When to water jade plants and other succulents

Like most plants, jade plants’ water requirements change by stage of growth or from season to season. For example now, during the winter, there is less sunlight so plants including jade plants, are photosynthesizing less and won’t need as much water. The tendency for some gardeners is to kill their plants with kindness by over-water this time of year.

It may sound counter-intuitive but over-watering can cause symptoms similar to under-watering. When you give a plant too much water, it can cause the roots to become water logged and eventually die back. When the plant loses its roots, it can’t take up enough water, hence, the apparent symptom of not enough water. The well-meaning person taking care of the plant gives it even more water making the problem worse.

But how do we know if we are giving the right amount of water to our plants? A lot of people talk to their plants. Unfortunately the plants don’t answer back but they can communicate their needs in other ways.

A jade plant is able to store water in its fleshy leaves and stems. When it dries out to the point of needing water, the leaves become soft and flexible. If you think your jade plant needs water, gently squeeze a leaf or two. If it feels soft, it needs water. If it’s still firm and turgid, it’s not time to water yet.

This jade doesn’t need water, its leaves are still nice and firm.

The leaves on this one are flexible and show signs of beginning to wrinkle, so it’s time to water.

When the plant finally does needs water, add enough water to moisten the entire root ball. Then let the water drain out completely. Never let the pot stand in water water, you could risk damaging the roots by exposing them to too much water.

This squeeze-the-leaf  method works best with jade plants and other succulents.

Bob Dluzen
As a result of being a gardener for more than 40 years, 30 of those as a professional, Bob's gardening has become an integral part of his life. "It's the ever-changing seasons and the wide variety of plants and gardens that keeps me intrigued," he says. Bob lives and gardens in rural Monroe County.