What To Do if a Jade Plant Can’t Support Itself

Jade plants (Crassula ovata) resemble miniature trees with their thick trunks and leaves. They’re part of the succulent family and are super easy to care for and grow. Since the growth of this plant is heavy, if your plant leans towards the light, it may not be able to support itself. 

When a jade plant can no longer support itself, you should repot, prune, and stake it to take the stress off the roots. By repotting, you’ll be able to check the roots’ health and place them in a pot that can support them. Pruning and staking plants encourages new growth and straightening.

This article will explain what causes support issues with jade plants, how you can fix your leaning plant, and how to prevent this problem in the future.

Key Takeaways

  • Understanding Support Issues: Jade plants are prone to leaning due to their heavy growth. Causes include insufficient sunlight and compromised root health.
  • Prevent Leaning: Ensure adequate sunlight and rotate the plant regularly to promote symmetrical growth and prevent leaning.
  • Good Drainage: Use well-drained soil to avoid root decay and promote healthy growth.
  • Stabilization Methods: Repot, prune, and stake your jade plant to address leaning and support issues.
  • Regular Pruning: Prune to encourage new growth and maintain balance, preventing the plant from toppling over.
  • Proactive Care: Monitor the plant’s health, provide suitable soil, and water appropriately to prevent future growth problems.

Causes of Support Issues in Jade Plants

Jade plants grow with thick trunks and leaves with roots spread to support their heavy growth. 

Because of the heavy growth of this plant, it’s easy for it to fall over if something causes it to lean. Insufficient sunlight and damaged roots are two issues that can cause your jade plant to have balance issues. The plant’s overall growth and roots should be healthy; having enough sun exposure and potted in well-drained soil to prevent health issues.  

Sunlight and Rotation

Rotating your houseplants is an essential part of the care you should provide, especially to your jade plant. Failure to do this is possibly the #1 cause of balance issues with jade plants. 

Rotating your plants provides a balance of light to all parts of the plant, promoting growth symmetry and keeping your plants happy, healthy, and full. 

The sun’s location will change when seasons change, and it won’t be as high in the sky. If your houseplant is growing into a lean, bend, or twisted position, it’s putting stress on the roots and growth ability because it’s unable to keep proper support and balance.

Rotating benefits your houseplants by:

  • Preventing them from growing into a leaning, bending, or twisting position
  • Preventing damage to your houseplants when growing awkwardly towards the light
  • Preventing stress to the root system and growth
  • Ensuring sun exposure is balanced around the entire plant for healthy growth.
  • Giving you a chance to assess if pruning or thinning out is needed to keep them healthy

Good Drainage

Jade plants need aerated and well-drained soil to prevent health issues. The planter should have at least one hole for the excess water to drain out of the soil.

Having adequate drainage is critical because it will prevent the following issues that can hinder the health of your plants:

  • Root decay from water saturation
  • Mineral build-up, which can potentially burn the roots and leaves of the plants
  • It allows air to reach the root system and aid in proper hydration
  • It reduces the risk of overwatering your plants

The roots are an essential part of your jade plant’s survival system. Not only are they responsible for water and nutrient uptake, but they also provide support. Compromised root health can be detrimental to your jade plant, causing growth stability issues.

Stabilizing Your Jades

To have your jade plant looking lush, you’ll need to provide some TLC by taking the following three steps:

  • Repot
  • Prune
  • Add support

Repot in a More Supportive Pot

Repotting your jade plants allows you to:

Check the Root System’s Health

If your roots are reaching out of the current pot or creating a thick layer along the wall of the pot, your plant is suffering from being rootbound. Rootbound jade plants can experience difficulty supporting the heaviness of the plant. 

Refresh the Nutrients

As mentioned above, nutrients are a crucial part of healthy growth. Thus, the soil should be changed at least once a year to provide nutrients for healthy growth. 

Provide Better Support

Repotting into a sturdier pot will help stabilize your jade plant, including adding a stake for support. A planter made of earth material, such as clay would be ideal for your jade plant. 

Keep the Plant Stable

Planters made of earth materials are excellent for jade plants because the heavy earth material can keep the plant stable. Such pots are porous, allowing air and moisture exchange through the pot structure. Also, excess water evaporates through the walls and bottom of the porous planter unless there’s an outside coating of non-porous material, such as glaze.

Between the drainage hole and the porous material, the pot will lower the risk of your jade plant sitting in anaerobic conditions that can cause root damage or decay. 

Prune to Allow New Growth

Pruning is essential to plant care and allows healthy, full growth for your houseplants. It also helps your jade plant from toppling over from awkward development. To prune a jade plant, you’ll need pruning shears or sharp scissors.

