Learn how to care for a jade plant inside, outdoors, and over the winter! Jade is a stunning and hardy succulent that’s easygoing, drought-tolerant, and simple to propagate.
How to care for a jade plant indoors, outside, and during the winter!
Today we’re talking jade plants, a plant I can’t believe it has taken me this long to write about! Jade is a popular succulent to have around the house, and they actually have a sweet meaning behind them. They are sometimes called a lucky plant, money plant, or money tree because they are thought to bring good luck to their owners. They are often given as housewarming gifts because of this.
Jade plants originated in the deserts of South Africa and Mozambique but arrived in Europe and America about a hundred years ago. When caring for your jade plant, remember where they come from: strong sunlight, sandy slopes, open fields, and arid conditions. They are hardy, durable houseplants, but they still need some TLC every now and then.
The jade plant (aka Crassula ovata) looks like an adorable mini tree. It’s got a tiny wooden trunk and stems that support vibrant, jade-green oval leaves. These leaves, like a lot of other succulents, are plump and fleshy to store water. Jade plants grow to be about 6 to 18 inches, but this could take a while since they only grow about 2 inches per year. But check out my mom’s monster jade above—it definitely grew more than 2 inches this summer!
General light needs for Jade plants
South Africa averages a whopping 1,000 hours of sunlight every year, so it’s safe to say that jade plants LOVE the sun. Mature jade plants thrive in 4-6 hours of sunlight every day, so it’s best if you keep them in a bright, south-facing window. A red border around the leaves is a sign you’re giving it a good amount of bright light.
Unlike other succulents that can be damaged by direct sunlight, jade plants are hardy, and only in extreme cases can the green leaves turn completely yellow from the sun. If you want to put your plant in bright, direct light, make sure to acclimate it by increasing the amount of light each day incrementally. Baby jade plants aren’t quite as tough yet, though, and should only be exposed to indirect sunlight to keep the leaves from burning.
Water and soil instructions
Jade plants can be a little tricky to water since they’re desert plants and can go long periods of time without water. To water your jade plant, let the water drain out of the bottom of the pot, then remove any sitting water. Good drainage is absolutely essential for this plant! Succulent roots are very short, so overwatering can cause the leaves to fall or lead to root rot very easily.
If the leaves start to shrivel or turn brown, that’s a sign you need to water more often, but if the leaves feel too squishy, that’s a sign of overwatering. Also keep in mind that some jade plants are sensitive to tap water because of the salt concentration, so if you notice it’s not doing so well, switch to distilled or filtered water.
During spring and summer, jade plants require more water, but you should always let the soil dry out before watering it again. During winter, water it very scarcely. It’s all relative, so you might end up watering it once a week or even once a month. Told you it’s a little tricky!
Like most succulents, jade plants need soil that drains quickly. Excessive moisture in the soil can cause fungal growth, root rot, and death. Remember they come from a desert where there’s loose, free-draining sand and soil, so their pot should mimic that. A simple cactus mix or a mix of potting soil, peat, and sand will work. Ultimately, drainage should be a top priority.
Jade plant care indoors
Jade plants are perfect for people living in apartments or small places in the city. They don’t grow fast or large, and they are relatively low-maintenance. Along with all the good fortune they’re supposed to bring, why wouldn’t you want to keep a jade plant in your home?
Pick a good, sunny place to keep your jade plant, like a south-facing window. They need at least four hours of bright sunlight. They also prefer dry, arid environments, so avoid keeping it in the bathroom or kitchen where humidity is higher.
Jade plants adapt to a wide range of temperatures, but they grow best in 65-70° Fahrenheit. Keep them away from cooling/heat vents and drafts, but aside from that they’ll grow just fine indoors. Remember to water your jade plants, but not too much. It should never sit in water, so pour off excess water after it’s drained. Be sure to wipe down your jade plant leaves to remove dust and promote photosynthesis and growth!
Jade plant care outside
How well your jade plant grows outdoors really depends on where you live. Unfortunately, jade plants don’t thrive in colder climates (below USDA zone 8). However, if you live in a warm, dry area (USDA zones 10+), jade plants will grow perfectly fine.
Jade plants have an optimal growing temperature between 65-70° Fahrenheit, so if temperatures drop below 50° Fahrenheit, bring the plant indoors. They cannot withstand frost or cold damage, so don’t forget about your jade plants in the wintertime!
If it rains often where you live, jade plants might not be the best outdoor plant. Since they are from the desert, they like dry conditions best. They require very little water and instead store water in their plump leaves. Too much rainfall will cause root rot, fungal growth, or even death.
How to take care of Jade plants in the Winter
Whether your jade plant is an indoor or outdoor one, they should usually be inside during the winter. Move them away from any cold drafts like windows or doors that open frequently. Jade plants can live in 55° Fahrenheit during the winter. If temperatures consistently drop below 50° Fahrenheit, your jade plant won’t survive the cold. Winters are very mild in their home climate.
Jade plants go dormant in the winter, so you shouldn’t have to water them but maybe once a month. A beautiful surprise are the small flowers that bloom for a short while in winter. They are delicate, starry white flowers that sprout from leaf stems. Don’t get too excited though—jade plants can sometimes take years before flowers bloom. The plant has to be in an arid, cool environment, and it must be fully mature.
Jade plant propagation
Jade plants can be easily propagated using the same methods I outlined in my post about how to propagate succulents from leaves and cuttings. The jade plant above is a jade propagation I did from a large branch cutting off of my mom’s jade plant. I rooted it in water for several months until planting it in well-draining soil. It did quite well with the transition!
You’ll also notice roots and leaves begin to sprout on your jade plant like the ones pictures below. Isn’t that cool? So if your plant loses leaves, don’t worry. The plant might take some time to do so, but it will fill back out. These areas will also grow into tiny bunches of jade leaves that you can gently separate and root to grow baby jade plants.
Jade plants can also be propagated from single leaves, but it takes a while. Remove a healthy leaf from a plant and set it in soil. Mist it occasionally, and soon roots will begin to sprout from the cut end. Then, eventually, you’ll notice tiny leaves sprouting! Whenever I lose succulent leaves, I just throw them right back into the pot on top of the soil and let them do their thing.