Jade plants, with the scientific name Crassula ovata, are also commonly known as lucky plants, money plants or money trees. These succulents are popular house plants, and are considered by some to bring good luck. Although relatively hardy, they are also susceptible to problems and diseases that could lead to their death unless promptly addressed.
How to save a dying jade plant
Repot the plant
To save your dying jade plant, try repotting it in a new pot with fresh and well-draining soil. This will help if your plant has been overwatered or has developed root rot. Wash off the roots and cut away any that are dark or slimy, so that only the clean parts remain.
Use a blend of organic matter, like peat moss, and inorganic matter, like granite or clay, for your potting mix. Jade plants prefer not to have too much space around their roots, and only need repotting every three years if they are healthy and disease-free.
Prune your plant
Another way to save your dying jade plant is to prune it. Start with the older leaves at the bottom of the plant, as these are the oldest and the first to fall off. Get rid of long, leggy branches, which will droop over time. Prune the plant regularly to encourage new growth and to keep it tight and upright.
Propagate if there is no hope of saving your plant
You can propagate new jade plants should your dying plant have no hope of survival. Propagate using stems or cuttings; the stems should be two to three inches long with at least two pairs of leaves. Place the stems or cuttings in a warm, dry area for a few days until calluses form over the cut areas. You can then lay the leaves on top of the soil and cover the cut ends with soil.
Place the new plants in a warm area with bright but indirect sunlight. Do not water them for about two weeks, or until the cuttings develop roots. Once the plants are firmly rooted, water them as you would regular jade plants.
Signs that your jade plant is dying
Drooping leaves may be normal in certain circumstances, especially if there has been a sudden temperature change. However, if the leaves continue to droop or fall off frequently despite a consistent temperature, it could mean the plant is sick. Common reasons for drooping leaves include over- or underwatering, insufficient light and pest infestation.
Dying or sickly jade plants tend to manifest brown leaves. Older leaves may also turn slightly yellow. Common culprits include sunburn or underwatering, but this may also be due to the presence of pests.
Wilted and limp leaves
Limp, wilting leaves are common signs of dying or sick jade plants. The leaves may also appear soggy, and the plants will have a sickly appearance overall. This could be due to inadequate sunlight, overwatering, over-fertilizing, or exposure to freezing temperatures.
Reasons your jade plant is dying
Succulents retain water, meaning these hardy plants can thrive in desert temperatures and survive without water for long periods. It also means they are susceptible to overwatering. If over-eager plant owners spoil their plants by giving them too much water, their leaves will become soggy and the branches will develop a mushy texture. Correct this problem by only watering the plants if the soil has completely dried out.
Your jade plant could be dying because of root rot, which is caused by a fungus that thrives in wet, soggy soil and attacks vulnerable plant roots that have been weakened by overwatering.
Because this condition initially manifests under the soil, it goes unnoticed until its later stages. Check the plant’s root system frequently to make sure that the roots are healthy. Root rot can cause the plant’s leaves to turn yellow and the branches to break off easily. The roots will also develop a black, gunky slime.
Fix this issue by making sure to use well-draining soil and keep your plants in pots that have drainage holes. This way, the water does not remain stagnant in the soil.
As mentioned earlier, jade plants thrive in areas with hot climates. If exposed to freezing temperatures, they could end up sickly and dying. Protect your jade plants from cold weather by bringing them indoors or placing them in a greenhouse during the winter months.
Jade plants become sickly and may die due to pest infestations. Mealybugs suck the sap from plant tissue, weakening the plants. They also secrete honeydew, a sticky substance which attracts aphids and fungal diseases. Other pests that could ravage your jade plants include spider mites and fungus gnats.
Eradicate these pests by spraying the plant with a solution of isopropyl alcohol and water, or neem oil. You may also use insecticidal soaps.
Jade plants are drought-resistant plants that thrive indoors. Like most plants, they are prone to certain problems and may become sick or even die because of fungal diseases, overwatering or frozen temperatures. You will have the best chance at saving your dying jade plant if you address the problem promptly by pruning and repotting the plant, reviewing your watering schedule, and checking thoroughly for pests and disease.
Image: istockphoto.com / Helin Loik-Tomson