One of the most popular low maintenance houseplants is the Jade Plant, Crassula ovata.
Jade Plant, Lucky Plant, Friendship Tree, Money Tree, Money Plant, Dollar Plant, Tree of Happiness
Scientific Binomial Name
Description of Jade Plant, Crassula ovata
The attractive Jade Plant has a thick trunk and branches. The plump, smooth leaves are a shiny dark jade green and shaped like oblong pads. The leaves themselves may grow to be about 2 inches long and 1.5 inches wide. Depending on the growing conditions some will have a reddish color on the edges of the leaves. (More sunlight seems to bring out more red.) Jade Plants are a branched succulent shrub. They are sometimes described as a broadleaf evergreen.
Jade Plants are one of the few plants that are actually used as houseplants all over the world. They are quite popular because as they grow they take on the appearance of a miniature tree.
Mature Size: Height = 1-8 feet; Spread = 1-2 feet
Uses: The Jade Plant can be grown anywhere indoors as long as there is plenty of light. The natural tree like features makes it easy to shape a Jade Plant into a bonsai plant. Outdoors these are great container plants on patios. They look nice and grow well in flower beds and borders. The sturdy limbs and trunks make them look great in rock gardens.
Growing Conditions for Jade Plant, Crassula ovata
Light: The Jade Plant needs lots of light when kept as a houseplant and does best next to a window. When grown outside, if possible, limit direct sun exposure to morning sun.
Temperature: Ideal temperature is 60-75 degrees Fahrenheit (15.5-24 Celsius). Will not tolerate frost.
Humidity: Jade Plants live naturally in areas of high humidity. If the conditions are too dry be sure to mist the plant. Do not mist excessively though or the plant may develop mildew or other fungal problems.
Soil: Any pre-mixed cactus and succulent soil will work fine. Jade Plants prefer a neutral pH. Outdoors it will still thrive in poor sandy or rocky soil as long as it drains well.
Flowers: When growing in an ideal environment a healthy Jade Plant produce pink or white flowers (after they have matured). However, even with the perfect environment and growing conditions your plant may not produce flowers. Some growers have had success producing flowers by forcing a resting period. At summer’s end, reduce watering, stop fertilizing and make sure the plant has complete darkness at night. You may be rewarded with beautiful winter blooms.
Hardiness Zones: 9b-12
General Care for Jade Plant, Crassula ovata
Water: Jade Plants are drought tolerant and will usually thrive outdoors with only modest rainfall. It is essential that you place your plant in well-draining soil and that water does not sit at the bottom of the pot. The soil should be completely dry before you water again.
If your Jade Plant is in a large pot, investing in a moisture meter will ensure perfect watering. The moisture meter will accurately measure dampness all the way to the bottom of the pot.
Fertilizer: You may not need to fertilize at all. A healthy Jade Plant will do quite well without fertilizer if the growing environment is well maintained. However, if you do need to fertilize your plant, use a ½ diluted succulent fertilizer.
General Care: Indoor Jade Plants like good air circulation around them. Avoid moving them abruptly from a shady area to full sun. It will not usually cause permanent damage but you may temporarily lose a lot of leaves.
Pests and Diseases: Watch for scale, aphids, mealybugs and spider mites. They are deer resistant. Pull off old and dead leaves and also remove ones that have fallen onto the soil. This will help discourage pests.
Pruning: Pruning can be done weekly to help develop the shape of the plant you desire. Jade Plants will actually thrive whether you do a lot or very little pruning. The right pruning can result in the development of an attractive Jade bonsai plant.
Propagation: Propagation is easy and almost always successful. Take leaf or stem cuttings and allow the tip to dry out for a few days and form a callous. Next, simply place them into a quality cactus and succulent soil mix. Be patient and keep the soil slightly damp. It may take 3-4 weeks or more for the roots to form. Foliage will often appear very soon after the roots are established.
Repotting: If the plant becomes root bound or you would like to rejuvenate the soil repotting should be done in the spring or summer.
Enjoy the video below. It shows some absolutely beautiful Jade Plants and give some soil, watering and display tips.
[Transcription] Hi, I'm Dave Epstein. Welcome to this edition of growing wisdom. And I have a Jade Plant in a wonderful container. Look at this great blue container and notice how shallow it is. This is the great thing about the Jade Plant, they do not need a lot of soil. This plant is over a foot tall, but the container is only about four or five inches deep.
