Crassula Ovata— the Jade Plant Succulent

Kelvin M. Kelvin Mwathi on

Ever heard of the phrase, “money doesn’t grow on trees?” I know I have…

Well, as per old Chinese divinity beliefs, it can grow money— at least on succulents. According to Feng Shui lore, simply placing some plant at the entrance of your house, office or business is what it takes to make big bucks.

The Jade Plant

The jade plant is widely associated with luck, riches and prosperity in the Asian communities. In China, you’ll find it mainly at the entrance of shops, restaurants and offices to attract customers and good fortune. The jade plant, also known as the dollar plant, is believed to attract riches due to its small, round-like leaves which resemble jade coins symbolic of wealth and success.

So serious is the belief, that the jade plant is usually placed on top of stocks and investments certificates during Chinese new year celebration for higher stock value in the incoming year. (Talk about a bullish method).

Crassula Ovata the Jade Plant
Crassula Ovata— the Jade Plant @farmer_chui

In most countries where these beliefs are upheld, this “good luck” plant is usually given as a gift in weddings, house warming and during a launch of a new business.

The Feng shui philosophy has it that the jade plant will attract money towards your house, office or business due to its “positive energy” emission.

Though multitudes may dismiss that as a myth, misconception or a Chinese fad, be that as it may, the jade plant is a popular household plant, not only in China, but globally. You’ll find it in Asian countries and even here in the United States.

So will a jade plant placed at the entrance of your house increase your bank balance, clear your credit cards, help you pay your mortgage quicker or grow those savings? Well, that’s quite iffy. One thing for sure, it’ll make a remarkable house plant in your living room.

Crassula Ovata

The jade plant is scientifically referred to as Crassula Ovata. Though previously known as Crassula argentea, it belongs to the genus Crassula and the Crassulaceae family. This particular succulent is loaded with hordes of common names: money plant, lucky plant, dollar plant, friendship plant, jade plant and pink joy.

Crassula ovata shares the name “money tree” with Pachira aquatica which also goes by the same nickname and both are believed to attract money according to Feng shui folklore.

Origin of the Jade Plant

Native to South African and Mozambique, this supposedly auspicious succulent has found its way around many households all over the world.

It does well both indoors and out in the open garden or landscape. The jade plant is mainly grown in temperate and tropical regions.

Characteristics of the Jade Plant

Crassula ovata jade plant
Crassula Ovata Succulent @little.greenery

Crassula ovata is a slow-growing, ever-green and thoroughly branched succulent that can last for generations under good conditions. It’s mainly recognized for its glossy, spoon-shaped, jade-green leaves that grow in opposite pairs. When grown in abundant light, the leaves become tinged with red.

Stems start off as green and fleshy but as the plant grows, they turn to brown and become woody. Mature jade plants have a miniature tree-like appearance, which makes them very aesthetically appealing as decorative houseplants.

The jade plant produces small, star-shaped, white or light pink flowers that are arranged in round clusters. The blooming takes place at winter or spring. The flowers are lightly sweet scented and attract butterflies, bees and flies.

The following features make the jade plant unique…

  • Its miniature tree-like appearance makes it a charming indoor ornamental.
  • It’s very easy to propagate jade plants through stem and leaf cuttings.
  • Crassula ovata requires minimal care.
  • It is a disease-free succulent.
  • It can thrive when both grown indoors or outdoors.

How to Grow a Jade Plant

Crassula Ovata jade plant
Crassula Ovata @alexisandherplants

This South African succulent does not need a lot of attention. It’s an easy grow plant, pretty forgiving if denied water once in a while and loves lots of sunlight.

To end up with a healthy jade plant, observe the following…

Light Requirements

Jade plants flourish in direct sunlight as well as bright, indirect light. The recommended light dosage for the jade plant is a minimum of four hours.

Insufficient light will cause it to have droopy stems and you clearly don’t want such morphology. Place it near a window or anywhere it can busk in the sun for healthy stem and leaf formation. Or you can use these indoor grow lights we found to be very popular.

It’s also worthwhile to note that during its growing stages, avoid placing it in the afternoon hot summer sun as this will lead to leaf scorch.

Ideal Temperature & Climate

The jade plant can tolerate a wide range of humidity and temperature, and even light frost. However, they can’t stand freezing – they’ll die.

They mainly love room temperature and during winter it should not be less than 10°C. They also prefer a well ventilated area.

Watering a Crassula Ovata or Jade Plant

Crassula ovata, like many other succulents, is “easy to care and hard to kill.” Hard to kill because of one thing – overwatering. Contrary to what you think, succulents don’t need a lot of water, much more every week. These are xerophytic plants that have adapted to surviving in desert conditions by storing water in their leaves.

Therefore, when you feed them water every time, their roots fail to take up the water leading to a damp soil – a disaster for their roots. Damp soil will cause their roots to decay and death will be inevitable.

So how often should you water your Crassula ovata?

It depends on three things: the weather, soil and the water storage capacity of the plant.

