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

28 thoughts on “The Flopping Jade

  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!

    1. ninacwbg

      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

    2. joanne nichols

      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

      1. 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.

  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. 🙂

  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?

  4. Bob Baldwin

    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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  6. lynn harper

    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.

    1. Hi, Lynn, thanks for the note; no promises, but if it’s not the most common Crassula ovata, it’s possible we could get a closer identification to variety with a good photo of the plant, showing it’s overall form (relative size), closeups of the stems and any flower structures present – -could send it to us here at Also, here’s some good info on the subject, if you wanted to compare notes:, and if you wanted to compare images, there’s a pretty good Crassula photo gallery here:

  7. Gail T Siebler

    Some of the leaves on my jade have become soft and wrinkled. The pot has holes so I am wondering if its loosing moisture.

  8. Tina McLain

    I have a jade that has grown to about6 12 inches but the bottom 6 inches has nothing but stalk, no leaves or anything. Should I cut it down and re root the top half or leave it?

    1. ninacwbg


      If you have a large and wide enough pot to keep the jade from tipping over, I would not worry about it. Jades, like many plants, lose leaves, or just do not have any for a certain portion of their lower stems. I would not worry about it. If you’re feeling adventurous and want to cut it back and reroot, go for it. It can be a great learning opportunity, but in reality there is no need.

      -Josh Steffen, Horticulture and Facilities Manager

  9. Have a very large jade plant on my front porch, it is easily 4 feet tall and fifteen years old. Last fall I overwatered and it almost died, most of the branches need to be cut back as the leaves are wrinkled and browning. Nonetheless it bloomed in full as it does a couple of times a year.
    The pot is too big to repot it without destroying or removing almost all foliage. Can I cut the many 3″ diameter branches down almost to grade level? Then will it rejuvenate with that hard cut.
    There is some new growth that I can retain but the 3″ diameter branches will be 1′ or 2′ long stubs if I cut off the dyings leaves.
    Once again, what is the best course of action: cut all damage woody branches to grade level and repot, or cut to grade level and let regrow or some other alternative or leave on some of the damaged branches and wait for new growth to fill in. Would have sent a picture but can’t see how on this resource.

    1. ninacwbg

      There are a couple of things to address:
      1. The rot is being caused most likely by a root fungal issue, so an appropriate soil drenching fungicide might be necessary besides repotting. I do not have a particular recommendation on which fungicide to use, though this article does have some good pointers. The important thing is cutting back and removing the dead and rotting tissue above and below ground as this will be a source for ongoing reintroduction.

      2. Cutbacks. I am not sure how well a jade will respond to cutting back all the way to the soil line. Unlike some plants, I do not have experience with jade sending up sucker shoots originating from the roots, only from buds along the original stem. Cut too low and potentially you remove all buds. I would start at the tips and follow the stem back (if it is soft) until you reach firm stem material (a sign it is not infected). If it is just a matter of lost leaves, the jade will often regrow new ones right there. The key is how soft the stem is. I have cut pretty thick stem material in the past and still received a good response from the plant. Jade plants grow in challenging environments, so they can take some abuse on that score.

      Flowering is not necessarily a sign of health (or ill-health). Some species use a survival strategy to ensure the next generation, of putting their last gasps into flowering/setting seed at all costs. It puts all its remaining strength into the process.

      I hope that helps and good luck. – Josh Steffen, Horticulture and Facilities Manager

    1. ninacwbg

      Hi Jackie! There are tons of resources available online, but our horticulture staff says the biggest thing is not to overwater. And make sure the plant is getting enough bright, indirect sunlight. Hope this is helpful to you!

  10. Aaron

    Found your post on a search today – we have a jade that has flopped just in the last few days. I can see I should re-pot, and put it closer to the window… that’s all fine. But before all that my first question… can a flopped Jade be saved? If I temporarily gently stand it up with stakes & twine (and I know that’s not recommended as a practice, but just temporarily to try and save it), and re-pot it in a wider & shallower pot, and move it to a south window… will those flopped stalks re-stiffen? Or should I just be trimming it back down to under the flop-point and starting over? Thanks!

    1. ninacwbg

      Hi Aaron,

      Thank you for sending the pictures of your Jade plant, this was a big help! It looks like there are a few issues going on here. The most common issues involved when a Jade flops over like that is 1.) It’s getting too much water, and the soil isn’t drying out in between waterings, or the pot it’s in doesn’t have adequate drainage. 2.) It’s not getting enough sunlight. With your Jade, both of these things may be occurring simultaneously. I will say, it’s not likely your Jade will come back from that state, though there are a couple things you can try. 1.) Get the plant out of that soil and pot as soon as possible. Clean the soil off from around the roots as much as you can. From here, take a look at the roots. If they look white and healthy, then there is a chance it may be able to survive if planted in a new pot with good drainage and drier soil, and is able to get sunlight. If the roots are brownish or the base of the stem is soft, this is a good indicator that it has root rot and will not bounce back even if you were to cut it back. In this case, your best bet would be to break off a couple leaves, and stick them in a potting mix. Water them once when you put them in soil and then water very sparingly until they take root. A good rule of thumb with a Jade plant is to stick your finger in the soil and don’t water until you feel at least the top inch of soil is dry.

  11. BJ

    Hi, thanks for your help. I inherited an old jade from a neighbor that was quite droopy. We pruned and repotted it and put it in a sunny window, and it stabilized and put up a lot of new growth. But that window became unavailable, and the jade got quite droopy again. I’m sending a photo — I assume we should prune back all these drooping branches? And get more sun? I’ve read that “bright but indirect sun” was enough, and the current plant location is well-lit, near several windows but not right in front of them, and not directly lit during the day… I thought it would be enough, but I suppose not! A trickier plant than I realized.

    1. ninacwbg

      Your assumptions are correct. Pruning out the droopy stems and moving the jade into full sunlight will help the plant resume proper growth. Bright indirect sunlight is great for a lot of house plants but jades thrive in full sunlight. One indicator that it is getting sufficient sunlight is the stress coloring on the margin of the leaves. The edges will remain green in lower light and red in higher light levels. The low amount of light getting to the plant could have contributed to the soil staying more wet and further exacerbate the drooping as well. If you do have a spot that could provide full sunlight within your house, it is best to make the transition gradually. Otherwise the leaves may become scorched. Jades are very resilient so it should completely rebound after you make those adjustments.

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