Jade plants, with the botanical name Crassula ovata, are popular succulents with fleshy, oval-shaped leaves. These plants are considered symbols of good luck, and can grow three to six feet tall.
They are native to South Africa and thrive in warm weather, but they are still prone to the effects of underwatering if neglected for long periods.
Underwatered jade plant: Signs and how to revive
Signs of an underwatered jade plant
1. Yellowing leaves
The leaves of an underwatered jade plant will start to turn yellow. Healthy leaves are green, plump and firm; if the leaves start turning yellow, take it as a warning that something is wrong with your plants.
2. Droopy leaves
Your plants are underwatered if their leaves start to droop and become wilted. There will also be a pronounced loss of texture, and the leaves will have a wrinkled appearance.
3. Leaf tips turning brown
The leaf tips of an underwatered jade plant may turn brown. These dead sections will look desiccated and parched. Over time, the discoloration will start to extend down to the leaf margins. The inner sections of the leaves will manifest dry, brown spots.
- Curling leaves
Jade plants that are underwatered become dehydrated, and this causes the wrinkled and curling leaves. While healthy plants have firm, slightly swollen leaves, dehydrated ones have a soft, wrinkly texture.
- Dry potting soil
The potting soil around an underwatered jade plant will be dry and powdery. Under normal circumstances, the top layer of soil may dry out, but if you insert your finger into the soil, the layer beneath should be slightly moist. In the case of chronic underwatering, the soil will be bone dry at all levels.
- Brittle roots
Your jade plants are underwatered if the roots are brittle and snap easily. They may also develop aerial roots in an attempt to compensate for the drought stress.
How to revive an underwatered jade plant
Soak the plants.
Give the soil a thorough soaking in a basin of water for at least 10 minutes, so that all the roots have had access to water. When you remove the pot from the basin, tip out any excess water or make sure it flows out of the pot’s drainage holes to avoid stagnant water standing around the roots.
Trim off badly affected plant parts.
Cut off any severely affected plant parts, as they no longer have any practical purpose and do not contribute anything to the plant’s overall wellbeing. However, if the damage is minor, you can choose to leave them until new leaves have grown to replace them.
Use the correct potting mix.
If the soil cannot retain moisture adequately, this will contribute to your plants becoming underwatered. To resolve this, repot them in the fresh potting soil of the correct type. Opt for free-draining soil such as cactus or succulent mix; you could also mix two-thirds general-purpose houseplant potting soil with one-third perlite or grit.
Select the right container size.
To avoid underwatering, choose a pot or container that is one size up from the previous one you used. It should be two inches larger in diameter than the previous pot; if it is too large, the soil will retain too much excess moisture. Be sure that there are adequate drainage holes in the base. Do not water the plants immediately after repotting them; allow the soil to dry out before the first watering.
Place the plants in a suitable area.
Jade plants are tolerant of low-light conditions but do make sure they receive at least four hours of indirect sunlight daily. If they are placed in direct sunlight, remember that their moisture will evaporate faster and they may need more frequent watering. Nevertheless, direct sun prevents the plants from becoming leggy and spindly.
When it comes to watering your jade plants, try not to allow the soil to dry out completely, but also avoid watering them too often as this could result in root rot. Rather than sticking to a set schedule, check the soil regularly and water them only when the top layer of soil is dry to the touch. If you notice any leaf loss or leaf spots, it may also be an indication that the plants are receiving too little water.
Jade plants are hardy succulents that are commonly grown as houseplants because they are believed to bring good luck. This makes them ideal housewarming gifts. Although they can tolerate warm weather and minimal rainfall, they are still prone to the effects of underwatering if neglected for too long.
Signs that your jade plants are underwatered include yellowing, droopy leaves and brittle roots. To resolve the problem, give the plants a thorough soaking to ensure all the roots have access to moisture and pay greater attention to your watering frequency going forward. Also, make sure you are using the proper potting mix and container, and that the plants are in a suitable location with at least four hours of indirect sunlight a day.
Image: istockphoto.com / Orgrimmar