The Jade plant is one of 200+ species of the Crassula family. It’s a succulent with little watering requirements. What water you do feed it is mostly stored in the leaf cells, stems, and trunk. Owing to its vast water storage capabilities, it is very drought-resistant.
As easy as Jade plants are to care for, it relies on getting the watering techniques correct. Water the plant wrong, nothing goes right.
In this Jade plant watering guide, you’ll learn the fundamentals that are imperative to keep your plant healthy, the leaves plump, and growing when it should be and dormant when it needs to be.
The Fallacy of a Watering Schedule with Jade Plants
Wouldn’t it be great if we knew that we needed to water the plant with a single cup of water every second Saturday?
Unfortunately, that’s not possible.
The Jade plant, being a succulent, stores as much water as it can in its leaves and stems. If it has access to more water than it needs, it will try to use it. That is when problems arise.
How fast the plant uses water is dependent upon its growing climate.
Factors that have an impact on the watering schedule are the room temperature, humidity levels, and the amount of sunlight the plant receives. As those change, so too do the levels of water the plant uses.
Understand the Correlation between the Jade Plant, Water, and Sun
The correlation between the Jade plant, water, and the intensity of sunlight (or grow lights) determines how much watering the plant will need. The warmer the soil temperature, the faster the evaporation process happens.
What you need to determine is whether the water is actually being used by the plant. If it is only evaporating, the roots may not be transporting the water into the trunk and leaves.
That can result in a Jade plant being underwatered if its levels aren’t topped up more frequently during the warmer days.
In the summer months, pay attention to daytime temperatures. Particularly if a heatwave is on the forecast because that is when water will just evaporate before the plant gets a chance to use it.
The Jade plant is actively growing in the spring and summer. This is when it drinks more. As such, you will need to increase the watering frequency from spring through summer.
How much water the plant consumes is directly related to its growing conditions. The warmer the temperature, the faster the soil dries out. It is recommended to allow the soil to almost dry between waterings.
Kept in ideal conditions, you should find that the Jade plant needs to be watered every two to three weeks. That should not be relied on though. When you feel it is time to water it, check that the soil is dry beforehand.
With any type of succulent, underwatering is safer for the plant than overwatering. Jade plants are extremely drought-tolerant. If you leave it too long before adding water, you won’t kill your plant.
In the winter, photosynthesis slows down because there is less sunlight. The less light there is, the less photosynthesis happens. You have to adjust your watering schedule to cater to the diminished sunlight.
Even if you keep your Jade plant under grow lights, the light intensity should be reduced. Jade plants need a period of dormancy.
By continuing to water at the same frequency as the warmer months, it puts the plant at risk of root rot.
The reason being, when you add water to the soil mix and the plant does not consume it, it just leaves the soil moist. Soil that is moist for too long becomes waterlogged.
If the potting mix becomes waterlogged, the roots cannot obtain oxygen. That is when roots turn to mush, rot, starve the plant of nutrients, and slowly but surely result in a Jade plant dying.
In the winter, err on the side of caution by letting the potting mix completely dry out before watering.
Do They Need More Water When They Flower?
If you’re lucky enough to get your Jade plant to flower, it will need more water. Under normal circumstances, when you are only watering for maintenance, the general consensus is to let the soil almost dry out between waterings. When the plant is in bloom, the opposite should happen.
When a Jade plant is in bloom, keep the soil moist for longer. The flowers are short-lived anyway, however, keeping the soil moist for the little spell that the dainty star-shaped flowers are on the plant, moister soil should help them stick around for longer.
What to Water Plants with
Not all liquids used for plants provide equal nourishment. Typically, plants are watered with chlorinated water straight from the tap, or left in a container to dechlorinate first. Of better quality is filtered water or rainwater.
Anything containing chemicals can be detrimental to Jade plants, including watering plants with tea or coffee containing milk, sugar, or artificial sweeteners.
If adding coffee grounds or tea to a Jade plant, it will need to be balanced against any fertilizers being used. This is because tea and coffee contain several micro and macro nutrients including calcium, magnesium, iron, and chromium.
