More than a year ago, I got a jade plant as a gift from my mother. My mother has always been the one with the green thumb in our family, and she loves to plant all sorts of flowers, fruits, and vegetables. She had pruned her jade plant back and gifted the newly planted stems to friends and family. It was a big problem for my new plant and me because I had no idea how to care for it properly.
It is crucial for a jade plant to be planted in well-draining succulent soil. Many people plant or repot their jade plant with 80% cactus potting mix, river sand, and perlite to help with water retention. Choosing suitable soil is very important for your jade plant’s growth.
After a year, I noticed that my jade plant looked a little dry, but no watering helped, so I called my mother. When she came over, she had everything we would need to repot my jade plant.
Why Is Using The Right Soil Important?
Soil is the foundation of everything you plant. Whether it is a fruit, vegetable, flower, or plants like the jade plant, each plant has different needs. Soil is where a plant gets its nutrition and oxygen from. Choosing the wrong type of soil can make plants sick.
Just like when we eat something wrong, we can get sick. Soil is not only where plants get their nutrients but is a medium for them to grow.
Do Jade Plants Need Succulent Soil?
Succulent plants are usually found in dry places like the desert, but some succulents love tropical climates like the jade plant. These succulents store water in their leaves; succulent leaves are usually plump and thick. Jade plants are tropical succulents which means they need more moisture than other succulents found in dry places like the desert, for example, the cactus.
Most potting soil mixes are made to retain moisture. These commercial soil mixes are not suitable for your jade plant. Root rot is the biggest jade plant threat, and the wrong soil will make it worse. Some commercial soil mixes will retain too much water, and therefore it could lead to root rot and fungus disease in your jade plant.
Jade plants need a succulent soil mix that is tailor-made for their needs. A good succulent mix has a loose, grainy texture that won’t get soggy or clump up and drains evenly and thoroughly.
What Soil Is The Best For Jade Plants?
If you want to give your jade plant the best soil to help it grow nice and tall, you will need to give it a succulent soil mix. It would be best if you had a soil mix with a pH range between 6.0 and 7.0. Jade plants need soil that is a little more acidic. Here is a mix that worked for me:
- Get a bag of Cactus soil mix, and this blend is made for succulents like cacti and helps give plants the nutrients they need but with proper drainage and it won’t compact as easy as other mixes.
- River sand is also good to help maintain a certain level of moisture without compacting the soil mix. Make sure not to use beach sand, as this has salt in it, which is terrible for your jade plant.
- Lastly is perlite, a substance that comes from volcanic ash and is used to create aeration; it’s like expanding rock (kind of like styrofoam). It’s imperative because jade plants have thin roots that are prone to root rot if there isn’t proper drainage.
There are soil mixes made especially for jade plants that you can buy. I used the mix I shared above because it’s been tried and tested.
How Much Soil Do Jade Plants Need?
The size will directly determine the amount of soil a jade plant needs when you plant it. Jade plants do not need much soil when they are small and make great dish plants. After a while, they will start to grow upwards, and their root system can grow to about 3 feet deep.
The smaller plants will need to be repotted every 12 months to 24 months or so into a moderately deep pot, making sure the soil is filled to the expansion ridge of the pot. The bigger plants only need to be repotted every four to five years. The best ratio for your jade plant is 2:2:1 (two parts cactus soil mix, two parts river sand, one part perlite).
How To Know If You Are Using The Wrong Soil
So you’ve potted your beautiful jade plant, and now you noticed something isn’t quite right, and you’re wondering how to check if you’re using the wrong soil for your jade plant. Here are some telltale signs you’re using the wrong soil for your jade plant:
- Soft spongy leaves, a jade plant should have firm, plump leaves.
- Yellowing on multiple leaves could be due to poor drainage from the wrong soil.
- Soil saturated with water means the plant is getting too much water.
- Rotting or mushy roots means the soil is too compact and not draining. It could lead to root rot or fungus disease.
- The soil might have a sour smell.
Can I Repair Damage From Using The Wrong Soil?
If you have used the wrong soil, you can try to repair the damages. If your plant is waterlogged, here are some tips to help you:
- First, assess the damage. When you lift the plant out of the pot, and you see some of the roots are brown, black, or mushy, this means you will have to prune some of the roots. Healthy roots are usually white.
- Take the jade out of its original pot and gently place the root ball onto some newspaper to help drain the excess moisture; you may have to do this a few times to get rid of as much water as you can.
