Jade Plant Losing Leaves and Branches

CVISAugust 15, 2013

I have had my Jade for about 10 years and love it very much. I have never had any issues with it in the past as it has always been very healthy and thrived. Over the past 2 or 3 weeks it has had a lot of issues. First I noticed sizable webs on the leaves and branches which I thought to be spider mites. They got worse and worse and I noticed leaves wilting and falling off. I sprayed the plant with Insecticidal Soap about 1 week into noticing the webs. After that I noticed that the webs were gone but the plant continued to lose leaves at a fast rate. The leaves that fell off were brown on the tips and soft. The leaves began falling off from the bast of the branch leaving only the tips with leaves as you can see from the picture. I have also noticed that there is a crystallization forming on the branches. I am not sure if this is residue from the spray of part of the issue. I desperately need help as I fear losing this plant. My last resort is going to be cutting off all foliage and hope the plant can bounce back. Thanks for your time.

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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Insecticidal soap cannot be used on all plants and jade plants are on the BEWARE list.

I see that all of the newest growth is very leggy and lank, which may be indicitive of insufficient light. A jade plant really shouldn't need to be strung up from every direction. :-)

When was the last time your plant was repotted...not to step up the size of the container, but to refresh the potting medium? And what is your fertilization routine?

When you water, do you drench the container or offer little sips? Jade will need infrequent but thorough waterings. You don't want that dense, fibrous root system to develop hard, dry sections which will allow roots and subsequently upper portions to die.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 12:27PM
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Rhizo my dear friend! You always ask the right questions and give very good direction....
Hugs from us here in my household!

Lets' see what Cvis has to say....I wish him/or her the best.....

If it were my plant, I would cut the whole thing back and followe your advice.


    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 12:54PM
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Thanks so much for the info. All of those lanky branches use to be full of leaves but all but the ones on the top have fallen off in the past 3 weeks when the webs showed up.

Since Insecticidal Soap may not be good what do you recommend for pests on a Jade?

Now for your questions.
It has been at least 2-3 years since I re-potted. What do you recommend as far as how often to repot?

As far as fertilization I am embarrassed to say it has been a while. Long story short I have moved several times this year and have slacked. What fertilizer do you recommend?

I water infrequently but when I do I give it a good amount but not so much that it leaks out of the bottom.

Like I said in my initial post I am leaning towards cutting off all of the lanky branches and foliage and basically starting over but am worried how it will bounce back and I am not sure if it will cure the initial problem that caused the problem in the first place? Thanks again, this plant means a lot to me and want to save it.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 3:33PM
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Your watering it to far to often and when you do water it's also to much water.

I dont know who made the water once a week rule, where it came from or what it's intentions where for others to grow better plants but it's WRONG.

More than agreeable too get the pruning tools and rid the stringy thin growth right down to the thicker brown stems or trunk.

Pest :
You do not want to bug spay the plant directly with anything you'll burn and scare what ever remains after mentioned punning **** includes the already not to bad looking brown trunks

What ever pest control product you choose it is VERY STRONGLY suggested (from me) to be "soil" delivered allowing roots to pass it along with watering which will carry pest stuff up to and into the rest of plant .

It's like getting a vaccine, water with pest control make the inside of the plant more immune to pest and other problems

Why prune it all the way back
Your jade and sol with ill advised watering combination made a nice very comfortable home for mites. You simply need to remove as much of the nice comfortable mite home as you can This will help the jade be less appealing for pest and also minimizes the need for pest control measures.

Mites eating the leaves off is, as they say " The tip of the iceberg"
To top it all off I'd also consider the " BOTTOM "
Inside the pot is more important than whats on the top of the pot

ASAP if not sooner re-pot this one after it's buzz cut as well IN a better draining soil and slightly smaller size pot with visually to you better drainage
As I see it it's cheap store brand bagged soil which also houses bugs and there eggs as well.

If you have the grits to re pot it then use them soak the roots a few minutes allow them to dry before re-potting in a faster draining soil

HIGHLY suggest you use primarily porous gritty substrates for your jade after some watering practices you'll not re-pot until you need again a bigger sized pot.

Yes the pot size is also to big. Does it have a bottom snap on saucer that hides the drainage hole(S) ?

