14 Common Problems With Jade Plants (and How to Fix Them)

Jade plants are popular due to their resilience and aesthetic versatility. Their low-maintenance requirements also make them perfect for beginner and experienced—but busy—gardeners alike. When properly cared for, they can last several generations and make an exciting family heirloom.

Despite their sturdiness, jade plants may encounter several common issues, including the following:

  1. Yellow leaves
  2. Mushy leaves and stems
  3. Black spots on the leaves
  4. Brown leaves
  5. Leaf scorch
  6. Wrinkled or shriveled leaves
  7. Drooping stem and branches
  8. Red leaf edges
  9. Leggy growth
  10. Dropping leaves
  11. White spots
  12. Pests
  13. Slow or stunted growth
  14. Lack of flowers

This article will explore these issues to help you identify the underlying cause and find an appropriate solution. I’ll also share practical ways to protect your jade plant from these problems and ensure it thrives for decades in your home environment.

Jade Plants: An Overview

Jade plants (Crassula ovata) are long-living succulents from South Africa. They’re famous for their coin-shaped leaves, and they’re often called the “Money Tree” in East and Southeast Asia.

In the wild, they can live up to 100 years with the following environmental conditions:

  • Loose, sandy soil that facilitates fast drainage
  • Low shrubby companion plants, allowing them to access direct sunlight
  • Wet, warm, and humid spring and summer
  • Cool, dry, frost-free winters

These conditions influenced jade plants to evolve with the following features:

  • Plump, glossy leaves that store moisture
  • A thick stem and branches with excellent water storage and transport capacity
  • Shallow roots that absorb moisture quickly

Ideal Growing Conditions

Replicating their native environment can help maintain their health and maximize their lifespan. 

Here are the parameters to keep in mind:

  • Light: 4 hours of direct sunlight daily, ideally from an eastern window
  • Water: Wait until the upper half of the potting soil is dry before watering. In mid-fall to winter, water when the upper ⅔ of the soil is dry.
  • Temperature: 65-75 °F (18-24 °C)
  • Humidity: 30-50%
  • Soil: Loose, fast-draining (i.e., standard succulent soil or compost-perlite mix)

Jade plants are resilient and can tolerate occasional dips outside the abovementioned parameters. However, prolonged exposure to suboptimal conditions will affect their health and cause many problems, which I’ll discuss further below.

Common Problems and Fixes

The list below shows the common jade plant problems with their corresponding causes and fixes:

Yellowing Leaves

Yellowing leaves is the most common problem in jade plants, which are famous for their green leaves. Unless you have a naturally colorful variety, such as the ‘Red Coral’ and ‘Hummel’s Sunset’, yellowing leaves can indicate a care or environmental issue.

Here’s a guide to the common causes, associated symptoms, and corresponding solutions:

CauseEffect and Associated SymptomsSolutions
OverwateringOverwatering is the primary cause of yellowing leaves in jade plants.

Excess water can suffocate the roots and inhibit moisture or nutrient transport to the leaves, causing yellowing. 

The symptom is often accompanied by wet soil, mushy leaves and stems, and smelly, rotten roots.
Let the upper ⅔ of the soil dry out between watering sessions.

If the plant shows signs of root rot, prune damaged leaves and rotten, mushy roots.

Repot the plant in sterile soil with better drainage.
UnderwateringDehydration due to underwatering can turn the leaves yellow. 

The leaves may also appear wrinkly and the soil is bone-dry.
Soak the pot in water for 10-30 minutes to evenly rehydrate the soil.

Water the plant again as soon as the upper half of the potting soil is dry.
Too much lightIntense light can break down chlorophyll.

Some leaves may also have brown or black burn marks with yellow margins. 
Move the plant away from direct sunlight and give it bright indirect light. 

Alternatively, hang sheer curtains to filter the light.

Rotate the pot by 90-180° every time you water your plant. 
Insufficient lightInsufficient light can inhibit chlorophyll synthesis.

The leaves may also appear pale and flat.
Give your plant 4 hours of direct sunlight or at least 8 hours of bright, indirect light.

