What is wrong with my jade plant?

Sian87March 17, 2014

My jade plant used to be strong and have firm, bright green leaves. It looked healthy! Now it's leaves are dull and droopy. Even the stem feels fragile. It has a south facing window with a lot of direct sunlight during the day. I've had it for about a year now. Is it possible it is acting like this because it needs to be repotted? I have maybe been watering a little too much recently... Once, sometimes twice a week although never a lot. How often should it be watered in the winter? It is on the window sill above a radiator but there is a bowl of water on top of the radiator so the air is a little humid.
Also, what is the white fuzz on the plant?
Any help would be greatly appreciated! Thank you,

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Do you know what the root system looks like (have you pulled it out of the pot). It's possible the roots have rotted and the leaves can no longer absorb any water, hence the wrinkling. Not to freak you out, but you did mention you think you may have been overwatering. I would pull it out of the pot to make sure the roots are still healthy.

White fuzz? Can you take a closer picture of this white fuzz? White fuzz sounds like mealy bug, but I don't want to tell you that's what it is without a better picture. If you have mealy bug, you will need to treat it ASAP as it can take over the plant before you know it and will spread to neighboring plants.


    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 12:50PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

When you water, do you really soak the soil or just offer little sips? I ask this because I have seen far more jade wilting from underwatering than overwatering.

These plants need to thoroughly drenched on watering day....then allowed to dry out again. If tiny amounts of water are given each time, it is highly probable that hard dry pockets form within the soil volume, where portions of the roots can die.

Should you suspect that you've been chronically underwatering any plant, it's a good idea to place the plant in a basin that will hold water as you water the heck out of your plant. Then, allow it to sit in the water in order to rehydrate the parched soil and refill flacid plant cells.

How often normal watering days should occur depends upon such factors as time of year, indoor temperature, humidity levels, size of plant in relation to the container, type of container, type of potting medium, and probably more that I'm leaving out!

Of course, overwatering causes wilting symptoms in succulents, too. That's also because of root death.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 6:01PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Yes, check the roots to be sure that the mix isn't actually dry in the middle.


    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 6:25PM
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Thanks for the input.
I think maybe the plant has root rot... The roots are dry right now but they appear moldy. And perhaps this led to it being susceptible to mealy bugs? I've attached 2 photos. Please let me know what you think. What should I do? I read in another forum that dabbing a solution of castille soap or hydrogen peroxide mixed with water on mealy bugs can help get rid of them, and repotting my plant and learning to water it more appropriately should help as well to avoid root rot in the future. If my poor jade plant has a future...

    Bookmark   March 20, 2014 at 1:27PM
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Here's the fungus on the leaves. Is this mealy bugs?

    Bookmark   March 20, 2014 at 1:29PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Don't think it's a fungus, but yes, those would be mealy bugs, the white, cottony stuff.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2014 at 3:39PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

The root-ball looks fairly typical....but I suggest that you crumble that old potting mix off, and then re-pot. Clean the leaves with a q-tip and water/rubbing alcohol. Then rinse the plant clean.


    Bookmark   March 20, 2014 at 6:57PM
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grrr4200(z3 MI)

mealy bugs, alcohol on a qtip should kill them. Keep an eye on it. Also soak your plant. Literally, stick it in the sick with the drain plugged and soak it for a few hours. The leaves are krinkled from lack of water. Mealies can take a while to get rid of so try your best to keep this guy away from other plants while you're treating it. Otherwise i'd say water thoroughly and cut the growth off after. I've done it a bunch and it rids the mealies and promotes more stem growth:) goodluck!

    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 2:25AM
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Prefferance here I would prune off all the foliage Vs trying to combat mealies

    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 8:08AM
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My preference for fighting mealy bugs is to be very aggressive in treatment because they are hard to eradicate and sometimes when you think they are gone they are just hiding. I would spray the plant down with rubbing alcohol, not use a qtip, because mealies are so good at hiding and you might miss some if you're attacking them one by one. Be sure to spray thoroughly, including the bottom of leaves and nooks and crannies.

You should also repeat your treatment every 2-3 days for 2 weeks since some eggs will hatch and the eggs are not killed by the alcohol.

Actually if you are going to be repotting it anyway you might just want to submerge the whole plant in soapy water for a few minutes , rinse and dry, then spray it with alcohol, to be thorough. Soapy water can help suffocate these creatures and get them off the plant.

I imagine most people aren't as aggressive as I am because they worry the plant will be harmed by too much exposure to rubbing alcohol, but I think it is worth the risk since mealies can kill your plant anyway - and if you don't control them they can spread to your other plants.

Another option: you might want to try taking a cutting from the jade (which you will then thoroughly clean with rubbing alcohol of course). It might be easier to start the plant over from a clean cutting than to battle mealies on the larger plant. Jades can grow new plants even from just a single leaf.

And, yes, watering a jade twice a week seems like too much to me. Jades store water in their stems and leaves, so they can go weeks without water. It is best to err on the side of keeping jades too dry than too wet.

Here is a link that might be useful: Mealy advice

This post was edited by summersunshine on Fri, Mar 21, 14 at 11:47

    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 11:42AM
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A clean plant in a freash soil VS a pest filled hard to irraticate mite plant in a freash soil only to continue to combat mites again
Insanity: doing the same exact thing twice expecting different results

    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 7:57PM
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I have soaked my jade plant in water for several hours, thoroughly cleaned it with rubbing alcohol and repotted it. I'll spray it with a diluted castile soap mixture every couple of days for a week or so too... Thank you very much for all your help!

    Bookmark   March 24, 2014 at 5:21PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

I would not use a soap or oil treatment on a Jade plant, unless the product specifically mentions Jades/succulents.


    Bookmark   March 24, 2014 at 8:27PM
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Funny part is how there are zero plants listed and zero pest on the label of rubbing alcohol

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 2:37PM
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grrr4200(z3 MI)

everything okay nomen?

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 3:07AM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)


That MAY be, but we've got an entire forum worth of folks who have ample experience w/ doing this & it being OK. I suspect Josh was coming from that kind of thinking, that unless one knew otherwise, one should look for the assurance he suggests.

Are you looking for problems?

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 12:30PM
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Granted even with the mind set of the entire forum it doesn't make it right to suggest conflicting label following suggestions.
Many ways of doing things including irradicating mites

If and when I ever have a mite problem I also have complete and total confidence that a jade will re-grow when I prune away a mite infestation while I monitor it for the potentual of more mites

When I want to know what label I should follow and what label I shouldn't follow then I'll have a problem.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 4:07PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

I don't believe anybody did suggest conflicting label following problems, so I don't know what the issue is.

Then again, I often have trouble understanding the meaning of your comments, so maybe it's just me misunderstanding -- tho' I think not.

Perhaps Greenman (Josh) will clarify further.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 4:13PM
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You didn't misunderstand...like a quilt, there's a pattern there.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 8:10PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

I've seen quite a few Jades damaged by Neem and other soap treatments, and so I simply caution folks who are considering it. Alcohol and water mixed together has never damaged the leaves of my succulents.


    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 1:01AM
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