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Why Do I Have A Leggy Jade Plant? The Answer

Why Do I Have A Leggy Jade Plant? The Answer

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Jade plants are common indoor houseplants, mainly because they’re easy to grow. Being a succulent means it requires less attention from you.

Historically, jade plants have been said to promote prosperity and good luck.

However, Jade plants more often tend to stretch in between the leaves and become leggy.

This brief article will discuss some of the causes and solutions to a leggy jade plant and prevent such a situation.


Why do I have Leggy Jade Plant?

Jade plants become leggy due to insufficient sunlight. A lack of sunlight causes leaves to become elongated as it seeks to access sunlight. Common solutions involve pruning leaves, placing your jade plant in a position with sufficient sunlight, using a grow light, and reducing the temperature around the plant. 


Leggy Jade Plant and Insufficient Sunlight

Sunlight is an essential component of healthy and steady plant growth, development, and reproduction.

Sunlight helps in the process of photosynthesis which is responsible for producing energy for the plant. The energy is used for growth.

When there is insufficient light to the plant, the plant can have a natural response to the situation. Some plants tend to grow towards the smallest light amount.

Some wither and turn yellow; others thrive in a sickly manner, while some just dry up and eventually die.

However, the jade plant has a different response to inadequate sunlight. Jade plants usually become leggy when they are unable to access light.

This is a natural response to a lack of light that causes the leaf nodes to elongate unusually. Jade plants are naturally upright, compact, and dense-looking.

Once they are denied sunlight, jade plants begin to look unhealthy and scrawny. The stems thin, and the green color of leaves and stems gradually lightens.

This principle is a scientific phenomenon known as etiolation, an automatic response to poor lighting conditions.

Etiolation can be explained as a mutation of plants used to conditions of partial or total darkness.

The maturing leaf tips are usually growing towards sunlight as a natural pattern of survival for photosynthesis.

When there is a lack of light, the plant secretes phytohormones which stretch the jade plant’s stem in an attempt to reach sunlight.

In situations where a plant finds itself growing in a shady area or amid a canopy of other plants, etiolation will help the plant survive until it starts receiving adequate sunlight.

Etiolation occurs rapidly because if the plant cannot access light for long, it will die.


Effects of Legginess on a Jade Plant

When the jade plant becomes leggy, it may be disadvantageous because:

  • The leggy jade plant reduces the quality of your home’s aesthetics since the plant does not look dense and bushy as before.
  • It may also reduce your morale since all efforts are now turning out to be “useless” against such a natural response. You might have given the plant a lot of nutrients and adequate water, but it still shows signs of etiolation.
  • Leggy leaves may prevent new growth
  • Red edges or red tints on the fleshy leaves disappear
  • The plant slows down in its growth to focus on etiolation


How to Fix a Leggy Jade Plant

The following are some of the tips you can use to fix your jade plant:


Use Selective Pruning or Pinching Off Growing Tips on Stems

You can prune overgrown sections and leggy branches to control leggy plants. Pruning can also enhance the aesthetics of the jade plant.

You could select leaves that have thin and sickly sizes or appearances.

Jade plant leaves are succulent and lean stems may be unable to support the thick leaves.

Using sharp shears or bonsai pruning shears, cut off the stem at its base carefully while avoiding damaging other parts of the plant.

It’s recommended not to prune jade plants under 1 year of age. You may also consider pruning in the spring or summer when the plant’s actively growing to replace the lost leaves.


Place the Plant on a Window Area or Taking the Plant Outdoors Once in a While

If you notice your jade plant becoming leggy, place it on a window sill or close to a transparent wall that can let light through.

After setting it there, observe the sunlight conditions once in a while to note when there has been no adequate sunlight for long.

If you can find time, you could consider exposing the jade plant to sunlight outside for several hours a day.

Take care, however, to avoid damaging the leaves during movement, or carrying pests from the outdoors into your home.


Use a Grow Light

LED or fluorescent grow lights are an excellent artificial solution to providing light to the jade plant.

If the plant is in a room without windows and doesn’t receive enough sunlight, consider using a grow light to supplement the needed light by the plant.

During winter, lesser sunlight causes the jade to be leggy. Grow lights come in size and cost variations to fit your space and budget.


Provide Primary Care to Promote Foliage Growth

As you expose your jade plant to sunlight, ensure you do not neglect watering the plant adequately and adding fertilizer to the plant to encourage new growth and dense leaf formation.


Reduce the Room Temperature

Jade plants grow faster when the weather’s warm and slower when it’s cold.

When sunlight is low for a more extended period, consider moving the plant to a cooler room, slowing down growth to prevent etiolation due to poor sunlight.


Frequently Asked Questions About Having A Leggy Jade Plant


What to do with the jade plant cuttings?

The propagation of jade plants is made using cuttings, and you can use the pruned stems to create new jade plants. Directly insert the cut ends into the soil. You could also use them as compost.


How do I prevent my jade plant from becoming leggy?

Since lack of adequate sunlight causes legginess, you can prevent this condition by exposing the jade plant to several daylight hours daily. You could try placing the plant close to the window area to ensure it receives natural sunlight or use an artificial light source such as a grow light to supplement the sunlight. You should also consider taking care of the plant well by watering adequately, providing needed fertilizers, repotting, and pruning frequently.



With these tips, it now becomes easier to understand why you have a leggy jade plant. However, it is easier to prevent your jade plant from becoming leggy rather than solving the effect when it arises. Just ensure you provide adequate sunlight, and the plant will thrive as expected.