Place a 40-watt grow light ½-1 foot (15-30 cm) above the plant and keep it on for 14-16 hours.
Heat stressConstantly high temperatures can dehydrate the plant.

Yellow leaves may wrinkle, shrivel, or turn brown.
Move your plant a few feet (+ 0.6 m) away from direct sunlight when temperatures remain over 90 °F (32 °C) for a couple of days.

Keep your plant away from heating vents and hot, sunny windows.
Cold shockThe freeze-and-thaw cycle can damage the water channels along the roots and stem, leading to dehydration.

The stems and leaves may feel mushy from the internal damage.
Maintain temperatures above 50 °F (10 °C) during the cold season.

Keep your plant away from cooling vents or drafty doors and windows.
Nutrient deficiencyLack of nitrogen, iron, and magnesium can inhibit chlorophyll synthesis

The plant may also stop producing new growth.
Feed your plant a half-strength 10-10-10 liquid fertilizer every time you water it from spring to summer.

Pour the water directly into the soil and avoid using foliar sprays.
PestsMealybugs and spider mites can leave tiny brown holes with yellow margins or yellow specks.Remove pests using a cotton swab with alcohol.

Repeat the process several times until all the pests are gone.

Continue inspecting your plant every time you water it to catch and eliminate pests promptly.
Powdery mildewPoor air circulation, high humidity, and overhead watering can invite Sphaerotheca fungi to grow on dense jade foliage.

Powdery mildew can leave yellow or brown scab marks on the leaf surface.
Prune damaged leaves and a few branches to improve air circulation.

Apply sulfur dust or potassium bicarbonate spray on the asymptomatic leaves and stems to kill the fungi before they can cause some damage. 

Follow the product label for proper dosage and application instructions.

Switch on a fan a few feet (0.6+ m) away from your plants to reduce the humidity.

Avoid wetting the foliage when watering your plant.

Mushy Leaves and Stems

Young and healthy jade plants have firm and plump leaves and stems. As they mature, the stems become woodier and turn brown.

The leaves and stems may become soft and mushy due to the following issues:

Root Rot

Too much water can cause plant cells to swell, but the sturdy cell walls usually prevent them from bursting. In jade leaves, the cells become more turgid and prevent further water uptake. 

The leaves may release some moisture through guttation while the soil remains wet. The roots will then rot and the rot-causing fungi will climb along the xylem. The pathogens can damage plant cells, leaving behind mushy sections on the leaves and stems.

You can prevent this problem by allowing the soil to dry out adequately between watering sessions. 

Regular inspection can help you diagnose root rot sooner—before the shoots start decaying. Once diagnosed early, you may unpot the plant, prune the mushy roots and foliage, and repot your plant in fresh soil and a sterile pot.

However, if rot-causing fungi have spread so far as to cause decay in the leaves and stems, it may be too late to save your plant. You can try to propagate healthy-looking terminal leaves in sterile substrate, but there’s no guarantee they’ll survive.

Bacterial Soft Rot

Soil mixes or pots contaminated with Erwinia spp. can cause bacterial soft rot in jade plants. If the soil stays warm and wet, these bacteria will reproduce and travel to the shoots through the xylem.

They contain cell wall degrading enzymes (CWDEs) that can break down the cell walls and cause overwatered leaves and stems to burst. As a result, the affected areas appear soft and mushy.

This infection has no cure. It’s best to discard the infected plant and soil and sterilize the container.

Black Spots on the Leaves

Jade leaves may sometimes exhibit black spots due to occasional overwatering. The plant cells may swell (edema) and burst, leaving behind unsightly spots or blisters.

Chronic overwatering, on the other hand, can encourage rot-causing fungi and bacteria to climb to the shoots and cause decay. In this case, the stems may exhibit black spots in addition to being mushy.

You can still save the plant if the stems appear firm without any mushy sections. Carefully inspect 1-2 inches (2.5-5 cm) into the soil to see if the roots are rotten.

