My jade plant looks pitiful...

mammaw123January 10, 2009

It lives outside in the summer and usually drops some leaves when I bring it indoors for the winter, but this year it's even losing some branches! I don't know if I'm over or under watering or if it's something else.

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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

More information needed!
(losing branches is real bad, though...)

First, the basics: location, soil-type, and water.

Sunny window, as bright as possible, for as long as possible.

Soil should not be dark, damp, or peaty....avoid peat moss!!! Best soils are gritty and fast-draining, which will crumble in your hand even when wet.

Water: over-watering causes root-rot. If the jade is in a peat-based potting soil, it's probably staying far, far too wet at the roots.

1) Take some cuttings now, from a healthy section of the plant. These will be your insurance policy against the loss of the plant.

2) Remove/prune away any mushy or rotten sections of the plant. This might include the trunk and the roots, so be ready for an extensive surgery. If the roots are okay, let the soil dry (see below).

3) Stop watering. Let the soil dry out for at least two weeks. If you see new growth emerging from the plant after a few weeks, then you may water again. During the winter, I only water my jades about once a month on average (no set schedule). Jades that are in very small containers need to be watered more often (maybe once every two weeks).

Any chance you could post a picture for us?


    Bookmark   January 10, 2009 at 1:46PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Loss of individual branches (usually accompanied by reduced branch extension) is often a symptom of severely crowded roots. How long since the last repot?


    Bookmark   January 10, 2009 at 3:08PM
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Mamma, you would know better if you are overwatering but there are signs you can use to estimate whether such is being done.

Plants, given good drainage soil, should empty themselves of a watering within a reasonable time. Given the size of the pot, the soil volume in it, and the size of the plant within, you can pretty well tell if you are watering sufficiently.
Then too, every watering should be accompanied by drainage.
Does your plants drain after you water.

The soil should be allowed to dry down somewhat. You again are the judge when the soil feels damp...or the point you say the plant needs water.
You can use the weight method. When, just before watering, heft the pot and plant; feel its weight in your hands and arms. Then water....water well to drainage. Allow full drainage, dump the excess and heft the plant again.
Feel the weight on your arms and hands.

Now as the plant dries, you can heft it...feel the difference and after a few hefts, you'll know whether the plant can use a watering or not.

Jade likes sunlight. At this time of season...the sun's intensity is recovering from that winter solstace (December 21) and is slowly making more sunlight available to plants.
Until June 21st, the summer solstace, sunlight will improve every day.

Jade, at this time, can be allowed to not be watered so much. Roots at the surface is a sign you are overwatering and if allowed to progress in this fashion, will create a new plant.

No fertilizer is given until new leaves form.
Get it into as much light as you can....a southern or western exposure would be appreciated.
Jade has a poor root must drain well.

Leaves that may show a hint of red at their center, suggests too much light. When seen, just draw it back some.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2009 at 7:52PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

These plants come from rocky hillsides in South Africa...where there's a lot of light. Many, many growers actually favor the red hints on their jades and actively seek to get their plants to color up.

I really don't believe that you can give jades too much light. Sunburn at the beginning of the season is one thing; but jades, once acclimated, can handle full sun.

Not only is full sun good for color and vitality, but it also encourages tight and compact growth - as opposed to leggy, etoliated, droopy growth that won't be able to support itself in the long run.


    Bookmark   January 10, 2009 at 11:43PM
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ITA with Josh on jades really can't be given to much sun or light. They grow outdoors all over here in the Los Angeles area in full sun all year. They don't burn.
I have seem some a little red just around the edges and some not.
I have seem them like trees also or very large shrubs 8-10 feet tall and 6 feet wide with 8 inch thick trunks.
They have very small root systems and topple over easily.
With the small root systems for the size of the plant they are often overpotted and over watered then they rot.
The leaves should be firm not soft and mushy.
If you could post of picture showing the size etc that would help.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2009 at 12:26AM
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Mama, Jades are succulent which mean they need little water to survive. Especially in winter.
The Jade shown was started from 1 leaf and a small cutting back in the early 90's.
My Jade gets watered once a month, sometimes less in winter..In summer it's set outside, it's main water source then, is rain. If it doesn't rain, then it gets 2-3 drinks per month.
Jades love and need sun, especially if is has red edges or any type of variegation.

