Why Does My Jade Plant Have Yellow Leaves (Causes + Solutions)
Yellow leaves on jade plants indicate a fundamental health problem in the conditions of your plant. Most causes are external. However, occasionally a nutrient deficiency may also lead to yellow leaves.
- identify the cause of the yellow leaves by looking for other accompanying symptoms,
- narrow down the potential causes, and implement solutions based on your findings
- through trial and error possible solutions until your jade plant show positive feedback
It is never a fun experience seeing your plants suffering; discovering yellow leaves on jade plants is right up there.
You know something is wrong, but figuring out the exact problem is the challenge.
Fortunately, we at the Garden Bench Top Clinic have you covered.
We have created a user-friendly troubleshooting guide to help you narrow down the possible causes.
We take it one step further by suggesting solutions after each possible cause.
So if you’re ready, grab your troubleshooting hat because we have a problem to solve.
How to Solve Yellow Leaves on Jade Plants
Before we begin, we think it is essential to set your expectations correctly to achieve a mindset that will deliver the best chance of success.
The bad news – your Jade Plant will not magically look happy and healthy tomorrow.
It’s a big waiting game, where you are looking for positive responses to any changes we make to your plant. As you work through the troubleshooting guide below, you will make a change and wait. And test and wait again. This process will take time and patience – with a big emphasis on the latter of these two factors.
It may be as small as the leaves looking a bit more vibrant than the previous day. Or maybe the leaves are looking a bit plumper than a week ago.
As you progress through the process, you will become a more mindful gardener and pick up skills you can apply to other aspects of your gardening.
becoming a more mindful gardener with skills that can apply to all aspects of gardening
Okay, that’s enough of a motivational pump-up – let’s get into the troubleshooting guide.
Causes of Jade Plant Yellow Leaves
If you are new to our troubleshooting guides, let us briefly explain their structure.
We begin with the possible cause of yellow leaves on your Jade. We explain the reason and other potential symptoms to look for in your plant.
We then move on to the more exciting part of the process – the solution. Here you will find actionable steps.
1. Yellow leaves caused by Overwatering
Water stress would be listed if we had to name the top 3 reasons for yellow leaves on Jade Plants.
Not only is it a common problem for many houseplant owners, water stress commonly shows up in the leaves of Jade Plants, including yellow foliage.
Water stress can be caused by extremes – too much and too little. We’ll discuss too much water and explore too little water in the next section.
You may think a little water now and again can’t hurt your indoor plants. However, it can do more damage than you realize.
Like the Jade, succulents like their soil completely dry out between each watering. If their roots sit in constantly moist soil, they can develop problems like yellow leaves and root rot.
Besides yellowing leaves, there are a few other tell-tale signs that a Jade is Overwatered. These are:
- Soggy or waterlogged soil – stick your finger into the top layer of soil and feel for moisture. If it is saturated, then it is a sure sign that your soil has too much water.
- Presence of fungus gnats – adult fungus gnats require moist soil to lay eggs and will seek out houseplants with wet soil to inhabit
- saggy or drooping leaves – along with the color change, overwatered Jade can also develop drooping leaves
How to Fix an Overwatered Jade Plant
The quickest way to fix an overwatered Jade is to change the soil by repotting the entire plant. It may seem like overkill. After all, you could wait for the water or moisture to be absorbed or evaporate.
However, we recommend repotting because keeping your Jade in wet soil leaves it vulnerable to pests and diseases like root rot.
We have a step-by-step guide to repotting plants in our detailed root rot guide HERE.
2. Yellow leaves caused by Underwatering
At the other extreme, too little water can also cause water stress to your Jade leading to yellowing leaves.
Like other succulents, Jade plants can store water in their thick fleshy leaves. However, as the water reserves deplete, they become yellow. Which is an early warning sign that your Jade is experiencing stress.
To check if your Jade is underwater, look out for the following:
- Hardened or cracked soil – use the soil moisture finger test to determine if the soil is dry. If it is difficult for your finger to penetrate the soil, or you notice cracks forming, then the soil is too dry.
- Wrinkled leaves – are another indicator that your Jade needs more water. As the water reserves reduce in the leaves, the leaves lose their volume, leaving behind saggy skin.
- Crispy leaves – as well as wrinkles, some leaves may develop a crispy texture, similar to burnt leaves. This is primarily due to the lack of moisture in the leaves.
How to Fix an Underwatered Jade Plant
You have a few options on how to fix your Jade. Which option you choose will depend on the severity of your dehydrated Jade Plant.
We recommend giving your Jade a water bath if the soil is dry and cracked. This involves submerging the soil under water for an extended period. The water bath will help the soil regain its absorption properties to retain moisture for the Jade’s root system.
A healthy watering will suffice if the soil still has a good consistency (crumbly and easy for your finger to push through). We recommend keeping a close eye on your Jade to ensure it doesn’t need another water top-up.
3. Temperature Shock
Jade plants can develop yellow leaves when exposed to sudden temperature fluctuations. The temperature change can be cold to hot or vice versa.
The sudden temperature change causes shock to your Jade, causing stress.
Outdoor plants are generally hardened to sudden temperature fluctuations and more tolerant of day and night temperatures. However, indoor Jade plants are less forgiving, with more noticeable changes.
Jade plants suffering from temperature shock will also exhibit the following:
- Leaf Drop – it is common for plants to drop their leaves when sudden temperature changes occur. For some, it may falsely signal the plant that there is a change in season. However, for Jade Plants, it is simply the shock that triggers them to lose their leaves.
How to Fix a Jade Plant experiencing 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 drastic temperature changes.
If your area is susceptible to frost or snow in the winter, bring your outdoor Jade Plants into the house to protect them from experiencing frostbite.
We established earlier that Jade Plants are succulents, which can store water in their 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.
Which is not good news for Jade Plants.
When the water stored in a Jade’s leaves begins to expand, it causes 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.
4. Insufficient Lighting
Another common cause of yellow leaves in Jade Plants is a lack of light.
Light is life for a plant. Without the right light intensity, a plant cannot complete its internal processes, such as photosynthesis. This process allows a plant to produce nutrients and sugars to fuel its growth and maintain health.
When a Jade cannot produce enough nutrients, it suffers from nutrient deficiency, resulting in yellow leaves and stunted growth.
Insufficiency of light will also leave your Jade weak and vulnerable to other problems, which is why it may feel like your Jade is suffering from many problems at once. Here are a few other symptoms to look for:
- Pests and disease – weakened Jade plants will be unable to defend themselves against pests and diseases. Leading to infestations and infections.
- Spots on leaves – some signs of pests and diseases include spots developing on leaves. As well as deformed growth.
- Stunted growth – Jade starved of light will not develop new growth due to the lack of nutrients.
How to Fix a Lack of Light
Give you Jade more light!
The solution may sound simple. However, there is a process that should be taken to ensure you don’t cause further damage to your already 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.
5. Fertilizer Troubles
The final cause of yellow leaves on a Jade Plant we’ll explore 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.
Here is a video by My Wasteless Life showing you how to flush a plant:
- Photosynthesis. (2022, November 15). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photosynthesis