  • If there’s no sign of rot, cut back on watering and wait until the upper ⅔ of the soil is dry. You must prune severely damaged leaves to preserve your plant’s energy for new growth.
  • In case of root rot, carefully unpot the plant and prune all the damaged leaves and rotten roots (black, mushy, and smelly). Leave the plant unpotted in a warm (70 °F or 21 °C) and dry (30-40%) room for a week. Repot the plant in fresh, fast-draining soil and sterile pot.

Brown Leaves

Browning can occur in jade leaves in various ways, depending on the cause. 

Here are some accompanying signs and their corresponding causes:

  • Dry leaf tips: Dehydration caused by underwatering, low humidity, high temperatures, and intense sunlight
  • Wrinkly leaves: Dehydration from underwatering and low humidity
  • Irregular, mushy spots: Root rot or bacterial soft rot
  • Dry spots on the sun-exposed leaves: Sunburn

Check any recent changes in your care routine or if you relocated your plant so you can correctly diagnose the problem.

Once confirmed, choose from the relevant fixes below:

  1. Rehydrate the soil evenly by bottom watering or mixing a wetting agent with the water. Increase the watering frequency, ensuring that the soil doesn’t dry out completely between watering.
  2. Avoid overwatering your plant. Water it only when the top half or ⅔ is dry. If the soil has poor drainage, repot your plant in fast-draining soil and sterile pot.
  3. Flush the soil with filtered water to leach the excess fertilizer salts. You may need to do this twice. (I’ll discuss the steps in more detail below).
  4. Use a humidifier to maintain the humidity at optimal levels (30-50%).
  5. Place your plant in an area with moderate temperatures (around 70 °F or 21 °C).
  6. Give your plant at most 4 hours of direct sunlight or move it to an area with at least 8 hours of bright indirect light. 
  7. Give the pot a quarter or a half turn every time you water the plant to promote balanced growth and healthier leaves.

Leaf Scorch

In jade plants, leaf scorch may be caused by the following factors:

Sunburn

Jade plants love direct sunlight, but extended exposure at temperatures around 90 °F (32 °C) can burn the leaves. The symptoms include brown or blackish spots on the sun-exposed leaves.

You can fix the damage from sunburn with the following steps:

  1. Prune the damaged leaves using sterile shears and properly discard the waste.
  2. Move the pot a few feet (0.6+ m) away from hot, sunny windows when temperatures rise over 80 °F (27 °C).
  3. Rotate the pot by 90-180° every 2 weeks or every time you water the plant to give the leaves respite from intense sunlight.
  4. Water your plant more often if the soil dries out too quickly.

Over-Fertilization

Applying too many granules or concentrated liquid fertilizer at once can burn the fragile roots. The salts in the soil can draw moisture from the roots, resulting in dehydrated leaves with brown or black spots (sometimes with yellow margins).

To address over-fertilization, follow these steps:

  1. Pune the damaged leaves.
  2. Scrape a quarter inch (0.6 cm) off the soil surface to remove the white crust from salt deposits. 
  3. Replenish the soil with fresh and sterile succulent mix. 
  4. Top-water the soil with filtered water equal to the volume of the pot to flush the excess salts. 
  5. Let the excess water drip from the drainage holes.
  6. Repeat the process after 3 days before reverting to the regular watering routine.
  7. Avoid fertilizing for the next 2-3 months while it recovers.

Wrinkled or Shriveled Leaves

Jade leaves may shrivel in response to stress. For instance, they lose moisture due to underwatering and prolonged exposure to high temperatures and low humidity. As a result, the plant cells shrink and the leaves appear wrinkled.

The leaves will regain their turgidity when properly rehydrated. You can soak the bottom half of the pot in water for 10-30 minutes and let the soil and the roots draw moisture from the drainage holes.

You can prevent this from happening again with the following tips:

  • Check the soil moisture 7-10 days after watering using your fingers or a wooden chopstick. If the soil is dry halfway through, it’s time to water your plant.
  • Alternatively, I recommend trying to fold the leaves between your fingers. A well-hydrated jade leaf should be firm and resistant to bending. If the leaves bend from mild pressure between your fingers, it’s a sign that your plant needs water.
  • Water the soil evenly and deeply until the excess drains from the bottom holes. Avoid shallow watering, which may lead to a buildup of hydrophobic soil clumps.
  • Maintain the temperature and humidity around your jade plant within optimal levels. Avoid drastic changes that can stress the plant.

