Is Your Jade Plant Thisty?

This time of the year it’s very easy to over-water house plants.

There is a lot less light in the winter,so most  plants including Jade Plants, will not be as actively photosynthesizing and won’t need as much water.

Over-watering has symptoms similar to under-watering.
When you give a plant too much water, it can cause the roots to become water logged and eventually die back. When the plant loses its roots, it can’t take up enough water, hence, the apparent symptom of not enough water. The well-meaning person taking care of the plant gives it even more water making the problem worse.

A Jade Plant  is able to store water in its fleshy leaves and stems. When it dries out to the point of needing water, the leaves become soft and flexible.

If you think your Jade plant needs water, gently squeeze a leaf or two.

Jade Plant

If it feel soft, it needs water. If it’s still firm, which in the horticulture trade is called turgid, no water is needed. The plant shown above needs no water, the leaf feels pretty firm.

Dry Jade Plant

This next plant’s leaves are soft and flexible, that means this plant needs water.

This squeeze-the-leaf  method works only on Jade Plants and other plants with similar fleshy leaves such as sedums and aloe.

Enjoy your indoor gardening!


48 Responses to “Is Your Jade Plant Thisty?”

  1. Joyce says:

    I just read your blog on Jade Plant and watering it. But I was just wondering how to separate them my Jade Plant is really getting big and it seem like I should separate it, but I’m scared it might die if I do. DO you have any good ideas how to do it. Thank You, Joyce

  2. Bob says:

    Joyce, Jade plants actually do quite well in a pots that would be too small for other plants of the same size. They don’t mind their roots getting crowded in the pot. If the plant starts to get so top heavy that it keeps falling over, then you may want to transplant it.
    Jade plants can be easily started from a single leaf. Just pick off a leaf and place it on the top of a pot full of half planting mix and half sand. It will soon send out roots and begin to form a new plant.
    Good luck to you,

  3. abel says:

    when we put the leave on the soil, must there be direct or undirect sun or no sun at all? i put mine on the same pot as the mother plant but they shrivel and become mushy.

  4. Bob says:

    Able, I have had the best results putting the plant in direct sun. Not all leaves will root but many will. Best of luck to you.

  5. oliver says:

    my jade plant was doing really well. then the stems started collapsing and leaves started falling. some stems were still rigid. i removed the ‘floppy’ stems and re=potted the good ones. they seem ok but the leaves seem soft too me. do they want water or have i over-watered. when i removed the ‘floppy’ stems they seemed rotten right through…help!

  6. bonnie says:

    My jade tree was grown from a cutting about two years ago so it is still rather small. I repotted it a few months ago and it put out a new top and seemed to be doing really well, but now it is falling over and I have had to stake it to keep it upright. Overall it still looks healthy. what could be the problem?

  7. rdluzen says:

    Hi Bonnie,
    I’m not sure what the problem might be with your jade but I do know that they don’t like to be re-potted very often. They seem to do better if they are somewhat pot-bound. They also don’t like to be moved very often. The problem with the trunk may spread to other parts of the plant so keep an eye out for that. Sometimes damage from a bump or a house pet may start symptoms like this. You may end up have to take another cutting and start over again if the problem spreads too far. Best of luck.

  8. mistyx says:

    Heyya :D I’ve been keeping a lil jade plant cutting for half a year now and it’s got 4 leaves. I keep it in my room by the window (but I don’t get much sunlight in the afternoon….)I water it till a bit of water drips out from the small pot once a month. Just wanted to ask, is that OK? Do I need to water it more or less/ give it more sun/ keep it warmer? Also, I moved it upstairs recently where it’s hotter and got more sun and my sister accidentally watered it for 3 days in a row (though only a little bit each time) I’m worried it’s been overwatered. It’s started growing a little bud so that might be an ok sign…it’s also got a little red tinge on the stalk…I’m assuming that’s because of the sunlight. But I did notice the leaves were rather soft though none have started falling off yet. I put a tissue underneath the pot to try and dry up the soil a little bit faster. Should I do anything else?

  9. rdluzen says:

    Hi Misty, It sounds like you are doing all the right things for your plant. Moving your plant upstairs to a sunnier location was a good idea. Always gradually increase sun exposure if you can. However, keep in mind that Aloes don’t like to be moved very often. Never set it suddenly into direct outdoor sunlight. Your plant will need a bit more water during the summer months, so check it a little more often — as described in this post. Three days in a row of water should not hurt your aloe unless it was soaked and left standing in water. Best of luck to you. Bob

  10. mistyx says:

    Ok, thanks Bob!

