Gardening Help FAQs

Here are answers to some of the most common questions we receive about garden plants. You will find concise information on general gardening techniques as well as plant selection and care. For detailed information on specific plant pests and problems refer to our Common Garden Pests and Problems page.

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Horticulture Questions and Answers

What is the problem with my indoor jade plant?

The jade plant, Crassula argentea, is a very popular, tree-like succulent plant with stout, branching limbs and oblong, fleshy dark green leaves. It is beautiful even when small. Typically, the jade plant will reach a height of 18 to 30 inches indoors at maturity. It will bloom only when mature and very well lighted.

In winter, the best indoor locations for this plant are warm windows with southeastern or southwestern exposure. For summer, the plant should be moved to sites with northeastern or northwestern exposure, or, moved outdoors to a site where the foliage is protected from the hottest, most direct sunlight. If growing outdoors, the jade plant should be returned indoors by mid-September since chilling can have adverse effects on its health.

Watering is a critical consideration with this species. To avoid root rot and a disorder called oedema where corky growths develop on the underside of the leaves, it is essential to let the soil become nearly dry between thorough waterings. All pot drainage water should be discarded promptly. Although the jade plant does not, strictly speaking, enter dormancy, it does enjoy a resting period of slower growth in the winter months. During this time, water should be even more restricted and fertilizer withheld October through February. Normal house humidities in the range of 25-35% will give satisfactory results.

The jade plant thrives at "people" temperatures, 70-80 degrees F. during daytime and 62-68 degrees during nighttime hours. Interestingly, it will tolerate abnormally low house temperatures for short periods.

Standard potting soil which drains well is recommended for the jade plant. It will, however, thrive in poorer quality soils so long as drainage is adequate. This plant should be repotted only when root content reaches about 80 percent of the pot volume. At repotting time, the next larger size pot should be selected. Generally it is beneficial to top-dress the soil each spring. Mild, liquid manures or dilute chemical fertilizers used at monthly intervals during the March-October growing season will provide adequate fertility.

Jade plants can be propagated at any time of year from stem or leaf cuttings in moist perlite or sand. The offspring, when rooted, should be potted up in soil in the same manner as for mature plants.

Cleanliness is important for the health and good appearance of jade plants. All dead leaves and stems should be removed immediately. Occasionally removing some of the growing tips will make the plant branch and appear more compact. It is advisable to sponge off the foliage at monthly intervals using room temperature water; however, leaf shiners or oils should never be applied to jade plants.

The principal pests of jade plants are mealybug, red spider mite, scale, thrips, and occasionally, aphids. Caution: Some succulents are sensitive to certain insecticides. Before you embark on a spray program be sure the product you use is labeled for jade plants.