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Jade Plants

Question:

I have a mature Jade plant that has always been healthy and a fast grower. For the last month petals have started to crinkle. Can you help me with this?

Answer:

“Crinkle” is  subjective description. With a Jade it might refer to leaves shriveling or it might refer to leaves developing a silvery whitish flakes on them. Both are a result of leaves dying back due to lack of water.

Surprisingly, lack of water to the leaves is more often due to over, rather than under watering. Jades have evolved to withstand drought, but do not tolerate soil that is kept constantly damp around their roots. Potted Jades do best when the top one-third to one half of the soil is allowed to dry out. If the soil is kept too moist, then the roots will gradually rot and die. Unfortunately, this occurs out of sight and the Jade does not start to exhibit symptoms of this until it is often too late. Rotted roots are not capable of absorbing water from the soil so the plant starts to use the water stored in the fat leaves and stems. It is only after the water in the leaves is depleted that we notice the symptoms that I believe you are describing.

This process develops slowly over a long period of time. It is aggravated when the plant does not gets lots of sunlight or if it is repotted into a larger pot.

Depending on how many leaves are already affected, your Jade may or may not recover. In any case, there are a few things you can do to help. First, make sure the plant is on a sunny windowsill. Second, remove all loose soil from the top surface. Third, allow the soil to dry halfway deep into the pot before adding just enough water so that it reaches that level of dryness again within a week. You may be surprised to see how little water it requires. Allowing he soil to dry out regularly may help the roots gradually recover. In the interim, it may continue to lose leaves. Your patience may be tried, but there are no other options.