Home > Great Big Greenhouse Blog > March 2015 > EASY HOUSEPLANTS: JADE PLANT

EASY HOUSEPLANTS: JADE PLANT

I went online to check out some photos of Jade plants, and I was surprised at how many proud owners were in the photos with their plants.  They looked very pleased with the health and beauty of their plants, but mostly with the size that some Jades attain.  Native to Natal and Cape Providence, South Africa, this succulent shrub can grow to 5’x5’ or better.  Some were also beaming at the pink blooms all over their plants, usually occurring in winter once the plant has some age on it.  Jade plants, with their plump rounded pillow-like leaves and freely branching habit, are endearing to plant lovers, like kittens and puppies.  When a customer brings us their beautiful old jade plant to repot, we get excited over it, too.

The best news is, however, that jade plants are easy to grow.  They are happy with the warm, dry conditions of centrally heated and cooled homes.  Jades look their best when grown in some direct sunlight, resulting in sturdy, compact plants loaded with fat bright green leaves.  Strong sunlight will also produce a reddish margin on the leaves, signaling that the plant is receiving the maximum amount of light preferred.  In less light, the branches tend to stretch, causing the plant to sprawl with smaller leaves and skinny branches.  Because it is a succulent, the jade plant needs to dry moderately when actively growing, with good drainage.  The roots should never stand in water.  In winter, growth usually slows, and the soil should dry between waterings.  When in doubt, feel the leaves—they should be plump and firm, only watering when they begin to lose water.

Fertilize with a higher phosphorous (P) formula (5-10-5, 15-30-15, etc.), as too much nitrogen (the N of NPK), can cause rapid-growing weak stems.  Prune as needed to maintain a pleasing shape, or to remove damaged or dying branches.  The jade’s natural growth habit makes it a good bonsai subject.  Jade plants are famous for occupying the same pot for years, tolerating root-bound conditions well.  If you need to repot, choose a container only one size larger with drainage holes, and wait a couple of weeks before watering again.  As with most succulents, new plants are easy to start from leaves or stem cuttings.

Jade plants are long-lived, and we often hear from customers that they inherited their plant from a parent or grand-parent, passed down like the popular Christmas cactus.  The most popular jade plant is the Crassula ovata (or C. argentea), but there are several other varieties to try, including C. ovata ‘Hobbit’ with tubular-shaped leaves and C. ovata ‘Hummel’s Sunset’, with bright orange-red leaf margins.  A particularly pretty jade is C. ovata ‘Crosby’s Compact ‘, with very small rounded leaves, like a miniature jade plant.  
Posted: 3/6/2015 by Margot | with 0 comment(s)
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