How to care for a jade plant
The jade plant is a popular house plant. Often called the money plant, it is considered to bring good fortune to the home and is often used in feng shui. Have you noticed how many Chinese take-aways have huge jade plants in their display windows?
The leaves of the jade plant are spoon-shaped and a shiny jade green, hence the name. Sometimes the leaves have red edges if the plant is kept in a bright sunny spot, but this isn’t always the case. Mature plants often produce clusters of tiny white or pink star-shaped flowers in the winter, when they are resting.
As with all members of the crassula family, the jade plant needs bright light, although not direct sunlight. Without sufficient light, the plant grows spindly, losing its compact bushy shape.
If you want to shape your jade plant, do this in spring before its active growing period. Cut away straggly bits with a sharp knife. The scars will soon heal over. Pruning helps to strengthen the roots and increase the size of the trunk to provide better support.
To water a jade plant during its growing period, thoroughly moisten the soil but allow it to almost dry out between watering. It is a native of South Africa, where there is little rainfall. During its winter rest period the soil should be just moist enough to stop it drying out completely.
While it is actively growing the jade plant benefits from a regular feed of liquid fertilizer, say every two weeks.
It copes well with a variety of temperatures but prefers to be kept cool during the winter, when it can tolerate temperatures even lower than 5C. Certainly, a jade plant shouldn’t be kept in a room warmer than 17-18C during the winter.
Re-potting, using a standard potting compost or good soil, is usually required every two years but your plant may be comfortable in its pot for even longer than that.
Jade plants are very easy to propagate. An individual leaf planted into a quick-draining soil-based mixture will root quite easily if kept in a warm bright position.
I once found a leaf that a friend had popped into the side pocket of my handbag at least three weeks earlier. It had almost completely dried out but it still turned into a lovely jade plant later on. I simply potted it, watered it well once, then let the soil dry out before its next watering. It flourishes still!
Perhaps the most usual way to propagate a jade plant is by taking a 2-3" stem cutting in the spring. Plant the cutting in rooting mixture in a 3" pot and place it in a light position, although not in direct sunlight, at normal room temperature.
Moisten the mixture thoroughly but allow the top to dry out between watering. A monthly feed of liquid fertilizer will have it well rooted within three months.
Transfer it into a slightly larger pot and you now have your beautiful new jade plant.