How to Repot a Jade Plant in 4 Simple Steps
Does your Jade Plant need to be repotted? If so, this task may seem daunging, but it's quite easy if you follow the proper steps. In this article, gardening expert Madison Moulton shares a step-by-step guide for repotting your Jade Plant.
Part of the Crassula genus, jade plants are succulents native to warmer parts of Southern Africa, specifically Kwa-Zulu Natal and the Eastern Cape. It is part of the Crassulaceae plant family, with the full species name Crassula ovata.
Like many succulents, these plants are happiest in very high temperatures, although they can handle slightly higher humidity levels than most dessert-type succulents. Outdoors, they can only grow in the highest USDA Zones (11-12). That, along with their ability to grow well in containers, has made them incredibly popular houseplants around the world.
There are many benefits to growing jade plants indoors. Their thick branches and juicy leaves visually separate these plants from the tropical plants we are used to seeing indoors. They are also believed to bring their owners good luck and financial prosperity, giving them their other common name money plant.
But, most importantly, they are incredibly easy to care for. Jade plants adapt quickly to a wide variety of growing conditions, tolerating much lower light than other succulents require and thriving with little watering. This certainly sits high on the list of plant-it-and-forget-it houseplants.
To add to their minimal care, repotting is also not a common concern for these plants. Forget repotting annually (or worse, every 6 months in the case of African violets), as jade plants will be happy in their containers for years.
Do Jade Plants Need Repotting?
Although they don’t require frequent repotting, it doesn’t mean they never need repotting at all. They don’t mind being confined to containers, but this is obviously not a natural state for a jade plant to grow in.
You will eventually need to repot if the plant starts displaying signs of struggle due to an excessively crowded root system or when the soil begins to break down and can no longer support the roots. This takes longer than many other houseplants, but remains an essential care step that can’t be missed.
Without repotting, growth of your jade plant may become stunted. If the roots aren’t able to support the leaves above the soil, leaves will begin to drop off the stems to preserve available resources. The leaves may start to change color and the soil will stop retaining moisture, requiring immediate attention.
How Often Should I Repot?
When you repot your jade plant will depend on size, age and the growth rate of the plant. Young jade plants growing rapidly will need repotting every 2 or 3 years, potentially sooner if your plant begins to struggle. Older and established jade plants that have reached full size only need repotting every 5 years or so when a soil refresh is required.
Most plants, especially houseplants, do not appreciate frequent change. They are far happier when conditions are kept consistent. Although jade plants know how to adapt well, they will still be far healthier when kept in consistent conditions they love.
So, when considering whether to repot, it’s better to err on the side of waiting too long than repotting too often. These succulents are capable of handling being rootbound well, struggling far more if their roots are frequently disturbed.
If your jade plant displays growth problems related to lack of pot space, you can consider repotting. Roots tightly wrapped around each other at the base of a container, yellowing leaves, leaf drop and stunted growth are all potential concerns to look out for.
If the soil has broken down and doesn’t retain moisture or nutrients anymore, it’s also best to repot soon to avoid suffocating the roots.
This of course doesn’t apply in cases of pests or diseases. Soil-borne pests are often treated by repotting and removing all the affected soil. Similarly, diseases like root rot can be stopped by getting rid of old soil and repotting into fresh soil. Don’t wait until spring to do this – the sooner you deal with pest and disease problems, the better.
What You Need to Repot
When the time to repot does come around, you’ll need to gather a few essential tools before you get started.
The first and arguably most important component in the repotting process is a new soil mix. As one of the main reasons for repotting is to improve soil conditions, it’s best to remove as much of the old soil as possible and use a fresh soil mix your plants will love.
In any houseplant repotting tutorial, I always start by saying regular potting soil (or worse, garden soil) should never be used.
As jade plants are succulents, this advice is even more important. Potting soil does not drain nearly as well enough as needed, and its use will quickly lead to root rot and an early death.
The easiest way to repot without buying too many ingredients or worrying about soil mix recipes is to simply purchase a succulent and cactus soil mix. These are formulated to have extra drainage and the gritty conditions succulent plants love. These can be found online or at your local nursery.
However, if you want to grow the extra mile, you can also make your own soil mix. There are many components that go into succulent mixes. From bark chips to river sand and perlite, start by taking a look at the elements of the soil your plant is currently living in. By matching that soil mix, you will keep soil conditions as consistent as possible for the roots. This will help limit the chances of transplant shock.
The mix I typically use for my jade plants contains combinations of regular potting soil, coconut coir, sand and perlite. I adjust the mixture depending on growth and environmental conditions.
