Given that we’re living through one of the deadliest pandemics, we could all benefit from some good fortune right now.
Perhaps you have a “lucky recipe” that you keep to yourself. Or you prefer to watch out for a shooting star to know that times will get better.
A much easier way to invite those fortune vibes while also sprucing up your home is to add a Jade plant.
An evergreen succulent, it’s also known as the money tree, money plant or lucky plant.
Granted, there’s no scientific evidence that this plant attracts wealth and fortune. But one thing I can assure is that it will certainly uplift your spirits when you’re feeling low.
To get the most out of this plant, we’ll look at how you can extend its life. And if you already have a Jade plant that’s not doing well, you’ll learn some of the reasons why it’s dying.
Causes of your Jade Plant Dying
If your jade plant isn’t doing as well as before, there could be a couple of reasons. Overwatering, insufficient lighting, improper fertilization and very low temperatures are the most likely culprits. In addition, pests like mealybugs and spider mites can also cause your plant to die.
One area where a lot of gardeners go wrong is with their watering schedule.It’s easy to get excited about watering your new plant that you end up going overboard.
Unfortunately, adding too much water, or watering too frequently, causes its roots to rot and ultimately, die. Once this happens, the plant is not able to absorb water and nutrients, and this causes the leaves to start yellowing and wilting.
Interestingly, these are the same signs that you’re likely to see when your jade plant is underwatered.
But it’s important to distinguish the two so that you can respond accordingly. The easiest way to go about this is to do a simple moisture test on the soil.
Poke your finger about an inch deep to check whether it’s wet or dry to the touch.
If it’s the former, you’ll want to wait a few days before adding any water. If it’s the latter, give your plant a good soak and leave it to dry.
If your plant is sitting in waterlogged soil, and then slowly starts to show signs of overwatering, you might be wondering whether it’s possible to revive it.
The answer to this is yes. However, you’ll need to act quickly to prevent the entire root system getting damaged.
Gently remove the plant from the soil, and shake off as much soil as you can from the roots.
Get rid of any roots that have already started rotting to curb the spread.
Next, place your jade in a pot of freshly-prepared soil, and ensure that it only has healthy roots left before planting.
Another factor that can cause your jade plant to die is if it’s not receiving enough sunlight.
Here’s the thing, the light requirements of this plant differ depending on whether it’s planted in an indoor or outdoor space. Here’s a brief explanation of both scenarios:
Growing Jade outdoors
Jade plants ought to be exposed to a decent amount of sunlight to facilitate growth. Without this, the plant will become leggy, and it may suffer from stunted growth.
If you live in a warm area, where you’re able to keep the plant outdoors throughout, then you should place it in a spot that receives full sun for at least four hours everyday. However, if the sun gets too hot in the afternoons, then you should place it in a partially-shaded area.
Growing Jade indoors
If you’re growing your Jade indoors, you’ll need to look for a location that receives bright natural light. A south- or west-facing window would be ideal for this.
But if you don’t have access to natural light, then ensure you place your plant close to an artificial light source. Should you decide to use fluorescent lighting, then consider a two-bulb setup.
One of these can be a cool-white bulb and the other a warm-white bulb to provide your Jade with a full light spectrum.
Extremely Low Temperatures
Jade plants thrive in areas where the temperatures are warm. This explains why they hail from South Africa, a country that experiences sunny, dry days for the most part of the year.
That said, the plant is also considered to be hardy. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, it falls in the hardiness zones 10 to 11; meaning it can survive temperatures ranging from 30 to 50°F (-1° to 10°C) in winter.
But, it’s important to note that not all Jade plants are that hardy. Frankly speaking, the majority can’t put up with temperatures below 40°F (4°C).
In fact, if exposed to frosty weather, ice crystals begin forming in the plant’s cells, inhibiting efficient flow of nutrients and water. Without the necessary nutrients, your Jade slowly starts wilting, and eventually, dies.
Whenever possible, keep the temperatures between 65 and 70°F (18 to 21°C). If you’ve planted your Jade outdoors, be sure to bring it indoors when winter sets in. And even then, protect it from cold drafts by keeping the blinds and windows closed.
Improper Fertilizer Application
Another factor that kills jade plants is wrong application of fertilizer.
For the most part, jade plants are low-maintenance. As such, they only require fertilization during their active growth stage, which typically occurs in spring and summer months.
Applying fertilizer between November and March, which is when the crop enters dormancy, the plant is not able to absorb these nutrients. The fertilizer remains in soil and overtime, it can accumulate to levels that end up damaging the root system.
