In Feng Shui, the jade plant is synonymous with success. It goes by several nicknames, among them, the money tree, and a good luck charm.
It is common for a jade plant to be given as a housewarming gift. It is meant to bring good luck and increase the positive energy in the home.
When the leaves drop from a jade plant, it is not because you are out of luck. The botanical explanation for why leaves drop is easier to explain than anything symbolic.
Leaves drop from the jade plant when they are dehydrated.
As a succulent plant, water is stored in the leaves and stems. That is why they do not need frequent watering.
But, when the water is not in the leaves, the plant drops them like a hot potato.
Read on to discover the symptoms of a dehydrated jade plant, and what can cause the leaves to dry up at which point they do drop from the plant.
Why is my jade plant dropping leaves?
Leaves dropping from jade plants happen when they are dehydrated. It drops damaged leaves to make room for new growth. Leaf drop can be because of underwatering. Other causes are temperature fluctuations, or pest damage from sap-sucking houseplant pests, such as mealybugs.
As the jade plant is a succulent type, it stores water in its leaves. When too much water is stored, the leaf swells causing it to turn to mush, the stem puffs up, then it falls from the plant.
When you notice leaf swelling, hold back on watering to prevent leaf drop.
Leaves dropping from stems that feel mushy is a surefire sign of disease.
When your jade plant looks worse for wear, it can have you puzzled about why your jade plant is dying. Diseases such as stem rot and root rot are often the cause. Especially on overwatered jade plants.
When you suspect any root damage, that is when to repot a jade plant in a fresh potting mix. Damaged roots will need to be pruned off and your tools sterilized to prevent mold or fungal spores from spreading.
The natural order of plant life
Old leaves fall off jade plants naturally, paving the way for young fresh leaves to grow in.
Mature leaves die on the plant first.
When they do, pinch them off. If you do not take them off, the leaves will drop off the plant naturally.
Dead leaves fall from the bottom of the plant first.
Inspect the lower portion of your jade plant. If only the lower leaves are dropping, there will be more growth appearing in the middle. This is how the jade plant naturally grows.
When the temperature gets too hot for the plant, leaves can get sunburn. The jade plant sheds damaged leaves first. Signs of sunburn look like brown patches or dark spots on jade plant leaves.
Check the leaves that have dropped from the plant for signs of heat scorching. If it is present on dead leaves that have dropped, move the plant to a shadier location.
Despite being an African succulent, the jade plant doesn’t cope great with direct sunlight. It prefers bright, indirect sunlight making it among the best plants for south-facing windows.
During heat waves and droughts, monitor the moisture levels closely. Jade plants usually need hydrated more during hot spells.
Leaves lacking water serve no purpose. Signs of an underwatered jade plant are the leaves shrinking or shriveling then dropping from the branch.
Check the leaves that have dropped to see if they are dry and brittle. If they are, it will be the drought that has caused the leaf drop. Watering slightly more frequently will perk the plant back up.
Mealybugs and similar pests
Mealybugs are leaf-piercing pests that suck juices from plant leaves. Spider mites are another pest that causes the same damage. This can be why your jade plant leaves are drying up so fast.
All succulents are targets for mealybugs because of the high amount of water content stored in the leaves.
Naturally, these will drain the fluids of jade plants causing the leaves to drop off when they are under-hydrated.
The early signs of mealybugs feeding on plant tissue are yellowing leaves and wilting caused by the bugs feeding on the leaves.
The insects are small, oval, and white. The hotspots they hide on plants are on the underside of leaves.
If you suspect a mealybug infestation, figuring out how to get rid of mealybugs is an easy task. Dip a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol (70% isopropyl) and dab it onto the bugs. It kills on contact.
For a larger infestation, rubbing alcohol should be diluted with warm water before coating the leaves. Full strength rubbing alcohol can cause leaf burn. It will still kill the bugs, but it will also damage your plant more.
Favorable temperatures for optimal jade plant care are daytime temperatures around 65-Fahrenheit, dropping to 55-Fahrenheit at night. Drafts from being located close to doors, windows, or air vents can expose the leaves to sudden cold spot damage.
When temperatures drop to below 50-Fahrenheit, even if it is just on one side of the plant, its leaves will drop.
Similar to heat stress, the jade plant will drop any leaves that are damaged.
Frequently Asked Questions about why leaves drop from jade plants?
Should I repot my jade plant to stop leaves dropping?
Repotting is recommended when either the soil is slow draining, you suspect there is a fungus infection in the soil, or if you have a recurring pest problem.
How often do jade plants need to be watered?
The jade plant drinks more in spring and summer. It goes dormant in winter, or when temperatures drop below 50-Fahrenheit. When it is growing, water when the top inch of soil is dry. During dormancy, it only needs drops of water to be added to prevent all of the soil from drying out.
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.