Jade plants are a slow to moderate-growing species that grow approximately 2-6 inches (5-15 cm) a year. During the first 2-3 years of a jade plant’s life, gardeners usually re-pot it at least once to accommodate its growth. However, jade plants might grow more slowly than usual under certain conditions.
Jade plants grow slowly when the soil is not nutritious enough. Insufficient sunlight, poor water conditions, diseases, and incorrect environmental temperatures can also contribute to stunted growth. Another possible reason is that you got a slow-growing variety of jade.
The rest of this article will discuss these reasons in more detail and give you ideas to help ensure your jade plant grows as quickly as it should. Read on!
1. Your Jade Plant Isn’t Getting Enough Nutrients
One of the primary reasons for this plant experiencing stunted growth is malnutrition. Jade plants are not heavy feeders but they still require certain minerals in the soil to thrive. You should feed them an all-purpose liquid fertilizer every 1-2 months while they are growing.
Jade plants have a long growing season in pots. If you don’t give them an occasional nutrient boost from fertilizer, the nutrients initially available in your potting mix will be depleted, leaving your plant weak and unable to grow optimally.
2. Your Jade Plant Doesn’t Get Sufficient Sunlight
If you grow your jade plant outdoors, it should receive at least four hours of direct sunshine a day. Indoors, they can do well next to a bright window with at least eight hours of direct sunlight. Under these conditions, they can grow at an average speed of 2-6 inches (5-15 cm) per year, depending on the species.
Artificial light may be necessary during winter or in regions with fewer daylight hours to help the plant remain active. It’s natural for Jade plants to grow more slowly or stop growing entirely during cold months, but they still need enough sunlight.
You can read my article about using fluorescent lamps as potential alternatives to grow lights for houseplants: Can You Use Regular Fluorescent Lights to Grow Plants?
3. You’re Watering Your Jade Plant Incorrectly
Water-related problems are common mistakes new and experienced gardeners alike make every now and then.
While succulents like jade plants don’t mind a bit of neglect, habitual overwatering or underwatering can affect them negatively. This can cause them to experience slowed or stunted growth.
One of the telltale signs of disease or distress is unhealthy-looking leaves. Here are other signs that your plant is poorly watered:
- Dry and brown leaf edges (not to be confused with cultivars that naturally have red margins like the C. ovata “Botany Bay” and “Harbor Lights”)
- Leaves falling off
These symptoms are common among over-watered and under-watered jade plants. However, you can check the texture of the leaves and the appearance of the soil to determine the specific problem.
If the leaves are becoming less plump and wrinkled, it’s a sign of underwatering. In contrast, soft and sometimes mushy leaves indicate overwatering.
Jade plants do well in typical succulent potting mixes or those with adequate amounts of perlite and sand for better drainage. Expect the substrate to dry out more quickly than regular mixes for your other potted houseplants.
Jade plants are succulents and store moisture in their leaves. However, they can use it up quickly if the air is dry and the temperature is high. The moisture in the soil will also evaporate more quickly.
A good rule of thumb is to check the soil 10-14 days after deep watering. If the top 2 inches (5 cm) of the soil feels dry, water the plant deeply again.
However, it is sometimes acceptable to let the soil dehydrate completely before you next water it. However, leaving it too dry for extended periods can be detrimental to your plant. Young jade plants have shallow roots that might not be able to reach the moisture deep in the soil before it drains out, especially if the pot is deep.
Don’t leave the soil constantly wet, either, as it will result in overwatering. Established jade plants that have become rootbound can access moisture from the soil more efficiently but are susceptible to root rot if kept wet for days.
4. Your Jade Plant Is Sick
A jade plant can be more conveniently protected from diseases indoors in a controlled environment. However, when grown as hedge plants, they can get affected by common diseases affecting your gardens, such as pests and microbial infections.
As a succulent, your Jade plant is sensitive to overwatering and highly susceptible to root rot when kept under consistently moist soil. Stunted growth is one of the symptoms of root rot.
It’s not unusual for these plants to have a mealybug and spider mite infestation. So if any of your indoor plants have such pests, it’s only a matter of time before they spread and get to your succulent.
Be sure that your plant is free from such pests when buying it from a supplier. You may isolate the plant for a month until you’re certain there are no issues with pests. This should be a common practice every time you get a new houseplant.
5. Temperatures Aren’t Suitable
Jade plants prefer dry and warm temperatures but can tolerate as low as 45°F (7.2°C) in winter if the humidity is below 30%. It’s best to move them indoors, away from cold drafts, to prevent injuries to the leaves.
From spring to fall, jade plants do well at temperatures between 65 and 75°F (18.3 and 23.9°C). At higher temperatures, especially during summer, you must water your plant more frequently or provide it with partial shade during midday to protect the foliage from sun damage.
You must also pay attention to the water temperature when watering your plant to prevent cold shock to the roots and water spots on the leaves. Approximately 20-25°F (68-77°C) is considered safe for most houseplants, including jade plants.
6. Your Jade Plant Is Rootbound
Many indoor gardeners who want to keep their jade plants small and compact usually leave them in the same pot for over three years. Jade plants can tolerate being rootbound but will likely have slower or stunted growth.
If the roots have no more room to grow, it can also prevent the growth of new branches and leaves. While this can be advantageous for gardeners with limited indoor space, some prefer a bushier or taller plant.
If you’re worried about why your plant seems to have stopped growing, you may try to re-pot it into a larger container. Avoid using pots that are too large and can hold much soil and moisture. This can lead to waterlogging and may damage your plant’s roots.
Use a slightly bigger container every time you re-pot your Jade plant. For instance, if your original pot was 6 inches (15 cm) in diameter, you can use a slightly bigger one with an 8-inch (20 cm) diameter. The new pot should also be 2 inches (5 cm) deeper than the old one.
You can repeat the process every 2-3 years while increasing the pot size accordingly. You can make it 4-5 years if you want to slow down the plant’s growth and keep it small. Jade plants are famous for living up to a hundred years but will get weaker or die if left undivided or in the same pot for longer than five years.
It’s best to choose a pot with a wide mouth to make it easier to pull your plant out during repotting. A wider container will also provide support for the plant’s heavy top during the growing season and accommodate shallow roots quite comfortably.
7. Your Jade Plant Is a Slow-Growing Variety
It’s normal to feel frustrated and confused if you think your plant isn’t growing as much as it should. This is especially true if you water your jade diligently and provide it with a healthy environment. Sometimes, the issue lies with the type of plant you have.
The genus Crassula has approximately 200 species, and roughly a quarter of them are grown as houseplants in the US. Some jade plant varieties grow relatively slower compared to their relatives.
Here are some of the slowest-growing species:
- Crassula argentea
- Crassula ovata convulta or the Hobbit Jade plant
- Crassula ovata “Bronze Beauty” or the Copper Jade plant
Consult your plant supplier about what to expect from your Jade plant. Considering the large number of Crassula species, they can look similar but have different growth rates and habits.
That said, slow-growing varieties can grow even slower if they are exposed to any of the problems mentioned in the list above.