The Jade plant (Crassula ovata), is a treasure in many homes. It’s completely easy to grow and has adorable features. This succulent has shiny thick leaves that sprout from strong woody trunks. Jade can live for decades and become a family heirloom. Some cultures see this plant as a symbol of good luck.
Native to South Africa, jade plants are adapted to warm conditions. Like most succulents, jade stores water in their leaves and stems. So, they don’t need to be watered too often. They like a bit of direct sunlight, at least 6 hours per day in a south-facing or west-facing window.
Jade plant drooping is commonly a sign of distress due to overwatering, underwatering, incorrect temperature, root bound or pests, and diseases. Now I’m going to explain how these issues affect your plant and how to fix the drooping or shriveling jade plant leaves.
Overwatering is the leading cause of death for many houseplants. Succulents, including jade plants, can store water in their stems and leaves. This means they can go for an extended period without getting thirsty. As such, gardeners are required to water them infrequently.
Watering too often and poor drainage keeps the soil excessively wet, which stops the roots from breathing. As a result, they suffocate and die. Additionally, soils that are constantly wet promote the growth of bacteria and fungi that cause root rot.
When roots rot, they stop taking up and supplying water, nutrients, and air to the plant. This results in poor growth, shriveling, and eventually death of the plant. So when jade plant leaves are drooping, inspect the soil for overwatering and also check if the roots are damaged.
How to save your plant
The easiest solution to the problem of overwatering is to allow the soil to dry completely before watering your plant again. Once the excess water in the soil evaporates or drains away, your jade plant will start showing signs of recovery.
However, in a case where roots are already damaged the plant may not easily recover. Your best bet is to repot it in fresh potting soil. But before that, remove all the damaged or rotten roots and clean the plant before replanting.
When repotting your jade plant, use porous and well-draining soil preferably cactus or succulent mix. Alternatively, make your mix by combining two parts of regular potting soil with one part perlite and one part sand. Make sure the pot has drainage holes at the bottom.
Although jade plants can go for extended periods without watering, it reaches a point when all the water reserves get exhausted. The jade plant leaves wrinkling is one of the signs of severe dehydration. Although better than overwatering, the plant may eventually wilt and die.
Plant cells need water to remain turgid. Water also translocates important minerals across various plant tissues. Plants also use water for photosynthesis and cooling. However, you need to strike a balance when hydrating succulents to avoid underwatering and overwatering.
How to water your jade plant
To provide a balance, water the jade plant when the 2 top inches of the soil feel dry. This probably means watering once every 2 to 3 weeks. But this may depend on the size of the pot or the plant and the climatic conditions of your region.
The frequency of watering plants can increase during the dry or hot summer months. In fall and winter, succulents need less watering. Larger plants may also consume more water as compared to younger or smaller ones.
The best way is to check the moisture content of your soil before watering. You can use a moisture meter or stick your finger in the soil. If the top layer feels completely dry, water the succulent until water runs through the bottom of the pot.
However, don’t let the plant sit in any standing water. The water will be absorbed back into the soil and get it excessively wet.
What about bottom watering?
Bottom watering is also a good way of hydrating succulents. You can place the plant pot in a bowl half filled with water. The soil will begin to absorb water through the holes at the bottom of the pot. In about 10 to 15 minutes, the plant should be fully watered and you can remove it from the water.
If bottom watering is not reaching the top, there is a great possibility that your potting soil is extremely compacted or the holes at the bottom of the pot are blocked. The best solution is to repot the plant in fresh potting soil, either succulent or cactus mix.
Although the jade plant loves plenty of sunlight, a hot scorching sun can overwhelm the plant and make it appear limp. This plant won’t tolerate cold temperatures below 50°F. Jade plants do best with daytime temperatures between 65 and 75 ° F, but slightly cooler temperatures at night – 50 and 55 ° F.
When growing a jade plant indoors, make sure it receives at least 4 to 6 hours of direct sunlight. South-facing or west-facing window is the best place for your jade plant. However, avoid sunburn on your jade plant, provide shade during the hot afternoon when the sun’s rays get intense.
How to fix your plant
If your jade plant is drooping due to hot temperatures, the best solution is to relocate the plant to a cooler place. Additionally, check if there is some moisture in the soil. If the soil is dry, water the plant generously and place it where it can receive bright indirect sunlight.
During winter, relocate your jade plant to a warmer place. Temperatures below 50°F may damage or kill this succulent. Indoors, protect it from drafty windows, vents, and heating sources. If the room is not receiving enough sunlight, add artificial succulent grow lights to supplement the natural light.
Pests and diseases
The Jade plant is pretty resistant to pests and diseases. You’ll often be dealing more with dust on the plum lustrous leaves than pests. However, it’s important to inspect this plant regularly for insect pets. Mealybugs in particular is a common problem on jade plants.
What to do
If you notice any white fuzz on your succulents, wipe them off with a paper towel sprayed with rubbing alcohol. Insect pests including aphids, spider mites, and scale can feed by sucking nutrient-rich sap from succulents. This can cause the plants to look droopy and sickly.
Diseases are rare on indoor jade plants but poor growing conditions may cause problems like root rot, bacterial soft rot, or powdery mildew. As said, root rot is majorly caused by overwatering or poorly draining soils. Infrequent watering and thorough inspections can help prevent root rot.
Bacterial soft rot is a disease caused by a bacterial pathogen called Erwinia. It causes plant tissues to rot and collapse from the inside out. If caught early, this disease can be treated. Cut the affected parts with a clean sterilized knife and dispose of them immediately.
Powdery mildew is also common in plants grown in dark damp conditions. It is caused by the fungus Sphaerotheca. Signs of this condition cause white scabs or corky areas on the leaves and stems of the plant. Treatment ranges from proper cultural practices to the use of fungicides.
If your jade plant has been in the same pot for a long time, its roots may become crowded. This can lead to various signs of stress in the plant including dropping leaves, shriveling, and stunted growth. When roots become congested, they stop taking up nutrients and water as needed.
If you see roots emerging from the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot it’s an indication that the plant has outgrown its current container. Crowded roots take up most of the available soil, leaving little room for water retention. As a result, the plant may require more frequent watering.
The best solution
The perfect solution to root bound is to repot the jade plant. Select a new container that is 1-2 inches larger in diameter than the current one. Before transplanting the jade into the new pot, gently loosen the roots to encourage growth.
Fill the new pot with a well-draining potting mix. This provides the plant with a fresh supply of nutrients. Repot the plant and water thoroughly to help reduce transplant shock. Place the place in a location with bright indirect sunlight and watch over it as it establishes in the new pot.
Note: Spring and summer are the best time to repot or transplant jade plants. The ideal growth conditions allow for faster recovery from transplant shock and quick establishment.
Jade plant leaves hanging or bending down limply is a sign of distress. This can be worrying especially if you have no idea of what’s causing it. Typically, it could be a problem of overwatering, underwatering, incorrect temperature, root bound or pests and diseases. Addressing these problems promptly should save your jade plant from dying.
My name is Diane M Lewik, and I am the founder of this website. I am a degree holder in plant biology from the University of California – Berkeley. Over years, I have cultivated a vast collection of succulents and I have learned a great deal about how to grow and care for these unique plants.