Jade plant grows outdoors as a handsome succulent shrub in its native South Africa and other warm, dry, frost-free locations. But most of us know it as an easy-to-grow houseplant that looks like a miniature tree. Jade plant has a rounded shape, with a thick trunk and many side branches. Its fleshy, oval leaves are glossy jade-green color. Outdoors, jade plant bears clusters of small, starry, white or light pink flowers in late winter or spring. But when grown as a houseplant, it tends to flower sparsely or not at all. With a little care, jade plant can be quite long-lived and grow to an impressive size, even as a houseplant.
Common name: Jade plant
Botanical name: Crassula ovata
Plant type: Succulent shrub, mostly grown as a houseplant
Zones: 11 to 12 outdoors; anywhere indoors
Height: 2 to 4 feet
• Sun: Bright, sunny window.
• Soil: Well-drained houseplant or cactus potting mixes
• Moisture: Average to dry; avoid overwatering
• Mulch: None
• Pruning: Cut back branch tips to shape plant and reduce size.
• Fertilizer: Apply diluted soluble fertilizer every month or two from spring to fall; reduce or eliminate fertilizer in winter.
• Root individual leaves or stem cuttings.
Pests and diseases
• Root and stem rot may develop if soil is too wet.
• ‘Variegata’ has green and white streaked foliage.
• ‘Gollum’ has oddly shaped, nearly tubular leaves.
• Its treelike form makes jade plant popular for indoor bonsai creations.
• Wide but shallow clay pots are ideal for jade plants; they help prevent overly wet soil and provide stability for these top-heavy plants.
• Jade plant is super-easy to propagate; it can grow roots not only from stem cuttings but even from the base of a single leaf.
All in the family
• Jade plant is a member of the stonecrop family (Crassulaceae), an interesting group of succulent plants that have a specialized form of photosynthesis.
• Other stonecrop family members often grown as houseplants or in gardens include sedum (Sedum spp.), kalanchoe (Kalanchoe spp.), and hens-and-chicks (Sempervivum spp.)
Where to buy
• Mountain Crest Gardens; 877-656-4035; http://mountaincrestgardens.com
• Logee’s Greenhouses; 888-330-8038; www.logees.com