Drooping Stems and Branches

Young jade stems and branches typically appear greenish and fleshy. They require essential nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and calcium to develop a sturdier trunk to support the weight of the growing plant.

Without adequate nutrients, the stems and branches may take a long time to become woody. Regular watering will prompt individual cells to grow longer but the plant won’t have enough resources to develop a secondary cell wall that should make them sturdier.

This lack of structural support leads to long but flimsy stems and branches more susceptible to drooping. 

To fix the problem, you must cut the droopy branches back to 1-2 nodes from the trunk. Then, fertilize your jade plant (during the growing season in spring until summer). 

Remember the following considerations depending on the fertilizer type:

  • Slow-release granular fertilizer: Sprinkle a thin layer of granules over the soil surface and water deeply and evenly. Reapply the fertilizer once every 2 months, with the last application around mid-summer.
  • Liquid fertilizer: Dilute the fertilizer to quarter or half-strength and incorporate it into your regular watering schedule. Stop fertilizing 2-4 weeks before the first fall frost (even for indoor plants) to help your plant transition to slower growth and winter care.

With proper fertilization and watering, new, healthier growth should start within a few weeks. You may repot the plant in fresh, nutrient-rich soil the following spring to further promote stronger shoot growth.

Pro tip: Jade plants normally don’t require frequent fertilization unless they’ve been in the same pot and nutrient-depleted soil for several years.

My young jade plants (less than 5 years old) get by with a single feeding of a slow-release 10-10-10 fertilizer in spring. They’d likely grow more quickly if I fertilized them more frequently, but I like keeping them compact, as long as they have healthy shoots.

Red Leaf Edges

Bright sunlight can leave a red tinge on the leaf edges. Although attractive, this discoloration may eventually lead to yellowing or leaf scorch if the plant is exposed to other issues, such as underwatering and constantly high temperatures.

Pro tip: Don’t confuse this issue with the natural color transition in several jade plant varieties, such as the following:

  • Botany Bay Jade
  • California Red Tip
  • Campfire
  • Crosby’s Red Jade
  • Hummel’s Sunset
  • Red Coral

These varieties require 4-6 hours of direct sunlight daily to maintain their unique color patterns.

On the other hand, if you want your classic jades to remain solid green, move them out of direct sunlight. Place them in a spot that receives bright indirect light or under grow lights.

Leggy Growth

Jade plants require bright light to develop a sturdy trunk and grow upright. When kept in low-light conditions, the stems of these sun-loving plants naturally grow longer toward the window or artificial light to get the energy they need for photosynthesis.

The branches and leaves may also grow denser at the side of the plant that receives sufficient light. The heavy foliage will then pull the stem downward, giving it a lopsided appearance.

To fix the problem, you must prune the leggy growth using sterile shears. You may also prune a few branches if they become too dense on one side to reduce the weight the trunk has to bear.

Afterwards, move your plant to a brighter location.

Here are some excellent locations for jade plants:

  • Near a southern or southeastern window: This spot receives sufficient natural light throughout the day, making it suitable for well-acclimated jade plants. Keep your plant up to 8 feet (2.4 m) away and move them a foot (0.3 m) closer every week. 
  • Next to an eastern window: If outdoor temperatures are within the optimal range for jade plants, you can place the pot next to the window to give your plant direct but gentle sunlight in the morning.
  • A bright entryway: This is a perfect location for optimal plant health and good fortune in your home. 
  • A room with sufficient artificial lights: Ideally, you should use a 40-watt full-spectrum grow light. Position it at a 45° angle about a foot (30 cm) away from the side with fewer leaves.

Here are some additional tips for optimal light conditions for a recovering plant:

  • When rotating the pot, ensure that the side with sparse leaves and branches faces the light longer to encourage faster recovery. For instance, give the leggy side 2 weeks to face the light and a week away from it.
  • Move the plant away from drafty windows and doors as the cool season approaches. Consider using grow lights if your home doesn’t receive sufficient natural light.

