My eyes scanned the display of succulents at Lowe’s until I got stuck on the biggest mini jade I could spot. Her thick emerald leaves were enough for me. It might sound silly to get so excited about a $3.99 common plant, but it was my first one (give me a break). I’m fairly new to the world of house plants, but I am hooked. Since it’s cold here on t he Northern hemisphere, outdoor is close to impossible. However, we’re not going to let our green thumb powers go to waste. In this series, I will be exploring houseplants and succulents every month, giving you tips on how to keep your plants happy abs healthy all year.
I understand that just about everyone and their grandma has this plant (or grandma passed it down), but hear me out. I’m going to convince you that you need this bad baby and how you can easily care for it. So I present you the house plant of the month, Crassula Ovata.
Jade plants are often viewed as “good luck charms”. Families will pass their plants on to their children and I think that’s so special. If that’s not reason enough to start a jade plant now, I don’t know what is. They can live up to 70 years, sometimes even longer. In addition to being a potential family heirloom, they are also east to care for.
This cultivar is from South Africa, which tells us they like bright sun and humidity. It’s only major downfall is that it is toxic to pets, so just be careful if you have a fur child. I keep all my plants in a grow tent. High window sills and hanging planters might be a safe option as well. Now let’s get into my top tips for growing healthy, happy jade plants.
Tip #1: Light
These little succulents need full sun, but can be tolerate a little less. If you have your jade plant inside she might be best near a south or east facing window (whichever is the brightest spot for you). If you find that the leaves look lighter or weaker, you might not be getting adequate sunlight. Investing in a grow light would help you gain control of its light schedule. They need at least 5 hours of light to be content.
Although these plants are hardy, they can still burn in very intense light. Again, they can grow in partial light. So if you have your plants outside maybe put them in a semi shaded area if you live in hot weather. Having your succulents in containers can also help you move them around certain times of the day.
Tip #2: Water and Soil
Have you ever felt how juicy a succulent’s leaves are? They are able to store an incredible amount of water inside their leaves. This requires their soil to completely dry out before watering again. The biggest reason for killing a succulent is overwatering. Take a step back Plant Mama, she’ll be okay. As for the soil , everyone suggest a cacti succulent mix. But if all you have is potting soil, just mix lots of sand or pertlite and it should help the water drain until you repot. Make sure you do use a pot with plenty of drainage holes because they do not need to sit in water. This will cause root rot. The soil and roots do need to be saturated when they are watered, so drain holes are super important. Keep in mind that the jade plant will slow down in the winter, so less watering is required.
Tip #3: Repotting
Typically succulents don’t mind being snug and slightly rootbound in their container. However, if you want to freshen up the soil or notice your jade plant toppling over, it might be time to repot. There’s nothing wrong with upgrading your plant from a studio apartment to a two bedroom condo so it has a little room to grow. I recommend using a heavy, sturdy pot because they do get too heavy. I actually made a few cuttings from mine because she was too heavy for her nursery pot. A small terra-cotta pot is in my future.
Tip #4: Propagation Station
You can share your jade plant with friends and family by propagating stems or leaves (although leaves take longer to root). Use a sharp exacto blade to cut off a 2-3 inch part of the stem or single leaves. Set it aside and let the wound callous over for a few days. You can either set them on top of dry soil or a plate until they start to form roots. This could take several weeks to a month or two. You don’t need to water your cuttings until they do form roots. Then you can set them on top of moist soil. Let the soil dry out before watering. You should have babies in 2-4 months! Remember, succulents grow slow, so be patient.
Tip #5: Good Housekeeping
Keep the leaves clean by wiping them down gently every few months if they get dusty. Build up on the leaves can interfere with photosynthesis. The more dust on the leaves, the less light the plant receives. Think of the leaves like your face, don’t touch it and keep it clean!