The jade plant (Crassula ovata), known as the friendship tree or a tree to bring good wealth and fortune, is part of the succulent family, and is notoriously known for being difficult to kill. For all of those who don’t have a green thumb, jade plant care is easy, making for a great addition to one’s home or a perfect gift (hence why it’s known as the friendship tree!).
The jade plant comes from South Africa and can live for a very long time. No matter what climate you live in, with the proper care, a jade plant can grow very quickly. Some of the more popular jade plants include the sunset variety (yellowish leaves with red tips) and the variegata variety (ivory colored leaves streaked with light green), but there are over 1,400 types of jade plants!
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Jade Plant Care Overview
In Asia, the jade plant is an extremely popular housewarming gift, since it is said to bring positive financial energy into the home. Placement of the plant is important — it’s known for thriving and bringing in good energy when located at the front of homes, restaurants and offices. Avoid showcasing a jade plant in the bathroom or bedroom, since these areas are more closed off.
The jade plant will sometimes grow into a small tree or shrub, up to five feet tall indoors. Very easily maintained, the jade plant only needs water when dry to the touch. The plant also prefers at least four hours of direct sunlight at room temperature (65º to 75ºF). They are much more common as an indoor plant and can be easily propagated to make many jade plants around the home.
5 Types of Jade Plants
If you’re looking to be a jade plant collector, you may end up searching for the rest of your life — as mentioned earlier, there are over 1,400 different types of jade plants! Each plant varies in size, color and thickness of leaves/stem. Read on to learn about some of the most common types of jade plants.
Crassula ovata tricolor (Tricolor)
Great for covering a large area, the tricolor varieties can grow between two and four feet in beautiful colors. The three main colors on the stripes of the leaves are white, green and yellow. At certain times of the year, this jade plant can grow pink flowers.
Crassula ovata blue bird (Blue Bird)
The blue bird jade plant has more circular and flatter leaves than other common jade plants. The leaves are light green and the edges are outlined with bright red, making the plant very distinct from others surrounding it. The slow-growing shrub can be found in nature.
Crassula ovata sunset (Sunset)
A very popular houseplant, this jade plant has cylindrical leaves and lime green or yellowish leaves with red tips. The plant is very drought tolerant compared to other jade plants. They also don’t grow very large, making the sunset variety an appropriate choice for a small space.
Crassula arborescens ssp. undulatifolia (Ripple Leaf)
As the name of the plant indicates, the leaves have a ripple effect and grow in different directions from every other leaf in a curvy fashion. The leaves are deep green and the plant can grow up to four feet tall.
Crassula ovata ‘Gollum’ (Monstruosa)
Also known as the “Hobbit” of jade plants because of the reference to Gollum’s fingers from Lord of the Rings, this jade has yellowish-green leaves. This variety of jade can also be easily turned into a jade bonsai tree.
How to Grow and Care for a Jade Plant
Even though jade plants are hard to kill, you should follow proper care techniques closely for the best growth and longevity. Take a look at the care guidelines below to see how you can keep your plant strong and healthy.
Sunlight: A jade plant is one of the best plants to keep in an area of your home with direct sunlight. They need full sun in order to continue to grow happily and avoid becoming stunted and short. A good rule of thumb is to allow your jade plant to have at least four hours of direct sunlight a day, or leave in a sunny spot for the whole day.
Water: The plant requires different watering schedules in the summer versus the winter. In the winter, the plant might only need watering once every two to three weeks. In the summer, be sure to water the plant once a week. You never want to over water the jade plant, but if you accidentally do, make sure before you water the plant again that the plant has had time to soak up the extra water. A quick test to see if the plant needs a drink is to touch the soil. You want the soil to stay moist, it’s time to water when it dries out.
Temperatures: Jade plants grow best at room temperature, such as 65º to 75ºF, and prefer direct sunlight. Jade plants are not able to tolerate the cold since they are not frost-tolerant. Once temperatures drop below 50ºF, we recommend finding a warmer place for your plant. They will do just fine in temperatures above 75ºF for shorter periods of time.
Toxicity: The jade plant is a great addition to any home, but it can be toxic to children and pets. Touching or eating these plants will potentially lead to ill effects. like vomiting, fatigue and itching/burning skin.
Pests: The most common pest that attacks jade plants are mealybugs. To detect these pests, look for cotton patches along the joint between the stem and leaves. These pests will feed off the plant’s sap and eventually create an infection known as sooty mold due to the sticky substance that mealybugs secrete.
To solve the mealybug issue and protect your jade plant, clean your jade plant with rubbing alcohol several times to fully get rid of the bugs. In extreme cases, you will need to dispose of the jade plant.
Problems: One of the only issues that a jade plant will face is becoming droopy. The leaves will begin to sink towards the floor, meaning the jade plant is dying. The most common factor leading to droopiness is overwatering in the winter. Instead of fully watering your jade plant during colder weather, mist your plant with a spray bottle.
During the summertime when fully watering the plant, make sure the jade is placed in a drainage pot, so that excess water can escape and the roots do not drown.
Repotting: Repotting a jade plant might be unnecessary unless you see mold or unhealthy soil surrounding the jade plant. Try to hold off from repotting a jade plant for several years. Repotting might cause the plant to slow in growth as it adjusts — do not be concerned by this.
Propagation: Rooting jade plant cuttings is a pretty easy process and does not cause distress to the plant. To find where to take a piece of the plant off to propagate, find a healthy branch that has no diseases or browning surrounding the leaf. The branch should be at least three to four inches long in order to root the jade plant into another pot. Make sure to use a sharp knife.
When you have successfully cut the branch, make sure to let the wound of the jade plant dry for one to two weeks. This is because if you plant the branch wet, the piece will develop a disease and will not be able to grow. You may dust the wound with rooting hormone, which might quicken the rooting process. After waiting, you may plant the branch in your soil mixture by first making a hole with your finger or a pencil, then placing the branch inside. Do not water the plant until roots start to grow (two to three weeks).
Whether you’re looking to buy a jade plant for yourself or a friend, we hope this guide covered how to properly take care of your jade plant. There are many ways to showcase your new jade plant, such as a plant stand or as a centerpiece for your dining room table. Your jade plant isn’t the only greenery that needs your care. If you’re looking for more tips and tricks, check out our houseplant care printables.