The Jade Plant is one of the more popular houseplants since time immemorial. And there are plenty of reasons why. For starters, the plant can be grown indoors. Whether at home or the office, this succulent can brighten almost any space. The plant is also known for its long life. This is why a single specimen can be passed down from one generation to another. Finally, the plant is easy to care for, with a minimal amount of requirements.
But if there is one important thing to remember when keeping this plant, it is that it requires the right type of soil.
What is the best soil for Jade Plants?
The best soil for Jade Plants is a mix of coarse sand and organic matter. In general, you can use commercial potting mixes specially formulated for succulents and cacti. However, some plant owners prefer mixing their potting soil, using three parts of coarse sand mixed with one part organic matter and another part of peat moss.
Jade Plant soil characteristics
The succulent originates from Mozambique and South Africa. In its original habitat, the plant can be seen growing in sandy and rocky soil. This type of soil offers little to no nutritional value to plants. As a succulent owner, you want to mimic your plant’s natural environment to give it the best chance of survival.
However, using sandy and rocky soil is not enough. You should also consider the fact that as your Jade Plant grows, it will become top-heavy. Furthermore, the succulent grows shallow roots, compared to other plants with extensive root systems. What this means is that the combination of these factors can make the Jade Plant susceptible to tipping over.
Additionally, the Jade Plant is classified as a succulent. This means that it does not like to get wet feet. Exposure to excessive moisture can cause the plant’s roots to rot and eventually die.
The solution to these problems is to provide a balance between drainage and structural stability. That balance is achieved by mixing organic matter with coarse sand. The addition of organic matter, especially peat moss, may sound counterintuitive. However, the presence of organic matter in this potting mix means that your Jade Plant will have a steady platform to anchor its roots.
At the same time, the organic components of the potting mix provide the plant with vital nutrients that a purely inorganic potting mix cannot provide. Additionally, any drawbacks caused by the addition of peat moss can be counteracted with proper watering.
Problems associated with poor soil
It does not take much to keep your Jade Plant healthy and happy. But even if you think that you are giving it proper care, some things can go wrong if you do not use the proper soil.
Poor drainage due to the use of the wrong type of soil can lead to root rot, a common problem among succulents. Like most succulents, the Jade Plant does not like having its feet or roots wet. Initially, you will notice symptoms like the darkening and softening of the plant’s leaves. At the same time, you will also notice leaves dropping off from the plant or the plant drooping.
Below the soil, the roots turn brown and mushy. As the rotting progresses, the roots can no longer carry water and nutrients to the other plant parts. In turn, the whole plant declines and eventually dies if the problem is not corrected.
On the other side of the coin, if your Jade Plant does not get enough water, either due to infrequent watering, poor water retention of the soil, or a combination of both, the plant can suffer from drought stress. A Jade Plant suffering from drought stress will exhibit a few symptoms. These include slow or stunted growth, leaf drop, leaf spots, and discoloration.
Choosing the right pot for the Jade Plant
Today, succulent keepers can choose from a wide variety of materials used for pots, including ceramic, plastic, glass, wood, and metal. Each of these materials has its own sets of advantages and disadvantages that you should strongly consider looking into before buying. Whatever type of material you end up choosing, make sure that the pot has several drainage holes which can aid in the fast-drainage of water.
Furthermore, it is a good idea to choose a pot that has sufficient heft, especially if you have a mature Jade Plant. As Jade Plants mature, they can get top-heavy, and tipping over is a strong possibility. A heavy pot can serve as a counterbalance, preventing that issue.
One potting material that combines drainage and heft is ceramic. When it comes to wicking excess water, ceramic pots are considered superior over other types of containers. Plus, these pots carry considerable weight, more than enough to maintain the balance for your Jade Plant.
Repotting Jade Plants
You do not need to repot your Jade Plant regularly. Like some succulents and cacti, the Jade Plant does not have an extensive root system. The succulent’s roots are shallow and relatively small compared to the main plant. As a rule of thumb, you should repot a Jade Plant every two to three years if you want it to grow more.
For older and more established specimens, you can get away with repotting every four to five years. Being root bound is not a major cause of concern for Jade Plants.
Ideally, you should choose a new pot that is one to two sizes larger than the current pot. Any larger and you risk your plant going into shock.
Every time you repot your Jade Plant, it is a good idea to use a new batch of potting mix. Over time, the soil can lose nutrients. Using a new potting mix allows your succulent to get a steady supply of the nutrients it needs.
Water your Jade Plant two weeks before repotting it. This will ensure that your succulent is completely dry once you repot it.
Start by pulling the root ball from the pot. After that, fill the new pot with your potting mix. Once you put in your plant into the new pot, it should be about even with the pot’s top. Because of the density of the potting mix, your plant will eventually sink.
After placing your plant, you can add compost around the rootball. Finish off by pressing down on all sides of the potting mix.
Allow your plant to rest for about a week before watering it again.
It does not take much to take care of a Jade Plant. Water it infrequently, give it ample light, and use the right type of soil. Make a wrong choice in any of the three and you can expect problems with your succulent.
Image: istockphoto.com / Gheorhge