Why Won’t My Jade Plant Stand Up?

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I was recently given a Jade plant (Crassula Ovata; also known as a Money Tree) that was in a fairly bad way as it was incredibly droopy and could not stand up on its own. The plant was at least five years old and resembled a tree with a woody main stem.

The only way I could get it to stand up was to either support it with a cane or lean it against a window! So I carried out some research to find out more about the causes and solutions to this problem with Jade plants – read on to find out more!

Top 7 Reasons Why Jade Plants Won’t Stand Up

Causes of Jade plants not being able to stand up on their own include over or under watering, using a soil that is not free draining, and using too much fertilizer. Stability can also be affected by a lack of sunlight, allowing a Jade plant to become top heavy, and exposing a plant to extremes of temperature.

I looked at these possibilities one by one to try and determine what was causing my plant to fall over.

1. Underwatering

Underwatering causes a weak plant, drooping stem and shriveling leaves.

I checked the leaves of my plant and they looked to be in a good, healthy condition. I also know for a fact that the plant had been watered frequently so can easily rule out underwatering as a possible cause straight away.

Not shriveled: The leaves looked green and healthy

2. Overwatering

Succulent plants such as Jade store water in their leaves and stems so can go for fairly long periods of time without watering.

Overwatering causes consistently damp soil which in turn can cause root rot. This can then cause problems with the leaves (such as leaf loss and yellowing) and can also cause the plant to fall over. If not addressed, root rot can ultimately be enough to kill a Jade plant.

To avoid overwatering, you should only water your Jade plant once the top layer of soil in the pot is completely dry. As a rough guide, Jade plants will only need to be watered on average once a week in summertime and once every couple of weeks over winter.

I doubt that overwatering is the cause of my drooping Jade plant as, already mentioned, the leaves look quite healthy. The soil was also dry when I was given the plant.

Another important consideration when watering Jade plants is that you should water the base (roots) of the plant only. Getting water on the leaves can lead to leaf damage in the form of water spots (staining) or leaf rot. Using a purpose designed succulent water bottle is a great way to ensure that you direct water to where it is needed, at the root of the plant, whilst keeping the leaves dry and healthy – check them out on Amazon below!

3. Wrong Type Of Soil

Jade plants need to be in well draining soil. If the soil is not freely draining the plant can exhibit similar symptoms to overwatering – namely moisture can become trapped in the soil and the roots can be susceptible to rot.

In conjunction with freely draining soil, it is a good idea to use pots with drainage holes to ensure that any excess water can easily escape after watering.

The soil that my plant was growing in didn’t look amazingly free draining, although there were drainage holes present in the bottom of the pot.

4. Over Fertilizing

Jade plants do not need massive amounts of feeding. In fact, if you do use fertilizer, they only need a small amount once a year. If you use too much fertilizer it can burn and damage the roots, again causing the plant to fall over.

5. Lack of Sunlight

Jade plants need adequate, preferably indirect, sunlight. If this is not available, the stems will become elongated and will exhibit a lack of branching as the plant desperately searches for more light. Once leaves grow on these thinner, elongated, stems their combined weight can become too much for the plant to support, causing it to droop and fall over.

The Jade plant that I was given seemed to have these elongated stems so I suspect that it had been located in a position that was lacking in sunlight:

The weight of leaves on the long, unbranched, stems were contributing to the instability of my plant.

6. Top Heavy Plants

Along with a lack of sunlight, a lack of general maintenance (pruning) over time can also cause Jade plants to become top heavy to the point where they will not stand up on their own. Again, something that seems to have happened with my plant.

7. Exposure To Extremes Of Temperature

Being native to South Africa, Jade plants can cope with temperatures up to 40c without too many problems. If the temperature drops too low (much more of a possibility in the UK!) it can cause Jade plants to droop. Jade plants need temperatures to be consistently above 10c.

Jade plants are not frost hardy and in the UK will need to be brought inside over winter once temperatures drop too low.

My plant had previously been kept indoors all year so had not been exposed to sub 10c temperatures.

