The jade plant (Crassula Ovata), affectionately known as the friendship tree, lucky plant, or even the money tree, is notoriously low-maintenance and difficult to kill. Jade plants have long been thought to bring good fortune to their owners, so they are often given as housewarming gifts. Additionally, these resilient succulents can live for a long time. Reputation aside, there are some tips you should know about caring for your jade plant in order to help it thrive.
Growing Conditions for Jade Plants
Jade plants should be kept in full sun. They prefer daytime temperatures of 65-75℉ and can tolerate nighttime temperatures of 50-55℉. Because these plants are native to South Africa, they are able to survive in sandy soils. It is best for jade plants to be planted in a heavier sand that best anchors the short roots. A mix of sand, peat moss, and organic matter that allows for water draining will provide a good growing environment.
How to Care for a Jade Plant
It is crucial to make sure jade plants have the correct amount of water. They need to be watered more frequently in the summer and spring, but only monthly in the winter. Water the jade plant only when the soil is dry to the touch. Overwatering is very dangerous to the plant, so be sure to pour off any excess pooling.
Use fertilizer sparingly on jade plants, and only when there are signs of growth. If the plant is not in a growth stage, it will likely not absorb the nutrients well. From time to time, the leaves will need to be wiped down to remove dust.
How to Propagate a Jade Plant
Jade plants may be propagated, or rooted, using stems or leaves. Leaves are often used when the plant is still small and the stems are not yet long enough. Once you remove the leaf, let it dry out before placing it, stem side down, into the soil. Soon it will begin to grow roots.
In order to use a stem cutting to propagate, it should be about 3-4 inches in length. Like the leaf, the stem should be left out to dry for 1-2 weeks before it is planted. A callus will develop over the cutting site. Once it is dry, the stem can be inserted into the soil where it will begin to root.
How To Repot Jade Plants
Jade plants can grow to up to five feet tall, so they may become top heavy with time. You may need to transfer the plant from its original pot to one that can better accommodate its growth. It is best to repot jade plants during the warm season.
Remove the succulent from its original pot only after the soil is dry, and leave it dry for about a week once it is in its new pot. Begin to water lightly at this point to lower the chances of root rot. The newly-potted plant should not be fertilized for a few months.
Pruning a Jade Plant
As previously mentioned, jade plants can grow up to five feet tall and may require some pruning to control size. Pruning comes with some risks to the plant, as trimmed locations become exposed to bacteria. The jade plant will recover best in spring and summer, during periods of active growth. If you do decide to prune your plant, only cut off up to ⅓ of its height and do not cut into the main branch.
Are Jade Plants Poisonous?
Jade plants are very poisonous to dogs, cats, and horses. Signs that your pet may have ingested the plant are vomiting, depression, and incoordination. Jade plant causes their heart rate to slow which results in the lethargy. If you think your pet has eaten Jade plant, seek medical attention immediately.
To prevent your pets from eating your jade plant, consider displaying the plant at a height that your pet cannot reach. You can also spray the leaves with a plant-safe deterrent spray that provides a smell that your pets will hate or place it on an unpleasant surface such as tinfoil. Additionally, make sure your pet has other toys/objects around that will distract them from wanting to play with the jade plant.
Jade plants have been documented sporadically as having some medicinal properties for humans, specifically as a treatment for warts or ingested in moderation for diarrhea. That being said, jade plants are mildly poisonous to humans and should not be consumed in excess. Consult your healthcare professional before utilizing Jade plant medicinally.
(Photo Source: PetGuide.com)
Common Jade Plant Problems
Watering a jade plant is a delicate balance. If your jade plant is dropping leaves, that is a sign that is probably getting too little water. However, if jade plants are overwatered, there is a high chance of root rot, which is toxic to the plant.
Mealybugs and spider mites provide other threats to jade plants. Mealybugs will appear as pieces of white cotton and spider mites can be difficult to spot at only 1/20th of an inch in length. Mealybugs eat away at the plant, leaving dents in the leaves. Spider mites drain the fluid from the leaves, causing discoloration. Both can be removed with alcohol on a cotton ball or swab.