Monday, March 3, 2008

Repotting a Jade


I found your blog on line and enjoyed reading all the Q & A’s. My question is regarding my jade plant. I bought it at the local Target store about three years ago. We have moved, and the last year, it has been loving its new home, in front of an east facing window. I try to remember to turn it, due to the branches “growing towards the sun”. It is getting a little leggy and I would like to know how to prune it to stimulate additional growth on the stalks. I have pinched of the ends before, but nothing major.

I believe it is root bound, how do you know when to repot? What type of potting medium do you suggest?

When I do get the nerve to do major pruning, if needed, what is the best way to propagate the cuttings? I have read so many different things on line: …use a leaf, …use a cutting, ….put it in water right away, …do not water for weeks, . . .let cutting air dry. . . so confused.

Thanks for writing and including the photos. Your jade (Crassula argentea) does look very happy, and yes, I would definitely say it needs to be re-potted. If you find roots coming out of the bottom of the container or if the plant looks very restricted in its present pot, then it is pretty safe to say that re-potting would be a good idea. Some houseplants can enjoy being slightly pot-bound, but I wouldn’t say that jade necessarily fit into this category. As far as the re-potting, search for a container that is only 2” or 3” larger in diameter than the yellow pot it is presently in. Make sure it has proper drainage and since the plant has done so well in the yellow pot you might choose to use another glazed pot that will help retain some more moisture than terra cotta alone. As for the soil, I would use a mix that is free draining and not too moisture retentive. I think it’s Miracle-Gro that makes a Cactus & Succulent mix that I have used many times over for various plants, including jades, both here in the office and at home. It is a potting mix that has a little grit to it and is not too weighed down with organics which is good because you always want to avoid the potential for root rot. Best time to repot is late winter or early spring as the days get longer and the plants become more active, so now is the perfect time.

As for the propagating, you can try either leaf cuttings for stem cuttings. When you repot you will most likely lose a few leaves so you might as well pot them up separately or in the periphery of the new container. If you take stem cuttings, make sure you use a very sharp and sterile knife. Cut healthy looking shoots so that you have pieces that are 4” or 5” inches tall. Try to make the cut right under a node (the junction where a leaf or stem might have emerged from the stem you are cutting). Pull off any extra leaves so that you are only left with 3 leaves remaining on your cuttings. Let the cuttings sit and callus for a few days. Then, after a few days of callusing, pot the cuttings up in the free draining soil you bought for the re-potting. If you want, you can get a rooting hormone (such as Root-tone) and apply a very light dusting of it to the bottom of the cuttings before potting them up. When potting the cuttings, remember that you will want to use your finger to prepare the hole for the cutting so that the rooting hormone you have applied doesn’t get wiped right off the base of the cuttings once inserted in the soil. Make sure the soil you pot the cutting in is moist, but definitely not sopping wet. Pack the soil in around the cutting so it is held in place, and if you have to bury the cutting an inch or two down, so be it. In order for either of the cuttings to root most efficiently, you want to keep the soil slightly moist at all times and warm, about 74 or 75 degrees. It looks like that little shelf that gets hit with a lot of sun might be a perfect spot to situate your cuttings. Give them time, check every month or so to check on root development, and hopefully they will take and in time become plants of their own.

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