The Flopping Jade

Recently, I received a question from a member who was having some issues with their jade plant, Crassula ovata, flopping over. I have experienced similar issues with jade plants here at the Gardens and personally.

There is some good information on jades in general out there on the web. The most likely culprit for flopping might be low light. As with any plant, it is good to know a little botany of the species to assist in formulating how you will care for it or troubleshoot plant health concerns.

Crassula ovata is native to South Africa and can grow up to six feet in height, although twenty-four to thirty six inches is more common. Being native to the desert, where rainfall is very limited and intense sunlight is plenteous, common jade needs as much sunlight as you can give it. This means south facing windows, when grown indoors, whenever possible. The plants naturally have shallow, fibrous root systems as a strategy to absorb as much rainfall at once. Thus, shallow, wide pots may work better for these plants. A wider pot also creates a broader base for the plant and helps to counter a top heavy succulent.

The jade we brought in from the Sensory Garden was flopping due to excessive growth toward the sun. Turning the pot periodically would have solved the problem. To correct the issue, I went ahead and pruned it to relieve the weight on the one side. I then repotted the plant, adjusting the root ball so the plant was more upright. I then placed the weaker side toward the window to encourage some growth (though it will not grow much this winter).

One thing I learned through this process is not to stake a flopping jade. I can attest to the futility of this corrective method. Jade stems are soft and do not respond well to the pressures placed on them by stakes or ties, etc. Over the long term, you are better off correcting the problem with better site choice, pruning and care.

Josh Steffen
Horticulture Manager


16 comments

  1. It would also help to prune it back. If the plants gets more light, the new foliage will not look like the old foliage, and the old foliage will eventually shed. Pruning it back accelerates generation of new growth that is adapted to a sunnier location (assuming it gets relocated). Also, the new stems will stand upright, so would look silly growing upward from branches that hang downward. All the pieces cut off from pruning can be rooted as new plant. But of course, if all are rooted, there will be way too many!

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    • That is very true. Pruning is an important tool for transitioning any tender perennial indoors. Whether the issue is due to flopping as discussed above or leaf drop due to lower light conditions, cut backs may be necessary for a number of different issues. Thanks for the reply. – Josh Steffen

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    • I have a jade that has 2 large branches that have flopped over, I thought it needed to be repoted to a larger pot. It has been in a south facing window since I got it 4 years ago and I rotate all my plants 1/4 turn every day. So it flopped over a few months back and I was going to repot it, went on line it said not to repot a jade till early spring. I noticed yesterday there are roots coming out on the floppy branches on quite a few of the ends on the little segments. I ask how and where does one prune a jade plant? The pot it is in now is 6″ wide at the mouth and 5 1/2″ – 6″ high, do I leave the plant in this pot once I prune the floppy branches, will it be ok to leave in this pot? I would send a photo but have no idea how to do that. The roots that are sprouting are all on the underside and it looks like I would be able to lay them down in the soil and they would take root. I thought I was doing so well with this plant a few years ago a Small branch fell off I stuck it in the dirt it rooted and has been growing well ever since. A leaf fell off I stuck it in the dirt, it rooted and is growing a stem with leaves. That’s my story hope someone can help, thank you, Joanne

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      • Jade plant is remarkably resilient. If you grew every piece that gets pruned off into a new plant, there would be way too many. Stems that are flopping downward and growing aerial roots really want to be in the ground where they can grow into new plants. If not pruned off, they may eventually fall off. There is not need to wait for spring to pot a jade plant that lives inside. Even outside, the main reason for waiting until early spring is so that new growth that is likely to be stimulated by the process is safer from frost. It may not even be necessary to pot it into something larger if you prune enough of it off. Stems that hang down indicate that it is likely not getting enough sunlight, even in a south facing window. That may not be a problem if it is pruned regularly to keep it fluffy and a bit more densely foliated. Ideally, it is best to prune away all stems that are hanging down. If they are all hanging down, they should be pruned back to where they start hanging down. You can prune back to leaves, or the scars where leaves were. New growth emerges from the buds just above where leaves were attached. Of course, all the scraps can be plugged as cuttings somewhere else. If pruning back to where stems hang down would deprive it of all the foliage, the process should be done in two phases, with much of the growth getting pruned back and allowed to resprout first, and the rest of the growth getting pruned back as the new growth from the previous pruning matures.

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  2. If your front door is on the south side of the home, putting plants in windows along the central and right-side areas of the home will sap these areas of water enery (representing money, wealth, wisdom and knowledge). In feng shui, wood damages water energy, and living plants represent the wood element. This is why in the element weel, water comes before wood, and fire succeeds wood etc, etc. 🙂

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  3. 2 jade plants are in one pot. Both have thick trunks. One is leaning over. Seems like they outgrew the pot. They have been pruned. Look better but still leaning. Would like to keep them in the pot til spring. So how to use a rope to staighten them up? Don’t want to use a rock, they might get hurt. Any ideas?

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  4. Our jade plant has grown a lot. It is quickly outgrowing the pot it is in. Besides that, there seems to be a bunch of new little “babies” at the base of the main jade. Are these really “babies” and can they be transplanted?

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  5. Pingback: The Path to Interior Enlightenment « Wellfield Botanic Gardens

  6. I just bought a jade plant, and transplanted it in a different pot, the sticker on the pot it came in did not say what type of jade plant it is, how can i tell what it is, it is solid green and standing up nice and lovely, i just hope it will do good in my new apt. i will be moving into on the 9th of aug, i am not sure how many windows and weather they face south or not, but i will start with one and if the jade doesn’t seam to be doing good or getting bigger i will try another window. my question is how to tell what type of jade it is.

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