Dropping Leaves

Jade plants are very expressive when there’s something wrong with their environment. They tend to drop discolored or even healthy leaves under the following conditions:

  • Underwatering: When drought-stressed, jade plants shed leaves to minimize water loss from transpiration. Properly rehydrate the soil using the watering tips mentioned above to help the plant recover. Moving forward, avoid letting the soil dry out completely between watering sessions.
  • Drastic temperature fluctuations: Most plants prefer a 10-15 °F (~ 6 °C) difference between daytime and nighttime temperatures for optimum photosynthetic and respiratory functions. A 20 °F (~ 10 °C) difference can stress jade plants, especially when nighttime temperatures fall below 50 °F (10 °C). It prompts them to enter a self-preservation mode, resulting in leaf drops. 

Improving your watering practices and maintaining optimal temperatures will help jade plants recover and grow new leaves. However, depending on the severity of leaf loss, it may take them several weeks or even months to restore their foliage.

White Spots

Jade leaves may occasionally have white spots due to the following:

Dust

The dense leaves may accumulate dust over time. They’re challenging to clean thoroughly because of the large number of leaves and the narrow spaces between them. Be patient when dusting or wiping your plant’s leaves.

Doing it once every 2 weeks should be enough to keep them vibrant.

Guttation

Mildly overwatered jade plants may force the excess moisture out of the hydathodes in the leaves in liquid form. The secretion may carry some sugars or salts that remain on the leaf surface as fine white particles. You can safely wipe them off with a clean, damp towel.

To avoid the problem, allow the soil to dry halfway through before watering.

Water Stains

Wetting the foliage when watering or using hard water in humidifiers can leave salt-rich stains on the leaf surface. You can mist the leaves with filtered water and dry them with a lint-free cloth.

Avoid overhead watering and aim the spout of your watering can directly at the soil. Use filtered water in humidifiers because long-term use of hard water can also reduce the performance of your device.

White Fluff

Jade leaves may also have white fluff, which is a cluster of sap-feeding insects. I’ll discuss this in more detail in the following section.

Pests

The fleshy young stems and leaves of jade plants are attractive to the following pests:

  • Mealybugs: crawling insects with cottony white or fluffy outer covering. They form clusters and hide underneath leaf surfaces. After feeding on the plant’s sap, they secrete a clear, sticky substance (honeydew) on the leaf surface.
  • Scale mites: tiny brown, immobile insects that cling to the nooks of the branches or on the leaf surface.
  • Spider mites: tiny, spider-like insects that weave fine webs between branches. They leave behind white or yellow specks on jade leaves.

To fix the problem, scrape the pests off the leaves using an alcohol-soaked cotton swab. Inspect your plant every week to catch and eliminate pests promptly.

Avoid spraying neem oil on jade plants growing in direct sunlight, as this can increase the risk of sunburn or leaf scorch.

I often use neem oil spray to deal with houseplant pest problems because it’s generally plant-safe. It also works as a wonderful preventative agent against fungal infections, such as powdery mildew.

However, I noticed scorch marks on my jade plant’s leaves after applying the oil for a few weeks in a row. 

My jade plant used to sit happily next to my eastern window along with other cacti and succulents and only started showing leaf scorch after the neem oil treatment. The echeveria also showed similar symptoms.

If you want to use neem oil to treat and prevent pest problems in jade plants, I recommend the following steps:

  1. Gradually acclimate your plant away from direct sunlight by moving it a foot (0.3 m) away from the window every 2 days. 
  2. Manually remove the pests during the transition. 
  3. Once your jade plant is in bright, indirect light, you can start using the neem oil solution. Spray it at night for extra caution against sunburn.
  4. After controlling the pest problem, you can gradually return the plant to its usual spot.

Slow or Stunted Growth

Classic jade plants can grow 3-6 feet (0.9-1.8 m) tall indoors. Dwarf varieties typically reach less than 3 feet (0.9 m). 

