The jade plant, Crassula ovata (or Crassula argentea) is a succulent sub-shrub native to southern Africa. It looks rather like a bonsai tree, with jade green, fleshy leaves and thick stems that become woody with age. It's a popular house plant that's also known as the money plant or friendship plant, as it's said to bring good fortune and prosperity. It's often given as a marriage or housewarming gift.
The leaves of some cultivars develop a red tinge when exposed to sunlight. In time, Crassula ovata may bear small, star-shaped pink or white flowers, often in winter. It's also a good air purifier.
The jade plant is the ideal house plant for beginners as it needs very little care. It will thrive if it is watered regularly in spring and summer, but it can cope with drought, as it stores water in its leaves.
Given the right care, jade plants can last for years. They're slow growers but can eventually reach 2m in height.
If you're looking for something a bit unusual, there are several different varieties of Crassula ovata to try, in weird and wonderful shapes. They can make good additions to a succulent collection.
How to grow a jade plant
Grow your jade plant in a bright, sunny spot. It is best to underwater than overwater – it can store water in its leaves. Water only when the top few centimetres of compost are dry. Feed a few times a year and repot every few years, in spring.
More on growing jade plants:
Jade plant: jump links
- Planting a jade plant
- Caring for jade plant
- Propagating jade plant
- Growing jade plant: problem-solving
- Buying jade plant
- Best jade plants to grow
Where to grow a jade plant
Grow your jade plant in a bright, sunny spot – it can take a few hours of direct sunshine every day. It will tolerate temperatures as low as 10°C in winter.
How to plant a jade plant
Jade plants do best in well-drained compost, so plant into a peat-free cactus or succulent compost, or a soil-based compost with some horticultural sand or grit added.
Caring for a jade plant
Water thoroughly once the top 2-3cm of compost have become dry (stick your finger in to check). Allow any excess to drain away. Water sparingly in winter.
Feed with a half-strength liquid feed once in spring, summer and autumn. Repot every two or three years in spring. If your plant has become too big to do this, scrape away as much of the compost on the surface as you can, using a fork, and replace with fresh.
How to propagate a jade plant
There are two main ways to propagate a jade plant. The easiest way is to take stem cuttings:
- Using secateurs or scissors, cut away a section of stem, choosing a section that has at least two nodes (bumps on the stem – these are what leaves and roots grow from), and some leaves
- Pluck away the leaves from the bottom of the cutting, leaving a few leaves at the top
- Put the cutting somewhere warm and dry for a few days so the cut end can harden over
- Place the cutting in water until it develops roots, then pot up into a pot filled with succulent compost or peat-free multi-purpose compost and perlite. Alternatively, plant the cutting straight into a small pot filled with multi-purpose compost and perlite, and water in well. It should develop roots within a few weeks but may look a little sickly for a while
You can also propagate your jade plant by taking leaf cuttings, although this is a slower process, and the resulting plants will be smaller:
- Gently twist off some young to medium sized leaves from the main plant
- Put the leaves somewhere warm and dry for a few days, so that the cut ends can harden over
- Place the leaves upright (cut end down) in a tray of compost filled with multi-purpose compost and perlite. Water in
- The plants should begin to form roots within a few weeks, when you can then pot them on into individual small pots
Growing jade plant: problem solving
Red edges on the leaves appear when the plant is exposed to high light levels. This is nothing to worry about.
Yellow leaves are probably due to overwatering. Reduce watering and don't let the plant sit in sodden compost – always let it drain away afterwards.
Older leaves will shrivel and drop off naturally, but if lots of leaves are dropping from your plant, it's a sign that it's under some kind of stress. It may have been moved to a different spot – if this is the case, try acclimatising it gradually. It may also have been over- or underwatered. Check your watering regime and adjust accordingly.
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Shrivelled leaves are a sign of underwatering. Give your plant a small amount of water daily – the leaves should soon plump up again.
If your plant has become leggy, it's probably not getting enough light. Move it to a brighter spot.
You may spot mealybugs on the foliage. Look out for insects that look like white, fluffy blobs on the undersides of leaves. Wipe them off with a damp cloth or cotton bud that has been soaked in an insecticide that contains fatty acids or plant oils.
Raised brown spots on the leaves could be scale insect. Wipe them off with a damp cloth or cotton bud that has been soaked in an insecticide that contains fatty acids or plant oils.
If the leaves and stems of your plant are covered in fine webbing, this could be spider mites. The upper surface of the leaf may be mottled, while mites and eggs can be seen with a magnifying glass on the undersides of leaves. Treat with a spray containing fatty acid or plant oils.
Advice on buying a jade plant
- You can often find jade plants in nurseries and garden centres, but for more unusual varieties, buy at a specialist house plant retailer or online
- Check that your plant has shiny, fleshy leaves, a good shape and no signs of pests or diseases
Where to buy jade plants online
Crassula varieties to grow
Crassula ovata 'Gollum' – an unusual plant with tubular, trumpet-shaped leaves.
Height x Spread: 80cm x 40cm
Crassula ovata 'Hobbit' – similar to 'Gollum', with red-edged, tubular leaves that are curled back, like suction cups.
H x S: 90cm x 60cm
Crassula ovata 'Hummel's Sunset' or 'Sunset' – yellow-tinged leaves that are edged with red.
H x S: 1m x 1m