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Jade TLC in Vancouver

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by Boris the Bear on January 19, 2006 11:56 PM
I have searched Jades, and I've read other threads which I didn't want to interrupt, as I think my concerns are a bit different. This is about a jade plant growing in a tolerable, but not ideal, environment in Vancouver.

I found this plant five years ago by a dumpster in the alley. It looked dead. I took it in and repotted it, but really all that I could save was a few inches of root. No stems; no leaves. I gave it every bit of care that I could, and after a long time there were two tiny leaves, smaller than your little fingernail.

But I live in a north-facing apartment in a cool, rainy city. Gray days last for months. My jade is now a beautiful thing (in my eyes), about a foot tall with three "big" (half-inch diameter) stems and three or four more little ones. Although for a couple of years I thought it would grow straight up to the moon without branching, it now bends and twists down and up and all over the place.

BUT--I still don't know what I'm doing.

I have read what I could, but this cool, humid, not very sunny location is a challenge. This jade has nice thick leaves, so it is not dry; I have withheld watering as much as I dare. At the same time, the leaves never have the rosy pink colour, but tend toward cracking and sometimes become brown. (I would have thought that would indicate too little water, but actually I think my plant is more at risk from too much watering.)

Once in awhile it has lost a few leaves, but generally it's been okay. Six months ago, one or two of its arms developed tiny whiskers, and so I brought in a second pot and let these arms anchor themselves in the soil. This precluded turning the main pot toward the sun in the window, so I allowed only a couple of months for the adaptation, and then I cut the "new plant" free. It is okay so far, but I am aware its roots must be minimal.

My potting mixture in the main plant was a sandy soil, but is just ordinary soil in the new one. I am still watching the plants carefully, and all is well. But I am a bit concerned about those cracked leaves.

Also, last summer I saw a few extremely small whitish tufts which I thought were spider webs, and I'm aware there is a dreaded tiny spider amongst houseplants. I had my doubts that this was anything too much to be feared, though, and I manually got rid of whomever they were without trouble. I don't think that was a problem.

That's my jade plant. Do you think I'm over-watering it? Once the soil is absolutely dry, how long should I leave it until I water it again? Should I wait for the leaves to become very thin?

Thank you for ideas. The rest of my place is a jungle of other dumpster plants (flourishing), but the jades have their own window and are separated from the others.
by Boris the Bear on January 20, 2006 12:01 AM
Hmm . . . Rereading this, I want to clarify that the tiny dreaded spiders "amongst houseplants" I mentioned are not amongst my plants. I meant in a general "things gardeners watch out for" sense.
by margaret e. pell on January 20, 2006 05:03 AM
Hi, Boris! Yes, our northwest and your southwest are temperate rain forests, not exactly a jade's ideal home. It gets very humid in the summer here (NY state) but only the cacti and some of the aloe seem to mind. The jades don't appear to care as long as I adjust their watering. My guess is that yours would quite enjoy more light. Full spectrum compact or tube fluourescents are good for this. Just make changes very slowly with a jade! Your goal would not be more hours of sunlight, just more sunlight per hour of daytime. Parts of this topic may be of interest to you:
Jade Plant w/ Loosing and Lightening Leaves

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may God bless the WHOLE world!
by tkhooper on January 20, 2006 09:01 PM
I agree with margaret. I will include that the leaves will not "get thinner" they will however drop off. As margaret stated change the lighting very slowly because they will have a huge leaf drop if it is changed to quickly. I did that and thought I had lost my little plant but it recovered.

My jade doesn't do the brown edge either mine goes purple on the undersides. It's very strange to see but normal for this variation. It took me over a year to realize this lol. It is fun to let the air rootlets start new plants for you isn't it?

My jade is in a 10 inch pot and the soil is about half gravel and half potting soil very fast draining. I let it get dry up to my second knuckle and then water. When it is dormant that can be several weeks but when it is growing it can take water once a week sometimes. Although two years ago I had 1 little 2 inch cutting it is now several plants and happily fills 2/3rds of its pot. Mine likes to hang off of the side of it's pot rather than growing up when it is small but as it gets bigger it adds airroots to the trunk and then begins getting taller. I love watching it and learning it's habits.

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by Boris the Bear on January 21, 2006 01:11 PM
Well, thank you very much, both. I am going to try a bit more light there, and I'll heed your warnings.

I had read that thread in my first search, Margaret, but I read it again carefully. By the way, I think surely "the happiest jade plants in the whole world" are those incredible monsters that you see hanging out in the steamy front windows of Chinese cafes on any small-town Main Street! Huge things, absolutely beautiful beyond belief. What would a good Chinese restaurant be without its front window jade plant?

[A final comment: I love and respect anyone whose signature includes the whole world. If we all felt that way, the gods and goddesses could take a well-deserved vacation. (My apologies for this O-T comment.)]

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