Here are some signs that your plant is growing as expected:

  • Putting on 2-6 inches (5-15 cm) annually—mostly from spring to summer
  • New leaf buds start sprouting from the nodes in early spring with brighter light, warmer temperatures, and more frequent watering
  • New branches grow and develop multiple leaves throughout the summer

Conversely, a stunted jade plant will exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Insignificant vertical growth and branching
  • New leaves have distorted shapes and don’t reach full-size

This problem may occur due to the following:

  • Insufficient light: Jade plants require a few hours of direct sunlight to generate enough energy for growth. Plants grown in bright indirect light or artificial lights might not become leggy when properly rotated, but they’ll naturally grow more slowly.
  • Overwatering: Too much water in the soil can cause root rot and inhibit water or nutrient transport, causing the plant to stop growing.
  • Underwatering: Plant cells need water to grow longer and undergo cell division.
  • Nutrient deficiency: The nutrients in the soil gradually become depleted over time. Without proper fertilization, jade plants may stop growing.
  • Being rootbound: If root growth is restricted within the pot, the plant may stop putting out new leaves and branches. Jade plants need to be repotted in a larger container when the roots start poking out of the soil surface or drainage holes.

Pro tip: My jade plants that are over 10 years old don’t put on significant vertical growth annually, even when repotted in a larger container every 3 years. However, they branch out vigorously when grown in direct sunlight and watered sufficiently from spring to summer.

This observation prompted me to be more lenient with repotting older plants, keeping them in the same container for up to 5 years without issue.

If you have a younger jade plant with the abovementioned symptoms of stunted growth, it’s important to evaluate your care routine or the environmental conditions.

Identify the underlying cause by confirming the associated symptoms discussed in yellowing leaves. This will help you diagnose and fix the problem accordingly.

Lack of Flowers

Jade plants are prized for their plump leaves, but their flowers are equally captivating. In winter, the flowers come out and form clusters of white star-shaped blooms—some tinged with pink.

Unfortunately, jade plants seldom bloom indoors due to inadequate sunlight. Even with sufficient light, they must be at least 3 years old and in good health to increase the chances of blooming.

I have a few gifted jade plants over 10 years old and several young ones I’ve grown from leaf cuttings. Most of them bloom sporadically—sometimes taking 2-3-year intervals.

The earliest bloomer I got was a 3-year-old plant I propagated from a stem cutting. There were a few flowers in their third winter and none in the fourth. Surprisingly, they bloomed profusely in the fifth year.

The following seasonal transitions in care routine and environmental conditions can largely influence the probability of jade plants blooming in an indoor environment:

Care Routine and EnvironmentSpring and SummerFall and Winter
SunlightAt least 4 hours of direct sunlight8 hours of filtered or bright indirect light
WaterEvery 2-3 weeks (or weekly in summer

Water your plant as soon as the top half of the potting soil dries out.
Every 4 weeks

Pro tip: Letting the top ⅔ of the soil dry out before watering is enough. Avoid letting the soil become bone-dry, as this can lead to underwatering problems instead of blooming.
FertilizerA balanced slow-release 10-10-10 fertilizer in spring (and/or summer with a 2-month interval)None
Temperature65-75 °F (18-24 °C) daytime
55-60 °F (13-15.6 °C) nighttime
Around 70 °F (21 °C) daytime
50-55 °F (10-13 °C) nighttime

Final Thoughts

Jade plants are sturdy, long-living perennials perfect for those who like lifetime companion plants.

Although low maintenance, they’re not immune to constant neglect and will likely show signs of stress, including the following:

  • Leaf discoloration
  • Droopy or leggy stems
  • Leaf drop
  • Wrinkled or distorted leaves
  • Susceptibility to pests and diseases
  • Stunted growth or lack of blooms

Don’t be discouraged by the number of problems discussed in the article. These issues only occur in jade plants growing in poor care and in poor environmental conditions. 

Remember and apply the care tips I shared above to ensure your jade plant grows happily and healthily in your home garden.

If you’re an experienced jade plant gardener like me, feel free to add some practical tips by leaving a comment. You can also reach out if you have any questions.

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