This post was edited by Pots_Alot on Thu, Aug 15, 13 at 23:43

    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 11:33PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

CVIS, are you in the always-rainy/cloudy weather pattern some people have had this summer? If so, that may be why it's been happy before but struggling this year, lanky growth and using less water. That could help explain why, if the problem is that it's been too moist.

Is the pot is so packed with roots that water can't penetrate, in which case it might actually be wilting? It's so hard to tell from a pic, too dry and too wet look can look the same on the plant. This pot just looks parched to me.

If the blinds are always at half-mast, maybe it's not so bad, maybe it's leaning down toward the light? The color of the leaves is pretty good.

The trimming is not something I would do all at once, but gradually, starting with the lowest material to be removed, so it ends up looking like a tiny, well-formed tree again. The first thing to go are the flimsy green things coming from what I think are inappropriate places on the main trunk, and any in a wrong looking spot, or going a wrong direction. Then the main branches that are not right, just before the point where a branch starts to go in a wrong direction, that's where to trim it. Finish by finessing the smaller remaining branches so that anything not contributing to the overall structure in a pleasing way is removed. This is vague because we can't see the whole plant, but trimming any woody entity that has a natural general 'correct' shape to it is the same procedure.

But that's just my opinion, I like a jade that looks like a big oak tree. Some people like to trim it back to a main stick with some shorter sticks and like that appearance better.

But none of that matters, what people think. It's your tree, so what you want it to look like is what it should look like. When you have a pic in your mind of what it should and will look like when finished before making the first cut, you're ready to go with the pruner. IMVHO. I do not nor have not had a big ol' jade like that, just some much smaller ones, but have been told over the years I do a good job trimming in general, leaving a strong, pleasant foundation for rejuvenated growth.

I would think new soil after that amount of time is a great idea, but you'd want jade repotting advice from someone with more experience than me. Definitely a huge fan of chunky, porous, well-drained soil for the replacement though, no doubt.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2013 at 1:42PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Hi Mike! :-)

CVIS, the systemic pesticides recommended by Pots is not a good suggestion for spider mites. Rubbing alcohol mists can be very useful....one part alcohol to three or four parts water sprays all over the plant with special attention to the underside.

Pots also gives questionable advice about watering. All plants need to be watered very thoroughly, even drenched, on watering day. The frequency should be determined by a whole bunch of factors....size of plant and container, type of plant, temperature, type of potting medium, humidity, light, type of containers, time of year, etc.

For those plants that require a long drying out period between drenchings, I often put them in the sink or tub to water....let drain for awhile and then water again.

As far as repotting goes, it's past time. How often this should be done depends upon lots of factors, too. The 'chunkier ' the mix (good description, purple) the longer you can wait. But three years is too long. Fertilization is necessary; any soluble houseplant fertilizer is fine.

Prune first, then repot. I suggest that you refrain from cutting it severely but jade plants respond beautifully to pruning as a rule. If you use a chunky, porous mix, you don't need to change the size of your pot. I disagree that it looks too large for your plant; it needs to be large enough to support the weight of your plant.

You've had several people comment on the legginess, including in another forum. That kind of lank growth won't improve unless the plant is exposed to better light. Don't stick it outside in the full sun, but find a way to improve the sunlight situation. It might be as simple as what purple suggests.....open the blinds.

If you increase the light, all of the new growth that results from your pruning will be stocky, thick, and sturdy. Won't that be nice?

Purple....love your full of common sense comments.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2013 at 3:29PM
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First, I have added a better picture of the whole plant. Also I want to say that I am extremely grateful to everyone for taking time to help me with this. I really appreciate your passion for plants.

So what I have done so far is cut away a lot of the long stemmed pieces that were dying and heading gin the wrong direction.

I pulled the shades all the way up and moved it closer to the window. The problem with my house is there is really no place for good sun for plants. It gets about an hour or two of strong sun a day in the morning.

I purchased some new fertilizer that is water soluble but will take suggestions as when to apply and how often while the plant is in its current state? I have heard it is not good to fertilize a struggling plant but don't know that to be true?

I have plans to re-pot the plant once I have my trimming done and will use a well draining soil.

The good news is that the Spider Mites appear to be gone and whats left of the plant is doing better but still not out of the woods. The main part of the plant is still very firm and strong but the thinner stems are still soft to the touch.