And Jade plants really enjoy dry soil. So you really want to let your jade plant dry out before you water it. That's one of the great things about this particular house plant. I know some of you have asked me what's a good house plant that doesn't need a lot of light that you can grow that really is a low maintenance plant. I'd say the Jade Plant is one of my favorites because of all of those factors.
Three to five hours of sunlight is perfect for the Jade plant. It doesn't want to be in a South window getting ten or twelve hours of light, it's too much. It also doesn't want to be in shade because then it will get spindly. So, if your Jade Plant doesn't look nice and full like this it may not be getting enough light.
Now in terms of water, let the jade plant dry out between waterings. You want to have that soil almost bone-dry. If your leaves begin to shrivel now you've gone too far to the dry side and you're watering it too infrequently so let it dry out give it a solid drink and then let it dry out again and it'll be very happy.
Now I'm going to put this Jade Plant back on its home up here on the shelf. You can see what a bright window this is and notice here we've got this little container garden. This is another way to illustrate just how little soil the jade plant needs. So, this particular Jade Plant here, you can see this is fairly old because the trunks nice and thick. But it's also got the cactus in here as well and the serious in there and look this is only about two inches of soil and the plant is thriving here.
So, if you don't have a lot of room this is just one of those bottoms from a container filled with a little bit of soil and now we have a little dish garden. Jade Plant is a great plant to be a centerpiece of your dish garden.
So, if you're looking for the ideal house plant that doesn't need a lot of care, doesn't take a lot of room, the Jade Plant is a great plant to choose.
Come back every week for all of our videos here at growing wisdom. [End of transcript]
Content posted on video:
• Overwatering will cause it to lose its leaves. • Extreme heat or overexposure to direct sun can cause scorched leaves, loss of foliage and rotting stems. • Let the soil dry between waterings.
Signs of Stress and Poor Health
Do not be concerned if some of the leaves are more of a yellow-green instead of the dark uniform green. Some healthy Jade Plants may have a more yellow tinge to the leaves likely because of the soil or too much direct light but it should not be a problem.
If the leaves start to shrivel or brown spots occur, you may need to water it more or the plant has become rootbound. Do not overwater. Overwatering is the most common reason for Jade Plants dying.
The Jade Plant pictured below has yellow leaves from too much direct sunlight.
We also hear the question a lot, “Why are the leaves falling off my Jade Plant?”
When a lot of leaves are falling off your Jade Plant it is getting too little or too much water. Most often it is getting too much water when leaves fall off. You can also try adding a little nitrogen to the soil and getting it just a little more sunlight.
Medicinal and Other Uses of Jade Plants
The Jade Plant, Crassula ovata has traditionally been used in South Africa and other parts of the world to treat diarrhea, to heal wounds, remove warts and control epilepsy. Those claims and the plants antimicrobial properties were extensively studied and reported on in the European Journal of Medicinal Plants. Click the accordion below to read portions of the report and its conclusions.
Enjoy quotes from the following study published in October, 2015.
Mwangi Denis Muiruri and Wambura Mwangi
Plants have been used as medicines since time in memorial. Plants having medicinal value are widely and successfully used on every continent. In Asian countries, the practice of herbal medicine is extremely well established and documented. As a result, most of the medicinal plants that are internationally recognized come from this region, particularly from China and India. For Europe and North America, the use of herbal medicine is increasing fast, especially for correcting imbalances such as diabetes caused by modern diets and lifestyles. Many people now take medicinal plant products on a daily basis, to maintain good health as much as to treat illness.
In Africa, attitudes towards traditional, herbal medicines vary strongly mostly due to diversity in cultures and traditions. Another reason for this is the confusion between herbal medicine and witchcraft. The use of medicinal plants is commonly associated with superstition, and therefore rejected by some people in favor of western medicine. On the other hand, there are millions of Africans who prefer traditional methods of treatment.
The valuable medicinal properties contained in certain plants are not in doubt. In recent years, for example, the Chinese plant Artemisia annua, has become the essential ingredient in a new generation of anti-malaria drugs. East African countries have adopted the plant and growing it to supply pharmaceutical manufacturers in Europe. The bark of the tree Prunus africana is used mostly in making treatments for prostate cancer. Sutherlandia, a native plant of South Africa, is being increasingly recognized for its value to HIV/AIDS diagnostics and treatment. Other African plants, such as the Devil’s Claw and the African Geranium, are gaining popularity as herbal medicines, particularly in Europe.