Follow these steps:

  1. Assess your plant and the areas you need to tackle by pruning – don’t just dive in, snipping away. 
  2. Cut between the nodes on the plant stems to encourage new growth from those nodes.
  3. Trim back the rest of the stems causing weight stress to your jade plant. 
  4. Cinnamon is said to heal cuts and wounds of plants and can be put on the areas you’ve clipped. 
  5. Keep your jade plant in bright, indirect sunlight to encourage growth.
  6. Check on it weekly to see if it needs rotating for sun exposure to all areas.
  7. It will take a few months before your jade plant becomes fuller from the new growth. 

Here are some useful pruning tips:

  • During the growing seasons, routine pruning is best done in spring and summer.
  • Don’t remove more than 30% of your plant.
  • Don’t waste the clippings! You can propagate the leaves and stems to make new plants. Just place the stems in a new pot and the leaves on top of the soil, and watch them grow. 

Now that your plant is trimmed up, continue reading about how to add support in preparation for new growth and straightening. 

Support Your Plant With a Stake

Phototropism causes the ‘lean’ effect due to hormones called auxins. With more light exposure, jade plants exhibit steady, sturdy growth, and those that aren’t exposed to as much sunlight grow taller towards the sunlight. And when the plants grow towards the light, they can potentially destroy some of the auxins fully exposed to sunlight. 

An easy way to help a leaning jade plant is to use a stake or something similar and sturdy, like a tree branch.

Then, follow these steps. 

  1. Measure your jade plant’s height and add about 6 inches (16 cm) or more for the stake length to allow support and growth. 
  2. Place the stake close to the base of the jade plant, slowly pushing it into the soil.
  3. When poking the stake in the soil, be careful not to jam it in there, or you risk causing damage to the base of the plant and root system. 
  4. Use a piece of string to gently pull the plant closer to the stake and secure it. It’s important not to force the jade plant to be aligned with the stake because forcing it can cause damage. The purpose is to train the plant to straighten up naturally without adding stress. 
  5. Turn your jade plant towards the sunlight to encourage healthier growth and straightening. 
  6. As the plant straightens, pull it closer to the stake and secure it as many times as needed until it can better balance and support itself. 

The stake will help keep your jade plant balanced and supported while it straightens as it grows. This may take a month or longer, depending on the season and the speed of your plant’s growth. Also, ensure your jade plant receives enough sunlight to promote healthier development.

How to Prevent Growth Problems 

As with most problems that arise with houseplants, growth issues can be prevented mainly by providing ideal growing conditions and routine care, such as the following: 

Give Them Sunlight

Jade plants are of the succulent family, and, as with most succulents, they thrive in bright light conditions. Place them in an area with plenty of indirect sunlight for best growth results. When grown indoors, place them near an east or south window for adequate sunlight.

Rotate Them Often

Each time you water your jade plant, you should assess its growth to ensure it’s even and full. By frequently looking over your plant, you’ll know if rotating is needed during each watering or more often. It also prevents your plant from leaning towards the light and becoming leggy.

Keep Them Fed With Nutrients

Repotting your jade plants in spring will help keep nutrients available to maintain their health and growth. Wait for six weeks after repotting your plant before giving any fertilizer boost. Always read the product recommendation to avoid overfertilization.

Provide Suitable Soil

As with most succulents, jade plants love their soil aerated and somewhat moist. During dormancy months, you should allow the soil to dry out more since your jade plant will be in a resting period. However, don’t leave the soil to dry out completely for extended periods.

Water Only When Needed

Jade plants don’t like their soil to stay moist. Poke your finger in the soil close to the planter wall. If it’s dry when you reach your second knuckle, your plant needs water. Succulents also benefit from the bottom watering method.

Remember to water your plant from the top every after 4-5 times of bottom watering, especially when feeding your plant with fertilizers. This will help flush your soil occasionally of harmful salt buildup from leftover fertilizers.

Final Thoughts

You can prevent your jade plant from leaning and becoming stressed out. Typically, this issue arises from insufficient sunlight and not rotating your plant. Although jade plants can grow well in low-lit areas, they enjoy bright, indirect sunlight to flourish in their potted environment. 

If your jade plant cannot support itself because it’s leaning, check for root damage and place it in a sturdier pot. You’ll need to prune it to remove stems causing balance stress and add support by tying it to a stake. Within a few months, your jade plant will be happy and full of new growth. 

Dr. Moritz Picot

Dr. Moritz Picot is a horticulture enthusiast and the founder of TheGrowingLeaf.com, where he serves as the lead content writer. He established the website in 2022 as a valuable resource for both gardening aficionados and beginners, compiling all the gardening tips he has accumulated over the past 25 years. Alex has a passion for nurturing plants, transforming backyards into inviting spaces, and sharing his knowledge with the world.

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