The Joy of Jade

Jade plant grows outdoors as a handsome succulent shrub in its native South Africa and other warm, dry, frost-free locations. But most of us know it as an easy-to-grow houseplant that looks like a miniature tree.

Jade plant has a rounded shape, with a thick trunk and many side branches. Its fleshy, oval leaves are glossy jade-green color. Outdoors, jade plant bears clusters of small, starry, white or light pink flowers in late winter or spring. But when grown as a houseplant, it tends to flower sparsely or not at all. With a little care, jade plant can be quite long-lived and grow to an impressive size, even as a houseplant.

Common name: Jade plant

Botanical name: Crassula ovata

Plant type: Succulent shrub, mostly grown as a houseplant

Zones: 11 to 12 outdoors; anywhere indoors

Height: 2 to 4 feet

Family: Crassulaceae


Growing conditions

  • Sun: Bright, sunny window.
  • Soil: Well-drained houseplant or cactus potting mixes
  • Moisture: Average to dry; avoid overwatering

Care

  • Mulch: None
  • Pruning: Cut back branch tips to shape plant and reduce size.
  • Fertilizer: Apply diluted soluble fertilizer every month or two from spring to fall; reduce or eliminate fertilizer in winter.

Propagation

  • Root individual leaves or stem cuttings.

Pests and diseases

  • Mealybugs
  • Root and stem rot may develop if soil is too wet.


Cultivars

  • ‘Variegata’ has green and white streaked foliage.
  • ‘Gollum’ has oddly shaped, nearly tubular leaves.

Garden notes

  • Its treelike form makes jade plant popular for indoor bonsai creations.
  • Wide but shallow clay pots are ideal for jade plants; they help prevent overly wet soil and provide stability for these top-heavy plants.
  • Jade plant is super-easy to propagate; it can grow roots not only from stem cuttings but even from the base of a single leaf.

All in the family

  • Jade plant is a member of the stonecrop family (Crassulaceae), an interesting group of succulent plants that have a specialized form of photosynthesis.
  • Other stonecrop family members often grown as houseplants or in gardens include sedum (Sedum spp.), kalanchoe (Kalanchoe spp.), and hens-and-chicks (Sempervivum spp.)

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