- If you used a plastic pot to plant your jade, try to get a clay or terracotta pot. These pots drain the best and don’t retain as much excess moisture in the summertime as plastic containers do.
- The best way to make sure your plant gets a new lease on life is to repot it in new dry soil. After you remove it from the newspaper, you need to prune off all the rotten roots. Make sure you sterilize the pruning shears to avoid spreading the disease.
- Remember to buy a succulent soil mix, river sand, and perlite when repotting your jade plant. The perlite will help create air pockets to dry out the damaged roots.
- Please DO NOT use any fertilizer on a water-damaged plant; it will worsen the situation and burn the roots.
- After repotting your jade plant, please make sure to wait until the first few layers of soil are dry before watering it again.
If you suspect the damage you have is dry, compact soil, here’s what you can do:
- Check the soil; water the plant. After you water the plant, wait a few minutes. Next, do a finger penetrating test by sticking your finger into the soil; if only the part of your finger near your hand is moist and the tip near your nail is dry, your soil is most likely compacted. Also, look at the leaves of your jade plant. You can tell for sure if you have dry compacted soil by looking at the leaves. The leaves will look dull, wrinkled, and drooping.
- Carefully take the jade out of its pot, put it into another pot with some water, and give it a good soak. It might sound strange, but you need to loosen up the soil. It’s easier this way, and you avoid breaking the delicate root system.
- After about 10 minutes, take the jade out of the water, gently removing the old soil as you go. When all the old soil is removed safely, it is time for the repotting.
- Use the right soil mixture with preferably a terracotta or clay pot with drainage holes.
Helpful Tips When Propagating Or Repotting Your Jade Plant
If your jade plant has damage and you want to propagate some of the healthy stems and leaves, or it is just time for a trim, and you want to plant the trimmings, here are some helpful tips:
- Only use pots that have proper drainage holes. While jade plants are tropical succulents and need more moisture than cactus plants, they need good drainage.
- Use the proper soil mixture to ensure you won’t have issues in the future. The soil needs to be a bit more acidic than that of other plants.
- Don’t use a pot that is too big as this might lead to the soil compacting, and you will need to repot the plant again, as compacted potting soil can lose its nutrient content, and there is not enough oxygen to keep your plant healthy. It might also topple over with too much space and not enough structure.
- After repotting your jade plant, give it a healthy dose of water. It helps the jade to avoid transplant shock.
- Make sure your jade plant gets enough sunlight after a replant to help restart its growth, about 4 to 6 hours a day is perfect. If you don’t have access to a good sunny spot or it’s wintertime, you could try a grow lamp. Jade plants need at least 2000 per square foot to activate photosynthesis. They will need to be on for at least 12 hours and then 12 hours of total darkness, which will help the jade plant to grow.
- Check the soil temperature to make sure your jade plant doesn’t get too hot or too cold; this could lead to severe problems. The optimum temperature for your jade is between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Fertilize your jade every 3 to 4 months, but not if it is recovering from overwatering (waterlogged). Use a fertilizer that is specially made for succulent plants and is water-soluble. You will need to water the plant right before and right after you fertilize your jade; because the fertilizer is water-soluble, it needs to dissolve so it can adequately feed your jade plant.
- Some gardeners believe that using a sprinkling of Epsom salts over the top layer of soil helps your plants grow bigger and that it keeps them healthier. There is some truth to this as Epsom salt has magnesium, which is a vital component plants need in their nutrition. Epsom salt is also a bit milder than standard fertilizer.
- When propagating stems and leaves, make sure you don’t over prune your jade, keep the leaves in low levels of soil and sprinkle a bit of rooting powder on the leaves to speed up rooting. The best time to propagate your jade plants is during warmer months. Cuttings are the fastest way of propagating your jade plant. When using stems, lay the stems in a warmer part of your house out for a week; this will cause a callous to form where you cut it and help prevent root rot in the future.
- Jade plants prefer low humidity. They hate too much moisture in the air; the optimum humidity in the room should be between 35% and 50%.
In the end, my mom helped me repot my jade plant because of compacted old soil and me not really knowing as much as I needed about the soil requirements. Jade plants are some of the heartiest and most beautiful indoor or outdoor plants if you ask me. Choosing the right kind of soil is crucial to your jade plant’s survival. If you did make a mistake when choosing soil, there are some options that might save your jade.
The right succulent soil mix with good drainage and the proper nutrition is the key to keeping your jade in top condition. They make great gifts for friends when it’s time to propagate, and with a few tips, they are easy to maintain.