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Name: Lori
Chicago (Zone 5b)
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Raedilly
May 24, 2017 4:06 PM CST
I received two jade plants from my parents last October after my father passed away five years ago. One plant has already died and the second plant is declining. After my mother was moved into a nursing home, the jade plants sat in my parent's house with minimal care for about 1.5 years. When we stayed at the house, the blinds would be opened for more light and it would be watered, but most of the time it had little or indirect light behind sheer curtains.

When I got the plants, they seemed in decent shape, however, I saw a hole where a large trunk had existed at the soil level and it appeared a few branches had fallen off at one point. Having jade plants of my own, I watered them when the soil felt completely dry at least an inch deep, but after losing the first jade plant to what I suspect was root rot, I think this second plant is suffering the same fate.

I brought this surviving plant to my local nursery a month ago for help in repotting it to try and avert the root rot. Lydia, who works at the nursery, suspected the plant was over watered. She said the plant probably went dormant when it wasn't receiving enough consistent light when it was still at my parent's house. She said the soil was also hard and compacted (I doubt my mother ever fertilized it). Lydia used half cactus mix and regular potting soil and she retained some of the old soil. I had read to replace all the soil if root rot is suspected but she said using all new soil would shock the plant.

This surviving plant really consists of two plants and Lydia said not to divide them since their roots were connected. Unfortunately, one of the plants has died since the repotting as stems continued to get soft, bend and fall off, or I cut them off and rooted them.

The base of the one surviving plant feels noticeably soft, so it's just a matter of time before the entire plant dies. Should I cut off the healthy stems and try and root them?

I feel really bad that both jade plants I received have died. In their heyday, they flourished with white flowers. But after less than ideal conditions, they have been on the decline and when they traveled three hours in a moving van last October to my house, I probably watered them too much in hindsight even though I always made sure the soil felt completely dry. Thanks in advance for your input. Here are three photos of the plant.
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Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
May 24, 2017 4:23 PM CST
Hello Raedilly, I think there is still good potential for your plant to recover. Ideally, I would have removed all the old soil when it was repotted and use just cacti mix with lots of pumice or perlite to further help in drainage. That container is glazed too, so it will take a bit longer to dry out at times. This plant can take full sun, so it will help to give it a bit more light, but do it gradually since it has been growing indoors, so position in part sun/part shade to acclimate.

Did you see how big the remaining root mass was? Jades have rather small and shallow root systems. So you may want to reduce the size of the container, and not sure on the picture, but does that container have drainage holes? If that container has no drainage holes, it is imperative to repot immediately to another one with drain holes.

The plant is in stress, so no fertilizers. Actually for my jades I never have to fertilize, and they still grow very well.

If you want, you can further trim down a branch, but do not put right away to soil, let it callus first, apply some cinnamon on the cut end as fungicide, then you can stick it to a smaller, new container with drain holes and new cacti mix as back up.

Typically this plant is more actively growing when conditions are cooler. During the warm months it drinks water to fatten up its leaves, stems and branches. But most new leaf growth is prominent during the cool months, which in my area is in late winter to early Spring, or in Fall. Each of those leaves are potential new plants in itself too, you can gently twist them off and set aside in part shade, just lay on top of the soil, and it will make either new roots or new little leaves. That can also be your 2nd back-up
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
May 24, 2017 5:01 PM CST
I agree with everything Tarev has said.

The plant is wilted because the roots aren't working anymore. If the stems aren't rotten, there is a good chance the roots will regrow. Find a smaller, shallower pot with drain holes. Take all the soil off the roots and repot as Tarev suggested.

