Jade Plant – Crassula argentea

The Jade Plant is a succulent and has thick, waxy leaves and stems that store water for dry periods. It is a popular house plant, not just because it is easy to grow, but because of its decorative looks – in time it takes on the appearance of a small tree.

The Jade Plant originally comes from the Cape Province of South Africa and in its natural surroundings it can grow to a height of 3m (10ft) or more. However, as a pot plant, it rarely exceeds a height of 90cm (3ft). It is slow to develoP and it only begins to branch out new shoots when it reaches a height of around 15cm (6in) or so.

Mature plants that are about 60cm (2ft) tall may blossom in the spring but this is not always a regular occurrence. A cool temperature in the winter will sometimes trigger blooming. The star-shaped, pink or white flowers appear in clusters at the tips of shoots.

Display ideas

Jade Plants can be placed outside during the summer and they look particularly attractive if several plants of different ages are grouped together. Plants that get plenty of sunshine develop reddish edges to their leaves which makes them all the more appealing.Jade Plant - Crassula argentea

Large Jade Plants can get top-heavy and they can topple over and get damaged unless they are grown in sturdy, clay pots. So if you put them outdoors make sure they will not get blown over by gusts of wind.

Propagation

New Jade Plants grow readily from cuttings, which can be taken at any time of the year.

1 The best compost to use for cuttings is a mixture of two parts commercial soil-based potting compost and one part gravel (the gravel ensures good drainage). Choose a small pea gravel and mix it well with the potting compost. Use small pots — clay ones are best because they will be more stable when the plants grow taller.

2 Take 8cm (3in) cuttings that have at least six leaves on them. Place the cuttings into the prepared compost; it is not normally necessary to use a rooting hormone. Water the compost and cover with polythene until the cuttings root (4-6 weeks).

Repot individually when growing well.

Pests And Diseases

Like most Crassulas, the Jade Plant is resistant to most forms of disease and insect attacks. Most damage is caused by over-watering.

Mealy bugs can attack Jade Plants and the consequences can be serious. Treatment: Remove the 4 mealy bugs with swabs of cotton wool dipped in diluted methylated spirits. If the infestation is severe, spray with an insecticide containing pyrethrum.

The leaves suddenly drop and there is distorted growth. This is invariably caused by over-watering.

Treatment: Allow the compost to dry out. Too much fertiliser will produce leggy growth.

PLANT CARE

This is an easy plant to grow and it is a good one to give to children. It only needs grooming if it gets too big — you can use the cuttings to create new plants. This can be done at any time of the year.

  • Potting: Repot every other year, using a soil-based compost mixed with a little pea gravel to aid drainage.
  • Water sparingly during the summer months but never let the compost get completely dry. In the winter, when the plant is resting, you need to water only if the leaves seem to be limp or wrinkled.
  • Feeding: Give your Jade Plant liquid fertilizer every month during the summer.

BEST GROWTH ENVIRONMENT

  • Light: Jade Plants are undemanding as for as light is concerned but they grow best in an east- or south-facing window. If they don’t get enough light, the stems become thin and elongated.
  • Temperature: These plants are happy at normal room temperature, but do not allow it to drop below about 5°C (40°F).

Buying Tips

  • The Jade Plant is usually available all year round from garden centres and nurseries.
  • Choose a plant that has firm, fat leaves that show no signs of shrivelling. Your plant should have stocky stems that resemble miniature tree trunks.
  • When well cared for, the Jade Plant can live for many years.

There are few plants as easy to look after as this decorative succulent. In the right conditions it will in time produce clusters of star-shaped flowers.

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