Like most things, too much of a good thing turns out not so good. The result of using tea or coffee grounds to water a Jade plant is over fertilizing. If that happens, the soil needs to be flushed to fix fertilizer burn.
How to Water a Jade Plant
There are two methods you can use to water a Jade plant efficiently. Use the soak and dry method or alternatively, opt for a self-watering system.
Self-watering Pots for a Jade Plant
Self-watering pots are not ideal for any succulent as they maintain an even level of moisture consistently. Self-watering pots work using a wicking system to keep soil consistently moist.
The risk with these is that the soil never gets a chance to completely dry out. This may be fine in the summer months, but not in the winter. The only way to let your soil completely dry out with a self-watering container would be leave the reservoir empty.
The benefit of self-watering systems is that the soil is in constant contact with the water reservoir. As it dries, more water is soaked up, but the roots of the plant never come into direct contact with the standing water.
The absolute key to getting a self-watering pot that doesn’t kill a Jade plant is to use the right size. The correct pot size for a Jade plant has to leave no more than 1-inch of space between the container wall and the root ball.
Bottom Watering the Right Way
The safest way to water a Jade plant is to sit the container in a saucer or bowl with a few inches of water. Leave it there for 10 to 20 minutes, checking the moisture level of the top layer of the potting mix frequently.
As soon as the top soil is moist, remove the pot from the water, let it drain, then place it back on its usual spot.
This is also known as the “soak and dry” method of watering, which is preferable for all succulent plants. Although it is known as soak as dry, during the summer, you can get away with bathing the plant more frequently.
In the winter months though, let the potting mix completely dry out and then give it a good soaking.
The Dangers of Overwatering a Jade Plant
Jade plants are one of a collection of indoor plants that are hard to kill, but not impossible. To stand the best chance of keeping yours around for the longest time possible, get acquainted with the symptoms of an overwatered plant. This is what will kill a Jade plant prematurely.
The reason is all to do with the root system and the potting medium. When the potting soil has too much moisture, oxygen levels decrease – suffocating the roots.
However, before the oxygen levels are decreased sufficiently enough by waterlogged soil, nutrient density is affected. Succulent fertilizers provide the magnesium required for the greenery in the leaves, and the calcium from fertilizing helps the plant maintain its strength.
An early sign of over watering is plant edema and this is the one that you need to be able to spot early to stand a chance at saving a dying plant.
Edema looks like spots on the leaves of plants, starting on the underside, then on the top of the leaf surface.
Thing is, they aren’t spots. Brown spots on the leaves of a Jade plant are water blisters/spores. They indicate that the leaves are soaking up water from the roots faster than the leaves can use the water.
It happens when the roots can’t cope with the overload of water in the soil. If left untreated, the roots will rot. It is root rot that kills plants.
Brown spots on the leaves are when prompt action is needed to dry your soil out or repot in a fresh potting mix.
Compacted soil will also have an impact on nutrient transportation. When the soil becomes waterlogged, essential nutrients are not able to be efficiently absorbed by the roots. The result is pale green to yellow leaves that flop downward rather than have the plumpness that the leaves should have from the water stored in them.
If you do find that your Jade plant looks (and feels) like it has been overwatered, the fix is to either let it dry before watering, or (safer) just go ahead and repot the plant.
Keep in mind that the soil you use ought to be really fast draining to avoid a repeat of the same.
When to Water a Jade Plant after Repotting
After repotting, the roots are more delicate. As such, it is best not to water the plant for a week. If it has been divided to keep its size in check, or pruned to remove some rotten roots, the remainder of the roots will be even more delicate.
Best practice is to wait at least 1 week before watering a Jade plant after repotting. If the plant has been divided, it will be fine to leave it for up to two weeks, or until you see the signs of underwatering develop.
How to tell a Jade plant needs more water is if you notice the leaves drooping, shriveling or a few leaves dropping. If you notice any of those symptoms, finger test the soil as it is likely to have dried out. If it is, then water the plant.
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.