When you say yours is losing branches, what exactly is happening? Are they breaking off..drooping? I don't understand.
If your Jade is in a small pot, say 4", this is a guess, but you probably should water once every 2-3 wks..It depends on room temp, sun, soil and pot material. Toni
When soil is completely dry, water. Less water is needed if it's in a cool room. Watering is best done in the morning. In fact, don't water after 2-3pm..the earlier the better.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2009 at 1:08AM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)


Congrats on such a lovely Jade plant, looks just terrific.

However, pls. be careful or perhaps don't make this overbroad (& incorrect) statement.

"succulent which mean they need little water to survive" This is not true (ex. Euph milii, succulents which require A LOT of water).

The defining chracteristic of succulents is their ability to STORE water in their stems & leaves.

That quite different than saying they need little water to survive.

& saying esp.,. in winter (when Jades are MOST active, they bloom in Calif from Nov. to February).

I appreciate your efforts to share info. & help people, but it's not helpful when you insist on repeating inaccurate info. (Not helpful to Newbies either who won't know the difference.)

    Bookmark   January 11, 2009 at 11:45AM
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I'm going to TRY to post a aware I'm a lousy photographer!I thank you all for your help, and I'm pretty sure being potbound is #1!

Well, I guess I need a lesson on posting pictures! LOL!

    Bookmark   January 13, 2009 at 1:28PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Just do a search here on posting pix, there are several explanations floating around nearby that I've seen recently.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2009 at 2:05PM
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Karen thanks for the compliment.
But, I have to disagree with you about Euphorbia millii.
It's true, millii's bloom year round, even grow, though slower, (despite location,) but during winter months, when days are short and cloudy, E. millii's soil should dry between waterings.
You don't have to take my word..Google Euphorbia millii..The sites checked, (before replying to this thread) start from to the average grower, caution, Warning, allow soil of E. millii to dry between waterings during winter months.

Since I do not live in Ca nor have I ever, I Googled Jades in Ca.
There isn't much if any differences caring for Jades, be it NY, IL or CA.
As for flowering, sun and proper watering plays an important role, but shorter days is the key.
A good number of people water their Jades once a month during winter months. Of course it depends on room temp, pot size/material, etc.
Google for confirmation.

Mamm, which site are your pictures stored? Flickr, Photo Bucket? If you use Flickr, I'll email instructions. Toni

    Bookmark   January 13, 2009 at 2:53PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

"... and I'm pretty sure being pot-bound is #1!"

I agree, at least to the extent that it should be the primary suspect. Death of individual branches during a general weakening of the plant are a classic symptom of crowded roots.

To varying degrees, the nutrient flow from roots and groups of roots tend to feed particular parts of the plant. In some woody and semi-woody plants, water from roots moves only vertically, or near vertically. In other plants, a varying degree of horizontal water movement also takes place. In these plants, the one root:one branch is less defined, but still a considerable factor.

As roots become more bound up and their function is compromised. It can be either from actual restriction of water FLOW to roots that feed a particular branch, due to other roots cutting off xylem flow; or it can be from sever compaction that limits water penetration to individual roots so that insufficient water is absorbed and the branch fed by the drought-stressed roots dies.

Since the nutrient flow downward through phloem tissues feeds roots, which in turn feed the canopy, the plant doesn't all grow at the same rate. Some roots because of their faster growth, or other circumstances, will become compromised before others. When this occurs, the individual branches that get all or the primary sustenance from the most compromised roots suffer or die first.

That is why the death of individual branches is usually an indicator that roots are tight and a repot is in order.


    Bookmark   January 13, 2009 at 3:13PM
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I use photo bucket, and the pciture really doesn't show much!

    Bookmark   January 13, 2009 at 4:13PM
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I'm making a few assumptions. I think when a plant can go out of doors into the bright sunshine and can get along famously in such light, it takes on a certain toughness, a particular liking for the amount of sun that it is given.
Being in California, sunlight is not a problem. So plants that can take a little, soon learn to take a lot. It goes with the environment, if it wants to get along, then do what the natives do. So in that sense, a jade might well be able to take the California sun and if it turns a bit red, so be it. It looks good doing it.

But we're not talking about a California jade---nor an outside one, we are concerned about a houseplant; a plant that gets sun only when the seasons give it and while it might be nice and sunny outside during such cool season, its not so sunny indoors. It can depend a lot on the home placement, on its exposure, on the amount of light the window allows and its closeness to such light.