Crassula ovata jade plant
Jade Plant @pottedfriends

The best way to know when to water your jade plant is by sticking your finger into the soil. Check whether it’s completely dry, in that case, it’s time to water the plant. If it’s damp, don’t water it. Wait till it dries out completely. Easy peasy.

While watering it, give it a generous pour and let the water drain in the soil.

Of course, you’ll water it very less frequently during winter since the plant is semi-dormant. Leave the soil mostly dry during this time.

If you notice foliage spotting and dwarfing in your jade plant, that’s an indication that you’re giving them less water than is recommended. However, as mentioned above, you can never go wrong with waiting for soil to dry out in-between watering.

Best Soil for Crassula Ovata

Crassula ovata flourishes on fast draining soil preferably specific to succulents and cacti. Wet soil is injurious to the plant as it makes it susceptible to pests, diseases and root rot.

It is possible to make a home-made cacti mix for planting the jade plant.

Simply mix portions of garden soil with equal amounts of pearlite or pumice to end up with well-draining soil. Here’s a great bag of soil we’ve found highly rated.

Also, jade plants can do well without a fertilizer. However, if you want to accelerate the growth process, then feed it every two months using liquid fertilizer during the growing season. (Be sure to follow the directions on the bottle of any liquid fertilizer you use, some are concentrates which need to be diluted before use. Otherwise your plants may be heading to the wrong direction before you can help save it).

Jade plant crassula ovata
Jade Plants @homebyfousna

Propagating the Jade Plant

When it comes to propagating the jade plant, nothing could be easier. This can be achieved either through stem or leaf cuttings. Propagation through leaf cuttings is the easiest but stem cuttings might be quicker and with a higher success rate. Regardless of the method you choose, you should end up with healthy little jades in several weeks.

To propagate through leaf cuttings, simply pluck a healthy leaf from the base of the stem. Allow the cutting to dry for a few days. This is to avoid it to rot after you’ve planted it. You can alternatively dip it in rooting hormone. Stick the dried cutting in a commercial cacti mix soil that is well draining. If you don’t have access to a commercial cacti mix, simply mix garden soil with equal amounts of pearlite or pumice. Do not place the propagates in direct sunlight. Water them every few days.

In about two weeks, you’ll notice roots begin to form. Increase the sunlight after the plants are established and decrease watering to three times a month once the plants are mature.

The procedure is the same for stem cuttings. Cut out a stem from a mature jade plant, give it a day or two for the wound to dry. Stick it up in a well-draining cacti mix.

Stem cuttings will take between 6 to 8 weeks for them to be fully rooted. Leaf cuttings take longer, about 8 weeks to a few months after propagation. This is because you need to leave the plant to sprout and also to grow bigger.

Repotting the Jade Plant

Crassula ovata can remain a long time in pots and become root bound. You can repot a jade plant once in every two to three years or when it outgrows its pot.

You also want to repot your jade plant to a larger pot or container to prevent it from tipping over when it becomes top-heavy.

succulent planters
Succulent Planters @bebe_federmann

Crassula Ovata Pests & Problems

Mealy bugs

The jade plant is not susceptible to many pests. The most common insect pests attacking jades are mealy bugs. They harm the plant by deforming new growth. Use cotton wool dipped in rubbing alcohol to wipe them off and do this for several weeks until you eliminate all the pests.

Aphids

These pests set up huge colonies and when not dealt with, they can get out of control and spread disease. Check the leaves for aphids and hose them off or use rubbing alcohol.

Drooping stems and a lanky morphology

These problems are as a result of insufficient light. If you notice any of these, quickly move your Crassula Ovata to a well-lit area, preferably next to a huge window.

Rotting roots

The usual suspect is overwatering. However, it can also be caused by cold conditions or a combination of both. If your plant is rotting, cut out the root before it spreads.

Shriveled stems and leaves

An indication that your Crassula ovata is clearly parched. Give it enough water and wait for the soil to dry out between watering.

Poison / Safety

Jade plants are mildly toxic to humans and poisonous to dogs and cats. (See more poisonous succulents to dogs and cats here). The toxic compound in jade plants remains unknown. When ingested, it can cause diarrhea and an upset stomach.

Where to Buy Jade Plants

You can get yourself a Crassula ovata at plant nurseries or home garden centers near you. Online stores such as Etsy and Amazon can serve as great alternatives too.

Better still, you can receive it as a gift from a close friend or family member. Take a look at our article for more information on where you can buy a variety of succulents from online to your local stores, it’s helped a lot of people.


There you have it, everything you need to know about the unique characteristics of the jade plant, or the crassula ovata for you scientific growers. Be sure to share this to a friend if they need some information on this succulent plant.

Want to learn more?

Crassula Ovata— the Jade Plant Succulent
  • Thank you for this article on the Jade plant. I agree that they are tough. I have one grown from a cutting more than 10 years ago. It is large with lovely shiny green leaves. I feel lucky to have it.