Jade is a succulent plant native to South Africa, and is a very common houseplant. Jades are evergreen plants with smooth, round, fleshy leaves that grow in opposing pairs along the branches. It is a slow-growing plant that occasionally flowers, when conditions are right. It is easy to care for, requires little watering, and is easily propagated.
Jade Plant Propagation
Propagating jade is the most rewarding part of growing it. The trick to propagation is understanding the conditions required for cuttings to succeed. Taking the cuttings can be easily done with a few household items. A single parent jade plant can be used to propagate many younger plants. Care must be taken to keep the parent jade, younger jades, and cuttings healthy.
- Cuttings can be as small as a single leaf or as large as a branch. Below, you'll find instructions for how to start the plant from both of these types of cuttings.
- Cuttings are very simple to perform, but time and attention must be given to encourage those cuttings to root. See full instructions below.
- Jade is succulent and dislikes constant moisture, which will eventually rot the very delicate, young roots. When you plant the cutting into soil, keep this in mind.
What You'll Need:
- Sharp scissors or a knife
- Sand and perlite soil mixture
- Pot with good drainage
How to Use a Single Jade Leaf to Make a New Plant
Leaf cuttings are the easiest to perform, but have a higher chance of failing compared to stem cuttings. Compared to stem cuttings, a leaf cutting will take a long time to get established and grow. All you do is simply remove a leaf from a stem like so:
- Select a suitable leaf to remove. Younger, medium-sized leaves have an easier time adjusting after being removed from a stem compared to older leaves.
- Use scissors to snip the leaf off. Angle the cutting flush with the stem.
- Place the cut leaf in a dry place and avoid moisture as much as possible. The wound from the cut needs to dry and become callous. This drying process prevents rot and disease while allowing roots to begin poking through the callous wound.
- Very small white roots will begin to protrude from the wound within a few weeks. Once these roots appear, the leaf will begin to shrink and shrivel up. This is normal and means the roots are drawing moisture and energy from the leaf to produce roots.
- Place the leaf into a soil medium that drains quickly, such as a sand and perlite mix. Only water occasionally. Root rot is still a threat to the young roots.
- A tiny leaf and stem will begin to grow from the leaf once the roots have become prominent. The leaf cutting will be very shriveled by the time this occurs.
- Water only occasionally. Judging when to water can be done by noticing wrinkles in the leaves. The wrinkling is a sign that the plant is drawing moisture from the leaves due to lack of moisture within the soil.
How to Propagate a Jade Plant From a Stem Cutting
Jade plants are relatively easy to grow from stem cuttings. Stem cuttings are performed by removing a section of stem or branch from a parent plant and allowing the cut bit to root to create a new plant.
- Select a desirable stem that is several inches tall. Aesthetic appeal is key when choosing a part for cutting. Because it grows slowly, any "ugly" areas of the cutting will remain until leaves and stems grow large enough to cover those unsightly areas. Also make sure to take a cutting that will not harm the overall appearance of the parent plant.
- Cut a portion of the stem above a node. (A node is a place where the leaves join the stem.) The cut portion should also have at least one node above the cut with at least one internode (a section of bare stem without leaves).
- Remove the leaves near the cut end of the stem. Larger, mature leaves draw energy away from the rooting process and are unneeded on a cutting. Leave only a few young leaves towards the uncut end of the stem.
- Place this cutting in a dry spot out of intense light. Leave it there until the cut end dries and become callous. This will prevent rotting on the cut end. When small white roots emerge from the calloused cut end after a few weeks, the cutting is ready to be planted.
- Carefully place the stem into a pot with a drain hole in a soil that drains well, such as a sand and perlite mix. Common potting soils contain moist organic matter that can cause the cut end to rot.
- Pay close attention to the leaves once the stem has been potted. Wrinkling of the leaves means there is a lack of moisture. Water when the leaves begin to slightly wrinkle. Watering only when necessary will prevent root rot and promote strong roots and resiliency.
The Best Soil for Jade Plants
The importance of choosing the correct soil medium cannot be stressed enough. As stated above, a sand and perlite mix works well for jade cuttings, as quick drainage is key to avoid root rot and disease. Succulents such as jade are native to arid environments and cannot withstand constantly moist conditions. Potting soil has a high amount of organic matter that retains moisture should be avoided. Amending potting soil with sand and perlite works, but it must contain enough sand/perlite to allow quick drainage.
How to Water Jade Properly
Learning how to water newly propagated jade is absolutely vital. Many jade owners will over-water and end up killing their jade due to root rot and disease. This has all been stated above, but needs to be reiterated.
It is better to under-water jade plants than to over-water them. The leaves show signs when watering is needed. Small wrinkles will begin to show on the leaves: This is when watering needs to occur. The leaves will eventually shrivel up and die if the plant doesn't get any water, which ultimately kills the jade.
Thoroughly water when wrinkling occurs. Saturate the soil until water drains from the container. Be sure that the water soaks into the soil, and don't leave the pot standing in water.
This technique of watering builds a resilient jade plant, promotes strong roots, and prevents disease. Remember, jade is native to arid climates and does not receive rain regularly.
How to Fertilize Jade Plants
Once the plant has become established over many weeks, a small amount of fertilizer should be added to help promote growth. A balanced fertilizer such as a 10-10-10 (10% nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) is suitable. Only add a small amount of fertilizer at first.
