Jade is one of my favorite-ever succulent houseplants. It’s easy to grow. It doesn’t need much care or attention. And it makes you look like a queen if the queen sat on the Iron Throne, except the throne is made of houseplants instead of the swords of dead people.
Any self-respecting succulent aficionado has a jade plant (or 12). Known for their tree-like growth habit and paddle-shaped leaves, Jade is beautiful, easy-going, and—get this—can outlive you.
It’s true! Jade is known for its long life span. Take good care of yours and it just might live long enough to talk shit about you to your grandkids. It’s what nature wants.
If the Jade Plant were on Tinder, here’s what its profile might look like:
Jade Plant Basics: Light and Watering
Botanical name: Crassula argentea, Crassula ovata
Light needs: Full sun, Part sun
Preferred soil type: Sandy
Water needs: Not as drought-tolerant as other succulent species, Jade likes moist soil—not wet, because you don’t want root rot—during the growing season (spring and summer), drier soil during the dormant season (fall and winter).
Soil pH: Neutral
Cold hardiness: If you keep Jade on your porch or patio, make sure it gets to come inside when it gets 50 degrees Fahrenheit or cooler. Jade has many talents, but cold hardiness is not one of them.
How to Plant and Grow Jade
First things first: Pick your plant with the help of a reputable grower. Skip the grocery store and super-garden centers and see if you can find your local succulent gardener. You will be shopping quality, yes, and also locally. Yay, you!
Next, pick the pot in which you will start your jade plant. Opt for a wide, deep pot. Jade can grow top-heavy as it ages, and you don’t need it falling over like a damsel in distress. We want our jade plants to be strong, independent ladies.
Fill the pot with a layer or sand or pea gravel. This is to promote good drainage for your jade. Nothing pisses off a succulent faster than lack of drainage.
Next, add a layer of either all-purpose potting soil or a succulent or cacti potting soil mix. Add your jade plant, loosening the roots just slightly as your place it in the pot. Add a layer that’s a mix of pea gravel or sand and potting soil, all the way up to the base of the plant. Finish off with a layer of pea gravel—it’s cute and it’s functional, like all the good things in life.
There is no need to water at this point. Give the roots about a week to settle in, then water.
How to Grow Jade from a Leaf or a Cutting
Growing jade from a leaf or cutting is as easy as spit.
Simply grab a leaf from a healthy, established Jade, or a 2-3-inch cutting. Place it on top of some potting soil in a pot and allow it to hang out there for a couple of days. If you’re propagating from a leaf, let it continue to hang out. If you’re propagating from a stem, go ahead and plant it in the soil. If it won’t stand up on its own, it is weak and you should shame it ruthlessly and publicly. I’m kidding! Oh my God. Use some toothpicks or a plant label or something to help prop up your plant baby.
Next, wait. Wait for a couple of weeks, perhaps longer. Resist the urge to water. You will notice your leaves and cuttings begin to grab at the soil as they establish root systems. At this point, you can water your plant thoroughly. It will be very satisfying for you and the plant.
Let the soil get nice and dry between waterings and make sure your plant babies get plenty of bright, indirect sunlight. A kitchen window is prime real estate for succulent babies, since you will likely see them often, they will get good light, and you will forget to forget about them. Perfect!
How to Grow Jade: Plant-Care Tips That Can Double As Relationship Advice
Jade needs lots of light—at least 4 hours per day in a south-facing or west-facing window.
Keep soil moist but not wet during the growing season (spring and summer) and let the soil dry out during the dormant season (fall and winter).
Don’t splash the leaves when you water. You don’t want to expose your beautiful plant to weird funguses and such. Dust the leaves every once in awhile, though, with love and care. But not too much love and care. When you give something too much love and care, it rebels against you. Just ask all my failed succulents about this, and also all my ex-boyfriends.
Is your plant dropping leaves? Are they shriveled like your soul? Are there brown spots on the leaves and it causes you to remember that you are in fact a mortal being and will likely not live forever as you had hoped? Try watering your plant a little more. Water yourself a little more, too. It’s for science.
Fertilizing succulents is fun! They love it. Sparingly. Again, do not over-love succulents. You must maintain control in this relationship. Use some plain ol’ houseplant fertilizer if you want to let your Jade know where it stands—you’re not special, Jade, look at all these other houseplants I am fertilizing, too—or opt for some succulent or cacti fertilizer if you like your Jade plants to be a little bit full of themselves.
Keep your Jade in a small pot if you want your Jade to remain small (and manageable!). Or, repot your young Jade every 2-3 years to promote growth, or every 4-5 years for older plants. Ideally you will do this in the early spring, before the growing season begins. #growingseasoniscoming
Planning to repot? Just make sure not to water the repotted Jade immediately. Girlfriend needs a minute to set her roots down before she adds other responsibilities to her life, such as drinking. Also, don’t fertilize for at least a month. You might be totally fine burning your own roots, but don’t burn hers.
Got mealybugs? Wipe those suckers off with some rubbing alcohol on a paper towel or cotton ball. Do this again every few days until the problem is resolved. If things get too crazy, you can always start a new plant with a fresh cutting. While bawling your eyes out. Everything is going to be OK. Probably.
Want to make a little hammocks for your jade plants? My basic macrame hanging planter DIY kit is 40% off for subscribers to The Perch. It’s easy (and free!) to sign up, and you will get regular news about new workshops, e-courses, patterns, and plant-care tips, too.