6 Jade Plant Care Tips—No Green Thumb Required

Taking care of a jade plant is perfect for non-gardening folks. Try these expert tips for a goof-proof succulent.

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. We spoke with Erin Marino, former marketing director at The Sill, to learn how to care for a jade plant like a seasoned horticulturist. But first, here's a little bit about the plant's origins.

What Is a Jade Plant?

The jade plant is native to Africa and has been around for a very long time. The lack of surface area on its small, round, fleshy leaves helps keep water in. The upshot: This is an excellent houseplant for those who may forget to water their plants regularly.

"What's really interesting about this particular plant is that it uses a process called CAM photosynthesis," Marino 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."

How to Care for a Jade Plant

Caring for a jade plant isn't difficult. Follow these tips for a beautiful indoor succulent.

Give It Sunlight (Lots)

Make sure that your jade plant gets plenty of sunlight. This isn't a plant that will thrive stuck in the darkest corner of your living room, warns Marino.

Place jade plants right near a window. You can tell your jade plant is happy when the edges of the leaves turn red.

Avoid Over-Watering

Water a succulent when its fleshy leaves start to wrinkle slightly. But not too much! "The quickest way to kill a succulent is to over-water," Marino explains.

Since succulents hold water, it's best not to let them sit in water or overly-moist soil. Check if the top 1-2 inches of the plant's soil are dry before watering. This means you'll likely water your jade plant every 2-3 weeks.

Choose the Proper Soil Mixture

If you're planting jade plants indoors, be cautious about which potting soil you use. Because jade prefers a more arid environment, avoid any mix that helps to retain moisture. You can buy potting soil made specifically for succulents, but you can also use a version with drier materials to help with drainage.

Repot When Necessary

The jade plant has a shallow root system. If you need to repot your plant, don't place it in a container that's too large for water to 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 Marino. "Then every two to three years, you can repot. If the plant starts to push itself out of its container, the root system has outgrown the pot."

To repot your jade plant, follow these steps:

  1. Trim the plant. Cut off dry, dead, or damaged plant tissue. This helps prevent further damage while moving the plant.
  2. Remove from pot. Gently remove your jade plant from its pot. Loosen the rootball from the pot and slide the pot off while holding the plant by the base of its stems.
  3. Prune roots. Lengthy roots can be pruned before repotting. Also, remove extra soil that you don't want in the new pot.
  4. Add soil to the pot. Place about 1 inch of your chosen potting mixture into the new pot. Pick a mixture that is aerated and drains well.
  5. Place the plant into the pot. Put your jade plant into its new pot and settle it into the potting mixture.
  6. Add more soil. Fill the pot with more soil while holding the plant upright. Press the mixture down to fill in gaps of air.

Avoid watering your jade plant after repotting it since its roots are fragile from the move. Wait at least a week before watering.

Bring Outside for Flowers

This succulent needs to grow for quite a few years and mature before blooming. Jade plants produce flowers if kept outside, and you live in a place with warm days and cool nights. Unfortunately, those necessary temperature changes aren't available indoors.

During the summer, you can place jade plants outside. While direct sunlight is necessary, it's best to provide jade plants with morning or evening sun rather than the intense afternoon sun. (Jade plants can sunburn, causing the leaves to burn and possibly kill the plant.)

Avoid placing jade plants outdoors during colder months since it thrives best in tropical conditions. The ideal temperature for jade plants is between 65 and 90 degrees.

Propagate Jade Plants

If you wish to scale back your existing jade plant, trim clippings and use them to propagate new plants. Simply let the clippings callous over (this takes a week or two), plant them in soil, and water sparingly until they form roots.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do jade plants need a big or small pot?

    Because jade plants grow slowly, they don't need a large pot. It's best to use a pot that's about 1-2 inches wider than the roots.

  • How long do jade plants live?

    With proper care, these succulents can live for many decades. Jade plants are known to live for 40-70 years, with some lasting up to 100 years.

  • How do I know if my jade plant is dying?

    Look for signs that your jade plant needs help. Shriveled or falling leaves can be an indication that your jade plant isn't being watered enough. On the other hand, limp leaves are a sign that you're over-watering. White spots on the leaves can signal a type of fungal disease.

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