It is a pretty good guess that when you decided to grow a jade plant, the plan didn’t include asking, ‘Why is My jade plant dying?’ someday. After all, one trait that makes jade plants popular is the low-level care needed to keep them healthy. And chances are, from your perspective, you did everything right to ensure a healthy plant. But somehow, the distressing sight of your failing jade meets you every day.
Like most things in life though, unexpected events do happen to put us off balance. The good news is that, when it comes to a dying jade plant, the situation can be addressed easily if you don’t procrastinate.
In this article, we would discuss everything that could go wrong with a jade plant, the reasons they happen, some easy-to-spot symptoms of a dying jade plant, and how you can resolve them. Hopefully, at the end of the article, getting on top of the issue and preventing it from occurring again wouldn’t be a problem for you.
Why Is My Jade Plant Dying?
The jade plant, Crassula ovata, is a succulent plant native to the southern part of Africa. The tree-like appearance of the plants makes them popular as decorative houseplants around the world.
And because they require little water and minimal care to thrive in indoor conditions, they are great for newbies to cut their indoor plant’s green thumb with.
However, the jade can fail to thrive as expected or even a formerly healthy plant would start dying despite your best efforts. The are several reasons for this.
Before outlining the reasons why your jade plant is dying, let’s briefly look at the symptoms of a dying jade plant or how to know your jade plant is failing.
Symptoms of a Dying Jade Plant
Fortunately, you don’t have to look too hard to spot a dying jade plant. There are several of these indicators from drooping or wilting plant, breaking branches, and stunted growth to dropping leaves, leaf discoloration, and spots on leaves.
These symptoms don’t just appear suddenly though. For instance, the frequency of falling leaves could start off with just one or a couple of leaves every other day. This then increases to several leaves every day if the underlying problem persists.
Discoloration also follows the same pattern. The leaves start turning yellow or brown gradually before becoming endemic if something is wrong.
Keep in mind though that leaf discoloration is a natural part of the aging process. It is normal with older leaves. But it becomes an issue when younger leaves are affected.
The main takeaway here is to always pay close attention to the plant if you notice any of the above symptoms. When the symptoms become persistent, it is your plant telling you something is really wrong and you need to fix it before it’s too late.
Reasons Your Jade Plant is Dying
Now that you can easily determine if your jade plant is dying through the symptoms, the next step forward is to understand the causative factor or factors. Sometimes, a combination of factors could be the cause of the problem.
Below are some of the most important jade plant problems that can lead to a dying plant.
Improper watering or incorrect jade watering schedule is arguably the major problem leading to a wilting or limp jade plant. Many experienced folks believe that if you can nail down the watering schedule, you are unlikely to encounter problems with your jade plant.
When it comes to irrigating jade plants, over-watering or under-watering can be bad for the plant. So also is the time and season of watering. Dropping and shriveled leaves are clear signs of under-watering while limp or drooping leaves are clear pointers that the jade plant is getting too much water.
In winter, water sparingly because uptake of water by the roots is comparatively low. So giving the plant the usual amount of water needed in other seasons can lead to excess water in the soil.
You want to avoid having excess water in the soil because it creates the perfect conditions for the potentially deadly root rot.
The solution, in terms of winter watering, is to limit the amount of water. Use a very clean squirt or spray bottle to water the soil lightly when the top 1-2 inches is dry instead of flooding the pot or planter with water.
In the fall, summer, and spring, the plant would require more water. You can soak the planter with the water and allow the excess to drain off via the drainage holes.
Depending, on the weather conditions you might have to water the plant more than once a day. Again, the right path is to always water the soil when the top 1-2 inches of soil is dry.
Root rot is essentially a consequence of over-watering usually common in winter when the plant had more water than the roots can absorb. With too much water, harmful fungi grow and thrive in the root system ultimately damaging the root.
Because it usually occurs under the soil, jade plant root rot is particularly devastating. The onset of root rot is generally indicated by the leaves turning yellow or brownish and weak, and easily breakable leaves and branches.
If you suspect root rot, carefully uproot the plant to examine the root. Damaged roots would appear unsightly with black-colored gunk or slime all over the surface.
If only part of the root is affected, immediately cut it out and repot the plant with fresh potting soil in a clean planter/pot.
Using potting soil that drains properly and a planter with adequate drainage holes are factors that are crucial to the growth and health of jade plants.
If there are no drainage holes, the soil can become too moist or soggy. This of course leads to root rot. The same result is observed with potting soil that retains too much water.
The solution here is pretty straightforward. Simply change your potting soil to a premium product or add perlite to the soil you are already using. This helps loosen the soil allowing water to drain easily.
Also, check that the holes (you can only use a pot or planter with holes at the bottom) are not blocked. Clean the holes if you notice they are blocked. Alternatively, you can even drill more holes to improve drainage.
And always empty the excess water in the saucer the pot is sitting on after watering the plant.
Prolong non-optimal growing conditions such as temperature and light exposure can have a detrimental effect on jade plants.
The best temperature range for jade to grow and remain healthy is 60 – 70°F give or take about 5°F. Outside this range, the leaves start to droop, or the plants might become limp and leggy. Ultimately, the leaves would start dropping.
This is very noticeable if the plant was kept outside in the summer and suddenly moved indoors during the winter. The temperature difference can cause serious shock and stress to the plant.
While jade does love a bit of sunshine, leaving it exposed to direct sunlight can be very harmful
Here, prevention is the best solution. It’s smart to avoid taking the plant outside during the summer months if you live in very cold regions. Simply allow it to remain indoors and keep it away from heat sources such as a room heater that is a potential stress inducer.
In terms of the amount of light, consider keeping them in a shady but bright area (indirect light) with enough airflow.
Pests and insect-causing diseases cannot be ruled out. In the right conditions, your jade can become infected by mealybugs, aphids, and spider mites.
The signs of serious pests and insect infestation include yellowing leaves, stunted brown spots, falling leaves, and limpness
For serious infections, the first step is to isolate the plant from other plants and cut out the damaged parts.
Then remove the insects and pests by washing the plant path water and soap. You can also eliminate the pests by dousing the affected parts daily with rubbing alcohol using a brush or bud. Only stop when all the pests have been killed or eliminated.
Another solution is to use neem oil spray on the plant. You can make a very effective neem oil solution by mixing 2 spoonfuls of neem oil in a gallon of water. Then empty the mixture into a spray bottle to get your jade plant disinfectant.
Frequently Asked Question
Q: Why is My Jade Plant Dropping Leaves and Branches
There are several reasons why jade plants drop leaves. The most common reason though is due to underwatering. Insufficient water for prolonged periods deprives the roots of enough moisture to nourish the leaves.
Other reasons include over-watering, excessive heat or cold, and even too much or too little sunlight.