The jade plant (Crassula ovata) is a popular succulent houseplant with fleshy, oval-shaped leaves and thick, woody stems that resemble tiny tree trunks. The jade plant can grow to a size of 3–6 inches, but does so slowly, only growing about two inches a year.
Sometimes called the money plant or tree, lucky plant, friendship plant, or dollar plant, these plants were once thought to bring good luck to their owners so were often given as housewarming gifts. Several species are sometimes seen labeled as jade plants in garden centers, as they share cultural requirements.
|Botanical Name||Crassula ovata|
|Common Name||Jade Plant, Money Plant|
|Mature Size||3–6 inches tall|
|Sun Exposure||Direct sunlight|
|Soil Type||Rich and well-draining, sandy|
|Bloom Time||Varies, usually late winter|
|Hardiness Zones||11 to 12 (USDA)|
|Native Area||South Africa, Mozambique|
How to Grow Jade Plants
Jade plants are generally undemanding and easy to grow, but they are susceptible to mealy bugs and fungal diseases. As with all succulents, overwatering is sure to be fatal, so err on the side of too dry rather than too wet. They need an even hand with water and plenty of light to develop their full potential. Given these proper conditions, the jade plant will produce white flowers in late winter, making an attractive and mildly fragrant display.
Young jade plants should only be exposed to bright, indirect light to prevent leaf scorching. Well-established jade plants can tolerate and thrive with four or more hours of sunlight each day. They are best in a room with south-facing windows.
A succulent mix is best, with an ideal pH of around 6.0 (slightly acidic). Make sure the soil is able to drain well to prevent excessive moisture from accumulating which can lead to fungal growth. If using an all-purpose potting mix, add some perlite in a 2:1 ratio to help with drainage.
During the summer and spring, jade plants should be watered often so the soil is moist but not wet, making sure drainage is immaculate. Reduce watering to monthly in the winter. Never let your jade plant sit in water. If you water from beneath by letting the plant sit in a saucer of water, pour off any excess water after a few minutes.
Temperature and Humidity
Jade plants prefer average summer temperatures of 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. At night and in the winter, jade plants prefer a cooler environment (down to 55 degrees Fahrenheit). The jade plant is not frost tolerant, so if the plant is kept outside, bring it in when the temperature dips to or under 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Many people underfeed their succulents during the growing season. Feed with a controlled-release fertilizer at the beginning of the season or weekly with a weak liquid solution. Use a balanced 20-20-20 fertilizer at one-quarter strength on mature plants, and a fertilizer with less nitrogen on young plants.
Repotting Jade Plants
Repot as needed, preferably during the warm season. To repot a succulent:
- Make sure the soil is dry before repotting, then gently remove the pot.
- Knock away the old soil from the roots, making sure to remove any rotted or dead roots in the process. Treat any cuts with a fungicide.
- Place the plant in its new pot and backfill with potting soil, spreading the roots out as you repot.
- Leave the plant dry for a week or so, then begin to water lightly to reduce the risk of root rot.
The Jade plant is known for its ease of propagation. Plants can be easily propagated from a single leaf. Sprout leaves by placing them into a succulent or cacti mix, then covering the dish until they sprout.
Varieties of Crassula
Several species of Crassula are identified as jade plants in the nursery trade. The standard jade plant is a C. ovata, which also goes by the names C. argentea and C. portulaca. Variegated varieties have been introduced, such as C. ovata ‘Tricolor’. Variegated jade plants need full sun to develop their full coloration. Other varieties that are sometimes sold as jade plants include C. arborescens.
Toxicity of Jade Plants
Jade plants are toxic to cats and dogs. While it is not lethal, ingesting any part of the plant may cause pets to become lethargic and nauseous. The plant is also mildly toxic to humans and can cause skin irritation as well as vomiting and diarrhea.