  11. Jennifer says:

    Hi, Bob,
    After reading through this thread of posts and responses I gathered that jade plants shouldn’t be moved around. Unfortunately I have been moving mine each day so that it can get enough sunlight. I didn’t know this was bad for it. Which is worse, getting only an hour or 2 of sunlight or being moved around the apartment on a daily basis? And, what happens to the plant as a result of the movement? (my small jade plant grown from a cutting has developed sporadic soft leaves — most leaves are firm and healthy but a few are dehydrated — no pattern seems to exist as to locations of soft leaves.) Also, I frequently turn the plant around in a circular fashion to look for gnats in the soil so I can squish them to prevent an infestation. (the gnats come in through the window screen and from my basil plant which needs frequent watering. I’m not overwatering the jade.) Should I not move the plant around like that either?

  12. Elaine says:

    OK!… I have a question.. I started out with a small jade tree that I found in the trash.. It is now about 32″ tall and in the winter I keep it in my basement with lights.. Last year and the 3 years before, the leaves were all about the same size, Now I have big leaves and many small ones. Can you tell me what is going on? Do I need more Light? It will be going out in May for the summer. Thanks!!

  13. rdluzen says:

    Hi Elaine,
    Your impression about it being related to light is right-on. In general, plants often react to lower light conditions by producing larger leaves in an attempt to capture more light for photosynthesis. Be very careful not to scortch your jade by putting it out into direct sunlight.
    Also, some jade plants don’t like to be moved, even if all of the other conditions seem to be the same.It sounds like yours has been OK with spending the summers outside.
    Best of luck to you.

  14. Elaine says:

    thanks for the reply… but I have a comment and a question at the same time.. The leaves were large, red tips at the end of summer and uniform in size when it was outside. It also blooms with lovely little white flowers ( BUT in the basement about October!) . So I don’t understand why the leaves would be large when it is getting lots of light outside. What am I doing wrong now, that the leaves are different sizes ans will the small ones get bigger outside AND should I prune some of the branches to make more light get in?/
    Thanks a million

  15. rdluzen says:

    Hi Elaine, Full sun causes the leaves to turn red around the edges of the leaves which is normal. They also need full light to bloom, all of that summer sun set up the right conditions in your plant to bloom, it just takes some time, in your case it was in October. Most plants need a period of darkness every night in order to grow normally. Set your grow lights on a timer — if you don’t already have one — so the plant gets a few hours of darkness. I would not suggest doing any pruning. If the small leaves are the newer ones, it’s very likely they will grow bigger.
    It sounds like you are on the right track with your plant. Bob

  16. Elaine says:

    Thanks BOB! So the small leaves will grow bigger, for some reason I didn’t think that, as they have been that size for months. I have the timer on the plant for probably about 18 hours.. As soon as I can get someone to help me I am going to get it outside since the temps are above 50 now. I wanted to prund for shape, but you are telling me not to. I wanted to prune to let in some light, but again you tell me not to??

    Best, Elaine

  17. rdluzen says:

    Hi Elaine, Whether or not you decide to prune your jade, can you report back here in the fall to let us know how things worked out? It would be interesting to follow your progress.
    Good gardening to you! Bob

  18. Elaine says:

    Hi Bob,
    thanks so much. I put the jade tree out yesterday.. with the aid of a dolly and a friend! I gave it a good water, on the leaves and in the pot, gave it a small bit of food and said, Have fun this summer! It is already more humid than in the house. I also gave it a small prune to even it our and I cut the small branches away that were curling downward. The temps are in the high 50′s at night now. I would love to get back to you.. Thanks for asking..
    What state do you live in?

  19. Rebecca says:

    Hi everyone,

    I have a beautiful jade that has been doing well for several years. I noticed last week that the leaves have turned a dark green and are drooping downward. They are also pretty mushy and a bit wrinkly. The stems, however, are still very strong and sturdy. I have read a lot about both under-watering and over-watering, and I can’t tell which my plant is suffering from! Please help, I love this plant.


  20. Elaine says:

    Hi Rebecca, there are better experts than me but, have you water your plant lately? If you haven’t for a long time and the dirt is very very dry way down deep, give it a very through watering. The water should be running out the bottom. And then let it go pretty dry before you do that again. If you have been watering it and the dirt is damp.. thern you have given way too much water…. let it dry out…. NOW if BOB is here, please feel free to correct me!!!! Elaine

  21. Rebecca says:

    Hi Elaine,
    Thanks for your response! The “soil” is all large wood chips (that’s how the plant was given to me) so it’s difficult to tell if it is dry. I gave the plant a thorough watering yesterday but it looks pretty much the same this morning. I will let it dry out for 2 or so weeks before watering again, I’m just worried something else is wrong! Leaves are still wrinkly, soft and thin, and facing downward.


