Jade Plant Turning Black? (How to Save it)

Jade plant leaves wrinkled or shriveling

The reason jade plant leaves and stems turn black is because of root rot which is caused by damp soil around the roots or high humidity. Black spots on Jade plant leaves are called edemas and they are caused by over watering and slow draining soils.

Read more to learn what conditions are causing your Jade plant to turn black and how to save it…

Over Watering Promotes Rot That Turns Jade Black

Jade plants are native to South Africa where they grow on rocky hill sides in dry soil and in full sun and with infrequent rainfall.

Jade plants are specifically adapted (with there thick leaves) to growing in almost desert like environments with little moisture and soil that drains very quickly.

Therefore Jade is very sensitive to over watering when cultivated by gardeners which can cause signs of stress such as:

  • Black spots on the leaves (edema).
  • Black leaves (root rot).
  • Black stems (root rot).

Small black or brown spots on Jade plants are edemas that are caused by excessive water intake at the roots which is faster then the rate of transpiration (water loss) through the leaves.

Black leaves and stems are caused by the fungal disease root rot.

Black spots, leaves and stems are all caused by excess moisture around the roots of which over watering is usually the biggest contributing factor.

As Jade plants are drought tolerant plants it is important to replicate the conditions of the native environment by watering them more infrequently.

How to save it.

Scale back the watering of the Jade plant so that the soil dries out between bouts of watering.

To determine this a good test is to use a cocktail stick to push into the soil. If the soil on the stick is somewhat moist then leave watering for a few more days. If the stick is dry give the jade plant a good soak.

Jade plants prefer a watering schedule of a good thorough watering so that water trickles out the base of the pot followed by a period where the soil around the roots is allowed to dry out as this recreates the natural conditions of a down pour of rainfall followed by drought.

(Read my article how to water jade plants to learn how often and how much to water jade for your climate).

Jade plants are hardy and can recover from black spots on the leaves once you have a more appropriate watering regiment.

The leaves may recover on their own but if there are other causes of excessive soil moisture (such as slow draining soil) then the plant can suffer and potentially develop rot.

If the leaves and stems are turning black then this is likely root rot.

Prune back any black leaves and sections of stem to prevent the rot from spreading through the plant to save the Jade plant.

It can be difficult to revive Jade plants once they have developed rot but one way to ensure recovery is by cutting off the healthy green leaves or sections of the plant that are unblemished by black marks for propagation.

Jades readily propagate and it is extremely easy. Watch this helpful YouTube video for how to propagate Jade…

Top Tips for Watering Jade Plants

  • Water Jade plants at the base of the plant rather then over head because if the leaves are wet from watering this can reduce transpiration from the leaves and increase the risk of the leaves turning black.
  • Water Jade (when the soil has dried out) early in the morning as this gives the Jade plant the opportunity to lose some excess water through the leaves during the day so that it can regulate its level of moisture to the appropriate balance.
  • Watering at night when the plant is dormant can leave it sitting in wet soil, increasing the risk of rot and black leaves.
  • Reduce watering significantly in the Winter as Jade plants go into a state of dormancy and only require watering around once per month.

Slow Draining Soils Promote Rot That cause Black Leaves and Stems

Even if you scale back over watering it is equally important to ensure that the Jade is planted in the appropriate well draining soil to prevent leaves from turning black.

If the potting soil retains too much moisture then this emulates the same effect as over watering with too much moisture around the roots causing it to rot and turn black.

Jade plants prefer potting soil that mimics the soil drainage characteristics of its native rocky South African habitat.

If your Jade plant is planting in unamended compost then this is likely the cause of rot or black spots on your leaves.

Jade plants require a specific potting mix that is formulated for succulents and cacti (which are widely available from garden centers and on amazon).

Specialized potting mixes have the exact drainage characteristics with a precise particle size that allow for water to drain away quickly from the roots of your Jade and minimize any risk of rot.

This reduces the chance of leaves turning black and keeps the plant healthy.

