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