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Help, My Jade Plant is Losing Its Leaves! 9 Things That Could Be Causing It

Help, My Jade Plant is Losing Its Leaves! 9 Things That Could Be Causing It

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The Jade Plant is a frequent favorite as an indoor plant because for very little effort, you get rewarded with aesthetic beauty and improved air quality – the two most common reasons to introduce any ornamental houseplant.

Naturally, when you see your Jade plant dropping leaves, the first instinct is to figure out what it needs or doesn’t.

More often than not, leaf drop is because of too much of something. Not always though because you can expect to lose mature leaves to natural aging.

Leaves at the base of the plant are the oldest and the ones to expect to fall off eventually. When younger leaves further up the plant’s woody stem begin dropping, something is amiss.

Why is My Jade Plant Dropping Leaves?

1 – An Abundance of Water

Overwatering has to be the most recurring mistake that happens to Jade plants and that’s because it doesn’t need much hydration at all. It is among the top performers of indoor plants that are hard to kill because of the high volume of water they store in the leaves.

Let the leaves dictate when you water.

The leaves on a Jade plant should feel plump. To test it, place a leaf between your thumb and index finger and apply a little pressure. There should be very little give. Carefully apply a little more pressure and if you feel it’s likely to snap from the plant, it doesn’t need to be watered.

When to water is once the leaves feel floppy when pressed.

If you don’t trust your judgement, use a moisture meter or your finger to check that the potting mix is dry to a depth of 1 to 2 inches.

To err on the side of caution, wait until the leaves feel soft, and shrivel a little before watering. Shriveled leaves on a Jade plant are a sign of underwatering. It will stress the plant but not enough to kill it or any leaves on it.

2 – Humidity Levels Too High

The Jade plant survives fine in normal room humidity. Anywhere between 30% to 50% is ideal. Above 50% can be too high. The more water vapor is in the air, the longer the soil will take to dry out. That contributes to the overwatering problem.

What is of equal concern is any standing water on the leaf surface. If you regularly mist your plant to keep the leaves shiny, it is increasing the humidity.

If you feel that you have not been going overboard with watering, check your humidity levels. Dry air is better simply because that is what it’s used in its natural climate.

3 – Temperature Fluctuations

In the winter, to combat the reduction of daylight hours, a simple fix is to move the plant closer to a window to increase the light intensity the plant receives during the day.

In doing so, cold drafts from windows or vents surrounding them can lead to the Jade plant dropping leaves.

On the opposite end of the temperature scale, extreme temperatures can contribute to the plant losing some leaves too. The Jade plant is adaptable to temperatures between 32oF (0oC) and 90oF. (approx. 32oC). The preference is between 55oF and 75oF.

Where things get problematic is when the normal temperature swings fluctuate drastically from what the plant is used to. That can be drafts of warm air from an HVAC system, radiators, or even putting a ceiling fan in reverse to push warm air back down into the room.

Cold air drafts tend to originate from windows, doors, and vents. Neither is good for your houseplants.

4 – Not Getting Enough Light

Leaves dropping in the winter is often because of the drop in light levels. When temperatures drop, you can move the plant to within a few inches of a window pane, and use a drape or something similar to shelter the plant from draft. If the cold still effects the plant, you’d naturally move it to a more suitable location.

A drastic reduction of light can cause leaves to drop. As an example, moving a Jade plant from a south facing window to a table stand in the hallway with no windows or sufficient LED lights to support it will lead to multiple leaves from all over the plant dropping in response to the sharp reduction of light.

When addressing cold drafts, don’t neglect the need to balance the plant’s requirements for light. It needs both temperature and light to survive.

5 – Dusty Leaves

Dust on the leaves can also block light penetration, resulting in the plant showing symptoms of insufficient light even it is placed in front of a suitable window.

It’s good practice to gently clean the leaves every so often to prevent dust particles blocking the stomata in the leaves. Water with a little bit of soap sprayed over the leaves before watering is enough to dislodge dust.

How often this will need to be done will depend on the dust levels in your home. The more pets there are, the more dust there will be because of the lingering pet dander from both fur and skin shedding.

6 – Improper Fertilizing

Even if you want to get your Jade plant to flower, not much fertilizer is needed. Water and light are the crucial factors to encourage blooming. It’s no guarantee that it will though.

Fertilizing once every few months is plenty. Even at that, it ought to be a balanced fertilizer, or better, a liquid fertilizer for succulents or cacti.

If you have over fertilized your Jade plant, you can water as normal when the soil is dry (wait it out), flush the soil to remove most of the added minerals, or repot the plant in a fresh potting mix. The most important thing is not to add to the problem by continuing to fertilize it.

Adding too much fertilizer, or using one that is too strong can cause the leaves on a Jade plant to drop from the bottom up.

The NPK of the fertilizer cannot be strong either or it will burn the roots, stunting a Jade plant’s growth. If all you have on hand is a regular houseplant fertilizer such as 20-20-20, dilute it to a quarter strength.

A cacti or succulent fertilizer has lower NPK values of 10-10-10 or below. Even at low amounts, fertilizers for succulents are better to be water soluble and diluted using the ratio recommended by the manufacturer. The instructions are always printed on the label and they differ by brand.

How to Fertilize a Jade Plant

Fertilizer should be applied to the plant after it has been watered. Adding any fertilizer to a dry potting mix can be too strong for the roots to cope, which can result in root rot. When the roots can’t breathe, they rot and that eventually leads to a Jade plant dying.

The best way to add fertilizer is to either pour water into the soil until it’s moist but has no standing water on the surface, or place it in a bath or tub then use a shower head to spray it with water. Once the potting mix is moistened, pour the diluted fertilizer directly onto the soil.

7 – Mealybugs

Mealybugs are scale insects. They look like tiny white cotton blobs, but they can be invasive. A colony can coat the entire leaf surface making it appear like the plant has a fungal mold growth.

These teeny pests are attracted to plants with high moisture content and high nitrogen levels.

If you find mealybugs on your Jade plant, there is likely to be either too much nitrogen caused from over fertilizing, or soft tissue on the plant leaves caused by overwatering. A healthy jade plant is resilient to mealybugs and will bounce back once the bugs are removed.

8 – Powdery Mildew

Powdery mildew is a common plant infliction. The cause is attributed to the plant’s growing climate. The main factors that influence fungal spore germination are temperatures, relative humidity, light levels, and air circulation.

Jade plants don’t need any special growing requirements. Normal room temperatures with average humidity are sufficient. Anything that raises the humidity levels can become problematic.

Any plants grouped together increases direct humidity around the plants. Add in standing water by wetting the leaves, the higher temperature, humidity and reduced air flow would increase the likelihood of the Jade plant succumbing to powdery mildew.

It can be wiped off, but don’t leave it there. Lower the humidity levels to prevent a reoccurrence.

9 – Compacted Potting Medium

When the potting mix becomes compacted, the plant can behave the same as an overwatered plant because of the effect it has on the roots.

Without air, the roots can’t breathe. The potting medium for succulents have porous materials included to aerate the soil in potted plants. Perlite, vermiculite, and pumice and commonly used.

While the potting mix will last a while, it will not last forever. It’s recommended is to repot your plant after two to three years when you are encouraging growth.

Once the plant matures and you want to maintain the plant in its current state, the potting mix can last up to five years, possibly longer. Unless it has been overwatered or too much fertilizer has been used as those lead to soil compaction.

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