Troubleshooting Guide for Jade Plant Leaves Falling Off
Jade Plants shed leaves when distressed or feel their survival is threatened. The challenge is determining what is causing your Jade Plant to be stressed. Use our guide to help troubleshoot why.
If plants could talk, leaves falling off would be the equivalent of your Jade Plant’s waving its arms about saying, “Look at me, look at me!”
Your Jade needs help. And quickly.
Before you panic, take a deep breath and center yourself. The Garden Bench Top Clinic is here to help with a troubleshooting guide to get your Jade back to its happy former self.
Why Do Jade Plant Leaves Fall Off?
Plants drop their leaves as a survival mechanism to preserve their energy.
By sacrificing their energy-hungry leaves, they can divert the nutrients to the areas that will help to ensure the main plant survives.
Your job is to take heed of your Jade’s behavior and jump into action. We need to find out why your Jade feels threatened and take steps to rectify the problem.
Causes of Falling Jade Plant Leaves
Let’s now consider possible reasons for your Jade Plant leaves falling off.
Judging from the questions and grievances we receive from the Garden Bench Top community, achieving a healthy watering schedule appears to be one of the main challenges plant parents face in their journey.
And it isn’t hard to see why. Think about the number of plants we keep in our homes – each with its own specific water requirements. Too little or too much water can cause any plant to experience water stress – including Jade Plants.
Water stress is a common cause of leaves falling off your Jade. But is it too much water or too little?
To find out, you need to look at the condition of your soil.
If you overwater your Jade, the topsoil will be wet and soggy. You may see signs of root rot developing, such as brown mushy stems and roots. If you see this check out this article about treating root rot.
Another sign your Jade is overwatered is the fallen leaves are yellow and soft.
On the other hand, if you suspect you are underwatering your Jade, try pushing your index finger into the top layer of soil. Underwatered soil will be hard and won’t crumble or give way. In addition, the fallen leaves will be brown and crispy.
How to Fix Water-Stressed Jade Plants
The good news is fixing a water-stressed plant is straightforward.
You have two options:
- Use the finger soil moisture test to check your Jade’s soil BEFORE you water them. It is an effective method for preventing your Jade from becoming overwatered or underwater.
- Purchase a soil moisture meter from your nursery or online. They are budget-friendly options for those that don’t like to get their hands dirty.
Besides water, another key ingredient in the health of a Jade Plant is light.
When Jade doesn’t receive enough light, it cannot achieve photosynthesis leading to malnutrition and a weakened houseplant. This causes your Jade to experience leaf drop to conserve the little energy it needs to survive.
Other symptoms of low light include:
- stunted growth
- deformed leaves
- yellowing leaves
- spots on leaves
- dull appearance and loss of color
How to Fix a Jade Suffering from Low Light
The solution may sound simple – it needs more light.
However, a process should be taken to ensure you don’t shock your weakened Jade.
Choose a new position for your Jade to receive plenty of indirect bright light. But DO NOT move your Jade there yet. If you thrust your Jade into the brightly lit position, it may experience shock and cause irreparable damage.
Over a week, gradually move your Jade closer to its new final destination. The subtle changes in light intensity will allow it to adapt to the new conditions, and you will experience a smoother transition.
Another potential reason for a Jade dropping its leaves could be the result of sudden temperature changes in the immediate ambient environment.
Temperature shock can result from both sudden temperature increases and decreases. However, the result will be the same – your Jade will feel stressed and react accordingly – shedding its leaves.
Other symptoms you may see developing on your Jade Plant are:
- yellowing leaves
- droopy or sad looking
- wrinkled skin
How to Revive a Jade Suffering from Temperature Shock
For indoor Jade Plants, check that they are not positioned in drafty areas. This includes being in front of air conditioners or heaters, which will cause sudden fluctuations in temperature.
If your area is susceptible to frost or snow in the winter, bring your outdoor Jade Plants into the house to protect them from frostbite.
Jade is a succulent plant that can store water in its leaves.
As you may already be aware, when water freezes, it expands. A study by the International Association for the Properties of Water and Steam showed water expands by approximately 9% when frozen.
The water contained in the leaves can begin to expand as temperatures drop to freezing point. This results in irreparable damage to the cellular walls of the leaf cells. Even when the water warms up and returns to a liquid state, it is already too late. The parts of the Jade that suffered the frost will be damaged and begin to rot.
Poor Soil & Fertilizer Methods
Another cause of falling leaves on a Jade Plant is fertilization issues.
However, unlike the light deficiency causing a lack of available nutrients for your Jade. Fertilization issues that cause yellow leaves are usually related to too many nutrients.
Like many things in gardening, it is all about balance.
Over-fertilization usually occurs when too much fertilizer is given to your Jade. And excess nutrients start to build up in the soil. When nutrients sit in the soil for too long, they can become toxic. This toxicity can burn your Jade, causing the leaves to turn yellow. This is often referred to as fertilizer burn.
To determine if your Jade is suffering from fertilizer burn, look out for these symptoms:
- Crust on soil – the built-up fertilizer in the soil will usually form a white crust on top of the soil.
- Curling leaves – besides turning yellow, leaves may begin to curl and have a scorched appearance (hence the term ‘burn’)
- Falling leaves – affected leaves will eventually drop off the plant as your Jade tries to protect itself and fight the toxicity.
How to Fix a Jade suffering from Fertilizer Issues
To get rid of the excess fertilizer and toxicity from the soil, we recommend giving your Jade a flush.
No, that doesn’t mean flushing it down the toilet.
Flushing a plant involves running a lot of water through the soil to ‘flush’ out excess nutrients.
The last potential reason we’ll explore that may cause a Jade Plant to drop its leaves are pests.
Unfortunately, pests are not far behind wherever you have prized indoor or outdoor plants. It is something that all hobbyists and professionals must tackle at some point in their gardening journey. The key is recognizing the symptoms that your plant is under attack – including Jade Plant leaves falling off.
Jade is a popular food for larger garden pests, like deer, rabbits, and squirrels, due to its nutritious fleshy leaves and stems. We experienced this problem when a rat raided our Jade Plant in a succulent bowl we were trying to cultivate (you can read more about how we tackled the problem HERE).
As the rat snacked on our Jade over the summer months, it caused many leaves to fall. Fortunately, the fallen leaves began to self-propagate over the autumn and winter months, and we ended up with baby Jade Plants. Talk about silver linings…
But it is not only the large pests you need to protect your Jade against. Smaller pests, like mealy bugs, scale insects, and spider mites, can also cause your Jade to lose leaves.
Instead of knocking leaves off (like rats and possums), these insect pests feed on the sap and deprive your Jade of essential nutrients and water.
As a result, your Jade will become weak and (like the other threats) will drop its leaves to conserve energy in an attempt to survive.
How to Get Rid of Pests on Jade
We like to take a pressurized hose and apply a medium-pressure water jet to the entire plant.
Jade Plant leaves are thick and fleshy, so they can stand up to a good amount of pressurized water.
Make sure to spray both the top and underside of the leaves and the crevices. This should dislodge the majority of the pest issue.
To cover all bases, we apply an organic insecticide, like Neem Oil, to target the spider mites that may have evaded the pressurized hose attack.
- Photosynthesis. (2022, December 3). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photosynthesis