"Can you please help me? I have a very large Jade plant that I adore. I recently noticed a branch was very soft and mushy. I cut off the soft branch and it was brown and wet inside. Is this brown rot? I cut off all of the affected branch. The cut healed but now the brown rot seems to be spreading down the main stem although I thought I cut all the rot out. What can I do I don't want to loose my Jade plant."
Rot is the most common disease to which almost all succulents are susceptible. It is generally caused by over watering, but to be more precise. it is usually caused by not allowing the soil to dry completely before the plant is watered again.
Succulents should be watered weekly when they are actively growing, but only once a month or less when the plant is in its dormant period. In either instance, the soil MUST be dry before the plant is watered again.
Occasionally, rot may also begin as a bruise to the plants tissue. The damage will progress slower, but it can be just as devastating.
You did the right thing by cutting the plant back in an attempt to remove the diseased parts, but unfortunately it sounds like you missed a bit, or perhaps there was an unseen area of rot.
I'm afraid there is nothing you can do at this point but continue to try to remove all of the rot-damaged areas again.
When you remove the affected branches, it is absolutely essential that you use a sterile, sharp knife to prevent contaminating the healthy tissue with the same virus you are trying to defeat. The cut surface should then be dusted with a fungicide developed for this purpose. If the rot has reached the roots, you need to follow the same procedure, and repot the plant in fresh, sterile potting soil.
If the damage is severe and widespread throughout the plant, your only option may be to clone a new plant using healthy portions of the plant. Jade plants (Crassula argentea) can be propagated by leaf or stem cuttings. Either method is quite easy and usually successful if certain procedures are followed.
When making your cuttings, be sure to use a sterile, very sharp knife!
Taking Cuttings from your Jade Plant
The stem must be cut back to a point where there is no indication of rot or other disease. The surface of the cut should then be lightly dusted with a rooting hormone such as Roottone™.
The cutting should then be left in a warm, dry place until a callous develops over the cut. This usually takes anywhere from 1-2 weeks, depending on the thickness of the stem.
The cutting may then be planted into sterile potting soil, or set temporarily into a rooting medium such as vermiculite, perlite or sand. Watering should be kept to the bare minimum (barely damp), and then gradually increased as the roots begin to develop. Ideally, the soil temperature should be kept at 75 degrees F. which will speed the rooting process considerably.
Jade leaves can also be used to create a clone, but this method will take much longer before you have a specimen size plant.
Leaves will take only a few days to callous, after which you simply insert the base of the leaf slightly into lightly moistened potting soil or rooting medium. It may take a month or longer for the cutting to root and the plantlet to start growing from the base of the leaf.
Gradually increase the watering as the plant grows until it has reached a size suitable for repotting.
With either method, feeding should be withheld until the new plant has become well established, and even at that point should be a dilute half strength mixture of the fertilizer.