Caring for jade plants: water, light, soil

  • Jade plants are a beginner’s favorite plant for bonsai enthusiasts and are considered lucky in feng shui.
  • Jade plants are succulents, which makes them hardy and fairly easy to care for.
  • Like their natural habitat, jade plants prefer bright direct light and warm temperatures.
  • Visit Insider’s Home and Kitchen Reference Library for more stories.

The loyal and hardy jade plant is one of the most popular succulent houseplants. Native to South Africa and Mozambique, this durable plant requires an infrequent watering schedule, and although they prefer direct light, they can tolerate low light conditions. Also known as the lucky plant, jade plants represent friendship and prosperity in Asian countries.

Erin Marino, Editorial Manager and Plant Expert at The Sill, shares her top care tips on the beloved jade plant so you can keep it as a lucky charm.

Identify a jade plant

A close up of a jade plant against a black background

The color of the leaves of a jade plant will change depending on the amount of sunlight it receives.

LazingBee / Getty Images


With thick stems and plump, shiny, oval-shaped leaves, the charming jade plant has the appearance of a mini tree. There are dozens of varieties of jade plants, but most are easily identified by their dark green leaves which can sometimes have a reddish tinge.

“The word crassus in Latin means ‘thick.’ The name Crassula has been given to this group of succulents because they have thick leaves and stems that store water,” says Marino.

Jade plants also have bonsai abilities, which means they can take on a mini tree appearance and are the preferred beginner plant for bonsai enthusiasts. “A lot of bonsai beginners start with a jade plant because they are so hardy and can easily take on a bonsai shape when pruned correctly,” says Marino.

The water

A hand using a yellow watering can to water a small jade plant

Water only when the soil is dry.

Melena-Nsk / Getty Images


As with all succulents, overwatering can be fatal and the jade plant is no exception. Marino recommends watering your jade plant only when the soil is completely dry. To check this, stick your finger into the soil – if the soil sticks to your finger, don’t water; if there is no earth, it is time for a drink.

“If you’re worried about overwatering, wait until the leaves of your jade plant crumple before watering again,” says Marino. “It is a sign of thirst in fleshy and succulent plants.”

Ground

Traditional potting mix will not work with jade plants or other succulents. These plants need rocky or grainy soil that will allow good drainage and prevent root rot. Choosing a terracotta pot for your jade plant will also retain some moisture so you can maintain the infrequent watering schedule that he prefers.

“Go for a sandy, well-drained soil for potting your plant, like a succulent mix,” says Marino.

Light and temperature

A jade plant with bright red leaf tips growing outdoors in a terracotta pot

Jade plants grown in full sun will have leaves with vibrant red tips.

Jacky Parker Photography / Getty Images


Because jade plants come from a hot, dry environment, it is best to replicate these conditions indoors as closely as possible for your jade plant to thrive. If your plant gets enough sun, its leaves can reward you with beautiful red edges.

“Keep the temperatures around 75 degrees Fahrenheit and place them in a location where they receive bright direct light,” says Marino. “If your space doesn’t get much natural light, place your jade plant under a grow light instead.”

If you live in a cooler area, Marino recommends bringing your jade plant indoors before temperatures drop below 45 degrees Fahrenheit.

Spread

There are two ways to propagate a jade plant: leaf cutting and stem cutting. To propagate by leaf cuttings, be sure to pick the healthiest leaf from a mature branch and gently remove it.

Make sure to remove the stem of the leaf with it, this is where the new roots and young leaves will grow, ”says Marino. “Leave the leaf in a dry place until the bottom is crusted over, then place it on the new repotting. ground and lightly mist it every week. ”

A new baby jade will eventually grow from where the leaf was removed from the mother plant. Marino also suggests speeding up the propagation process by dipping this end in rooting hormone powder once covered with scabs and before placing it on the ground.

To propagate by stem cutting, Marino says to use pruning shears to take a healthy stem cutting – a piece of the plant’s stem or branch – a few inches long and let it sit in a dry place until what the bottom crusts are covering, then repeat the same steps as the leaf cutting process.

Common problems

Like most houseplants, the jade plant can suffer from excess water and is also susceptible to common pests such as mealybugs and spider mites. To overcome this, Marino recommends a simple solution using household items.

“Treat visible bugs with a cotton swab or cotton swab dipped in alcohol,” says Marino. “Make sure you have every nook and cranny where these pests like to hide, and check your plant weekly for signs of reinfestation.”

Insider’s takeaway

With enough direct light, warmth, the right potting mix, and an infrequent watering schedule, your jade plant can grow and thrive with the same strength and beauty as the trees it looks like.

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