  22. Elaine says:

    rebecca I think that leaves like you have means it needs water.. It need to be watered thoroughly… wood chips don’t allow any retention of water at all. It is what they use for orchids. google ” what soil do I need for jade plants” and see what comes up. make sure that it is well soaked. and then leave it along. the leaves will perk up in a day or so

  23. Elaine says:

    by the way you can tell if it need water,,, poke your finger into the chips it will be dry or not.

  24. rdluzen says:

    Rebecca, Virtually all problems concerning jade plants start in the roots. Usually over-watering or poor drainage is the cause. The mushy leaves you describe is not a good sign. It may be the beginning symptom of a stem-rot. We sometimes see this on (older) plants that get moved around. Eventually the plant starts losing stems. When that happens there’s really nothing you can do except start cuttings taken from a healthy part of the plant. Use a well-drained soil mix for your new plants — not wood chips. A commercial house plant soil mix will be OK — especially if you add some coarse grit to the mix. As far as watering goes, follow my suggestions in the blog post. Let’s hope that it is not stem-rot but just a watering problem. At this point, I would at the very least, start some leaf cuttings just to be on the safe side. Good luck to you. Bob

  25. Rebecca says:

    Thanks so much Elaine and Bob! I truly hope it’s not root-rot but I will take it out of the pot to see… what exactly does root rot look like and how will I know which part of the plant has healthy roots?

  26. Elaine says:

    Thanks for coming to the rescue Bob. My jade tree is doing well.. any way to put a picture for you to see??


  27. rdluzen says:

    Rebecca, Healthy roots are normally white or light tan in color, unhealthy or dying roots are brown. As the roots die, fewer and fewer are visible. Starting a few new plants from leaf cuttings is still good idea even if your plant is healthy. At the very least you’ll have some new plants to give away to friends. Good luck. Bob

  28. rdluzen says:

    Elaine, The easiest thing to do is post a photo on flicker or other photo hosting site then, include a link to it in a reply here on the blog. Glad to hear your plant is thriving. Bob

  29. Jessica says:

    Hello there! I have quite the question about my “larger” baby jade. I have many succulents and my baby jade came to me quite a while ago with a white powdery look to the leaves. When I asked a local store they said it was a scale and it was fine. Recently my other plants became infested with fungas gnats. So I bought a fungicide/pesticide after all my natural treatments didn’t work. I brought all my 8 plants that were infested outside, (in the sun :( ) and sprayed them for the seven days. My plant didn’t like the full sun so I put it in a back room with bright light and now, it seams ok but everyday I notice various leaves turning black, shriveling and falling off. It’s a shame because its so big. I also was wondering how often to water during the summer and how to prevent gnats? Sorry this is so long but I don’t want to loose a plant friend. Thank you, Jessica

  30. rdluzen says:

    Hi Jessica, It sounds like you are on the right track with taking care of your plants. One thing you have to remember is plants need to be introduced to full sunlight gradually. One hour the first day, a little more time the second day and so forth. It may take a couple of weeks. Otherwise, the leaves will get scorched from the intense sunlight, similar to a person getting a sunburn. The darkening leaves is most likely sun scorch. As far as how much to water, follow my sugestions in this blog post. You need to feel the leaves to tell if the plants need water or not. Good luck to you. Bob

  31. Jessica says:

    I do have a quick question tho Bob. I noticed even though I put it in a good location there are perfectly healthy leaves still turning black and shriveling up and falling off. And I still have spider mites and gnats on my other succulents. Any ideas?

  32. rdluzen says:

    Hi Jessica, When jade plant get older, a small percentage of leaves shrivel, turn black and fall off — that is a normal part of their life-cycle. Spider mites thrive on plants with dry leaves in low humidity. A good way to keep the spider mite population down is to regularly spray the tops of the plants with water. This washes them from the plant and helps raise humidity. You can control fungus gnats by re-potting. When the potting mix “wears out”, it leaves behind broken down soil and decaying plant roots which makes a the perfect environment for fungus gnat larvae. The larvae live in the soil and later turn into the adult flying gnats. If you have already re-potted your plants recently and still have fungus gnats, apply a product called “Gnatrol” to the soil. Spray the flying adults with with something like “Ortho rose and flower insect killer”, that stuff also helps kill spider mites. Best of luck. Bob

  33. Jessica says:

    Thank you again Bob that REALLY helps!

  34. May says:

    Hi Bob,
    I have a jade plant at home which does not get much sunlight as my house is north south facing.