When you have cut branches off to re-root, was the center of the branch green? If so, the plant is still healthy but stressed. If brown, the rot has spread into the plant and it time to re-root whatever you can save.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

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Name: Lori
Chicago (Zone 5b)
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Raedilly
May 24, 2017 10:59 PM CST
Hi Tarev,

Thank you SO much for taking the time to respond to my post. While the new pot is glazed on the outside, the bottom is unglazed and it has a drainage hole and I don't give it much water so none even drains out from the bottom. I noticed the roots were rather shallow, as is typical with jade plants, and the dense compacted old soil held tight onto the roots so removing it would have damaged some of the roots. Since I have had the plant since October, the plant was in my foyer at first which receives indirect light. I later moved it to my living room window which faces east so it received morning light through window sheers and now after it was repotted, it's in my family room window facing west so it receives direct afternoon light.

While I hope you are correct about the plant having a chance to recover, the fact that the base of the trunk feels quite soft to the touch is really depressing and that alone tells me that the plant will probably die. Over the years I have taken small branch pieces that fell off and brought them home and rooted them. So the jade plants in my house are all offspring from my parent's plant. I still feel horrible that the original plants have died under my care. It's been time consuming taking care of my mom and elderly dog so I wasn't able to look into why the plants were not doing well and be more proactive.

My plants tend to have new growth in the Spring where I live (Chicago). Thanks for the cinnamon as a fungicide suggestion. I had read about putting cinnamon on the cut area, but didn't know why. When I cut off a stem/branch, do I also put cinnamon on the cut area on the main plant?

Many thanks again for your thoughtful response!



Name: Lori
Chicago (Zone 5b)
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Raedilly
May 24, 2017 11:34 PM CST
Hi Daisyl,

Thanks for your response and great advice and questions. Since the base of the trunk is soft when I press on it, I suspect it is rotten. It feels soft a few inches up from the base of the trunk. So I think the rot will spread up to the upper parts of the plant. With the other plants that already died, the upper stems started getting soft and droopy and eventually they would fall off and this spread to the other branches. But the base of the trunk didn't feel soft. You can see the dead plant right next to the one that is still alive. The branches eventually died off.

When I cut off a branch, it's still green inside on the main plant, however, if the branch is soft already, when I cut it, sometimes the end of the branch looks light brown inside. So I cut off more until I see green and I let it dry out before rooting it.

I think I should probably cut the upper branches off of this last plant and try and save them before they rot. You can see from this photo that the leaves are thin and wrinkled and there are some roots shooting out. I read that the roots appear on the plant when the plant isn't getting enough oxygen from the roots in the soil, possibly from over watering/root rot.

Do you only use unglazed pots for your jade plants? The two plants I received were originally in a plastic pot and a metal pot.

Thanks again so much for your thoughtful response. I appreciate your valuable input and unless you advise otherwise, I will just salvage the remaining branches of the plant.

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Name: Steve Claggett
Portland Orygun (Zone 8a)
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madcratebuilder
May 25, 2017 7:59 AM CST
I would cut that down and make 3 new starts. Use fast draining soil, cactus mix with perlite added. They root fast, I've done starts as large as 18-20 inches.
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Name: Cheryl
Texas (Zone 9a)
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ShadyGreenThumb
May 25, 2017 8:21 AM CST
That's a special plant and worth the effort! Good luck! Welcome!
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Name: Ken Ramsey
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drdawg
May 25, 2017 8:54 AM CST
I agree with Steve, @Raedilly. If this were my jade, being as "leggy" as it is, I would cut both of those main stems, probably leaving only about 6" of base on each. You have already rooted cuttings, so if you wanted to do so with these tops, you could take numerous cuttings and do so.
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Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
May 25, 2017 9:13 AM CST
Hi Readilly, yes, apply cinnamon on both fresh cuts, on the mommy plant and on the cutting you take.

Trimming it down and removing any softened part will be the best course of action for now, plus getting leaf cuttings as back-up. They should be rooting a bit faster now with warmer conditions starting to set in to encourage root growth. Move mommy plant to a much smaller container, that container is too big for it now.

Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
May 25, 2017 9:22 AM CST
On top of the other good advice, I just wanted to add that the best way to water is to do it thoroughly, until water comes out the hole in the bottom, then wait until the soil is drying out to water again. This would be true for the mother plant as well as any cuttings you pot up for rooting. When people say water these plants in moderation they are usually referring to the frequency of watering, rather than the actual amount you give each time (which again should not be limiting). This regimen is helpful because it washes out any salts that may have accumulated in the soil, and it gives the roots a few days with properly saturated soil to do their business before things dry up again (which is good on a regular basis).
Name: Ken Ramsey
Vero Beach, FL (Zone 10a)
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drdawg
May 25, 2017 9:33 AM CST
I use unglazed clay pots with these simply because they can quickly become top-heavy, and the weight of the clay prevents them tipping over. Otherwise, it really doesn't matter what sort of pot you use. You simply want very well-draining potting soil and good drainage. You won't have to water quite as often with metal/plastic/glazed pottery as you would with unglazed clay. The more bright light these plants get the better. In my experience, lack of light is what makes them grow "leggy".

Though I have had Jade for many years, I don't really do anything with them. I grow tropical plants, though I guess Jade can be considered semi-tropical since they won't take freezes. There are always several around, usually sitting in a corner so that I can better manage watering. The photos show a couple of plants that are perhaps 18" tall and are probably 3-4 yr. old. The rooted cuttings were rooted last summer.

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drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
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I don't have gray hair, I have wisdom-highlights. I must be very wise.
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
Always count your blessings in life
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tarev
May 25, 2017 10:13 AM CST
Later Raedilly, you can also try to slowly introduce the plant outdoors. It does love lots of airflow all over and good light. More active gas exchange happens at night too, which further helps the plant. But do it gradually, in part shade first.
Name: Lori
Chicago (Zone 5b)
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Raedilly
May 25, 2017 4:43 PM CST
Thank you ALL for your wonderful support, feedback and advice. It all coincides with what I have read online when I researched what to do to save the plants. I'm amazed that Steve has rooted 18-20" branches! Lydia, the woman at the nursery, said that she doubted stems/branches that were very thick would root, referring to stems that were about a pencil in diameter that had already developed a brown skin on the outside. But I have a branch that is almost 1/2" in diameter and it rooted about a half inch up from the cut end where a few small leaves are located. Tarev, thanks for confirming the use of cinnamon on the mommy plant.

Ken, your two top photos look exactly like the same species of jade plants I have. I agree bright light is good, at least in my experience, and that's why my parent's plants got so leggy when they were left in the house behind vertical blinds that were closed for weeks at a time. I am going to cut the remainder of the plant as you advised and root the stems because the trunk base is too soft, almost feels hollow in some parts, so it's simply not able to recover. Sad

Baja, thanks for the watering protocol. That is how I water my jade plants too. Give them a good watering with good drainage and then let them dry out. That's why I don't understand how these plants died. If Lydia is correct and the plants went dormant before I received them due to low light/water conditions, when they moved to my house and I resumed watering them, it was maybe too much water given the state they were in. They looked o.k. but perhaps the roots were not able to take in the water properly and the poor soil condition (not well draining) all led to root rot. Sometimes the leaves were thin and wrinkled and the soil was bone dry an inch deep so I would water it, but yet it got root rot.

Cheryl, it is a very special plant and I have to remind myself that it lives on in all the cuttings I have rooted and will root, along with the plants I already have, which all came from the mother plants.

I wish I had found this community earlier but I am deeply grateful for all your invaluable insights and advice! Lovey dubby



Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
May 25, 2017 6:13 PM CST
One last ditch effort before you give it the axe. I am wondering if, because the old soil was OLD, that it is not absorbing moisture. Try soaking the entire plant, pot and all, all the way up to the rim, in a bucket of water for a couple hours then let it drain thoroughly. Maybe it just really needs a drink.

