Jade plants have a distinctive appearance due to their thick fleshy leaves. This is where water is stored enabling the succulent to go for extended periods without watering. As part of their natural growth, jade plants may shed their leaves from time to time.
However, jade plants may respond to stress by dropping leaves. This can be occasioned by abrupt changes in environmental conditions, such as light, temperature, humidity, and irregular watering routines. Pests or diseases can also stress the plant resulting in leaf drop.
Let’s look at how these factors can cause leaf drop and how you can save the plant.
Overwatering or underwatering a jade plant can lead to leaf loss. Jade plants are succulents native to arid regions, so they prefer infrequent watering. Overwatering can lead to waterlogged soil. This stops roots from getting oxygen which makes them suffocate and die.
Excessive moisture in the soil also promotes the growth of fungi that cause root rot. When the roots get damaged due to overwatering, they stop taking up water and nutrients. The leaves of the overwatered jade plant may start to wilt, turn yellow, or drop.
Although you are not supposed to water the jade plant too often, the plant may lose leaves and branches if the soil becomes too dry for an extended period. This is typically to conserve moisture. A prolonged period of drought may eventually cause the plant to wilt and die.
How to fix
If you suspect overwatering, allow the soil to dry completely before watering again. You may try to blot the excess water from the soil using paper towers. Further, ensure the pot has drainage holes to prevent water from accumulating in the soil. If that doesn’t help, inspect the roots for rot.
Discolored or mushy roots are a sign of rot. Gently remove the plant from the pot and cut off the damaged roots. Rinse the remaining roots in clean water and let them dry out for a day before repotting in fresh soil. Use a well-draining potting soil such as succulent or cactus mix.
To prevent leaf loss in the future, water your jade plant only when the top inch of the soil feels dry to the touch. Stick your finger in the soil to test the depth of the moisture. If the soil is dry, water thoroughly until water runs through the bottom of the pot. Remove any excess water that collects on the saucer.
Jade plants need at least 4 hours of sunlight per day. If light is not enough, the plant may become leggy as it reaches for light sources. This etiolation can cause leaves to become spaced out along the stem or fall off. The plant uses light for photosynthesis, which mainly happens in the leaves.
Jade plants can also be sensitive to sudden changes in light. If the plant is moved abruptly from low light to direct sunlight, or vice versa, it may respond by dropping leaves. Hot direct sunlight in particular may also cause sunburn on jade plant leaves and a droopy plant.
How to fix
Place the jade plant in a location where it receives bright, indirect sunlight. A south or west-facing window is often ideal. Shield the plant from intense afternoon sun, especially in hot climates. If natural light is insufficient, supplement with artificial grow lights.
When moving your jade plant to a location with more sunlight, do so gradually over a few weeks. This will help the plant to acclimate to the new light conditions.
Jade plants are sensitive to changes in temperature. Sudden drops or increases in temperature can cause the leaves to drop. The right temperatures should range between 65-75 ° F during the day and 50-55 ° F during the night.
Protect jade plants from cold drafts, frost, and temperatures below their tolerance level. If growing outdoors, bring them inside during the colder winter seasons. In hot climates, provide shade during the hottest part of the day.
Lack of nutrients
Although jade plants are known to do well in nutrient-poor soils, it can affect their overall health. Deficiency in essential nutrients such as Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium, and trace elements can cause leaf drop, stunted growth, and other deformities.
Potted plants tend to use all the nutrients in the soil as they grow. The accumulation of salts in the soil can interfere with nutrient uptake. Further, nutrients also become unavailable when the soil pH gets too acidic or alkaline.
If you suspect that insufficient nutrients are the reason for leaf drop, feed your jade plant to meet its nutritional needs. Fertilize during the spring and summer with liquid fertilizer formulated for succulent plants. Fertilizers with an NPK ratio of 10 10 10 or 20 20 20 should be fine to use.
It’s important to dilute your fertilizer to half-strength and apply as directed by the manufacturer. Overfertizing can also cause leaf yellowing or drop. A well-decomposed manure can also be a good source of nutrients for your jade plant.
Pests and diseases
Pests and diseases can cause health problems in jade plants. Mealybugs, scale insects, and spider mites feed on plant sap. Severe infestations can cause yellowing of leaves and premature leaf drop. The infested plant can also become susceptible to fungal and bacterial infections.
What to do
Regularly inspect your jade plant for signs of pests and diseases. Check the undersides of leaves, stems, and the soil where moist insect pests tend to hide. If pests or an infection are identified, isolate the affected jade plant to prevent the issue from spreading to other plants.
Remove and dispose of all the severely affected or infested leaves and stems. Then use insecticidal soap or neem oil to control the pests.
Will jade plant leaves grow back?
Jade plants have a great recovery rate and can often recover from leaf drop. However, for leaves to grow back you must provide the right conditions. Ensure there is proper drainage, sufficient light, proper watering, and optimal temperature and the plant will produce new leaves.
Note that, a plant that has lost more than half of its leaves or branches might take some time to produce new leaves. If new growth is taking longer than usual, propagate your jade plant from healthy leaves or stem cutting. This can give you new plants without problems.
Jade plants are easy to grow and maintain. They prefer plenty of bright indirect sunlight, infrequent watering, and well-draining soil. Average room temperature and humidity levels for a home are sufficient. Stressors like underwatering, overwatering, or environmental changes can cause jade plants to drop leaves.
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.