Why Is My Jade Plant Losing Leaves? 8 Most Common Mistakes
Jade plant or ‘lucky plant’ as it is commonly known, is a beloved part of many home gardens. This low-maintenance succulent sometimes worries its owner by shedding leaves out of the blue.
If you are looking for an explanation for your Jade Plant losing leaves, look no further! We’ve got all the answers.
Why Is My Jade Plant Losing Leaves?
The jade plant, as we mentioned earlier, is a succulent and is scientifically known as Crassula ovata. It is native to Mozambique and South Africa. It is so adaptable that people keep jade plants at home all over the world—meaning it can withstand a variety of temperatures.
However, this doesn’t mean that it doesn’t require any care at all. You need to put in some effort to keep it lush and green all year. If you do not pay attention to its upkeep, it will start drooping and losing leaves.
Jade plants do shed leaves naturally. This makes way for new growth. However, if your jade plant has bare stems and is losing too many leaves at once, this is a sign that something is wrong with it.
Here are all the potential reasons for your jade plant losing leaves:
1. Watering Problems
Both overwatering and underwatering can make a jade plant shed leaves. Underwatering is a tad easier to fix, but overwatering can lead to more serious problems like root or stem rot.
Succulents like jade plants store water in their stems and leaves—this is how they survive periods of drought.
When you overwater a jade plant, the excess water weighs the stems down. The leaves turn yellow and feel mushy to the touch.
They might even turn translucent in worse cases. This is usually an indication of root rot. You need to take immediate action to save the plant.
There is no cure for root rot, you will need to remove the plant from its pot and carefully cut away all the rotting black roots. After letting the plant dry in the sunlight for a few days, you can replant it in a new pot.
Underwatering a jade plant can make the leaves turn reddish and fall off. To rectify the situation, follow a balanced watering schedule.
When the soil is dry to the touch, water the plant thoroughly by flooding the pot with water. The excess water will drain away and the soil will stay damp, letting the roots absorb water.
It is a little tricky to figure out the watering schedule, but with time, you will start to understand the needs of your plant.
2. Drainage Problems
Good drainage is a necessity for all succulent plants. Quick-draining and airy soil is ideal for jade plants. This kind of soil doesn’t retain water, which is harmful to the roots of the jade plant.
Jade plants like damp soil, but too much moisture in the soil encourages the growth of harmful pathogens.
This leads to the decomposition of the roots, cutting off the flow of water and nutrients to the plant. Without any nutrition to sustain them, the leaves start falling off.
To prevent this, you can use a good succulent soil mix with perlite or pumice in equal quantities. Peat also makes a good addition to encourage drainage.
A quick tip: make sure you use extra water to dampen the soil if your potting mix contains peat. It can make the soil slightly water repellant when it gets dry.
3. Nutrient Deficiency
Jade plants typically don’t need any fertilizer. However, if the nutrient level in the soil drops too low, it results in extremely slow growth and shedding of leaves.
In worst cases, the leaves turn yellow and consequently shrivel up and die. You don’t need to apply as much fertilizer or as frequently as you do for other plants, but a light application about once a year is beneficial to the growth of the jade plant.
Dilute the fertilizer in water first and use ¼th the amount you use for other plants. It is enough to apply fertilizer once a year. If required, you can reapply lightly in spring when the growing season rolls around.
Make sure not to use too much fertilizer. This can hurt the roots of the jade plant. Too many nutrients in the soil burn the roots, making them inefficient. Balanced fertilizers work best for succulents.
If you are looking for an easy DIY fertilizer, you can try mixing coffee grounds into the soil.
Remember to rinse them first to bring the acidity down and neutralize the pH level. Mix a small amount into the topsoil and soon you will see enhanced growth and new leaves.
4. Insufficient Sunlight
Jade plants are native to South Africa—of course they love the sun! You might often observe jade plants losing leaves as autumn creeps up, this is because they are reacting to the reduction in sunlight.
Jade plants can thrive as house plants as long as they get enough sunlight. The best solution is to move the pot to a window where it receives plenty of indirect sunlight. South-facing windows make the best spots for jade plants.
However, placing a pot too close to the windows can be harmful in the winters, as they will bear the brunt of the cold draft coming in through the window. If your area experiences very cold winters, place the pot a few inches away from the windows.
