The Q&A Archives: please help my jade plant!!!

Question: I bought my jade plant at home depot about 1 month ago. I re-potted it & water it once a week. However, it's leaves are falling off! Quite a bit of them. What can I do to save it? thanks for any advice!!!

Answer: I suspect your jade plant is reacting to the change in location and suffering a little transplant stress. I also think you're watering it a bit too much. Here's some background information and growing tips to keep your jade plant healthy.

Jade plants are popular because they are incredibly easy to grow. The commonest problem is probably overwatering, sometimes coupled with a dark location on top of a filing cabinet or kitchen cupboard. In order to grow these Crassulas really well, remember their natural habitat on dry hillsides under the blazing South African sun. Rain there is infrequent and usually occurs during the winter months, which are generally much warmer than ours. Consequently, Jade plants will flower during the late winter. The flowers have a faint perfume like scented soap.

A Jade plant needs very bright light to grow well and a sunny position if it is to flower. At the same time, good air circulation will help to avoid scorch on hot days and excessive humidity in cold wet weather. A plant should not be moved suddenly from a shady position into full sunshine, but needs to be acclimatised slowly, or damage to the leaves is likely. If this happens, the leaves will be dropped and replaced in time, so the damage is not permanent.

Jade plants will grow well outside as patio plants during the summer and their leaves will color up in the sun, but remember to bring them indoors before the first frosts.

The plant will stop growing at temperatures much above 90?F. Jade plants will survive cold conditions to just above freezing if the soil is kept dry but must be kept frost free at all times. Cold night temperatures may help to promote flowering.

It is best to water thoroughly and then let the plant dry out between waterings. The plant needs water when its lower leaves become soft and in an exteme case become wrinkled. When water is given, these leaves will plump up again, a sign that all is well with the roots. Do not keep the soil moist all the time.

It is fine to water from the base by standing the plant pot in a dish of water, but never leave the plant standing in water for more than a few hours. Then always pour away any excess water that has not been taken up into the soil.

Leaves drop off naturally, especially when it is hot or if the plant is kept dry for a long time. If the leaves wrinkle or drop off excessively despite provision of water, something is wrong with uptake of water into the plant. Do not immediately assume that the plant wants more water if you have been watering it regularly. If the roots are not taking up water, then adding more will lead to soggy compost and cause more problems. Check the roots, if necessary by removing the plant from its pot. This operation will do no harm if carried out carefully.

Examine the roots of the un-potted plant for sign of pests such as root mealy bug. Look for rotten roots and soft rotten areas at the base of the stem, which can be caused by soggy conditions and which stop effective water uptake. If the bottom of the stem has gone soft, allow the plant to dry off out of its pot and then assess the condition of the stem. In emergency, it is possible to salvage the plant by re-rooting the healthy part. Cut the stem well above the damaged area, allow the cut end to dry off for a couple of weeks and then re-plant into a dry potting mix. Water very sparingly until root formation has started.

I hope this information is helpful.

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