13 Common Problems With Indoor Jade Plants

Having problems with your Jade Plant but aren't quite sure where to start? There can be many Jade Plant problems, and many of them seem similar to one another even though they have different remedies. In this article, gardenine expert and houseplant enthusiast Madison Moulton examines the most common problems Jade Plants experience as well as their remedies.

jade plant problems

Jade Plants, scientifically known as Crassula ovata, are fast becoming one of the world’s most popular beginner-friendly houseplants. These beauties are ideal first succulents for those new to this plant type, or to plants in general.

Requiring little maintenance and looking good year-round, there are many reasons to love Jade Plants. Unfortunately, that does not mean they are completely problem-free.

Mistakes in care, such as incorrect watering, or factors largely out of your control, like pest or disease infestations, can cause a number of common problems in Jade Plants. Identify the cause, resolve it and your Jade will be back to its structural self in no time.

Shriveled Leaves

Shriveled Leaves in Potted Plant
If you notice that the leaves look shriveled, this is a sign of a lack of moisture.

Healthy leaves should be plump, green and glossy. If the edges are beginning to look shriveled or wrinkled, that is a sign of moisture stress in the plant.

The main cause of this problem is typically underwatering. The leaves have less water stored when the soil is excessively dry, causing the skin to wrinkle from the edges inwards. If the wrinkles are accompanied by yellowing on the edges, overwatering is probably the cause.

While Jade Plants don’t need watering very often, they can’t go for long periods with no water at all, especially when placed in a sunny spot. Water when you notice the soil dry out almost entirely to stop the leaves from wrinkling completely. If you do forget, the leaves should fill out again anyway when you water again.

Soft, Mushy Leaves

Potted Plant With Mushy Leaves
With excess water, the leaves can become soft and fall off.

Jade Plant leaves can also hold onto too much water, becoming soft and mushy. These mushy leaves often fall off the plant and attract pests and diseases, requiring immediate attention.

Mushy leaves that give way when squeezed between your fingers are a sign of overwatering or poor drainage. Make sure the pot has enough drainage holes and that the soil is loose and sandy to stop the roots from sitting in water. Never water when the top half of the soil is still moist to the touch to avoid mushy leaves.

To deal with the problem, start by holding off on watering for a while. If the problem is not resolved, trim any rotten roots and replant into brand new soil to allow the plant to recover.

Yellowing Leaves

Yellowing Leaves
One of the main reasons their leaves turn yellow is overwatering.

As is the case with other houseplants, the primary cause of yellowing leaves in Jade Plants is overwatering. These plants are slightly different from the common tropical plants in our homes as they are succulents, making them incredibly sensitive to overwatering and root rot.

Lifting up the pot to test its weight can help you determine how much water remains in the soil. If the pot is heavier than usual but the topsoil layer is dry, there is still moisture lower down, indicating you can hold off on watering for a while.

Nutrient problems can also cause the leaves to turn yellow. Nutrient deficiency is a potential cause, but as these plants prefer low-quality soils, overfertilizing is far more likely. Always follow the instructions on your fertilizer packaging and apply at half strength if needed to be on the safe side.

Black Leaves

Black Leaves
The cause of black leaves is also excessive moisture and possibly root rot.

Black leaves are generally more alarming than yellowing leaves and require immediate attention to save the plant. As long as you act quickly the plant is usually saveable.

Like many problems on this list, the cause is usually excessive moisture and root rot. If you overwater or the soil does not drain well enough, the moisture in the soil begins to rot the roots. This problem spreads up the plant, causing the stems to shrivel and the leaves to turn black.

Spotted black leaves are also signs of a pest or disease problem. Aphids, although not particularly common on Jade Plants, secrete honeydew that leads to the growth of black sooty mold on the leaves. Some diseases can also cause black spots on the leaves, but aren’t likely, especially when growing indoors.

Brown Leaves

Brown Leaves
The causes of brown leaves can be excessive soil and air moisture, lack of moisture, or excessive sunlight.

Like yellowing leaves, there are many causes for leaves turning brown, requiring some real detective work to identify the true cause.

The first potential cause is moisture related. Excessive moisture in the soil or even in the air around your plants can cause them to turn brown and then black before dropping off the plant. Underwatering can have the same effect, causing the leaves to turn brown from lack of moisture.

Excessive sunlight can also cause parts of the leaves to turn brown. Although they can handle high light conditions, Jade Plants that are used to indoor conditions need to be slowly introduced to high light to acclimatize and avoid damage. If they are moved suddenly from low light to direct sun, the leaves exposed to the sunlight will develop brown patches.

Increase the amount of light your plant gets slowly by an hour or so per day to allow it to adjust to higher sunlight levels.

Brown Spots on Leaves

Brown Spots on Leaves
Small brown spots can be caused by pests or simply trauma.

Small brown spots on the leaves of this succulent are slightly different from large patches or edging in cause.

The first reason for these spots is simply trauma. The soft leaves aren’t majorly sensitive, but will take some damage in high-traffic areas of the home. If you’re not careful with your pruning shears, any areas you clip will also begin to turn brown. As long as the spots are small, they won’t cause any issues with the plant.

Sap-sucking pests can also cause small brown spots on Jade Plant leaves, sometimes with a yellow ring around them. These bugs find the juicy leaves of this plant irresistible, settling down in one spot and feeding on the leaf. As this part of the leaf dies off, it will begin to turn brown. Identify the pest and apply the relevant fix to prevent any new spots from appearing.

Red Leaves

red leaves of Potted Plant
The leaves turn red with excessive sunlight and with minor stress.

Jade Plant leaves are generally green, although some cultivars may have tinges of other colors to them. So, it can be distressing to find the previously glossy green leaves gaining red edging.