You can always cut it off next week if this doesn't work.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

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Name: Ken Ramsey
Vero Beach, FL (Zone 10a)
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drdawg
May 25, 2017 8:21 PM CST
Daisy, my advice was not so much based upon the stem's softness or lack thereof. I was simply looking at the legginess of the plant. That's not going to be a healthy or a stable plant long-term. At least not in my opinion. Jade is so easy to grow and so easy to root. Like every plant, you just need to abide by their needs (which are really simple) and supply those needs. I am all for "saving" the base-plant. Getting the top-growth off will actually lessen the stress on the plant and allow it to start again, with new growth. Again, that's just been my experience.
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Name: Lori
Chicago (Zone 5b)
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Raedilly
May 25, 2017 9:29 PM CST
Thanks Daisy and Ken.

Daisy, thanks for the idea but the soil is not all old soil. When it was repotted, about half the old soil was replaced with cactus mix and potting soil, mixed 50/50. Half the old soil was kept, as Lydia, the nursery staff member, said replacing all the soil would shock the plant. I doubted this since what I had researched said to replace all the soil, but I felt she probably knew what she was doing since she's worked there for decades and knew about jade plants. In hindsight, all the oil soil should have been replaced, but the old soil was very dense and it was embedded around much of the roots so it would have been hard to remove all the soil without tearing up the roots.

Ken, I agree with your plan given the legginess of the plant. However, let's say the trunk isn't a goner, although I really believe it is since it's so soft and feels hollow in some parts. If I cut off the top stems to salvage/root them, wouldn't I still need to leave some leaves/stems on the mother plant? I always thought leaves created the food for the plant, through photosynthesis, so without any leaves, a plant can't survive, right? Can just a healthy base trunk with empty branches survive and generate new growth?

Many thanks again to all.
[Last edited by Raedilly - May 25, 2017 9:45 PM (+)]
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Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
May 26, 2017 12:23 AM CST
Lori

To clarify: My thought was that the old soil left on the plant was no longer capable of absorbing moisture, even though you were watering. As all the roots are contained in the old root ball with the old soil it could be that the rootball is dry in the middle.

On to your next queston: The plant is not really photosynthesizing, even with green leaves, as half the process (the roots) is missing. Water absorbed by the roots is sent to the leaves. Carbon dioxide is absorbed by the leaves through stomata (little pores in the surface of the leaves). With the help of the sun, a chemical reaction takes place (photosynthesis) and the water from the roots is split into oxygen and hydrogen. The oxygen is released into the atmosphere and the hydrogen and carbon dioxide combine to form glucose (plant food).

Energy stored in the stem and leaves will (hopefully) sustain the plant until it is able to grow new roots. If there are no leaves, the energy stored in the stem will have to work fast to grow roots and then leaves but it can happen.

Hope this helps.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

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Name: Ken Ramsey
Vero Beach, FL (Zone 10a)
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drdawg
May 26, 2017 8:04 AM CST
No, that (base) stem won't need roots. If it has viable roots, it will grow branches from those cuts. The same thing with my Plumeria. Selective cutting is actually the key to getting a more dense jade plant and to control size.I cut off tips all the time, leave a "nude" base. That actually encourages branching, just like with Jade. Again, just my experiences.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
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I don't have gray hair, I have wisdom-highlights. I must be very wise.
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
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DaisyI
May 26, 2017 9:48 AM CST
Sighing! I was explaining photosynthesis. Assuming the roots are fine, the bare stems would grow new leaves. @drdawg Do you like that answer better?
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

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Name: Lori
Chicago (Zone 5b)
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Raedilly
May 26, 2017 11:39 AM CST
Daisy, thanks for the great information about photosynthesis! I appreciate your clarifying the old soil issue and you raise a good point. Maybe the plant doesn't have root rot, maybe the dense old soil prevented the roots from getting water. If so, can that lead to soft branches that shrivel and drop off and cause the base of the trunk to feel soft/hollow? If so, then that may be what happened to the plants and not root rot after all.

Regardless of insufficient water or too much water, the roots subsequently suffered and that led to the demise of the plants. Fortunately, I have tons of off spring from the mother plants. Given the sentimental origin, I can't bring myself to even toss out a single leaf, and sometimes they are shaped like a heart. Thanks again! Smiling

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