Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Crassula ovata, better known as the Jade plant, is popular as a houseplant because of its easy care and interesting appearance. Jade plant is a succulent, meaning that its leaves are swollen and fleshy from the water they store. The stem can become woody with time, giving the plant a shrubby appearance. Crassula ovata is a very popular plant for bonsai. It is also referred to as Money Tree, Dollar Plant and Friendship Tree.

There are several different varieties of Jade. The most common type of Crassula ovata is a bright to medium green, with the leaves darkening as they mature. There is also a variegated cultivar with white and pale to dark green streaking. Crassula ovata arborescens has leaves that have a lovely red edge and comes in a “Large Jade” and “Baby Jade” form.

Trailing Jade resembles Crassula ovata, but it is actually in a completely different order of plants. In other words, they aren’t even in the same plant family! Trailing Jade’s scientific name has recently been changed to Kleinia petraea from Senecio jacobsenii. Trailing Jade is great for hanging baskets and has a pretty purple hue to the leaves.

Jade plants are simple to care for. Being succulents, they don’t need a lot of water. Watering should be done only when the soil is dry. Succulents are susceptible to rotting if they are left to sit in a saucer of water or soggy soil for very long, so pay attention to how you are watering. Fertilize regularly during the warmer months when the plant is actively growing. If you are careful about providing the right amount of moisture and plenty of sunshine, you may get flowers on your Jade. On the Crassula types, the flowers are small, white, and star shaped. The Kleinia have bright orange flowers.

Branching is desirable in a Jade plant. It will help to prevent the plant from growing too tall and becoming top heavy, eventually breaking under its own weight. If your plant begins to get too tall and has not started to branch, go ahead and pinch it. Continue to do this any time the plant looks spindly to encourage more branching.

Another great feature of Jade plant is the simple way in which it is propagated. Remove a leaf from the parent plant and place the end that was attached to the original plant in some moist soil. A soil mixed with plenty of perlite for drainage is best, but not necessary.

Jade plant is pretty happy in small pots. It helps keep the plant from remaining moist for too long. Don’t worry too much about re-potting your Jade. It needs only to be done every few years. This is great if you are like me and have 50 other plants that need re-potting every year.

Overall, Jade is a fun and easy plant to care for. Most people find Jade plant rewarding to grow and I recommend it to anyone who hasn’t tried it. Buy one for yourself and a second to propagate from for friends and family!

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