Luckily, this is no cause for concern and is often encouraged by owners who prefer the fiery look. Their leaves turn red when exposed to higher sunlight than usual to protect the foliage. Moving them to a shadier spot will cause the red color to disappear. Slowly moving them to higher light areas will encourage this color change.

Minor stress can also cause the leaves to turn red. Lack of nutrients, lack of moisture, or sudden temperature changes can all result in a color change in the leaves. As long as conditions are not too severe, these changes won’t harm the plant as they are accustomed to them in their native habitats and have evolved to adapt well.

In essence, if you like the reddish tinge to the leaves, you can leave the plant as is. If you prefer to keep them green, give them some shade and resolve any potential stress problems.

White Spots On Leaves

White Spots On Leaves
White spots on the leaves are salt deposits and can be easily rubbed off.

Tiny white specks on Jade Plants leaves are quite common and can often be wiped off with your thumb.

These specks are salt deposits that get left behind when moisture evaporates from the leaves. While these aren’t harmful, it’s best to check the quality of your tap water or watch for signs of overfertilizing in case these salts build up in the soil.

To remove these white spots, simply wipe the leaves with a damp cloth and they should look good as new.

White Fluff On Leaves

White Fluff On Leaves
A white, fluffy coating on the leaves is most likely a sign of a pest or disease problem.

White patches on the leaves are unfortunately not always harmless. Any fluffy or fuzzy texture is a likely sign of a pest or disease problem that needs immediate attention.

Mealybugs are known to attack many common houseplants, including Jade Plants. They use a fluffy white substance to protect themselves while they feed on the plants. This leaves a stark white trail behind. Use neem oil to rid the plant of these pesky bugs, applied repeatedly until they are all gone.

Powdery mildew is another potential cause. Although more common outdoors, this problem can still make its way inside and to your houseplants. Powdery mildew settles in areas with high humidity and lack of airflow, so avoiding those conditions is key to preventing this problem.

Leaf Drop

Leaf Drop
Leaves can fall off for several reasons: received wet stress, lack of sunlight, and temperature changes.

Jade Plant leaves can fall off the plant for a number of reasons, usually centered around stress of some kind. Resolving that stress should stop any more leaves from dropping, bringing your plant back to good health.

Moisture stress, caused by under or overwatering, will result in leaf drop. As they are drought-tolerant, overwatering is more likely. Only water when the soil has almost completely dried out and improve drainage to prevent further stress.

Lack of sunlight can also lead to the same problem. While this succulent can handle low light for short periods, Jade Plants grow best in bright areas and can even grow in direct morning sun. Move the plant away from low light corners far from windows. Leaf drop should stop within a few weeks.

Temperature drops are another potential cause, especially when they occur suddenly. Keep them in temperatures above 40F year-round to prevent any temperature-related problems.

Lack of New Growth

New Growth of Jade Plant
The lack of new growth may be due to lack of sunlight, the need for fertilizer or repotting.

Jade Plants are slow growers, especially when kept indoors where lighting conditions are less than optimal. However, they should put out a few new leaves during the peak growing seasons while adding an inch or two to their height each year.

If your plant has stopped growing, check to see if the plant needs repotting. This is not common in mature plants that can survive in the same pot for several years. However, it may be the case for smaller plants that have filled out their pots.

In larger plants, lack of sunlight is the most likely culprit. This plant is well known to tolerate lower light than most succulents. However, this does not translate to low light areas indoors. They need a full day of bright indirect light to grow their best, preferably with a few hours of direct sun in the mornings.

Some may look to fertilizer to resolve growth issues, but this is likely to do more harm than good. Jade Plants are accustomed to soils with low fertility in their native habitats. Excessive fertilizer can quickly cause the leaves and roots to burn. Conduct a soil test first if you suspect lack of nutrients is a potential cause. You can also apply a half or quarter strength dose of fertilizer to see if that has any positive impact.

Stretched or Leggy Stems

Branches of Leggy Plant
If the stems have begun to stretch, it means that it does not have enough sunlight.

The stems or branches are known for being thick, stocky and strong. But that’s not always the case. When you place your Jade Plant in a low-light area, these stems may begin to stretch toward the nearest light source.

This may cause them to become thin and leggy. This stretching also makes the plant lopsided and impacts growth in the long term. It also make them poor candidates for propagation if you choose to create more plants from your existing Jade Plant.

Jade Plants are light lovers. Don’t leave them in dark corners of your home or rooms with no windows. Aim for bright indirect light for most of the day, or moderate light with an hour or two of direct sun in the mornings. Rotate the pot every two weeks or so to prevent unbalanced growth.

Lack of Flowers

Plant Blooming Pink Flower
In order for your plant to bloom, you need to provide it with enough sunlight and lower the temperature a little.

Flowers on Jade Plants are not always guaranteed when growing indoors. But, if you’d like to encourage your mature succulent to flower and aren’t seeing any results, there are a few ways you can fix the problem.

The first is to give them adequate sunlight. They need a few hours of direct sunlight at a minimum to produce flowers. These are the same conditions that cause the leaves to turn red. You can use this color change as an indicator that the light levels are sufficient for flowering.

Keeping the plant root-bound and withholding water can also induce the type of light stress that pushes the plant to produce flowers. While it’s best not to overdo it to avoid any serious damage, minor stress will not hurt the plant in the long term.

Finally, allow temperatures to drop around the plant slightly when the sun goes down. This mimics the conditions in their native habitats, encouraging the plant to bloom.

Final Thoughts

Your Jade Plant is unlikely to give you much trouble throughout its life cycle. They are one of the easiest plants to grow and care for, making them perfect for beginners. However, if you do encounter any of these issues, apply the fix and any preventative measures to stop it from happening again in the future.

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