How Much and How Often Should You Water Jade Plants?
Do you have a Jade Plant in your indoor garden that you aren't sure how often you should water? These popular succulents can be a bit picky about their moisture levels. In this article, gardening expert Madison Moulton walks through exactly how much water Jade Plants need, and how often you should be watering them.
Appreciated for their low-maintenance nature and structural appearance, jade plants are widely grown indoors and out around the world. Their ease of care is most evident in their water needs, needing very little watering to thrive – especially when grown indoors.
But, because jade plants are slightly different from other houseplants we know, many get their watering wrong. This leads to consistent growth problems and potentially the death of the plant in severe cases.
To avoid these issues and water your jade plant correctly, follow this essential guide.
The Short Answer
The short answer is, probably less than you think. Although jade plants are often kept as houseplants, they don’t need to be watered as often as most other tropical houseplants. The soil should be allowed to dry out almost completely before watering again, and they should never be watered when the soil is still moist. Test the soil to make sure it is dry before watering again to prevent chances of rot and ultimately, the death of the plant.
The Long Answer
As jade plants come from warmer regions and can’t handle cold weather, they are often grown indoors as houseplants. Their popularity as a houseplant has soared thanks to their structural look and ease of care.
But, jade plants aren’t like regular houseplants. They have slightly different needs from the plants you may know, like Monsteras or Pothos, especially when it comes to watering.
The best way to understand their needs is to understand where they come from. For any indoor plants you care for – matching the conditions and care they receive in their native habitats will help you provide the best possible care.
Jade plants are native to South Africa, originating from warm and tropical regions of Kwa-Zulu Natal and the Eastern Cape. Temperatures here remain high throughout the year, never dropping far below 55F. Humidity is also moderate to high thanks to the proximity to the coast.
They are typically found in gritty, well-draining soils with low levels of nutrients – what may be considered poor-quality soil. They love positions with full sun, but also grow well in areas with partial shade. If given the space, they grow much larger than what we are used to indoors, almost looking like small shrubs or trees.
When it comes to water, they are used to moderate amounts of rain during the summer. This provides some relief from the intense heat. In winter, there is little to no rain, so they survive on what they have stored in their stems and leaves.
Even when there is rain, the roots are never left to sit in water. The gritty soil they are found in drains quickly and dries out fast from high levels of evaporation. In other words, the roots are more accustomed to being dry than wet.
Are They Considered Succulents?
Along with native habitat, there is another factor that influences how often you should water your jade plants – growth habit. They are technically succulents, part of the Crassula genus.
Although ‘succulent’ is not really a scientific classification, it generally describes plants that store more water in their leaves and stems, allowing them to survive periods of drought. This certainly applies to jade plants with their juicy green leaves and thick stems that keep them satisfied during dry periods.
Once the reserves in the leaves and stems are full, the roots won’t draw up any moisture as the plant has everything it needs to survive. If that excess moisture doesn’t drain away or evaporate, it will limit airflow and encourage fungal growth, leading to a problem called root rot.
This growth habit is important to keep in mind when watering. Root rot will quickly kill a plant if it is not resolved immediately, and even then the chances of survival are low.
How Often Should You Water Jade Plants?
Considering their native habitats and growth, they don’t need to be watered very often. These drought-tolerant plants are happy to go for several days or even weeks without water and prefer their soil remain dry most of the time.
The exact time you water will differ based on where the plant is planted and the environmental conditions it is in. For example, plants in containers will usually dry out much quicker than those planted in the ground. Similarly, a plant kept outdoors and in full sun will dry out quicker than those kept indoors or in partial shade.
These factors can also change daily or even weekly. For that reason, watering on a strict schedule can lead to problems with growth as the intervals ignore changes in conditions and the actual levels of moisture in the soil.
Instead, wait until the soil dries out completely or almost completely before watering again. If your jade plants are in full sun, you can water a little sooner to combat quick evaporation. But when kept indoors, the soil should stay dry for a while before watering again.
In large pots, it can be difficult to tell when the soil is dried out. Try lifting up the container when it is dry and again when it is wet to test the weight. If the container feels light, it’s time to water again.
How Much Water Do They Need?
As succulents, some assume jade plants only need small amounts of water to survive. However, when you only add small amounts of water to the soil, only the top layer becomes saturated. The plant may seem well watered from above, but the roots below remain dry and can begin to die off.
As with other houseplants, you should water until the water runs through the drainage holes. This indicates it has reached the soil lower down, covering all the roots. Make sure you water all sides evenly so one side doesn’t remain dry as this can impact growth above the soil too.
Signs Of Underwatering
Although underwatering is not a likely issue in these drought-tolerant plants, it is still possible if you forget about them completely.
The first sign of underwatering is wrinkled leaves. Once they’ve used up all the water reserves in the leaves and stems, the leaves will begin to lose their shape and wrinkle due to lack of moisture.
If left without water for long periods, these leaves may also begin turning brown or dropping off the plant. One or two leaves falling off at a time is no cause for concern. But several leaves falling off at once indicates a problem with growth.
Luckily, watering should fix many of the growth problems and return the plant to good health. Make sure you adjust your watering schedule too to prevent underwatering in the future.
Signs Of Overwatering
Overwatering is a much more severe issue. This issue needs to be tackled immediately if you spot any of the signs. If not rectified, your jade plant will likely rot and the roots will die off, killing the entire plant.
The first sign to watch for is soft and mushy leaves or stems, an indication that there is too much water, and that rot has begun. The leaves may also lose their color, changing from a lush green to yellow. Finally, the leaves will begin dropping off the plant, just as with underwatering.
Take a look at the soil if you notice any of these signs. If it is still moist, you have a problem with root rot. If you can’t quite tell, remove the plant from its container and check the health of the roots. Trim off any rotting parts of the plant and repot into new fresh soil to give your jade the chance to recover.
Jade plants tend to be much easier to water than other houseplants due to their low water needs. As long as you watch out for overwatering, you should have no problems keeping your jade plant happy.