Jade plants--Crassula Argentea--are hearty, beautiful houseplants which grow easily under a wide range of household conditions. With the right soil and a sunny window, a jade plant will grow richly, and may bloom around the winter holiday season if it is properly cared for. Jade plants are succulents, akin to cactus, so good drainage leads to the healthiest growth.
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Soil for Potted Jades
Jade plants are native to South Africa, where they grow in dry, rocky soil. Jades are succulents which hold water in their leaves. Overwatering a jade plant will cause it to rot, so soil for a potted jade should drain well and not contain too much organic matter such as peat moss or pine bark which retains moisture. Ordinary potting soil without peat moss content will adequately support a jade plant; mix in extra perlite to hasten drainage.
Small amounts of liquid fertilizer added with water to the soil every three or four months should support healthy growth, and encourage it to bloom annually.
Soil for Bonsai Jade Trees
Jade plants live many decades in their native environment, growing into understory trees 10 or more feet tall. Pruned and kept in containers, jade plants make lovely bonsai trees. As the jade bonsai tree ages, soil drainage and texture to hold large, older roots and stabilize a thickening trunk become increasingly important. A mixture of sand and light gravel, with river stones for stability as well as aesthetics, provides suitable growing medium for a long-lived jade bonsai tree.
Cutting and Repotting
Jade plants can be propagated easily by cuttings. Cut a small piece from a healthy stem and let it dry on clean paper towels or a plate for several days. Then insert the cut end of the piece into some sterile seed-starting medium and water lightly. Sterile seed-starting medium has no fertilizer, which can lead to straggly growth or thin, spindly roots in a new cutting. Do not add fertilizer until the plant has a sturdy stem and thick root growth.
Repot a jade plant whenever it has slowed or stopped in growth, or at least every two to three years to avoid build-up of salts and mineral deposits in the soil from watering. Place some pebbles or broken shards of terracotta pots in the bottom of the new pot to ensure adequate drainage, then fill with a mix of potting soil, perlite, sand and gravel appropriate to support the age and size of the plant.