Jade plants were trendy in the 1970s. Known as money plants, people considered them good luck, and they were often given as housewarming gifts to bestow good fortune on their owners. Thankfully the jade plant is making a comeback. This is probably due to how attractive it is with its deep-green oval-shaped leaves, thick woody stem, and the white flowers that bloom in winter. And the good news is that you don’t have to be lucky to grow jade plants. Follow a few simple guidelines, and you will be rewarded with a thriving plant that will last for years.
Under the right conditions, jade plants can live for decades, even up to 100 years. They often become a part of the family that gets passed down from generation to generation. Because of this and their continuous growth, it’s not unusual for jade plants to end up 12 feet in height and spread to over 3 feet wide. However, don’t panic as the growth rate is very slow. If you have a small jade plant, it will take many years to reach these proportions. But you will have to find somewhere in your home where your plant will have plenty of space to grow.
A jade plant needs at least four hours of natural sunlight every day to thrive. Place it in the brightest part of your home, ideally near a south-facing window. However, if your jade plant receives too much sunlight, the leaves may become a dark purple color. This discoloration will fade as the plant gets used to the light and eventually revert back to its original lush green color. Your jade plant will still grow if it’s in a slightly darker place it won’t have the chance to flourish.
Originating in the tropics means jade plants are hardy and can withstand high temperatures. The best daytime temperature is somewhere between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. However, if your money plant gets lots of sunlight and ventilation, it will even do well at higher temperatures. It’s possible to keep your money plant outside in the summer but remember to bring it inside at the first signs of frost. The lowest temperature you want to expose your plant to is 50 degrees.
Jade plants are succulents, the same genus as cacti, so they store water in their leaves and stems. If you overwater them, your luck will soon run out as your money plant won’t last long. Always wait until the top 2 inches of soil is dry before giving it plenty of water. This probably means you will only need to water your jade plant every couple of weeks in the summer and even less in the winter. If you notice the leaves starting to blister, you’re giving your plant too much water. On the other hand, if the leaves start dropping, then your jade plant is thirsty.
To take good care of your jade plant, you should feed it once every 3-4 months. You can get a special succulent fertilizer or use a balanced 20-20-20 fertilizer at quarter strength. For younger plants, consider using one with less nitrogen. If you fertilize your plant when the soil is dry, you may damage the roots. It’s therefore important to water your jade plant as usual before fertilizing it.
You will rarely have to repot your jade plant. They love their roots being crowded in together and will often be content to remain in the same pot with the same stale soil for years. And that’s lucky as mature jade plants are heavy so repotting is a big task! However, if you need to repot your money plant, do so in the spring. Use a well-draining pot and a potting mix especially for succulents with a pH around 6.0. After planting, wait a week before watering to reduce the risk of root rot.
Jade plants are one of the easiest plants to propagate. Take a stem cutting with two pairs of leaves and allow it to sit for a few days in a warm place where it can dry out and form a callous. When planting, take your cutting and place it upright in the soil. You may have to prop it up with a toothpick or some small stones.
You can also propagate your jade plant using just a leaf. After leaving it to dry out, lay it horizontally on top of the soil and cover the base of the leaf with soil. Whichever propagating method you use, roots should start to form after a couple of weeks and imbed in the soil. Wait around a month before watering the new plant deeply. Soon you will have little baby money plants sprouting which make ideal gifts for family or friends.
Check your jade plant regularly for pests that like to hide under leaves and stems, especially mealybugs and scale. Wipe them off with a little rubbing alcohol on a cotton swab or spray the pests with water. You may have to do this a number of times to rid the plant of any pest offspring. If you can’t get the infestation under control, your jade plant may not survive. It may be time to take a clean cutting and start growing a new money tree.
As well as the standard green-leafed variety, there are many different and interesting types of jade plants available:
Whichever kind of jade plant you opt for will require the same easy care regime. Look after your money plant and who knows, maybe it will bring you luck for years to come.
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