Flickr photo by traviswiens
Q: I recently added a Jade to my plant collection but I cant seem to keep it happy. I have heard that they are easy plants to care for but it keeps turning yellow and its falling apart. Everything i do seems to make it worse. What am I doing wrong?
A: Crassula, or Jade plants, are easy to take care of and actually thrive when you ignore them slightly. It sounds like you have an over watering issue. Sometimes when plant leaves turn yellow it can be from a nutritional issue but the most common cause of yellowing leaves is over watering and that the root system has or had 'wet feet'. Make sure your jade plant is never sitting in water. If it is potted in a container that does not have a drain hole, but instead a layer of rock, there might be an excess of water sitting on the bottom. If you need to re-pot the jade in order to get it out of its wet home make sure that you use a potting mix specifically made for succulents versus a traditional potting mix - it must drain well. Normal potting mixes are created to hold water which is counter intuitive for Crussula. Make sure that you water it when the soil is almost completely dry and not before that.
Q: How can i be sure that my jade soil is dry enough to feel safe watering it?
A: Jades retain their own water supply - you will notice that after you water your jade the leaves become very plump. Over time the leaves will start to wrinkle as the plant decreases in its water retention. This wrinkling is the physical sign that your jade is ready to be watered. If your questioning if the plant is ready to be watered it it is safer to step away from the plant rather than dousing it with more water and over loving it.
Q: What should i do with all of the parts of the jade that have fallen off?
A: With whole parts falling off, I want to make sure that your jade is not experiencing root rot, a common occurrence in jades for those who over water. Root rot is spread internally in the plant and is visually defined by dark mushy areas normally developing at the base of a trunk. If there is root rot present you need to take action and physically remove any signs of the rot so that it does not spread to other areas of the plant. You might be removing an entire limb or two but in the end it is a small sacrifice to go through in order to save the healthy parts of the plant.
Q: Can I save any part of the plant that i had to cut off? It is such a large limb and i can't bring myself to just throw it out.
A: Jade plants root from cuttings quite painlessly so yes, you can take certain measures to save the cut off limb. Make sure that all rot is removed from the limb with a sharp, clean cutting tool. Let the cut area of the limb seal itself and heal its wound. After a couple of days the cut section will callous, plant it in moist cactus soil and it will quickly begin to root thereby giving you a brand new jade plant.
Q: Any other advice to help me bring this jade back to its glory after I perform the root rot surgery?
A: Although they can handle a bright filtered light, Crassula prefer to be in part sun so give it some direct rays to keep it happy and healthy. The lower the light the more spindly the plant will become. They are not heavy feeders but would not mind some lower doses of fertilizer during the growing season. They ideally like to be kept around 55 degrees during the dormant months so display your jade near a cooler window or room of your home during the winter months. Crassula also enjoy tight spaces to call their home. If you have to re-pot don't give them too huge of new home. Best time to transplant is in summer when the weather is dry and warm. Watch out for mealy bug which happens to find members of the succulent family very tasty.