Yellow. Yellowing leaves is another indication of too much moisture being around the roots due to overwatering, slow draining soils or over potting. Reduce the frequency of watering so that the soil dries completely. If you suspect overwatering isn’t the cause then change the potting soil to a well draining gritting succulent and cacti mix or repot the jade plant into a smaller pot that is more proportional to the size of the plant.
  • Jade Plant Drooping. The leaves can branches can droop because of either not enough light or due to overwatering. Typically I find the more common cause is a lack of sunlight which causes the branches to grow leggy as they grow towards the strongest source of light and then droop downwards due to a lack of photosynthesis. Move the jade to a brighter spot. If the branches have drooped completely then they do not stand back up again regardless of light, in which case take a cutting for propagation and grow a new plant.

Leaves and even branches do sometimes drop off jade plants (even if the plant is healthy) as falling leaves and branches that propagate on the soil is the jade’s primary means of reproducing.

If you have any other problems with your jade plant read my article, How to Revive a Dying Jade Plant for the solutions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Posts