How to Water Jade Plants

How to Water Jade Plants

Jade plants are adapted to tolerate drought and need the soil to dry out between bouts of watering. Water jade plants around once every 14 days with a generous soak to meet their moisture requirements without causing root rot. Check the soil has dried out before watering your jade plant.

It is important to know how often and how much to water your jade plant also known as ‘money tree’ (Crassula ovata) as they are susceptible to root rot which is caused by over watering and slow draining soils.

Jade plants have different watering requirements at different times of the year as they can go into a state of dormancy in Summer in reaction to high temperatures as a strategy to cope with drought.

The optimal watering regime should be in conjunction with the appropriate well draining, succulent soil and the right pot to prevent water stress and keep your jade plant healthy.

Keep reading for more on how to establish how often and how much to water your jade plant in your climate and for the correct potting soil to ensure that your jade plant stays healthy as they can live to over 100 years…

How Often to Water Jade Plants

Jade plants are succulents and have special adaptations to growing in hot and dry climates with infrequent rainfall such as storing moisture in there thick leaves and stems and preventing water loss (transpiration) from the leaves by opening their stomata at night rather then during the hot sunny day.

As Jade plants are so well adapted to drought, they prefer dry conditions and therefore are very susceptible to problems associated with over watering such as yellowing or translucent leaves and root rot.

To grow jade plants successfully in your home or garden then it is important to emulate the watering conditions of their native environment.

Jade plants require the soil around the roots to dry out out between bouts of watering, so only water your jade plant when the soil is completely dry. Typically this means water jade plants once every 14 days or so.

It is important to note, that soil does not necessarily dry out at the same rate due to several factors:

  • Humidity level and temperature of your climate.
  • The size of the pot (smaller pots dry out much quicker).
  • Whether your jade plant is in an area of significant air flow outdoors or in the current of air con or forced air when indoors.
  • The capacity of the soil to retain moisture.

To establish how often to water you jade plant, according to your climate, feel the soil at the bottom of the pot through the drainage hole. If the soil feels moist then do not water just yet, but if the soil feels dry, this is the perfect time for watering.

Once you know how long it typically takes for the soil to dry out from your potted jade you can establish a watering schedule that accurately mimics the drought, followed by rainfall, cycle of moisture to which the jade is adapted in its native environment.

How to tell if you are watering your jade plant too often or not often enough…

If you are watering your jade plants more then once per week then you are likely watering far too frequently even if you live in an arid, hot climate.

The symptoms of an over watered jade plant are leaves that turn yellow, translucent and eventually black which is an indication of rot.

If the jade plant leaves are turning yellow or translucent then scale back the watering immediately and let the soil dry out completely to give the jade a chance to recover.

(If your jade leaves are turning black or have black spots then this is because of rot which requires more attention and you should read my article for how to save your black jade plant).

If you are under watering jade or perhaps neglected it completely, the first sign of drought stress is a shriveling of the leaves and a wilted appearance to the plant and the leaves may even turn somewhat brown.

In which case the solution is to simply give the soil a good soak, wait for it to dry out again over the next 2 or 3 weeks and then soak it again.

With 2 watering cycles the jade should show signs of recovery and the leaves should feel firm and look plump rather then shriveled.

(To learn more read my article how to revive a dying jade plant).

It is also worth noting that jade may require more or less watering at different times of the year…

How Often to Water Jade Plants in Winter

The jade plants demand for moisture can fluctuate according to the season even if it is indoors.

In Winter jade plants require watering less often as the rate of evaporation from the soil can be a lot lower due to the cooler temperatures.

So it is worth checking the moisture of your soil through the drainage hole and adjust the frequency of your watering so that the soil around the roots can dry out completely between bouts of watering to avoid root rot.

Also consider whether your indoor jade plant is near a source of heat such as a radiator or forced air which can cause daily temperatures to fluctuate and dry out the soil more quickly.

As long as the soil has a chance to dry out between watering then the jade plant should stay healthy.

Typically watering jade once every 3 weeks is appropriate for Winter but always check your soil to establish how often you should water your jade plant according to your specific conditions.

How Often to Water Jade Plants in Summer

Jade plants are slow growing and can live for 100 years but they tend to grow more in the Spring and Fall, and growth can slow significantly in the Summer if the temperatures are consistently very high.

Jade plants can become somewhat dormant and stop growing due to high temperatures.

This one of the survival strategies of jade plants to conserve water in their harsh, hot and dry native environment in countries such as South Africa and Mozambique where temperatures can be extreme in Summer.

The summer dormancy due to high temperature reduces the jade plants demand for moisture, therefore you should scale back the watering.