Once you have a soil mix, you’ll need something to put it in. Choosing a new container is another essential step in the repotting process. The right container can heavily impact the growth of your jade plant later on.
The most important thing to look for is drainage holes. There is no use going to the effort of making your own well-draining soil mix ideal for jade plants, only to plant them in a container with no drainage holes.
Even containers with just one drainage hole can be tricky as they typically drain slower than this succulent prefers.
Along with a few drainage holes, you also need to consider size. If you want to keep your plant small and there are no root issues, you can simply replant back into the same container with new soil mix. This is also the case for larger plants that have reached maturity and won’t get much bigger.
But, if the roots are showing signs they need more space to expand, or if you want your plant to grow bigger than it currently is, you’ll need a slightly bigger pot.
Slightly is the keyword here. Only choose a pot one size up from the one the plant is in. Too much space is often a bad thing. Especially for slow-growing succulents. The extra soil retains too much moisture for the roots to absorb.
Along with the potential for root rot, the extra space can also shock the plant and end up slowing growth – the opposite of what you want. A pot one size up, or a container the same size is perfect.
The last item is optional, depending on whether you want to trim the plant or not. When repotting, it can be helpful to trim underperforming branches or damaged roots to give your plant the best start at new growth in its new container.
For this, you will need a sharp and clean pair of pruning shears. But, if your plant is happy and you don’t need to control size, you can skip these.
Before You Start
Besides this preparation, there are also a couple of things to consider just before you begin the process.
It’s easiest to repot when the soil is dry. This makes removal much easier and allows you to get rid of the old soil to expose the root system. Avoid watering a few days before you plan on repotting. Most jade plants are not desperate for moisture. The leaves should still have some moisture stored to manage the transition after repotting.
Repotting can also be quite stressful for plants as they are not used to having their roots exposed and messed with. A healthy plant will recover much quicker than a stressed one after repotting. It’s best to complete the process when your plant is completely happy.
This obviously doesn’t apply if you are repotting due to stress. They may take a while to adjust to their new pots in these cases, but ultimately they will be better off.
Finally, you’ll need to prepare your workspace. The thick stems and juicy leaves make jade plants quite heavy. Lay down some newspaper to catch the excess soil when turning the pot on its side to pull the plant out. This will make clean-up when you’re finished so much simpler.
How To Repot A Jade Plant
After extensive preparation, you’ll be happy to find the actual process of repotting is incredibly simple.
Step 1: Remove the Plant
Start by removing the plant from its current container. Depending on the size of your plant, this can be quick or quite difficult. For larger plants, it’s best to turn the container on its side and gently pull the plant out to avoid damaging any branches. Small plants can be pulled from the base. But, as the branches and leaves are quite delicate it’s vital to be gentle.
If there is some resistance, run a knife along the edges of the pot to release any roots that may be stuck to the edges. In plastic pots, you can squeeze the sides to loosen the plant. This can also be tricky for larger plants.
If the plant is still stuck, make sure there are no roots growing through the drainage holes at the bottom. This can prevent you from lifting the plant out.
Step 2: Tease the Roots
Once you’ve got your jade plant out of the pot (hopefully quite easily), take a look at the root system. Gently loosen any roots that are wrapped around each other or growing in the wrong direction.
This will also cause the old soil to fall off of any pockets between the roots. Get rid of as much of the old soil as possible, especially if it is bad quality.
Step 3: Trim (If Needed)
The next step is optional and depends on what your plant looks like when repotting. To improve health and growth, you can take this opportunity to trim any damaged roots and branches you spot. Also remove any damaged leaves as these can draw energy away from the plant while it is trying to recover.
For those who want to keep their jade plants small, this is also the time to cut back the branches and roots. Cut them back to fit back into the same small container.
Step 4: Replant
Finally, fill the base of the new container with your tailored soil mix and lower the plant inside. Fill around the roots and in any gaps with more soil mix until the pot is almost but not completely full. This stops any excess soil from spilling out when you water.
Press around the base until the plant is settled in and upright. If the leaves look plump and healthy, you can wait a few days after repotting before watering. This will let the roots settle and recover first. However, if the plant is not performing its best, its best to water slightly and move the container to a bright area. This will allow it to continue growth.
Keep an eye on the plant and avoid overwatering in the first few weeks after repotting. They should slowly return to normal growth, especially when repotting in early spring.
Repotting your Jade Plant may seem a bit intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. By following the outlined steps above, you’ll have healthy succulents in fresh containers for years to come. Just remember to provide adequate growth conditions for your plant and stick to a regular maintenance routine once repotting has taken place.