If you feel like your jade plant is still not receiving enough sunlight, you can use grow lights in a pinch.
Sometimes jade plants start looking stretched out and thin when they don’t receive enough sunlight. This is because the branches are trying to reach the source of light. This is called succulent etiolation and can be solved by moving the plant to a brighter spot.
Jade plants like sunny weather. Thus, it is no wonder that they do better in warm weather too. Jade plants aren’t exactly harmed by cold weather, but sudden temperature changes upset the plant, making it lose its leaves.
If your jade plant is exposed to very high or very low temperatures, it will start losing its leaves. Jade plants are happiest in temperatures between 65 degrees F and 75 degrees F.
When the temperature drops below freezing, it will surely kill the jade plant. It is best if you move your jade plant indoors when winter arrives.
If you move your jade plant indoors for the winter, make sure that it is placed in a well-ventilated area. Do not put it near a heater, it is not equivalent to sunlight. It might even make the leaves fall off or cause stunted growth.
Similarly, if the heat is too much, the plant will succumb to sunburn. Find a partially shady spot so that the plant can bask in the sun without burning up.
Jade plants can handle low temperatures up to 40 degrees F, given that the drop in temperature is gradual.
Pests are a big nuisance to home gardens. They spread from plant to plant and getting rid of them can be very difficult. The key to battling a pest infestation is to catch it in its early stages.
Jade plants do not attract too many pests. The 2 main threats are spider mites and mealybugs. Both of these critters cause loss of leaves and mold. Here’s how you can deal with them:
Mealybugs love snacking on succulents. They drink the sap from the jade plant, causing the leaves to fall off.
Mealybugs infestations grow unchecked because they are hard to spot. They are so tiny that you might mistake them for fungi. They hide in all the little nooks in the plant, so you need to be very thorough while eliminating them.
You can get rid of them by rubbing down the leaves and stems with a diluted solution of rubbing alcohol. Dip a cotton cloth in the solution and clean the plant well.
You might have to do this again if the infestation reappears, but they will be gone in a few applications.
Spider mites are tiny insects that can look like dust because of their reddish-brown color. South America is heavily infested with them. Like mealybugs, they too suck on the sap of the jade plant.
This makes the leaves shrivel up and fall off. If you don’t deal with them in time, it will prove fatal to the jade plant.
Spider mites are a tad trickier to eliminate. Neem oil is the simplest way to get rid of them. Apply diluted neem oil to the entire plant. Make sure you get into all the hard-to-reach places—this is where they’ll be hiding.
Repeat the process every 2 days. After 3-4 applications, the spider mites should be eliminated completely.
7. Harsh Chemicals
People often use leaf shine products to make their indoor plants look more beautiful. However, these products contain many chemicals which can be harmful to the jade plant.
If you have used one of these products and the leaves of the plant turn yellow and start falling off, it is probably a reaction to the chemicals in the product.
You need to wipe down the plant thoroughly with a cloth and warm water to rinse off the chemicals.
8. Natural Shedding
Loss of leaves is not always a sign of something sinister. Losing old leaves and growing new ones is a natural part of the plant’s life cycle.
When the leaves get old, the jade plant sheds them to grow fresh leaves in their place. This is nothing to be alarmed about.
You don’t need to be worried unless the plant is losing too many leaves or fresh new leaves are falling off too. There are usually other signs like yellowing of leaves or elongation of the branches, which gives you a hint to the exact problem.
If the jade plant has been in your home for a long time, you already know the number of leaves it normally loses. If you see a sudden increase, you need to identify the cause and remedy the situation.
Will a Jade Plant Regrow Leaves?
Everyone always asks the same question when they observe a loss of leaves in their jade plant: will they grow back?
To be honest, it depends on the cause. If overwatering was what caused your plant’s leaf loss, they will grow back but it will take a long time for the plant to recover after being repotted.
If the cause was something like a temperature change or insufficient light, rectifying these circumstances will make your jade plant good as new.
Plants by their very nature are very resilient and given the proper care, they will surely thrive again. Unless the plant is dead, it will slowly regrow the lost leaves. Sometimes it may take a while, so you need to have a lot of patience while it recovers.