Jade plants, aka Crassula, are some of the hardiest succulents you can grow, which makes them perfect for beginner gardeners and people who prefer easy-to-care-for plants. They make wonderful additions to succulent gardens, houseplant collections, and outdoor gardens, too. As a succulents enthusiast, jade plants will forever have a special place in my home!
The jade plant is unique to other succulents in that it has woody stems and a thick, woody trunk that gives it a tree-like appearance as it matures. Jade plants can actually grow up to several feet tall, which is why many people love growing it outdoors and using it as a garden filler (like my grandma does!).
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This gorgeous plant, with its fleshy and oval-shaped leaves, can live for years, even decades, if well cared for.
You’ll often find different varieties of jade plants at the garden center, including the Common Jade aka “Crassula ovata”, the Silver Jade, which features a beautiful red outline along the leaves (my favorite, shown below), and the Variegated Jade, which features green-colored leaves mixed with streaks of creamy white.
Known to thrive in zones 9 to 11, jade can be grown successfully in colder zones if grown as an indoor plant or brought indoors during Winter.
How to Plant a Jade Plant
Like other succulents, jade plants do not like to sit in overly-moist soil. In fact, soggy soil can cause root rot and eventually kill your plant, which is why planting your jade plant in cactus mix, or succulents soil is best.
Why? Soil that is specifically made for succulents includes particles such as sand, pumice, and twigs that helps water drain quickly and easily. Remember, fast-draining soil is key when growing any type of succulent.
If using regular potting soil, try mixing in some pumice to help with drainage.
As far as pots go, opt for one that has a drainage hole. Terra cotta pots make excellent pots for succulents because they allow for good air circulation and they wick away moisture. If your pot doesn’t have a drainage hole, be more conservative when watering to avoid over-watering.
The pot you choose should be large enough to accommodate the jade plant, but not too large that it overwhelms the plant. Make sure the base of the plant sits atop the soil and parallel to the top of the pot – you don’t want any leaves touching the soil!
Fill in the side of the pot with soil, and gently press it down to help it settle into place. Wait a few days before watering your repotted plant; this will give the roots time to settle. Plus, if any roots were damaged in the planting process, it’ll give them time to recover before soaking up any water and potentially rotting.
How to Water a Jade Plant
Properly watering a jade plant is key to helping it thrive. Overwater it, and you could end up with a rotting root system. Underwater it, and you’ll notice wilting, shriveled-up leaves that slowly wither away to nothing.
As with other succulents, water your jade plant when the top of the soil is dry to the touch. To test how dry the soil it, simply stick your finger into the soil about an inch deep. If it feels dry, then it’s time to water. If it feels slightly moist, then give it another two days or so before your water.
A general rule of thumb for watering jade plants is less is more.
When you feel that the soil is dry, grab a watering can and slowly pour water onto the soil, not the actual leaves. (The roots need water, the leaves do not!).
Once you see water escape from the drainage hole, it’s time to stop watering; this will be your cue that the soil has received enough moisture.
Wait a few days between waterings – I personally water my jade plant about once a week. How often you water your plant will depend on several factors including the climate and humidity inside your home, the season, and the outdoor temperature if the jade plant is being grown outdoors. Generally speaking, you’ll only need to water your plant every few days.
Jade Plants Need Full Sun
While jade plants don’t ask for much in the way of care, they do require ample sunlight in order to look their best. This means you should place your container or pot in a spot that gets four hours of sunlight a day, at the very least.
Growing them in less than four to six hours of sunlight will result in less-vibrant leaves and slower growth. If you want to grow a lush, green jade plant with rich color that produces several branches of thick leaves, then placing it in full sun is necessary; this is why this plant does so well outdoors during Spring and Summer.
If growing indoors, place the plant near a window that lets in plenty of light.
Fertilizing Jade Plants
Jade plants don’t need to be fertilized but they can definitely benefit from a little fertilizer, as long as it’s applied at the right time and in the right amounts. Always opt for organic fertilizers, as they’re more gentle for the plant and better for the environment, too.
I prefer using a kelp or seaweed liquid fertilizer, which is what I use to fertilize my other succulents. Using a liquid fertilizer makes it easier on me because all I have to do is pour it into my watering and water as I normally would.
If you’re growing jade plants directly in the ground, you can also use a granular fertilizer.
The best time to add fertilizer to your jade plant is during the growing season; never fertilize succulents during Fall or Winter because that’s their dormancy phase and they’re not ready to start the growing process. Ample sunlight is very important when fertilizing because, without it, your plant will grow leggy and stretched-out.
You can either give your plant a dose of fertilizer (at half strength from what the bottle says is generally a good amount) in early Spring or once every month during Spring and Summer. To keep plants small and compact, skip the fertilizer.
Also, make sure you only fertilize when the soil is moist – applying fertilizer to dry soil can damage your plant, so give the soil a drink of water before you fertilizing.
Pruning Jade Plants
When growing jade plants, you don’t want to neglect pruning it – it’s what helps give them a mounded shape. Pruning will also promote new growth.
To ensure a shrubby, rounded shape to your jade plant, simply take your pruners and snip off any leggy branches that are sticking out of the plant or growing at a different rate than the rest of the plant. Leggy branches are often the result of too little sunlight – it’s a process called etiolation and very common in succulents.
If your jade plant isn’t getting adequate sunlight, it will begin to stretch itself towards the nearest light source, giving it a stretched-out appearance that people like to avoid. It’s an easy process that won’t take much time at all!
I hope this growing guide has given you a better understanding of jade plants and what they need in order to thrive in your home or garden! I’m sure you’ll cherish it as part of your succulent collection!
To learn more about succulents and indoor plants, check out the posts below:
How to Care for Succulents so They Stay Healthy and Happy
How to Water Succulents
How to Care for an Anthurium Houseplant
How to Care for a Pothos Plant
How to Fertilize Succulents
How to Propagate Succulents from Leaves