Pests and Diseases forum: The mystery of the dying jade

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Dec 26, 2017 7:36 AM CST
Hi! I'm new to gardening. In November I moved into a new house and inherited from the owners a beautiful large jade. When I first saw it in August it looked healthy. After I moved in, in November, I noticed a few mealy bugs and their cottony puffs. I sprayed with an alcohol-water mixture once a week for several weeks. (There were too many infected leaves and stems to remove the puffs individually.) That helped, but there are still a few mealy bugs left. Then it developed dark holes in some leaves. The lower leaves started turning speckled yellow-green, shriveling, and finally, dropping. Some leaves also developed tiny white powdery flecks, not the cottony puffs of the mealy bugs. Any ideas? It was being watered about once a week in the summer. In the fall I started watering once every three weeks. It gets a lot of light since it sits in a corner in a room with huge windows on both sides of it. It's in a dry, hot place near a heating vent, but being near windows it may get a bit of a draft. Here are some photos.
Thumb of 2017-12-26/tm2018/c7c0eb

Thumb of 2017-12-26/tm2018/643943

Thumb of 2017-12-26/tm2018/e68b11

Name: Will Creed
Professional indoor plant consultan
Jan 1, 2018 11:05 AM CST
I don't see any evidence of mealybugs in the photos, so perhaps you have successfully eradicated them. If they return, you will need to spray with a solution of 9 parts water and 1 part alcohol and a squirt of liquid soap. Most important is that you get complete coverage because the juvenile mealybugs are translucent and virtually invisible to the naked eye. If the spray fails to make direct contact with each one, they will survive and reproduce.. If the Jade is small enough, fill the sink with the solution, invert the plant and swirl it around in the solution to ensure complete coverage.

I do see some pockmarks on some of the leaves. That may be due to alcohol damage if it was applied undiluted. The powdery flecks are from the drying of the waxy leaf coating due to excess alcohol drying or inadequate watering (see below). I also see some leaf shriveling that is likely caused by excessive dryness.

While it is true that the hours of daylight are shorter in winter and will cause reduced growth, the warm dry air of winter plus your Jade's proximity to a heat vent will cause the soil to dry to dry out sooner. I cannot see the pot in the photos, but I am quite sure that your Jade will need water every week or two at least. I think you will see some improvement when you increase the watering.

Jades do surprisingly well in cooler temps, so you needn't worry about drafts.

Let me know if any of this is unclear.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
I now have a book available on indoor plant care

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