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May 4, 2020 12:19 PM CST
Thread OP
Boston, MA
Hello! I am a self-admitted succulent killer and I really want to get this right! I have a nice jade plant that is about a foot tall. It is potted in the soil that it came in from the nursery, which is a well regarded one in our area so I didn't plan to repot. It is in a terra cotta pot about 8 inches wide.

I'd like to bottom water to try to minimize some of the risk of root rot. Does anyone have any advice on how long the pot should stay in a tray of water? Or what I should be looking for to determine how much water I should let it take in? I have a couple of bonsais and when I bottom water I leave them in until the top of the soil is slightly moist, but this would probably be way too much water for a jade.

Thank you very much for any advice, I'm desperate!
May 4, 2020 1:59 PM CST
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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Never allow jade plants to sit in water. Better to top water the media directly and let excess water drain away. Jades like faster dry out time, and they have such small root mass so current container size you described is okay.

Your location is Boston, so it is much cooler than my area. If it is not too rainy on your side, I would let that plant grow outdoors so it can enjoy the sunny cool environment. As long as the media it came in is well draining, and the container has drain holes, it will do well.
May 4, 2020 2:31 PM CST
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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If you bottom water, put the pot in a bowl or tray with water up to at least half an inch up into the soil (ideally a bit more) and wait 20-30 minutes, then move it to an empty saucer or tray and give it plenty of time to drain. It should not be sitting in standing water afterwards. In my experience bottom watering and top watering yield roughly the same result, so there is no particular advantage to one or the other (except convenience) most of the time. I do bottom watering for my baby seedlings because they are really easy to dislodge with a drop of water landing from above.

What I would recommend is watering well from above, then waiting a few minutes and returning later to water some more, thus saturating the soil. There is no advantage to watering short of saturation, especially in an unglazed clay pot. To avoid root complications, just wait until the soil has gone dry at depth before watering again. This should happen in relatively short order in an unglazed clay pot, since the soil will evaporate through the sides of the pot as well as the top, especially given strong light and warm temperatures. It will happen later than when the surface layer dries out. Try poking your finger in an inch or two to get a sense of when the soil is going dry.

Strong light will help with watering, as will good air flow, warm temperatures, and good drainage. When in doubt, wait to water. However, there is no advantage to allowing the soil to remain bone dry for any extended period. Just try to allow the soil to dry and you should be rot-free.

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