Jade is a tropical plant that thrives in warm, bright locations. In regions with cold climates, it’s imperative to bring the plant indoors as soon as temperatures drop in fall to keep it alive. Some gardeners grow jade indoors throughout the year as popular houseplants. But when keeping jade indoors, special attention needs to be paid to lighting requirements to keep the plants alive.
A jade plant can live in a room without sunlight if you grow it under artificial lights. Jade needs ample direct light to grow and thrive. Choose an artificial light that emits at least 2,000 lumens to mimic natural sunlight and keep it switched on for at least 12 hours daily.
Not everyone has a sunny spot in their homes or gardens. Or maybe the place where you choose to keep your jade plant, following Feng Shui principles, is a dark corner of your home. In this article, I’ll explain how to use artificial light to grow a jade plant in a room without sunlight.
Growing Jade Plants in the Shade
No succulent can grow well in complete shade. But there are some succulents that can tolerate lower light conditions without showing too many signs of struggle. Jade is one of them.
Jade plants can survive in partial or dappled shade. However, they will not grow vigorously or produce their characteristic star-shaped and scented flowers. To allow them to grow to their full potential, they need plenty of direct light.
The stems become leggy when grown in poor light conditions, and leaves may even drop off the plant completely.
Indoor Light Requirements
When growing indoors, a jade plant needs at least 4 to 6 hours of direct sun daily. Large and established plants can handle more intense direct light, while young plants and recent transplants need a bit of protection until they are established in their new locations.
If your jade plant is growing tall and leggy, this is a sign that it needs more light. Shady conditions force plants to reach for light and adopt an undesirable stretched-out look. If they become too top-heavy, the plants can flop over when the leggy stems cannot bear the weight of their leaves.
Some jade plants develop attractive red margins on their leaves when they receive full sunlight or appropriate amounts of artificial light. In the absence of optimal light, they continue to sport dark green or emerald leaves.
How to Care for a Jade Plant in a Room Without Sunlight
Jade plants growing in dark rooms need ample artificial light. But you must also ensure that you keep it in a warm spot and water and feed it according to its needs.
Plant in a Wide and Heavy Container
In the right lighting conditions, jade plants become top-heavy as they grow older. Mature plants develop a thick trunk that gives them a tree-like appearance. They can topple and fall over if the container cannot support the trunk, branches, and foliage.
Plant your jade plant in a wide and heavy container. You can place a few pebbles at the bottom of the planter to add some extra weight.
Use a Well-Draining Soil Mix
An all-purpose potting mix, amended with perlite or sand to improve drainage, will allow the roots to develop freely and the water to drain effortlessly.
You can also use specialized cacti or succulent potting mix for your jade plant.
Place the Container in a Warm Location
Native to South Africa, jade plants love warm temperatures. Place your plant in a spot where the temperature during the day is between 65-75 °F (18-24 °C) and slightly cooler at night. These plants are not frost-tolerant and tend to drop their leaves when the temperature drops below 50 °F (10 °C).
Protect your indoor jade plant from drafts in winter. Keep the container away from drafty windows and hallways.
Provide Adequate Lighting
Jade plants need at least 4 to 6 hours of direct light daily to flourish.
If you don’t have the right lighting indoors, you can use artificial lights by following these steps:
Choose an Appropriate Light
If you use fluorescent lights, the ideal lighting setup is a two-bulb fixture comprising one cool-white bulb and one that shines the full spectrum of light to support all stages of plant growth.
LED bulbs designed specifically for indoor gardens contain almost all the lights in the spectrum that plants need during the various stages of their growth. You need bulbs that provide at least 2,000 lumens for every square foot of light emitted.
Place the Light Directly Above the Plant
Ensure that you place the artificial lights directly above your jade plant. This ensures the plant grows bushy. If the bulb is placed too far, your jade plant will stretch to reach toward the light and become leggy.
Place an LED light about 18-24 inches (46-61 cm) above the top of the plant. Keep moving the bulb up as the plant grows to maintain this optimal distance.
Optimal distance also depends on how the plant responds to the light. You can set the bulb higher over young tender plants to protect them from excessive heat and brightness, lowering it as the plant adapts.
Keep the bulbs switched on for about 12 hours daily to provide approximately the same amount of light the plant would have received outdoors on a warm, sunny day. Invest in a grow light with an automatic timer that will switch off the bulbs at a specified time every day to let the plants rest.
Look for Signs That the Plant Is Receiving Too Much Light
If you move a jade plant from a shady location with low-light conditions to grow it under artificial lights, remember not to immediately expose it to intense light. The change in light intensity can shock young plants and stunt their growth.
Gradually increase the intensity of light to help your young jade plant adjust to its new environment.
Look out for the following signs that indicate your jade plant is receiving too much light:
Red Leaf Edges
Some jade plants sport red leaf edges when they receive ample bright and direct light. However, too much harsh light can cause the leaf to wilt and drop off.
Brown Scabs on the Leaves
Too much light can cause brown spots on the edges of the leaves. Eventually, these spots dry out, wither, and become crisp.
Recent transplants or young jade plants can go into shock and experience stunted growth if exposed to too much light suddenly.
If you notice these signs, dim the light or move it further away from the plant.
Water According to the Plant’s Needs
Jade plants are fussy when it comes to their water requirements. Improper watering kills more jade plants than most gardeners realize. Jade plants don’t like wet feet, but they also fail to thrive when the soil is too dry.
Here are some pointers to help you plan an efficient watering schedule:
- Spring & Summer Watering: Water more in spring and summer. The plant grows actively in spring and summer and needs more water in these seasons.
- Fall & Winter Watering: Water sparingly in fall and winter. Jade plants slow growth in cooler seasons and do not require as much water. Let the soil dry out completely between waterings.
- Water Thoroughly to Soak the Soil: Water deeply till it runs out of the bottom of the pot. Then let the top half of soil dry out before watering again.
- Water at the Base: Water at the base of the plant just above the soil line. Avoid splashing water on the leaves. The plant can attract fungal disease or mold if the leaves do not dry.
- Learn the Signs of Over- and Under-Watering: Dropping leaves, wilting, or brown spots appearing on the foliage are all signs that the plant needs more water. On the other hand, squishy and mushy leaves and blisters on the foliage are signs of overwatering.
- Don’t Water Just After Transplanting: After transplanting your jade plant, let the roots adjust from the transplant shock before you water.
Jade plants are slow growers that don’t require much additional feeding to grow well.
Fertilizing too much can cause mineral salts to accumulate in the soil. Additionally, do not fertilize just after repotting; you may accidentally burn the roots that have not yet recovered from the shock of transplanting. Begin fertilizing a month after transplanting.
Use a diluted solution of a liquid houseplant food or a 10-20-10 or 5-10-5 fertilizer. You can also use fertilizer made especially for succulents and cacti. Feed according to the instructions on the packaging.
Even with its strict light requirements, jade is an easy houseplant to grow. For those struggling to meet these needs, there is no shortage of high-quality and reasonably-priced grow lights in the market. You have to choose one that provides the appropriate amount of light without raking up your energy bills.