So, when a plant is given only a certain amount of light, and is deprived of much what is still available outside, then it has to get use to what it is given.
In California, the plant might receive 5, 6, 7 or 8 hours of sunlight and it gets used to that.
Our houseplant is lucky to get 2 hours of sunlight in winter...sometimes less than that.
So it grows with an aversion of too much sunlight---it can cause burning of leaves and shows it by redness.
So what happens if such plant is given the extra extra amount and its leaves do turn red--signifying it has received much is determined by the amount of red.
Is the red bad....can it lead to harm.
By withdrawing from that extra light, the plant retains its green.

So what's the matter with green?

    Bookmark   January 13, 2009 at 4:21PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Seems lately these discussions get so unecessarily complicated it's hard to remember what the questions were (of course I'll scroll back & check).

No Toni,

Pls. read more carefully. For Euph milliis, I don't need to check the references, my 3 of these plants are right in front of me. My E. milii x moratii is in bloom now, next to a cold window in snowy NYC.

I never said I don't let them dry out btwn waterings, my objection is to your continously saying succulents don't want water in winter. I DO let these dry btwn waterings, however when I water I give them LARGE drinks 'cause that's what they want.

I was taught for E. milii types to give them far more water & fertilizer than one would think for a succulent, 'cause that's what makes the plant flourish & guess what? Since I started following that advice, the E. milii moratii blooms 10 months of the year at least.

The only point I was making about the Jades in Winter was disageeeing with the idea that they're less active in winter, since that's exactly when they bloom. Somewhere on GW, at C&S or HP, someone recently posted pix of large blooming Jade hedges (6-7 ft. tall) as one sees in Calif, blooming at this time of year.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2009 at 5:41PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

C'mon! I think you're making more than a few assumptions.

I had difficulty following or making sense of what you said (perhaps I'm dull), but I can say that "So what happens if such plant is given the extra extra amount and its leaves do turn red--signifying it has received much is determined by the amount of red." [sic] is soo wrong.

If the leaves are showing red coloring that is not a natural part of the foliage pattern, it's from a build-up of the pigment anthocyanin. This occurs when something causes growth to slow or sugar translocation is disrupted w/o affecting the plants photosynthesizing ability. A common reason is chill - growth slows while the plant is still able to carry on photosynthesis. For proof, look to early spring outdoor bed plantings. When you plant them before soils are warmer than 55* F., they often go purple as anthocyanin builds. A 'P' deficiency is another cause of red leaves - and there are a number of factors that can cause a P deficiency.

"So it grows with an aversion of too much sunlight---it can cause burning of leaves and shows it by redness." [sic]

I'm sorry - this is very wrong as well. Sun burned leaves are NOT red - DO NOT turn red. Sunburn (photo-oxidation), caused by high light intensity levels causes chlorophyll molecules to rise to a more excited state than normal. If light levels are high enough, the energy that is released as electrons in molecules return to their normal energy state may be sufficient to form oxygen (O2) radicals from regular O2. These O2 radicals are extremely reactive particles that readily destroy chlorophyll molecules. (This is the same O- radical that causes rapid oxidation in organic molecules when we apply H2O2 [hydrogen peroxide]) - you know, the stuff you bleach hair with? Evidence of the process after high light levels is seen in a bleached, whitish, or silverish appearance of the affected leaves - not red.


    Bookmark   January 13, 2009 at 5:57PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Jeannie, you wrote:
"But we're not talking about a California jade---nor an outside one, we are concerned about a houseplant"

I point you to the very first sentence in this Thread:
"It lives outside in the summer"

Mamma is obviously familiar with the acclimation process, going from wintering in the house to summering out of doors.


    Bookmark   January 13, 2009 at 7:06PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Good catch Josh!

    Bookmark   January 14, 2009 at 12:05AM
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Apparently, many discussions have grown complicated, not to mention subtle to not-so-subtle hostile.
We're discussing plants, for God's sakes, not politics. Debate is fine, as long it's done in adult fashion. Without name calling, or degrading because 'x' doesn't agree on which soil, fertilizer or light works best.

Karen, if watering and fertilizing your millii's in winter does the job, so be it. Continue what works best, watch your plants grow and flower.
In my situation, most Euphrobia millii's and Thais, all 24, plus one Spurge, are doing well..They are sitting in south windows, behind glass panes, where, on the other side, snow is falling and temperature is 0F degrees. Not counting wind chill.
Many are in flower, inluding the oldest millii, started from a cutting in 1982/3.
So, let's end with, what works for one may not work with another, and visa versa.