Again I am REALLY appreciative for all of your help. I stumbled on this site while looking for help and I appear to be in the right place. I will make sure to keep everyone posted on the progress.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2013 at 5:00PM
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Here is a picture I found of this plant a couple of years ago with many many more leaves. This was in a different house in a different state.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2013 at 5:08PM
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it desperately needs more light. you need to get supplemental light going, a lamp at least.
and cut more spindly growth. all those green shoots with just 2-3 leaves on top should be cut back if not altogether, but at least to 2-3 nodes, leafless. jade could be cut back totally leafless, and it will regrow in one season, provided it gets good light.
it grows mainly during cooler temps: spring/fall. I don't know where you are and if it's hot, but it would be really good for you to put it outside, but in the very bright shade, no sun at all for now, at least for a couple of weeks.
I would even put it on smbody else's porch if possible ;). it won't need much watering, just make sure it doesn't rain on it. you can visit it once a week...else your current level of light will result in spindly growth and even demise.
it would be best to post in cacti&succulents - or at least search there. there's lots of info on pruning/ferts/best conditions.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2013 at 6:13PM
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Common sense is: It's not at all difficult to see the plant and it's pot are to wet regardless of where you live. It's also easy to see in the pic from the OP This jade has not been out side for a while ( And a long while at that ) EVEN inside it still has thin wiry growth reaching for and toward the sun as if it knows where to grow
( NO KIDDING imagine a plant reaching for the sun who of thought ? )

All of this was all made possible by our friend H20 in a pot that holds to much h2o by it's size and depth
TO Much of a good thing ( water) is not always a good thing for a water loving succulent that seems to know which way the sun shines even if it where in a smaller pot ( HINT HINT)

Hard prune it now or prune the rest later is optional. Either way you will end up with a much less mite filled of you prune it hard ASAP

If its mites you want to treat then go ahead it's your plant but ANY jade will respond better and sooner to a hard prune than it will a soft easy cut some now cut some later plan that still requires more attention to mites and possible foliage scares from a wipe while achieving results.

Common sense is: Enjoy plants not make them so laborious with no time to enjoy them.
Smarter not harder is:
Fewer steps for results in a shorter time, not more steps that take a longer time for results.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2013 at 10:49PM
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I know that it sounds crazy but even if there was an infestation of mites crawling in the cuttings,I would still try rooting them.

While we're at it,doesn't humidity have some adverse effect on mites?

    Bookmark   August 16, 2013 at 11:29PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Lol, you didn't tell us that you had a crystal ball, Pots...lol. I certainly can't 'see ' that the plant is too wet.....nor does the container look too large. CVIS, what's the watering situation? Is the soil soggy? It 'looks 'dry, to me. I really would like to know what kind of potting medium you use.

Asleep, it is absolutely possible to remove any mites that may be on a plant when we take cuttings...at least on most kinds of plants. The alcohol mists are very effective. Handwashing and general plant hygiene practices can prevent a reinfestation. It goes without saying that keeping an infested plant separated from others is important.

Spider mites thrive and multiply when conditions are warm and dry. High humidty merely slows them down. Maybe. Water sprays directed to the underside of the leaves can be helpful. Misting does not count as 'high humidity '.

CVIS, it looks as if your plant is inserted into the ornamental container.....a pot within a pot. Is that the case? If so, does the outer container have drainage holes? Just curious.

I worry about the possibilty of hard pockets forming within the root system ESPECIALLY when repotting has not occurred AND when water is administered in sips rather than drenches.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2013 at 6:54AM
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A ball ? in my hands if so then it belongs in yours Rhizo. you can use it to see a mite and the small bite scares it leaves behind, ever wipe a small cut on your skin with the same pad you suggest...
Imagine the burn the foliage has to recover from.. .

Common sense is also basic math The pot that is bigger holds more moisture regardless of the mix in comparison to a smaller one with the same mix BUT ONLY because the bigger pot has more area and mixture to hold water and even holds moisture longer.

What your saying Rhizo is this one "looks" to small when it's not

This post was edited by Pots_Alot on Sun, Aug 18, 13 at 9:21

    Bookmark   August 17, 2013 at 11:10PM
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whip1 Zone 5 NE Ohio

If it were mine, I would repot into a better mix. Then I would trim it, and move it outside to get more sun. Then I would watch for and treat the mites.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2013 at 9:52AM
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