This Is My Assessment Of My Jade Plant

I think that the drooping of my Jade plant is down to a few factors. Firstly it is too top heavy, caused by a combination of poor maintenance (infrequent or no pruning) and a lack of sunlight. And secondly, the soil is 5 years old and not as free draining as it could be.

To remove the excess weight at the top, the plant will need to be pruned. And then it will need to be repotted into a newer, more free draining, soil mix.

Needs attention: My top heavy Jade plant

How To Prune A Top Heavy Jade Plant

So it was time for me to give the plant a little TLC to try and return it to a better state of health by carrying out some pruning and weight reduction of the plant.

The best time to prune a Jade plant is in spring, before it enters it’s growing phase.

My plant had been left to its own devices for around 5 years so had some long, elongated stems with very little branching. Reducing the length of these stems will encourage new branching, ultimately making the plant denser and less top heavy.

Before starting any pruning, it is worth making sure that you are using sterilized secateurs to minimise the risk of any infection.

When pruning a Jade plant it is best practice to make clean cuts just above a leaf node. I took the long elongated stems back close to an existing branch, leaving one clear node between the existing branch and my cut. The plant *should* then sprout two new leaves and ultimately two branches from the node just below the cut. The remaining stem section between the node and the cut will then naturally die off:

Cut above a leaf node to encourage branching

Because of the state of my plant I decided to complete quite hard prune. Jade plants usually respond well to pruning. Upon first sight this does look quite extreme but it should encourage plenty of new growth in the coming weeks and months on the remaining leaf nodes and it should also promote strengthening of the main stem.

April 2023 – The pruned plant.

Now that the excess weight has been removed through pruning, the plant will stand up on its own again!

Did My Jade Plant Need Repotting?

As I had pruned the plant quite hard and reduced it in size, the pot it was already in should have been more than large enough. However, it had been in that same pot for around 5 years and looking at the compost it did not look particularly free draining. This will make it easier to over water in error and increases the chances of root rot. So I decided to re pot it anyway.

Once removed from the existing pot, I freed off any excess soil from the roots. When repotting, I replaced the old soil with a gritty and free draining 2:1 multi purpose compost / perlite mix.

2:1 compost / perlite mix

Both multipurpose compost and perlite are available on Amazon below:

Following repotting, it it best to leave about 1 week before watering to allow the roots time to begin their process of recovery.

What Is The Best Position For Jade Plants?

Jade plants need to be located in a position where they will get adequate sunlight. Jade plants prefer indirect sunlight – ideally around 5 or 6 hours per day. This will in turn promote natural branching of the stems and should lead to a more compact and stable plant.

I have located my plant on a windowsill so as to maximise light levels.

Can You Propagate Left Over Jade Plant Cuttings?

I was left with quite a few cuttings after pruning – these can be used to propagate new plants. I did this using the same 2:1 ratio compost to perlite mix that I used for repotting my original plant.

Propagation of cuttings is quite easy: I took the left over cuttings and removed the lower leaves to create a long stem, and pushed this into the compost mix and firmed the surrounding compost so that it would stand up on its own (making sure no leaves were in contact with the compost). It should now develop roots and grow.

For more info on how I was able to successfully propagate Jade plants from both leaves and stem cuttings, follow this link: Is it easy to grow Jade plants from leaves and cuttings?

April 2023 – Propagated Jade cutting

Check Back For Further Updates!

Check back for further updates in the coming months as my Jade plant (hopefully) recovers and thrives!

Before pruning and repotting
23 April 2023: After pruning and repotting

Update #1 – 7 May 2023

It is now two weeks on from the initial prune and the cuts that I made have had time to heal over. As expected, new leaves are starting to sprout from either sides the nodes below the cuts. I also have signs of some new leaf growth further down the main stem.

7 May 2023: New growth evident

Update #1 – 17 July 2023

By July 2023, the plant looks much better and has some significant and compact leaf growth which means that the trunk is now having no problems supporting the upper weight of the plant.

17 July 2023: More leaf growth

If you are looking to start, or add to, your collection of Jade plants – check out the below which are currently available on Amazon!