An important factor in determining the suitability of a plant to your home and envisioning the care it will need, is to know the origin of the plant. Plants that are native to desert regions will require substantial amount of sunlight and loose, fast-draining soil. Plants from the floor of a rainforest will need some protection from strong sunlight and generous humidity.
Native to South Africa where it grows on sandy slopes, in open fields and forest, this succulent houseplant takes on the look of a small tree as it grows to about 18 inches. Succulents are a broad category of plants that have adapted fleshy leaves or stems for water storage. The relatively large interior to exterior area ratios of these plants reduces loss of water into the atmosphere and they are well adapted to the dry, winter conditions suffered by most New York area houseplants. The deep green leaves of Crassula ovata may tint red at the edges if grown in bright light.
During active growth (March to September), crassulas prefer plentiful sunlight, but protection from the harshest midday sun.
Too much water is the most frequent cause of succulent failure. Water thoroughly, allowing the water to run from the bottom of the pot and checking back after 15 minutes to remove any water sitting in the plant's run-off dish.
When the plant is in active growth, allow the soil to dry completely between waterings. Succulents have shallow roots and they will rot easily if over-watered. In the low-light conditions of winter (October through February), water only as often as is necessary to prevent the leaves from puckering.
Average household humidity is adequate.
Warm or cool positions with good air circulation are fine. Keep at 45º to 55º F. in winter.
Jade plants like to be root-bound and can stay in the same pot for years, while replacing some surface soil annually. The proper, quick-draining, soil, however, is essential. Soil should resemble the loose, free-draining mixture of a succulent's native habitat. Equal parts potting soil, peat and sand are generally best. Commercial cactus mixes are acceptable, but avoid those that have food already in the mix. Your pot must have a draining hole at its bottom.
A cactus fertilizer, fed at half strength, three times per growing period is generally advised. Any plant food with a high nitrogen value should be avoided.
The most common problem is over-watering. If you see leaves rot and bleach, it is probably a signal that you water too often. The plant will grow leggy and misshapen if there is too little light.