I have experienced the heartbreak of seeing my beloved jade plant lose its leaves. With its classic succulent appearance, the jade plant can grow into a beautiful bonsai-type tree over the years. But, losing more than one or two leaves at a time is not normal and can cause concern.
Contrary to popular belief, the issue of jade plants losing leaves is not always due to a lack of care.
Instead, in many cases, it is the result of over-caring or needing to understand the specific needs of the jade plant in terms of maintenance.
From my own experience, I have learned that jade plants often shed their leaves due to stress, insufficient light, improper watering, or exposure to hot or cold drafts.
While it is natural for the plant to shed some leaves as it ages, other factors, such as pests and poor-quality potting soil, can also contribute to the problem.
In this article, I want to share my knowledge and experience on why jade plants shed their leaves and how to save them.
Summer and Winter: The Seasons of Shedding for Your Jade Plant!
As a seasoned jade plant parent, I have seen my fair share of leaf shedding, especially during the hot summer.
But don’t worry, and it’s not a sign of poor health! Instead, it’s the plant’s way of reproducing and preparing for new growth.
And in winter, the reduced daylight hours can trigger an intense shedding of leaves. This is why lighting is important for the jade plant’s well-being.
The plant needs 10 to 12 hours of light daily to ensure its normal and complete development. To keep your jade plant green and thriving, you may consider using special LED lamps to provide additional light.
So, don’t be alarmed if your jade plant sheds its leaves in summer or winter. It’s all part of a natural biological process that helps keep your plant healthy and strong.
And if you’re lucky, you may even see new leaf plates replacing the fallen leaves, giving your plant a fresh look!
What to Do When Jade Plant Leaves Start Falling Off
Jade Plants shedding leaves is a common reaction to unfavorable living conditions, and there could be a few reasons why your plant is giving up its greens. Let’s take a look at the most common culprits:
- Improper watering and humidity levels;
- Inadequate lighting conditions;
- Neglecting nutrition and repotting needs;
- Disease and pesky visitors.
1- How Overwatering Triggered Jade Plant Leaves Dropping And What I Did To Fix It!
Have you ever been guilty of showering your jade plant with too much love, AKA water? I have, and let me tell you, the consequences were not pretty.
One week after over-loving my plant, the leaves started dropping like crazy.
Don’t feel too bad! The jade plant has a weak tap root, but it’s also an expert at quickly absorbing moisture from the soil, which is an evolutionary adaptation for surviving in its arid homeland.
So, you’ve got to be a pro at dose-controlling the water supply to your jade plant. And if by any chance you’ve overwatered your plant, here’s what to look out for –
- Soft leaves,
- Dark spots on the leaf surface,
- Drooping branches, a softening trunk base, and
- An unpleasant odor from the soil.
But before you hit the panic button, let’s see what can be done. If the overwatering was occasional, the roots might not have rotted yet.
Remove the plant from the pot and inspect the roots. If the roots are still in good shape, dry the soil and don’t water it for four weeks.
But if the roots have rotted or there’s an unpleasant smell, then don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.
- Clean off the old soil, cut off the rotten parts,
- Cover the cuts with crushed charcoal,
- Let the tree dry out in a well-ventilated room,
- Replant it in fresh soil.
- Finally, plant the Jade plant in fresh soil and don’t water it for the first month.
2- Jade Plant’s Leaf Drop: Lack of Water Causes Cellular Dehydration & Death
If you’re noticing that your jade plant’s leaves are turning yellow and falling off like nobody’s business, it’s probably because the poor thing is parched from lack of water.
And let me tell you, jade plants don’t mess around when it comes to conserving their resources. They’ll shed their leaves quickly to protect the trunk and roots.
So, if you’re guilty of neglecting your watering duties, it’s time to make amends! First, water your jade plant thoroughly, but make sure you’re not overwatering it.
You want the soil to be completely soaked but without any standing water on top. And don’t worry if the leaves keep falling off for a week or two after you’ve adjusted your watering schedule.
Just be extra careful not to make up for the lost time by drowning your plant!
3- Water Your Jade Plant Like a Pro
Don’t let your Jade Plant shed its leaves in vain! If you’re having trouble with improper watering, it’s time to fix it. Give your jade plant a good soak during summer, but not too often.
Between waterings, the soil should be almost arid. Aim to water every two weeks during the summer.
In the winter, keep the watering to a minimum when your jade plant is in its cool overwintering phase.
And if it’s a scorching hot summer day, you may water more often. But watch out; low temperatures increase the risk of fungal infections.
To keep your jade plant healthy, ensure the bottom part of the soil in the pot stays slightly moist and the rest of the root ball is dry. Water monthly in small doses.
Let tap water sit in an open container for two to three days, then use warm water (2-3°F above room temperature) to water your Jade Plant.
Don’t use cold water, as the sudden temperature change can shock the roots and cause leaves to fall.
4- Ensure Optimal Growth By Selecting The Appropriate Light Levels For Your Jade Plant
Too much direct light can bummer your jade plant, leading to sunburn and red edges on the leaves. But wait, there’s more! Direct sunlight can also spell trouble for your jade plant.
The leaves will wrinkle, turn red, dry out, and then fall off like autumn leaves. Don’t worry, just dial it down a notch, and you’ll keep your jade’s coloration intact.
If the leaves aren’t turning red, it’s probably because of a lack of light.
And speaking of lack of light, that’s a significant contributor to the mass shedding of leaves.