So before using any kind of fertilizer, first check if it’s showing any signs of new growth. For instance, you should be able to see new leaves starting to form on the branch tips.
The only time you can fertilize Jade plants during winter is if you’re certain of its capability to bloom in that season.
Also pay attention to your timing of the fertilization after repotting. A desirable trait of this plant is that it doesn’t mind being root-bound. But, ultimately, you’ll have to repot it.
In fact, you’ll realize that as it matures, the top growth becomes quite dense and bulky to the point that it can tip over the pot if it’s light.
To avoid this, it’s good to transfer it to a larger container. Once you do, avoid fertilizing for the first three to four months. Applying fertilizer at this juncture can burn any new growth, reducing the chances of your Jade plant ever-growing.
One other thing you’ll want to be mindful of is the approach you use when applying the fertilizer. The proper way is to add the fertilizer directly in soil and not on the plant.
Spraying the product elsewhere, say on its leaves or stems, can result in fertilizer burn. Also be generous when applying the fertilizer. This will allow the solution to be distributed within the soil evenly, with the excess being let out through the drainage holes.
Another rule of thumb when fertilizing Jade plants is to water both before and after the application.
Failure to water the soil before adding fertilizer can cause damage to the roots. Besides, watering is crucial to ensuring that the nutrients are absorbed effectively.
Jade plants are mostly trouble-free. But this doesn’t mean that they can’t get attacked by pests on occasion. Here are the most common culprits:
A close cousin on aphids and scales, mealybugs can wreak havoc on Jade plants, especially those planted indoors.
When they strike, they’ll appear as colonies of white, sticky sacs that attach themselves to the axils.
These pests like to feed on the leaves, which causes them to wither and droop. Even worse is their tendency to excrete a substance called honeydew. The honeydew then creates a hospitable environment for the formation of sooty mold fungi.
Another culprit that can cause your plant to die is a spider mite. The biggest problem with spider mites is the way they attack in masses.
These insects live in colonies, and a single colony could have hundreds of them. It means that if there’s one or more colonies that have attacked your Jade crop, you’re dealing with a full-blown infestation.
When living outdoors, these pests’ peak reproduction occurs from June through to September. So one way to avoid them is to bring your plant(s) indoors during this time.
Tips to Prevent your Jade Plant from Dying
When it comes to watering Jade plants, less is more. Even though it may require a little more water in summer and spring, watering only when the top inch of soil feels dry is the way to go about it.
In that regard, I have found that you only need to water once or twice per week. Moreover, always use filtered water whenever possible. Tap water is high in salts and minerals, which can build up over time and damage your plant.
Go for a pot with good drainage
Along with watering when necessary, pick a pot that allows the water to drain properly. I like to use terracotta clay containers because of their porous and fast-drying attributes. Other clay-based pots will work well too.
Place your Jade plant in indirect sunlight
Although this plant prefers warmer temperatures, this doesn’t mean that you should expose it to direct sun for long hours at a time. This can scorch its foliage as well as cause the leaves to have red tips.
Aim to expose it to indirect sunlight for just four to six hours. You can move it around to meet its lighting requirements.
Exercise pest control and prevention
As we mentioned earlier, pests are one of the reasons why your Jade plants might start dying. So to avoid these, you should have precautionary measures in place.
For one, always keep your plant(s) in a fairly warm place. A lot of bugs thrive when the temperatures are cold, so doing the opposite can keep them at bay.
Also, inspect your Jade plant thoroughly before buying. If you notice any signs of distress or pest infestation, then don’t buy it or find another seller.
On the same note, always plant or transplant your Jade into a clean pot. If you’ve bought one from the market and are planning to set it up in your living room, then use a container that’s well cleaned.
This way, you’re certain it doesn’t have any disease-carrying agents that can be passed on to your plant.
Jade is one of the most forgiving plants. But this doesn’t mean that you should completely neglect it and leave it to its own devices.
To prevent it from dying, ensure you water using the correct technique and frequency. Also, don’t go overboard with the fertilizer, especially after repotting. A repotted Jade shouldn’t be fertilized until after three to four months.
Moreover, keep an eye out for bugs like mealybugs and spider mites, which can wreak havoc on your plant. And whenever possible, place it in an area with relatively warm temperatures.
Taking care of houseplants and gardening are my greatest passions. I am transforming my apartment into an urban jungle and am growing veggies in my indoor and outdoor garden year-round.