Kathy Chapman (right), a Master Gardener in Ontario County in the Finger Lakes region of New York State, enjoys houseplants, and the jade plant, Crassula argentea, is one of her favorites.
She loves the smooth, cool feel of the leaves because of their succulence, and the plant reminds her of visiting her grandmother near Pittsburgh as a young girl. Easy to take cuttings, she propagates plants at home.
Kathy grows many varieties of Crassula. Most do very well in the full sun of a southern or western window. But varieties with variegated leaved prefer less intense sun.
One of the most unusual varieties of Crassula argentea she grows is the cultivar 'Lutea' (right). Its thick leaves are cone-shaped, looking almost like spoons. Here is a plant that thrives even with neglect.
Kathy admits that she doesn't always remember to water her houseplants, and jade plants are forgiving of that. They can go bone dry before they need another "drink." Actually one caution about growing Crassula is that they do not like to be watered often.
Once in a while, Kathy notices mealy bugs along the stems near the leaves. She takes a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol and dabs the mealy bugs one by one. That usually gets them off her plants pretty easily. About the only other maintenance she practices is to remove old, crusty brown leaves that appear from time to time.
Because jade plants can grow fairly large, Kathy deals with the weight of abundant top growth and a relatively shallow root system by double-potting the plant as it matures. She takes the pot it is growing in (usually clay) and sets it into a larger pot, filling in with soil between the two pots. That adds stability and allows her to keep the shallow rooted plant in a small pot for a much longer time.
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