I care for Jades and Euphorbias in the same fashion. As succulents.
Yes, Jades bloom in autumn, despite location. Some plants, be it tropicals or succulents are winter bloomers. To name three offhand, Clivias, Cyclamen and Azaleas start budding from Jan into spring.
But as stated above, the subject was growing a Jade in a container, not outdoors in CA.

When soil is watered, for any plant, the entire rootball should be given an adequate drink. I do not believe in here and there sips. I never meant succulents should not be given any water. Reduced during certain periods, yes, but not to the point of dehydration.
Even though there are a number of people who water C&S's once a month, some even refrain from watering all winter long.
Again, whatever method works, keep it up.

Mam..I'm unfamilar with Photobucket, but most photo sites are similar. There should be a size button..Click then pick a size. Options could be numbers or named sizes, eg: small, medium, large..Then post your pic..
If you'd like, I'll go to PB to see if there's instructions. Toni

    Bookmark   January 14, 2009 at 5:08PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Toni - You miss the point entirely when you suggest that ire develops on the forums because of opposite opinions - that A doesn't agree with B "on which soil, fertilizer or light works best." That's not it at all!

Opinion is that exercise of the human will which helps us to make a decision without information - and that's what is happening. It's not about opinions, it's about people (I'm thinking of two right now) that continually set forth information that is factually wrong, often makes no sense whatever - from a scientific perspective and often from a general perspective, and can cause those new or naive enough to believe it, unnecessary problems relative to their growing experience - and they do it in such absolute terms.

Those ideas SHOULD be challenged, but when they are, the challenge is ignored or the person committing the errors cries "personal foul" and runs to the next forum to disgorge the same bad advice. If we want to speak in absolute terms, we should always be ready to back up what we say - you know ..... that 'talk the talk, walk the walk' thing. Is it fair to anyone that we should enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought?

Think about this: The greatest obstacle to a fruitful exchange of knowledge is not the ignorance of the masses but the confusion caused by the illusion of knowledge common to a few. One of the greatest gifts of true knowledge is in knowing what we DON'T know, and where the limit of our knowledge lies.


    Bookmark   January 14, 2009 at 5:50PM
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It can be anything......
I tend to err on Al's side, and please don't think I am siding, I am just telling my experience.
Mine did the same thing because it was to crowded and not getting enough water. Jades loose MASSIVE amounts of leaves if not getting watered properly, especially in a tight root crowded and yes, overly dry soil in a pot.
Google Jade plant care, and this will tell you it is a main cause.
Anyone who says to give it lots of sun, a fast well draining gritty soil, and water as needed, then we are all one in spirit right? mammwa, on this fact, all are right here!! They are right, and do so ASAP. Do not wait! :-)
We can all agree on this one thing right?

NO plant that hates wet feet , wants to be in any kind of soil that holds moister for too long and WANTS to be in a well draining gritty one, especially succulants......Agreed?

Not to take any sides, but where does anyone go wrong at least with this kind of soil??

    Bookmark   January 14, 2009 at 7:23PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

I have to agree w/ Al here, the problem is not about disagreeing or differing opinions.

Rather it's about insisting on repeatedly give bad advice, laden w/ incorrect information especially to newcomers, who unfortunately don't know better & may lose their plants because of it.

I have no problem w/ disagrements, that IS as they say, what makes a horse race.

I have a big problem w/ BAD ADVICE.

Maybe the way to go here is "This is what works for me & that's why I suggest it".

Sorry Toni, but Jades don't bloom in Autumn, they bloom in Winter, search the current pic of the blooming Jade hedge either here or at C&S.

This is a perfect example of your incorrect statement, Fall & Winter are not the same & when it comes to setting buds & waiting for bloooms that DOES matter.

If you folks remember Jeff Harris (aka Aloe Boy) & his Great Wall of Jades Where Kitties Lurk, I had the pleasure of visiting w/ him several times & usually while his 7 ft. tall Jade plant was blooming. Buds started opening after Christmas, usually lasting thru January, sometimes February. An amazing sight to behold!!

    Bookmark   January 14, 2009 at 10:27PM
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Hello everyone I'm new here, I was always told to wait until the pot splits before repotting a Jade. Well now I know why my plant is doing poorly.

Thanks for all the wonderful help.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2009 at 1:00AM
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Welcome, Ponytail grower!

    Bookmark   March 21, 2009 at 7:57PM
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