    The leaves are soft and falling off quite a lot. The soils look dry. I have not been watering it for about a month as previously my jade plant died due to over-watering so this time, I do not water it that often.

    Now even the stems are falling off (those thin small ones on top). What is the problem?


  35. rdluzen says:

    Hi May, It can be a little frustrating trying to get the water just right for jade plants. Generally, they need more water in the summer be cause they are more active with photosynthesis in the summer. Gently squeeze the leaves to see if the plant needs more water. Soft, wrinkly leaves means it need water. If they are plump and firm, they still have enough water. Best of luck to you.

  36. May says:

    Yup, it is frustrating trying to figure out how much water the jade plant needs.
    I thought jade plant is the most difficult plant for me to grow!
    Thanks a lot for your advice. I will practice that :)

  37. Tom LaForest says:

    Hi Bob. I have a beautiful Jade plant and have recently moved from Michigan to Arizona. I’m in the 86442 zip code and usually winter nights will see a temperature of in the lower 50′s. I’m curious if I can put this plant in the ground vs leaving it in the pot? It is currently on my patio on the north side of my house and the plant gets only a couple hours of direct sun light. I have Aloe planted in the ground in this same area and it does very well. Would I expect to see the plant do very well if I put it directly into the ground, or would I be better off leaving it in the pot?

  38. rdluzen says:

    Hi Tom, Jade plants can be damaged when the temperature drops below 40 degrees F– although plants that are accustom to living outdoors may do OK during a cold night. Because of an outside chance that you might get a cold snap one of these days, I suggest you leave your jade plant in its pot so you can move it inside if necessary. Best of luck to you. Bob

  39. Gabby says:

    I have over-watered my jade plant. It has dropped a 3-4 inch limb. Can I save the fallen limb? How can I “dry out” the plant??

  40. rdluzen says:

    Hi Gabby, If that limb is soft and mushy, it is not savable. If it is firm, make a sharp cut at the good part of the stem and root it in potting mix. To dry out the plant remove it from its pot for a couple of days. Put back in the pot when it is dry. Best of luck. Bob

  41. Gabby says:

    Thanks :)

  42. Ky says:


    Would you recommend providing supplemental light to my jade during the winter / early spring? My dad gave me his 40 year old jade from his office when he retired from his job. We lost about 1/2 of it on the move, 1/2 again last summer and 1/2 again this fall. I have a great looking, healthy plant now, but it is small in comparison to the original. I have several cuttings growing just in case the unthinkable happens, but I was wondering if anything in general could be done to ensure the life of the plant. Currently, it is needing water about once every 1.5 months. It is in a fairly large pot although the plant itself is not as robust as it once was. For this reason, I have been worried that it might take too long to dry out the soil. Thoughts?


  43. rdluzen says:

    Ky, Sorry for the late reply. Jade plants like to be in bright light conditions, so extra like would help in your situation. Keep in mind that Jade plants need a little “down time” that is, a rest period. They don’t need much water in the winter– as you are finding out. Start watering more spring approaches. Also,dry indoor conditions during the heating season is just what the doctor ordered for jades. Finally, they prefer pot-bound roots. I’m glad to hear you took cuttings. Often it is difficult to bring back jades once they start to decline. Best of luck to you. Bob

  44. Elaine says:

    Hi Bob, You asked me to get back to you and I am happy to do it… MY jade is doing great! It is in all winter under about 18 hours of light.. But it always blooms in the winter which is in the basement so I really don’t get to enjoy…. Can I change the time it bloom!!? thanks for all the great answer to everyone!

  45. Becca says:

    Hi I have a jade plant that has been doing very well in my window of my bedroom
    but within the last week a few of the leaves are getting brown around the edges
    And some are getting brown in the middle of the leaves. It gets light all day but not direct
    Sun light. It has lots of new leaves and I only water it when the leaves feel soft. So I don’t know what I’m doing wrong……. please help I love jade plants and I don’t want to lose it….

  46. rdluzen says:

    Hi Elaine, Good to hear from you. I’m glad to find out that your jade plant is doing so well. I’m not sure if you should try to tinker with the bloom time when so many other people have never even seen a jade plant in flower! Thanks again for sharing your experience with us.

  47. rdluzen says:

    Hi Becca, Have you been fertilizing your jade? if so, how much? Do you have hard water? Water with minerals in it? It’s possible to get a soluble salt build up in the potting soil that will cause these kind of symptoms. Flushing distilled water through the soil will dissolve some of the excess minerals and carry them out as it drains away. I hope this solves your problem. Best of luck to you.

  48. Elaine says:

    you are welcome!! going to try to go to Flicker and send a link soon, you have been so generous with everyone tht has asked for help!! Thanks!

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