We mean well, of course. We forgetful water-ers bring home a new plant and have every intention of finding the perfect watering schedule for it and nurturing it along to booming growth and good health. And then reality sets in and before you know it, it's sagging in the corner, prompting us to realize that it might be a few days (or weeks!) overdue for a long, cool drink. Sound familiar? If so,we have the perfect new plant for you...
Jade plants are cheery little succulents, fun to look at and easy to grow. With a little practice, you can even propagate them for super cute gifts. These no-fuss, slow-growing plants share the ideal growing conditions of many succulents. Here's how to care for them...
Potting and Soil
As succulents, jade plants are used to seeking water and like to drink it up. For this reason, choose a cactus mix or other porous mix of potting soil that provides good drainage. Terracotta pots are best, as they allow water to "sweat" into their porous material. You'll probably want to use a saucer for watering for holding run-off, but never let water sit in a saucer a get root rot. Re-pot plants during springtime if you want to grow them bigger.
Light, Water, and Food
While jade plants are relatively tolerant, they prefer daytime temperatures in the range of about 65 to 80 degrees and cooler nighttime temperatures. Jade plants also need bright light to avoid reaching for the sun and becoming leggy.
In spring and summer, water jade plants when the top part of the soil becomes dry. Try to avoid getting the leaves wet when you water. During winter, the jade plant's dormant time, allow the plant to become even dryer. Looking at the leaves provides a good hint about the watering needs of your jade plant: leaves that are full and glossy are those of happy plant; on the other hand, if leaves develop spots or start to fall, you're probably not watering enough.
Jade plants do not require frequent fertilization. Feed them every two to four months with water-soluble fertilizer suitable for succulents. For best results, dilute the fertilizer even more than the directions state.
How to Propagate Jade Plants
Jade plants can be propagated in two ways: through a cutting or through a leaf.
If you prefer to use a cutting, which will give you a bigger plant sooner, make a cut with a sterile knife or scissors as close to a leaf node as possible. Your cutting should be about 3 to 4 inches long. Remove stems from the bottom inch, let it callous over for a couple days, and dip it in rooting powder before planting the stem in soil. Cover with a sandwich bag to keep the plant from losing too much moisture, and place it in a shady, somewhat warm area. Remove the bag if condensation appears or after about a month, at which time roots should have formed. You can now gradually move your new jade plant to a sunnier location.
To propagate from a leaf, cut off a leaf, let the cut callous, dust rooting powder on it, and plant it in soil. Soon, roots will take off and you'll see baby leaves developing.