2. LITERATURE REVIEW
2.1 Brief Description of Crassula ovata
2.1.1 Scientific classification and morphological description
Crassula ovata, commonly known as the jade plant or the money tree, belongs to the Crassulaceae or the Orpine family. They are a family of dicotyledonous plants, succulent with small white or pink flowers. Their main water reservoir is in their succulent leaves.
The jade plant is an evergreen plant up to 1 - 3 m tall, with thick branches and smooth, rounded, fleshy leaves that grow in opposite sides along the branches which are also short, stubby and well-proportioned. The leaves are a rich jade green color, 30 -90 mm long and 18 - 40 mm wide, egg-shaped to elliptic, often with a red margin and a somewhat pointed end. They are in opposite pairs, the one pair arranged at right angles to the next, and they are clustered towards the ends of the branches. New stem growth is the same color and texture as the leaves, but becomes brown and woody with age. Under the right conditions, they may produce small white or pink star-like flowers in early spring. The flowers later develop into small capsules, each of which hold many tiny seeds.
2.2 Ecology and Distribution
The Crassula ovata plant is able to maintain minimum water loss while photosynthesizing efficiently through Crassulacean Acid Metabolism (CAM). Its stomata are closed during the day but open at night where Co₂ is taken in and stored in the form of organic crassulacean acids. In daytime, these acids are broken down and the Co₂ released is recycled in the photosynthetic process. This way the plants lose much less water yet can photosynthesize normally during the daytime hours. However, during extremely dry periods they will not even open their stomata at night, and will re-cycle the Co₂ within their cells. This causes slow metabolism hence little growth but at the same time keeping the cells healthy. This is called CAM-idling.
The plants succulent water-storing leaves, stems and roots give it the ability to survive droughts, being grazed on, trampled on or knocked over, as it is able to root from any piece of its stem, and even a single leaf. Any discarded leaves left around the foot of the plant send down roots and grow into new plants.
The flowers of Crassula ovata attract wasps, flies, bees, butterflies, and beetles. Wind helps disperse the fine dust-like seeds. The stems also make good bases for wasps to build their nests.
Crassula ovata is a native plant to South Africa. It is also a common houseplant all over the world, but it is mostly located in the Northern Hemisphere particularly in cold and/or dry areas where water is scarce. Crassula ovata is a vibrant part of the Eastern Cape and KwaZuluNatal valley thicket vegetation, together with a variety of euphorbias, aloes, Portulacaria afra and other succulent plants. It strives from Willowmore to East London then northwards to Queenstown and KwaZulu-Natal where it grows on rocky hillsides.
In Kenya the Crassula ovata is found growing in areas with adequate rainfall which is well distributed throughout the year. These are areas within the Central, Rift Valley, Nyanza, and few areas in the Eastern region of Kenya. The Muiruri and Mwangi; EJMP, 11(1): 1-12, 2016; Article no.EJMP.19753 4 Crassula ovata rarely grows in the North Eastern part of the country due to the scarce availability of precipitation. Also in the coastal region it’s very rare to find this plant. There is no variation in the Crassula ovata’s phytochemical composition regardless of where they are from. The only difference might occur in their succulence depending on the geographical location which will affect water availability in the area where the plant is found.
2.3 Mode of Propagation
Crassula ovata is famously propagated either by leaf cuttings or stem cuttings. Both of these types of cuttings require high humidity. In the wild, stems and leaves will often break off and fall to the ground, and after a few weeks, they may grow roots and form a new plant. They can also be cut and placed in a water container until roots grow usually in about two weeks, then planted in soil.
In cultivation, new plants are made by cutting new growth (stems or leaves) and letting them dry. Roots will develop in or out of soil, though inserting the stem into moist soil will increase rooting.
2.4 Traditional Uses and Cultural Aspects
Traditionally many communities have developed a habit of using the fluid extract from the leaves to treat warts which are small circumscribed tumor of the outer layer of the skin. Warts are flat or elevated from the surrounding skin and are firm. They are caused by forms of the contagious human papilloma virus (HPV); warts vary in size and may be accompanied by pain, particularly if they occur on the feet (plantar warts). The leaf of Crassula ovata was sliced in half and attached the moist inside to the wart for a few hours, or overnight. The unsightly growth would fall off with just three applications.
