My jade plant adventure continues

A few months back I let you all share in my terrifying adventure where I learned I had been killing my jade plants with love. Basically after 10 years, my enormous and seriously full jade plant (the original of the two) had started dropping leaves, leaves had started to wither and dry up and it was looking a bit sad.

I was terrified that I had basically killed it and was going to loose the plant, so I began researching jade plant care and discovered I was doing the worst thing ever. Overwatering and not giving it enough light.

Well I have some updates for you.

I now have 3 very healthy and still quite large jade plants. There has been no leaf drop and no withered leaves since I repotted and pruned. Phew! (I also have 9 growing on from cuttings).

The reason I have 3 proper plants is because I discovered the smaller of the two plants was actual 2 plants in itself. So I separated them and they seem really happy that I’ve done this.

The smaller one at the back has been earmarked for Valerie who is a jade plant fan, I’m hoping a few years from now she will have encouraged it into being a lovely full plant, or maybe an interesting tree

So what have I learned

Well the two most obvious things are the ones I was doing wrong.

Overwatering

I was seriously overwatering. I now water my plants maybe once a month and only a splash of water.

The way you can tell if you need to water the plant is to gently squeeze a leaf. If it is rigid then you don’t need to water, if the leaf feels soft then the plant needs water.

I am also feeding them, again not a huge amount but I got some cactus feed and I’ve now fed them a couple of times since my last post. This seems to have have stopped the plants putting out roots searching for new soil.

Light

Also, when I first repotted the bigger plant, I put it back into my study, and it continued to drop leaves. I was worried and I even thought about buying a grow light to try to help it but decided it just wasn’t practical so I have now removed the light filters form the window which has really made a huge difference. That was when the plant perked up. Unfortunately for me I now have no privacy and can’t control the light but hey ho, the things you do for your plants 🙂

I can’t emphasise enough just how much light jades need. The filters I had didn’t really block much light but they did diffuse it. That seemed to be enough of a change to upset the plant.

But also pruning…

For me, the scariest part of my adventure was pruning. I was terrified. I had this enormous plant and it just seemed completely counter intuitive to chop bits off, but I knew we just had nowhere to house it where it could get the light it needed so I had to prune to make it manageable. Also, once I could actually take a good look at the plant, I could see that because of the leaf drop, it was looking quite leggy.

I have to be honest, I’m still finding it hard, I still see the plant as looking quite bare but there is so much new growth so I am hopeful that this time next year it will start to fill out again.

How to prune

I am, however, now quite confident in pruning. I can see now what the results are so it’s way less scary to actually prune the plant. I’ve learned that I can encourage growth and how.

How to encourage growth

Basically, the plant stems are made up of sections broken up by double leaves. As the plant grows, the stems thicken and these areas develop a kind of ridged texture, smooth then a small ridge where the leaves are. I’m calling these nodes.

When you cut a stem it will dry out and eventually that section will fall off back to the last ridge. From there, two new stems will grow.

A healed cut with new growth from either side.

When thinking about which stems to remove, keep this in mind. The pruned stem will die back to the next node (where the leaves grow from). Also I know this seems mad, but once you’ve pruned, you are leaving an open, fresh wound on the cutting and the plant. Don’t be tempted to seal this. Leave it exposed to the air and after a couple of weeks it will dry up and heal. Only then should you put your cutting into soil. Trust me on this 🙂

So remembering this, I make decisions on where to prune to encourage the pant to grow and take shape. Also, where stems are leggy, nipping the buds at the end can encourage new growth further down the stem, helping it “bush” out.

I’ve accepted I’m on a much longer journey to get my plant looking full again, but it’s healthy now which is way more important. We’re in it for the long haul folks.

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