As with an over watered Jade plant, it may require careful pruning with a sterile pair of pruners to cut off any parts of the Jade that have turned black to prevent the rot from spreading to otherwise healthy parts of the plant.

Removing healthy leaves and sections of stem for propagation may be the only way to save your jade plant if it has been in damp soil for too long.

(For more information read my article how to revive a dying jade plant).

With the right soil drainage and watering regime the Jade plant can remain healthy and live for up to 100 years or more.

Pots Without Drainage Cause Jade Plants to Turn Black

Jade plants turn black if they are planted in a pot without drainage holes in the base or if the drainage holes become blocked so that excess water cannot escape easily.

Pots without drainage holes cause water to pool around the roots which causes root rot and turns the leaves and stems of your Jade plant black.

Therefore it is essential to re-pot your Jade plant into a pot with drainage holes as soon as you can to prevent further damage and more leaves turning black.

However it should be noted that pots without drainage are not the only pot related reason for Jade leaves turning black:

  • Roots blocking drainage holes. Jade plants can live for a very long time so if your Jade plant has been growing in the same pot for a while, there is a chance of the roots becoming pot bound and the congested roots to block the drainage hole which slows down the escape of water and promotes excess moisture causing rot.
  • Jade plants are often grown indoors with a saucer or tray underneath the pot to prevent water spilling in the home after watering. If the saucer or tray is not emptied regularly then water can pool underneath the pot and keep the soil boggy which cause rot and turns the leaves black.
  • Sometimes Jade plants are grown in fairly ordinary plastic pots and then placed into decorative pots for display in the home. Water can collect in the bottom of the outer decorative pot (which often do not have drainage holes) and this cause rot.
Plant in decorative pot
Plants in decorative pots can prevent water draining from the roots.

Jade plants require dry soil to avoid the conditions that turn the leaves and stems black so it is very important to plant them in post with drainage holes in the base and to ensure that the excess water escapes freely from the base after watering.

As with Jade plants suffering from over watering or slow draining soils. pruning the black parts of the plant to leave healthy growth may be the only way that the Jade plant survives. Of course you can propagate Jade from leaves and cuttings easily to save your plant.

High Humidity Can Contribute to Leaves Turning Black

Jade plants are native to arid environments in South Africa with breezy mountain side conditions, therefore they are accustomed to low humidity.

If the humidity in your climate or your home is high then this can cause leaves to turn black.

Higher levels of humidity lowers the rate of transpiration (water loss) from the leaves of your Jade plant which causes water stress and can turn you plant black.

There are a few factors that can lead to higher levels of humidity for Jade plants in a home:

  • Watering overhead. As previously stated in this article but worth rem-emphasizing, always water Jade plants at the base rather then overhead. Water on the leaves reduces transpiration and creates a humid micro-climate.
  • Jade plants in humid rooms of the home. Rooms such as bathrooms or kitchens can get very steamy from showering or cooking which can raise the level of humidity.
  • Naturally humid climates (such as Florida) can cause Jade plants to be more at risk of turning black which increase the importance of full sun and placing Jade in a breezy location.

To lower humidity place your Jade plant in full sun and ideally in the path of a breeze from an open window to avoid still air. Also avoid locating you Jade in a steamy room.

High levels of humidity often aren’t the only cause of Jade plants turning black but they are often a significant contributing factor so with good watering practices, well draing soil, pots with good drainage a lower humidity the Jade plant can grow healthy.

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

Key Takeaways:

  • Jade plant leaves and stems turn black due to excess moisture around the roots which causes rot. If the Jade plant has black spots on its leaves this is due to over watering and slow draining soils.
  • Over watering and slow draining soils are the most common reasons for Jade plants turning black. Pots without drainage holes are also a cause of root rot as well as high humidity.
  • Try to replicate the growing conditions of the Jade plant’s native South Africa with full sun, infrequent watering, breezy location and well draining gritty soil to prevent Jade from turning black.
  • Jade plants can be saved by cutting back any black leaves and stems to prevent the rot from spreading. If there is significant rot, use the healthy leaves or cuttings for propagation.

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