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A Gem Of A Houseplant

Looking for a popular houseplant to grow? Try a jade plant and watch it thrive in your home.

A jade plant (Crassula argentea) is a very easy and productive plant to grow, provided that its needs are understood and met. Having originated in South Africa, jades are members of the Crassula family and are succulent plants in that they have the ability to store water in their leaves, stems and roots.

The plant needs very bright sunlight with low humidity to grow well. It will sunburn (causing its leaves to be dropped and replaced in time) if it is suddenly moved from subdued lighting to full sun, so if your plant is accustomed to dimmer light, be sure to move it into the sun in stages.

A moderate environment with temperatures between 13C (55F) at night and 24 to 27C (75 to 80F) during the day is preferred, however, it will tolerate temperatures down to 4.4C (40F).

Don’t expect the plant to grow well in the same soil for years. Frequent repotting every two to three years into new soil and a slightly larger pot will aid in good growth. Use a quality commercial potting soil mixed 50/50 with added grit and/or sharp sand, with a scoop of bone meal. Optimum soil would be pH 6.5. The jade has an active and a dormant growing cycle and water and feeding should be determined by this cycle. During the spring and summer months, keep the soil slightly moist. Water liberally (a good soaking) once a week, then allow the potting mix to dry out completely before watering again. Immediately remove any excess water from the pot’s saucer. Feed with a 10-20-10 or 5-10-5 ratio soluble plant fertilizer every two weeks. Keep the jade plant dry during the winter months while it is in dormancy. DO NOT fertilize from November through the end of March.

Typically, a healthy, mature jade will bloom around Christmastime. The blooming is triggered by the natural shortening of daylight hours. If the plant is in a room which usually has the lights turned on at night, it will more than likely fail to produce blooms. To remedy this, find a suitable area that seldom has the lights on at night, but receives a good amount of natural light during the day. Sometime in late September or early October move the plant into its “natural light” environment. Check on it now and then to be sure it isn’t stressed from lack of, or from excess water. Then by December the jade should be in a full, colourful display of blooms for the holiday season.

– Patricia Futros writes

from Lorette, Manitoba

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