Read the instructions on the package:
- If the fertilizer is meant to be mixed with water, then mix in half of the amount of fertilizer that the directions require. This will prevent over-fertilizing, which is detrimental to the plant.
- Granular fertilizer adds nutrients to the soil slowly over time and is more stable to use. Only use a few granules at first to prevent over-fertilizing. It is better to have less fertilizer than too much. There is no going back once a plant has absorbed a high amount of fertilizer, especially that of a young jade plant.
How big of a cutting do I need?
You can start a jade plant with even one single leaf...although it takes much longer for the plant to establish and grow that way. I usually start with a larger piece, about 7 inches long, that contains several nodes and internodes.
Should I place the jade cutting in water to get it to start rooting?
No, you should not. This works for many plants, but jade plants don't like too much water. Just let the cutting air-dry instead.
How do I know when my jade plant needs watering?
You can look at the leaves to know what your jade plant needs in terms of water. When the leaves are juicy and plump, the plant is getting enough water and doesn't need more right now. When the leaves get wrinkled and rubbery, the plant wants water.
Questions & Answers
Question: My jade plant became top-heavy and broke at the stem. What can I do to save it?
Answer: Collect the stems that broke off and place them into a soil mix for cacti. Water only when the soil is completely dry. Rot can set in quickly when trying to propagate via cuttings. Leave the remains of the parent plant in the container/ground. New growth will begin to appear after a couple of weeks.
Question: Are jade plants harmful to children?
Answer: Jade plants are mildly toxic to humans.
Linda on July 26, 2019:
Oh no I’ve had my jade plant for 25 years and I have one little leaf left on an almost hollow stem , how can I save it please it’s really sentimental.
Linda on July 13, 2019:
my variegated jade is in trouble!! It is drying up at the node before the leave and the stems are 'feeling' weak and 'bendy'. I suspect it isn't getting enough light. I live in the middle of the Sonora desert. It is very hot and dry here. Any help would be appreciated. I am afraid to put it in direct sun, but should I do it?
May on February 21, 2019:
I have jade cuttings in a perlite/sphagnum mix. When can i move them to actually soil?
Sean Hemmer (author) from Wisconsin, USA on February 10, 2019:
Reducing the main stem will likely cause significant stress on the jade plant. A larger pot that is bottom heavy, has weight added to the bottom, or can be anchored is best. You can also trim back the jade plant to make it less top heavy but only trim back about a third of it to start. You can use those trimmings to start new jade plants as well.
diddle1999 on January 24, 2019:
I inherited a jade "tree" that is top heavy. I know I can propagate the cuttings, but I'm looking for advice as to cutting back the bark itself. It is approximately 2-3" in diameter and every pot I tried tips over. Any advice would be appreciated.
Diane on January 02, 2018:
I have a jade plant that is over 100 yrs old. was my grandmothers, it blooms every year with clusters of little white flowers. I water about every two weeks and always use hydrogen peroxide in the water. We are moving and not taking the plant with us it is now approx. 4 ft across and 4 ft high. I have taken 2 large cuttings to start a new plant. The new owner of our home is thrilled to have such an incredible plant.
Zubaidah Binte Omar on September 11, 2017:
Hi , I just bought a jade plant., its so beautiful.
Thanks for the useful info ., I will certainly wants to regrow my jade plant.
Ilze Riley on June 02, 2013:
Sean Hemmer (author) from Wisconsin, USA on March 16, 2013:
Glad I could help!
Natasha from Hawaii on March 16, 2013:
So that's what it's called! I have several of these plants, but I didn't know they were called jade plants. Thanks!
Sean Hemmer (author) from Wisconsin, USA on March 16, 2013:
Jill Spencer from United States on March 16, 2013:
An awesome guide! And the photos really added a lot to your explanations. Voted up & shared. --Jill
Sean Hemmer (author) from Wisconsin, USA on March 14, 2013:
Thank you much! Good idea about bringing your jade plant indoors before it got too cold this year. Two consecutive years of cold stress can easily kill not-so-hardy plants. I've had to perform hard pruning on several of my plants and the resilience and rejuvenation definitely is amazing.
Riviera Rose from South of France on March 14, 2013:
Great hub, I love succulents and how easy they are to propagate. One winter we had some unexpected snow which lasted a few days, and although my jade wasn't touched by the snow, it was outside and really suffered. I cut it right back but thought it was a gonner - and in no time at all, it started growing again. I love such resilience! This year I brought it inside at the first signs of snow - I wasn't going to put the poor thing through all that again!
naheed on March 02, 2013:
Ilove plants i read about jade plant .I like this plant Its easy to grow.
Sean Hemmer (author) from Wisconsin, USA on June 18, 2012:
I'm glad you can put it to use! Nip off a leaf, let it sit, and see what happens. Taking off a leaf definitely won't hurt. Once you get the hang of rooting the leaves, then move onto the stem. Stems are easy, but a failure to root a stem will mean the loss of an entire stem that took a long time to grow.
Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on June 18, 2012:
Your hub has been very useful for me as I have a jade plant that I've been wanting to cut and restart some new plants with but have always been hesitant because I was not sure how to do this.