Jade plants are resilient and easy to care for. And as such, it may come as a surprise if you see your plant drooping.
The most common causes for a jade plant to droop are that improper watering, wrong soil mix, insufficient light, temperature extremes, over-fertilizing, repotting or pest infestation.
Here’s a closer look at each potential why a jade plant may start drooping:
1. Improper watering
Like most succulents, jade plants dislike excess moisture. Too much water is detrimental to the health and wellbeing of jade plants. Overwatering jade plants causes root rot and eventually, root death. When the plant’s roots begin to rot, its ability to absorb water and nutrients from the soil becomes impaired.
Apart from drooping, you might notice other symptoms of overwatering like yellowing leaves. Overwatered jade plants might also have leaves that are dry or too soft to the touch.
It is also possible that your jade plant is drooping because you are not giving it enough water. Often, it can be hard to distinguish between over and underwatering jade plants because the symptoms look the same.
To ascertain if you are over or underwatering your plant, the best thing to do is to lift it from its pot to check its roots. An overwatered jade plant will have roots that are brown and mushy. It is not unusual for such a plant to emit a bad odor. On the other hand, if your plant is underwatered, you will notice that its roots are white. It will not emit any smell.
If your plant has been overwatered and shows signs of root rot, it is still possible to save it and restore its health. The first thing that you will need to do is to remove the infected roots and stems. After that, apply a fungicide to the parts that you have saved.
The next step that you need to undertake is to repot your plant into a new container with fresh soil. Avoid using the plant’s old soil as this may still contain microorganisms that cause diseases in plants.
After repotting your jade plant, put it in a location with ample sunlight. Leave it there for at least a week to allow the soil to dry. After a week, you can begin watering it again.
2. Wrong soil mix
In succulents, overwatering is closely tied to the use of the wrong soil mix. Almost all succulents need fast-draining soil, including your jade plant.
Jade plants do not like water accumulating at the bottom of their pots. You should avoid using commercial potting mixes because most of these retain too much moisture. And when there is excess moisture, your jade plant becomes vulnerable to root rot.
As a tropical succulent, jade plants like to be watered regularly. Its soil should always be lightly moist. Otherwise, it might shrivel, often a sign of dehydration.
In short, you should use a fast-draining soil that is capable of retaining the right amount of moisture.
Additionally, you should keep your jade plant in a container that has adequate drainage to help keep root rot at bay. Jade plants grow to be top-heavy. And as such, consider using a pot with a wide, sturdy base, to support your jade plant.
3. Insufficient light
Jade plants tend to grow leggy stems and droop when they do not get enough sunlight.
Being a native of South Africa, jade plants thrive in warm weather and require at least four hours of sun. When deprived of sunlight, jade plants become leggy and lose their vigor.
If you are keeping your jade plant indoors, you should place it in an area that receives enough sunlight. Preferably, you should put your plant in a window facing the south or west.
If you do not have an area in your home with enough natural light, consider using artificial lighting, ideally a two-bulb fixture with one bulb designed for plants and a cool-white bulb.
Be careful when moving your jade plant to another location. This is especially true if your jade plant is currently located outdoors and you are planning to move it indoors and vise versa.
If your jade plant is accustomed to low light conditions, allow it to gradually adjust to its new location. Otherwise, if you expose it to too much sunlight too soon, brown spots can develop on its leaves.
4. Temperature extremes
Jade plants thrive in a temperature range between 18°C to 24°C. These succulents can even tolerate a drop in temperature of about 4°C. However, when you add frost to the equation, your plant will exhibit a few problems, including drooping.
If your jade plant has been exposed to frost or kept in an area with low temperature for an extended period, you need to observe it first to see if it can be revived.
In the meantime, remove stems that are either rotted or turned black. Do not overwater it as it may only cause serious complications. Allow the soil to dry out completely in between watering sessions. You should also move your plant indoors to an area with plenty of ambient sunlight.
If you live in an area where the temperature often drops below 4°C, move your jade plant indoors just until spring.
On the other hand, if the temperature in your area does not often drop to 4°C, you can protect your plant in the form of cloth covering. You can also move your plant in a covered patio.
Jade plants are light feeders, requiring a minimal amount of nutrients. They fare surprisingly well even in soil with little to no nutrients.
If you see your jade plant drooping, you might want to revisit your fertilization scheme.
You should only fertilize your plants when they are in their growing phase. Jade plants stop growing between November and March. Avoid applying fertilizers during this period. Otherwise, the fertilizer will just remain in the soil and can potentially burn the roots.
Between spring and summer, jade plants start growing new leaves. This is the best time to use fertilizers on them.
Whether you intend to use a chemical or organic fertilizer, be sure to carefully follow the instructions listed on the packaging. Some succulent growers prefer to feed their plants once every season with liquid fertilizers. Others feed their plants with fertilizers more often but in smaller quantities.
Compared to other plants, succulents, including jade plants, grow slower. As such, jade plants can respond better to frequent fertilization.
Jade plants can sometimes become traumatized when transferred to new pots.
Unlike other plants, jade plants can easily cope with being rootbound. In response to being rootbound, your plant will simply stop growing.
If you wish to coax further growth from your jade plant, move it to a container one size larger every two to three years. For more mature plants, you can repot these every four to five years, supplementing with soil refreshment.
The best time to repot jade plants is spring, using dry soil. After repotting, allow your plant to rest for about a week. You can begin watering it after that. Do not feed it with fertilizer until after a month.
If your jade plant has become root-bound, one alternative to repotting you should consider is pruning. Compared to repotting, jade plants tolerate pruning better.
Pruning can help prevent drooping, especially if your jade plant has become too top-heavy or if it has thin stems.
For this task, use a sharp blade. Sterilize it before use and cut below a node.
7. Pest infestation
Jade plants rarely succumb to pest infestation. Often, when this problem arises, it is probably due to pests that infected your other plants.
One of the pests that target jade plants is mealybugs. Mealybugs are closely related to aphids and target the leaves of jade plants.
When a jade plant is infested with mealybugs, they begin to droop and wither. Your plant may also become susceptible to black fungal growth caused by the honeydew produced by these pests.
To remove mealybugs from your jade plant, use cotton soaked in alcohol to wipe these off.
Spider mites can also infest jade plants, but rarely. A jade plant infested with these arachnids will often have discolored and brownish leaves. You can remedy this problem by using alcohol wipes. If you see severely damaged parts on your jade plant, remove these.
Other pests that can potentially infest your plant are aphids, scales, and thrips.
Take action fast
Jade plants are resilient succulents, often passed down from one generation to another.
If you notice your plant beginning to droop, check any of the possible causes listed above and act fast to prevent further complications.
Image: istockphoto.com / Andrey Nikitin