In Asian cultures particularly in China (700AD), jade plant is a popular element. Medicine-men prescribed a tea of the jade plant to treat symptoms of diabetes. Because of its abundance and its softness in ancient times, it could easily be shaped into various forms thus it was used in the art of Bonsai. The plant was spread around as luxurious gift to royalties all over the Chinese empire.
The jade plant is used in the Chinese ritual practice of Feng Shui to attract the flow of money. Feng Shui creates balance and harmony of energies within a space. Practitioners believe that the money tree brings about balance to the southeastern corner of a home. The jade plant is one of the plants used in this ritual practice. In many businesses, a jade plant is often placed near a cash register as in Chinese tradition as a way to attract prosperity.
In Africa, jade leaves are boiled in milk and consumed to stop diarrhea. The Khoi and other African tribes ate the roots and stems of the jade plant. The plant was grated and cooked after which they were eaten with thick milk. The leaves were also boiled in milk as a remedy for diarrhea, treating epilepsy, corns and as a purgative.
The Jade plant has attracted more common names including the Penny Plant, Money Tree, Dollar Plant, and Tree of Happiness in the Far East, United States and Germany. The plant is traditionally grown in square porcelain tubs with lion feet to bring good financial luck, and general prosperity.
The Crassula ovata plant is in Kenya mostly grown in local homesteads for its ornamental value. However some people keep this plant also for its medical values. The Kamba community believe that the juice extracted from this plant help heal burn wounds on the skin. Other communities like the Maasai use it as a relief for stomach upsets.
2.6 Statement of the Problem
The main problem or general question pertaining the Crassula ovata is whether it has relevantly effective antibiotic or antifungal traits. Crassula ovata plants are mostly used as house plants and do not have many commercial uses other than for ornamental value. However it’s usually integrated into most homesteads also because of its healing properties or medicinal values. In many occurrences, the plant extracts do not always treat some stomach upsets or even fresh wounds, despite its prominent successful use in other past communities from different nations. Even after continuous application of the plant extracts, the stomach upset or wound still continues to persist.
The question left unanswered is whether the extraction procedure is efficient, or maybe the concentration of the extract is too high or too low to be effective. Or perhaps which part of the Crassula ovata plant is most effective to use.
The Crassula ovata has had successful ratings in its past ancient uses, but very much limited success in present time. There is need to research further why this has come to be. Among the many reasons for these changes might be the fact that since these plants were originally from what we now know as highly productive nations (China and South Africa), due to the industrial advancements and resulting increased environmental pollution, the plant genome has been altered. This could to a great deal alter the overall efficiency of the plants antibiotic traits.
The Crassula ovata plant is a common home plant in most parts of Kenya. However, the claims that it can heal wounds are most likely not true. Scientific experimentation carried out in this study helps prove that point. However, due to the plants effect on Escherichia coli, the Crassula ovate plant’s potential to control stomach upset is yet to be further looked into.
5. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
It is evident from the results that the plant extracts of the Crassula ovata plant, both from the leaves and stems, methanolic and aqueous, are only able to inhibit the Escherichia coli bacteria. Also being a gram negative bacterium, Pseudomonas aeruginosa was not affected by the plant extracts. Meaning that there was an active compound in the plants extracts that acted specifically against E. coli bacteria. This results also led to the rejection of the null hypothesis since a significant difference was observed in the microbial proliferation and the active compounds in the Crassula ovata plant. Other than Escherichia coli, the Crassula ovata plant is none effective to the other microbes that were tested against.
The objectives of this study were met, both the broad and specific objectives. There were active phytochemical compounds in the Crassula ovata plant. This included the Carbohydrates, saponins, steroids, and alkaloids. The plant was found to have an antimicrobial effect on Escherichia coli bacteria.
This study proved that there are active phytochemical compounds in the Crassula ovata plant, and that these compounds have a relatively minimal effect on microbial activity.
The Crassula ovata, Jade Plants are toxic to both dogs and cats, however, the Portulacaria afra, known as the Dwarf Jade Plant or Miniature Jade Plant is not toxic.
Jade Plants are typically top-heavy so be sure to use a heavy pot or container.
The hardy and attractive Jade Plant has won the Award of Garden Merit issued by the Royal Horticultural Society.
The Dwarf Jade Plant is another great succulent with smaller leaves than a true Jade Plant.
‘Cristata’, ‘ET’s Fingers’, ‘Gollum’, ‘Hobbit’, ‘Hummel’s Sunset’ (yellow leaves with red tips), ‘Tricolor’ (leaves are variegated with cream and white)