How To Propagate Jade Plant | Crassula ovata

The jade plant (Crassula ovata) is one of the easiest houseplants to propagate, even if you feel like you have no idea where to start. Not to mention that, since jade is a succulent, you can propagate it from a single leaf!

In this article, I’ll break down the basics of how to propagate a jade plant and offer my own expert tips and tricks for getting the most reliable results from your own propagation projects.

Methods of Propagating Jade Plant

There are a few ways to propagate a jade plant. The most popular methods include rooting a stem cutting in soil/water or rooting a single leaf in soil. 

It’s also possible to propagate jade at home using viable seeds, something that isn’t always true of more popular houseplants. Since jade plants are so incredibly easy to propagate vegetatively, however, starting them from seeds is comparatively very rare.

There’s also the fact that plants propagated from stem or leaf cuttings end up being genetic clones of the parent jade. This isn’t the case for plants grown from seeds, whose traits are ‘randomized’ to an extent. As a result, vegetative propagation is by far the best way to reproduce unique jade cultivars.

1. Propagating a Stem Cutting In Soil

If you have access to a healthy jade stem, this is my go-to method of propagation. Essentially, you just plant the stem cutting in suitable soil and care for it as you would a mature jade plant. Over time, the cutting will grow roots and, eventually, new leaf and stem tissue.

2. Propagating a Stem Cutting In Water

Many people opt to propagate jade stem cuttings in plain water. This is a fun method because you can physically see the roots growing in front of your eyes.

Keep in mind that jade plants grown this way need to be transplanted to regular potting soil after a few weeks. If left in the water, the stem will eventually stop growing altogether.

3. Propagating by Leaf

Succulents, including jade, are a bit different from other types of houseplants because it’s often possible to propagate using a single leaf. This is because succulent leaves — when 100% intact — still contain some node tissue.

In order for a plant cutting to produce new growth, it must contain a node. Nodes are specialized sections of stem tissue where cell division occurs. These cells are capable of differentiating themselves to create new structures like leaves, stems, and roots.

Why is this fact so exciting? Well, it’s mostly because leaves are much easier to source than full-stem cuttings. For example, I know of a few houseplant enthusiasts who have propagated succulent leaves they randomly found on the ground!

The most popular way to root a jade leaf is by simply placing the cutting on top of some potting soil. Before planting, prepare the leaf as you would a stem cutting. With time and a little luck, new growth will sprout from the cut end.

leaf cuttings
Leaf-cutting forming roots and foliage

How To Propagate Jade Plant – Step by Step

Since my preferred propagation method is to root a stem cutting in potting soil, I’ve outlined all of the necessary steps and my personal advice below:

Equipment Required

  • Sanitized knife or pruning shears
  • Succulent potting soil
  • 4-inch container with drainage holes
  • Rooting hormone powder (optional)
  • Latex gloves (optional) Jade plant is toxic

1. Check Your Plant’s Health

I typically only recommend propagating plants that are healthy and free of pests and diseases. If you have a mature jade plant that is succumbing to a condition such as root rot, however, you may be able to take stem cuttings as a last resort.

2. Locate A Stem Node

Select a stem with at least two nodes. Since leaves grow from nodes, you can use the existing foliage to locate the stem nodes and determine where to cut them.

Locate a good position to take your cutting
Locate a good position to take your cutting

3. Take A Cutting

Once you’ve decided on a section of stem to take, make a clean cut slightly below the bottom leaf.

Jade plant stem cutting
Jade plant stem cutting to root in water
jade stem cutting being taken
Taking a few green stem cuttings to callus and root in soil

4. Prepare The Cutting For Rooting

Start by removing the leaves from the bottom of the stem cutting. Be sure to keep a few healthy leaves at the top of the stem.

Now is the best time to apply rooting hormone powder if desired. Thoroughly coat the cut end of the stem and pop it into water or soil. I have decided to root this cutting in a small jar od water that I place on a bright window sill.

Place the cutting in a jar of water to root
Place the cutting in a jar of water to root

5. Allow A Callus To Form

Alternatively, you can pot them in soil. Place your jade cutting in a warm, dry location for up to 2 weeks to allow a callus to form on the cut end. This callus is essentially a scab that protects the cutting from infections and moisture loss while it roots.

jade plant cuttings set out to callus
A nice haul of Jade plant stem cutting ready for rooting in soil

6. Plant Your Stem Cutting

Prepare the container by filling it with potting soil. Create a small hole in the center and plant the cut end in the soil.

Keep the cutting somewhere with bright, indirect light and ensure the soil stays slightly moist. Roots should begin to grow after 2 to 3 weeks but will take up to 3 months to fully develop.

Best Time For Propagating

The best time to propagate a jade plant is in the warmest part of the year. During the late spring and summer months, your jade is naturally growing at a steady pace.

Another benefit of propagating in the summer is the increased sunlight and humidity levels. Both of these factors will improve the growth and overall success rate of your jade cuttings.

Jade Plant Care After Propagation

Light Requirements

Jade plants perform best when they receive at least 6 hours of bright, indirect light, such as that coming through a well-lit window. Exposure to harsh, unfiltered sunlight can scorch jade foliage. Insufficient light is likely to trigger leggy growth.

Watering

Jade plants prefer dry conditions, so it’s generally okay to let the soil dry out between waterings. Water your jade plant every 2 to 3 weeks or as needed based on the soil’s moisture level. In the winter, jade can sometimes go a month or more between waterings.

Temperature & Humidity

Keep your jade somewhere moderately warm (about 65 to 75°F). Avoid temperatures below 50°F even for short periods.

Soil Type

Jade plants need incredibly well-draining soil to thrive. I recommend investing in a specialty succulent and cacti potting mix for the best results and keeping them in a relatively shallow pot

You can also amend regular potting soil with a material like perlite for improved drainage. However, this method requires some trial and error and maybe a bit overwhelming for beginners.

Fertilizing

Feed with a 1-2-1 fertilizer formulated for houseplants and/or succulents. I recommend using a liquid formula and diluting it to half-strength with plain water.

Problems After Propagation

While jade plants are relatively low-maintenance, they’re still prone to a couple of common problems. These issues can arise in mature plants as well as newly propagated ones. 

Here’s how to prevent or treat symptoms of rotting and leggy growth in jade plants:

Rotting

The most frequent culprit of rotting is excess moisture. Stem cuttings kept in water for too long are a common example. You may also see signs of rot in stem and leaf cuttings planted in soggy potting soil.

Failure to form a callus is another common reason that jade cuttings rot shortly after planting. The rot may appear before or after roots emerge but, regardless, the affected cutting is already a lost cause.

According to the University of Connecticut, root rot in established jade plants is caused by overwatering or poor drainage. Stick to an appropriate watering schedule and invest in high-quality soil to protect your jade’s ongoing health.

Leggy Growth

Leggy growth is characterized by gangly stems with excessive space between the leaves. Not only is this issue unattractive but it’s also a clear sign that your jade plant’s health is suffering.

In my experience, this symptom is often caused by inadequate sunlight. It can also be the result of over-applying nitrogen.

It’s safe to prune back up to one-third of the leggy growth on an established jade plant to improve its appearance and encourage a bushier shape overall. To prevent future leggy growth, however, you’ll need to address the root cause.

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Ben's horticultural interest grew when graduating from Hertfordshire University in 1997. Having contributed to numerous publications including Better Homes & Gardens, Garden Design Magazine, and The English Garden. He is also the author of Propagating Houseplants Made Easy.