When your jade plant is deprived of sufficient light, its leaves gradually shrink, and its branches stretch like a starving giraffe.
Then, before you know it, the leaves start falling off, first from the bottom, then from the top, until your plant is as bare as a bald eagle.
So, what’s the solution? First, you gotta give your jade plant the right kind of light. Place it on a windowsill where the light is bright but diffused.
Semi-shade is not your friend here, as it will weaken your jade plant, stop its growth, and have it shedding its leaves.
The ideal spot for your jade plant is a southeastern window, and in winter, a little extra light from LED lamps will do the trick.
5- Too much fertilizer causes Jade Plant leaf loss and nutrient imbalance
Losing leaves may seem like a dramatic reaction, but for a Jade Plant, it’s just their way of saying, “Fertilizer overload! Abort mission!”
Unlike other plants, Jade Plants don’t need much fertilizer and prefer poor soil without excessive salts.
Overfeeding with mineral fertilizers can lead to soil salinization, which the plant deals with by discarding the excess salts from the soil through the leaves.
If you see white streaks on the surface, transplant to fresh soil and give the plant a break from fertilization for at least 45 days will save the day.
- To keep your Jade Plant healthy, fertilize only once a month during summer with a special fertilizer for succulents and not at all during winter. Excessive mineral salts can kill the plant, leading to sluggish leaves, no flower growth, and eventually death. But don’t worry; you can save it by transplanting it to fresh soil with added charcoal, a natural absorbent for excess salts and moisture.
- Aim for the last days of May to the last day of September, every 10-14 days, a few hours after watering. Use liquid fertilizer specifically designed for succulents and cacti, diluted with water according to the instructions. Avoid using fertilizer meant for ornamental and deciduous plants, as they can be too concentrated for the Jade Plant. Follow the instructions, but remember to take half as much as suggested.
The Jade Plant feels undernourished if the leaves are soft and probably gets too much water.
Fertilize once a month in spring-summer and twice a month in fall-winter to give the plant enough nutrients without oversaturating the soil. Remember, Jade Plants naturally grow on poor soil and only need a minimum amount of nutrients.
6- Choosing the Right Container for Your Jade Plant
When planting a Jade Plant, choosing the right pot is crucial. First and foremost, the material of manufacture matters.
Clay pots are the MVPs of the container world. Being porous, they allow air to reach the roots, ensuring no root rot with even drying on all sides.
But beware, plastic pots are not a good match for your Jade Plant – roots may rot with moderate watering.
The size of the pot is also important. Don’t make the mistake of buying a pot too big, as the roots won’t adapt to the soil, resulting in root-boundness.
Instead, opt for a shallow and wide pot, ensuring the height doesn’t exceed the diameter.
The root system of the Jade plant is not large, so for young plants, the diameter of the container should correspond to the width of the crown.
So, if you want your Jade Plant to thrive, choose a clay pot – it’s like a breath of fresh air for your plant!
The material is porous, allowing air and extra moisture to escape quickly, ensuring your plant doesn’t suffocate in its soil. And remember, plastic is passé when it comes to planting a Jade Plant.
7- Don’t Let Your Jade Plant Lose Leaves – Tackle Those Diseases!
Fungal infections are the biggest culprit for your Jade Plant losing its leaves. But fear not; there are ways to save it!
Root rot is a vicious disease that starts with yellow leaves falling off and ends with the plant dying if not addressed. The only cure for this is to transplant your jade plant immediately.
Stem rot can be a slow death for your Jade Plant, with the trunk and branches gradually rotting away until it falls over. Sadly, there is no cure for this.
But if root rot turns into stem rot, all is not lost. Cut out the infected parts and root the top of the plant, and you’ll be admiring its beauty again.
Stem rot can also be a problem, but the solution is simple – cut out the infected branch and root the top. And remember to treat the whole plant with an antifungal agent to prevent future outbreaks.
8- Fight off Pests to Keep Your Jade Plant Looking Fresh
Don’t let pests ruin the beauty of your Jade Plant! Here are the most common culprits:
- Root Mealybugs- These sneaky pests settle on the roots and can only be noticed during transplanting. But don’t worry; a warm water rinse followed by a systematic insecticide treatment will do the trick.
- Mealybugs- Spot these pests by their whitish coating on the branches, trunk, or stems. Get rid of them with a warm water wash and a soapy solution.
- Scale Insects- These tiny insects can be collected with a cotton swab soaked in an alcohol solution. Afterward, rinse the plant with a soapy solution and warm water or treat it with an insecticide like neem oil.
- Spider Mites- Dry air can trigger the appearance of these pests, indicated by yellow spots on the leaves. Get rid of them by removing affected leaves, treating the plant with neem oil, and covering it with a bag. Once the neem oil has done its job, rinse the plant with a soapy solution.
9- The Aging Jade
As the Jade plant grows older, it may shed a few leaves each year. The bottom leaves will naturally be yellow and fall off.
Some minor wilting may occur, but it’s time to pay attention if you see a sudden increase in fallen leaves. If only one or two leaves fall off a month, it’s an average growth process.
The leaf loss is inevitable and will eventually result in a beautiful tree-like appearance with a bare trunk and foliage gathered at the top.
In conclusion, your Jade Plant will thrive with proper care – make sure to follow an optimal watering regime, provide nutrients, and protect it from pests. And voila! Your Jade Plant will remain a lush and elastic beauty.