Jade Plants

(Question)

I have two jade plants , that my mother has had for years. In the last two weeks the leaves are falling off. Leaves are crunchy as well.
Can you offer some. Suggestions?

 

(Answer)

Hello:

I think your jade plants are not getting enough water and considering the heat we have had this summer, are also possibly suffering from the heat. I will give you some general information on jade plant care and explain why insufficient water is my diagnosis.

The scientific name for the jade plant is Crassula ovata. Jade plant leaves could fall prematurely from the plant being too wet or too dry, for lack of nitrogen in the soil or for need of more sunlight. They are generally very adaptable plants but to grow well, they need direct sunlight for half a day or more. Even though jade plants are succulents, they need to be watered well. If excess water drains into the saucer, pour it off within 30 minutes and do not water again until the surface soil feels quite dry. Leaving the saucer full of water longer may cause root rot and this will cause the leaves to soften, yellow, become limp and fall off. If the soil is kept too dry, the leaves will shrivel (become crunchy?) and fall off. Sometimes too dry plants will develop brown spots on the leaves. You didn’t describe any changes to the colour of the leaves. A check of the plant’s root system may give the answer. Tip the plant on it’s side and slide it out of the pot. If it has a strong, solid root system, it must be getting enough water. If the roots are soft and mushy, it has been overwatered. You can cut off the damaged, rotting roots and repot.  Choose a pot that is close to the same depth and 2 to 3 inches wider than the old pot. Checking the roots will be difficult if your plants are very large.

Although jade plants tolerate being rootbound, allowing the plant to become overly rootbound can hinder its ability to take up water. If the roots can’t take up water, the leaves will lose their plump appearance. A convenient way to determine if your plant is rootbound is to water. If the water is slow to drain into the soil or spills over the sides of the pot, your jade needs a larger pot. Jade plants also need a potting mix that rapidly drains off excess moisture. You can buy a mix formulated for succulents or make your own mix with equal parts clean, sharp sand, peat moss and all purpose potting soil.

Jade plants grow best from 18-24 deg C, with slightly cooler temperatures (13 deg C) in the winter. I don’t know if your plants are inside or outside or whether you have AC, so I can’t really comment on the effect of temperature.

Jade plants should be fertilized 3-4 times a year (not in winter, because they are not actively growing then) with standard, liquid houseplant fertilizer.

Thank you for your question and good luck with your plants. It can be very upsetting when plants with sentimental value show signs of decline.