How to Care for a Jade Plant (Even If You're Terrible at Houseplants)
If you're just getting started with succulents, this goof-proof varietal can handle the learning curve.
If your thumb is less than green but you still want to add more plant life to your home, might we suggest starting out with something simple to care for, like a jade plant? Once you know the basics of jade plant care, keeping this hardy succulent thriving is surprisingly easy. To learn the dos and don'ts of jade plant care, we spoke with Erin Marino at The Sill for her pro tips on growing these little beauties.
But first some background. Erin recommended that it’s always helpful to understand a little bit about a plant’s origins in order to learn how to care for it. The jade plant is native to Africa and has been around for an extremely long time. “What’s really interesting about this particular plant is that it uses a process called CAM photosynthesis,” she explains. “It opens its pores only at night, which means that during the day it holds in a lot of water, allowing it to be more drought-tolerant.” Also, the lack of surface area on its small, round, and fleshy leaves helps it hold in water, too. The good news: This is an excellent houseplant for those who may forget to water their plants regularly.
Give Your Jade Plant Lots of Sunlight
To care for jade, make sure that it gets plenty of sun. This isn’t a plant that will thrive stuck in the darkest corner of your living room, warns Erin. Place it right near a window that gets bright sunlight. You can tell your jade plant is happy when the edges of the leaves turn red.
Don't Over-Water It
“The quickest way to kill a succulent is to over-water. You’ll know when it’s time to water it because the fleshy leaves will start to wrinkle slightly,” she says. If you’re planting them indoors, be cautious about the potting soil you use. Because jade prefers a more arid environment, avoid any mix that helps to retain moisture. You can buy a potting soil made specifically for succulents, but you can also use a version that has drier materials to help with drainage.
When to Repot a Jade Plant
The jade plant has a really shallow root system, so if you do need to repot it, you don’t want to place it in a container that is too large—the water won’t reach the roots. “Just keep in mind that after a year, the nutrients in the soil will have been depleted, so you might want to fertilize it in the spring and summer months,” says Erin. “Then every two to three years, you can repot. Or if you notice the plant start to push itself out of its container, you’ll know the root system has outgrown the pot.”
What Makes a Jade Plant Flower?
If you live in a place that has warm days and cool nights, jade will produce flowers, but unfortunately the changes in temperature it needs to flower aren’t available indoors.
How to Propagate Jade Plants
If you’re looking to scale back your existing plant, you can trim clippings off and use them to propagate new plants. Simply let the clippings callous over (this takes a week or two) and then plant the clippings in soil and water sparingly until they form roots.
Enjoy adding this easy-to-grow plant to your home!