Jade plants that are in a dormant state should be watered less often as they are more sensitive to excess moisture around the roots which causes root rot.

If the temperature is above 80°F (26°C) water your Jade once every 3 or 4 weeks to avoid over watering and root rot, however if the leaves start to shrivel then increase the frequency watering.

It can take some experimentation to find the optimal balance of watering for your specific climate.

How Much to Water Jade Plants

Knowing how much to water your jade plant is critical to your succulent success!

The variability of climate, humidity and temperatures can all influence how often to water your jade plant but the amount of water should stay the same.

Water jade plants with a generous soak so that water trickles out the base of the pot.

This ensures that the water has infiltrated the soil so that the roots can uptake the moisture the require.

A generous watering also encourages the roots to grow down into the soil and mature which is good for the jades well-being and further increases the plants resistance to drought.

Watering too lightly results in only the top inch or so of the soil being moist and the water does not reach the roots where it is needed which causes the jade plants leaves turn shrivel and eventually turn brown as a sign of drought stress.

(It should be noted succulents sometimes shrivel when over watered as well as under watered so read my article for how to tell the difference).

Watering with a good soak then allowing the soil to dry out replicates the watering conditions of the jade plants natural habitat with a sudden yet infrequent deluge of rain followed by a period of drought and high temperatures.

Well Draining Soil to Avoid Over Watering

Good watering practices should be in conjunction with planting jade in the appropriate well draining soil mix to avoid root rot.

Ordinary potting soil retains too much moisture around the roots for the drought tolerant jade plant and causes the leaves to turn yellow or translucent as a sign of stress.

Potting mixes that contain peat also have a tendency to repel water when they dry out which causes water to run off the surface of the soil and prevents moisture from reaching the roots of your jade plant causing drought stress.

Jade plants grow naturally in very sandy and gritty soil often on hill sides in their native South Africa in soil that drains very quickly and does not hold onto much moisture.

To keep the jade plant healthy and avoid root rot it is important to grow jades in special succulent and cactus potting mix (available from garden centers and amazon) as this mimics the specific well draining soil characteristics and soil profile of a succulents native environment.

A gritty succulent soil mix is perfect for growing jade plants.
A gritty succulent soil mix is perfect for growing jade plants.

With right soil it is much easier to maintain the perfect moisture balance for jade plants and prevent any affects of over watering to keep your plant healthy.

Water Jade Plants in Pots with Drainage Holes in the Base

Jade plants do not tolerate being in damp soil, so it is essential that you ensure your pot has a drainage hole in the base to allow the excess water to escape.

Watering so that water trickles from the base of your pot is also the best to to ensure your jade plant has been sufficiently watered and a good way to detect whether the soil is moist or dry at the bottom of the pot to so you know when your jade plant should be watered.

If you plant jade in pots without drainage then this causes water to pool around the roots and causes root rot with yellow, translucent and eventually black leaves.

Water can still pool around the roots in your pot if:

  • The drainage hole becomes blocked with roots or compacted soil. If you notice your soil draining slowly then it is worth checking to see whether you should clear the hole in the base to allow water to escape properly.
  • Saucers and trays underneath your pots. It is very common to use a saucer or tray underneath your plant pot to prevent water spilling in your home. Empty the saucer or tray regularly to prevent water collecting and keeping the soil too damp for your jade plant.
  • Decorative outer pots. Jade plants are often sold in stores in a plastic pot with drainage holes but place in a decorative outer pot which looks good and prevents water from spilling in your home. However the outer pot prevents water escaping and keeps the soil damp which causes root rot, so either empty the pot of water regularly or plant in a pot with drainage holes in the base.

(Read my article, how to save a jade plant that is losing leaves).

Key Takeaways:

  • Jade plants are drought resistant and do not tolerate damp soil. Water with a good soak and then allow the soil to dry out completely before watering again. Typically watering Jade plants once every 14 days meets the moisture needs of the plant whilst avoiding over watering and root rot.
  • Jade plants should be planted in special succulent and cacti soil which is formulated to recreate the drainage conditions and soil nutrients that jade plants require to stay healthy.
  • Jade plants should be planted in pots with drainage holes in the base to prevent excess water pooling around the roots and causing root rot.
  • The symptoms of an under watered jade plant are shriveled leaves that turn brown whereas the symptoms of an over watered jade plant are leaves that turn yellow or translucent with a mushy texture. Healthy jade plants have green or slightly pink leaves with a firm feel to them indicating the optimal balance of moisture for the plant. Water Jade Plants when the soil has tried out completely.

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