How to Revive A Jade Plant

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I have PROOF, actual PROOF that you can bring back all but the saddest cases of dying Jade Plants, using one thing, and one thing only: light.

Here’s my proof, a photo taken in September of 2020:

jade plant after spider mites and thrips infestation

This Jade Plant was riddled with spider mites, and thrips, and was, in general, not having a good time.

The thing is, once the plant had lost all its leaves, the thrips and spider mites also went, so all I had to do was keep the roots alive until spring, which involved, er, doing nothing. Succulent roots are pretty hard to kill.

My succulents go out fairly early in the year – they can handle a *bit* of frost, though I wouldn’t recommend leaving them out overnight. I only did that because I’m lazy, and we were very much at the kill or cure stage.

(If it snowed, I did bring them back in).

Then the rain came, and my plants (all my succulents go out) kind of declined, but also…didn’t. It’s hard to explain, but the scrap weather got rid of the weak growth, and only the strong stuff remained. I cleared off anything rotten or burned, hoping that what was left would come back stronger.

AND IT DID

As you can see, there are naked stems at the bottom, and many people have recommended that I chop ‘n’ prop

BUT

We’re getting bottom-up growth from all the nodes! And it’s only July!

I have high hopes for a lush as hell plant come September.

If you look at the photo closely, you can see that there aren’t any new buds on the branches – they’re only on the main stem.

Tbh, I don’t know if they’ll ever grow back, or if the plant is going to fill the main stem first and then do the branches after.

We’ll wait and see!

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Light is the key when it comes to reviving succulents

…And it seems to be specifically sunlight.

I’ve tried succulents under grow lights, and they do fine, but I don’t think you’d get the same results as if you popped the plant outside.

If you have no outside space, don’t worry – a few hours next to an open window will do fine.

It doesn’t seem to matter what the ailment was, time outside really seems to help. And I don’t live in an arid desert – I live in damp North Yorkshire.

Succulents are extremely hardy, but they need a tonne of light. If they’re given that light, they can fight off pests, survive a long time without water, and even tolerate a small amount of overwatering.

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How to revive a Jade Plant with root rot

Now, my answer to all of these questions will be ‘put it outside or near an open window in summer. Not only is it free, quick, and low effort, but it works like a charm

In winter, I recommend totally ignoring your succulents. I shower mine every month or two to not only give them a (little) drink, but also to knock off any dust.

If you suspect root rot, I always recommend checking the roots, BUT many succulents have a very shallow root system, so there may no be a lot to work with.

As always, chop off anything mushy and grim and then put it outside. The wind, however slight, will dry out the soil far quicker than if you kept it inside. The extra energy from the increased light will help the plant regrow its root system more quickly than if it were inside.

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How to revive a Jade Plant that been underwatered

It’s often erroneously claimed that you can’t underwater succulents. You can. I have.

In my experience, succulent soil gets hydrophobic more easily than more absorbent potting mixes. If you’re unaware that your soil is hydrophobic, you may be accidentally underwatering your plant. Even if you’re watering it weekly.

Hydrophobic soil occurs when the soil gets so compacted that it won’t let the water penetrate. Water always finds the path of least resistance, so if the soil is solid, water will just run down the sides of the pot, without even coming into contact with the root ball.

Luckily, the remedy to this is easy – bottom water your plant, and allow the water to wick up. Set your plant in a bowl of water until the top of the soil is damp. The bigger the bowl of water, the quicker this will be.

Since my plants are outside, I let them be watered by the rain.

A myth persists that succulents (and African violets, actually) don’t like to get wet, and, like all good myths, there is a grain of truth in it.

When my succulents are indoors, I try not to let the leaves get wet, because it takes them a while to dry and they can easily rot.

Outside, however, the increased airflow means that the leaves will dry out pretty quickly.

In fact, I’ve found that rain is helpful for breaking up hydrophobic soil.

Succulents aren’t fussy about water quality, but the action of the rain helps the water get into the root ball. You could replicate this by using a watering can and going VERY slowly, but it’s easier to just shove your plant out in the rain.

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How to revive a jade plant that’s had pests

I mean, I’m gonna tell you to put it outside again.

I’m not a massive fan of chemical bug sprays, not only because they can harm beneficial bugs too, but because they’re a pain to administer. I don’t have time to get into every crevice of my succulent with a rubbing-alcohol soaked cotton ball.

If your plant is outside, you can just hose it off. If you have a bad infestation, wait until you get good weather and hose it off every day.

The sun should dry out the soil enough in between hosings to prevent root rot, and the constant attrition ensures the bugs give up eventually.

Even mealybugs.

If you have no outside space, I have found that a lot of house plant bugs will abandon a plant if it gets too cold. Bathrooms are good in winter, or sunrooms/conservatories. Luckily, succulents aren’t too fussy about the cold, though they’re not mad about frost.

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How to revive a Jade Plant with transport shock

LEAVE IT ALONE.

In general, succulents don’t have too much of an issue with transport shock. They’re not too fussy about, er, anything, other than light and being overwatered, so give it lots of light and not a lot of water and you should be fine.

Still, it’s best to avoid doing anything that might potentially cause a plant shock whenever it’s at risk from transplant shock. I have a whole article about transplant shock, but in general, I’d avoid repotting directly after moving it from the nursery to your home, or moving positions in your home after repotting.

Try to only change one thing at once. This is a good rule for all plant things because if something goes wrong you’ll be better able to narrow down the cause.

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How to revive a Jade Plant after physical damage

Accidents happen. Cats knock plants off shelves, you accidentally snap off branches when repotting, etc, etc, etc.

Jade plants are really resilient to stuff like this and snapped branches and leaves propagate well. Even if you just pop the broken bit back in with the mother plant, they have a high rate of success.

They also grow quickly. It may seem like you’ve done irreversible damage in the moment, but a few months later you should see a massive improvement. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, a great way to speed up growth is up the light.

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Will succulents burn if you put them outside?

Er, yeah.

Like any house plant that you put outside, you’ll need to acclimate it properly. Succulents are less picky than a lot of other plants, but you still may see a decline in initial health/appearance.

The sad truth is that plants dgaf about what they look like. If they detect an upschtick in light and decide to kill off all their old crappy growth in order to shoot out a load of new, massive growth, we can’t tell them not to do that.

It’s not usually as dramatic as that, but it can be. I thought my Yucca was dead, but it’s actually just let all the top growth die and is shooting out, er, shoots from the base. You can’t control nature, kids.

2 thoughts on “How to Revive A Jade Plant”

  1. I am LOVING your posts! I’m new to plants & have already killed off my schefflera & I’m in the process of trying to “unkill” my jade! I’m positive I rotted the roots as it looked sicker & sicker until I finally took it out of the soil to check & there wasn’t a root in sight! I repotted it with fresh soil & have watered it once (maybe twice) since then as it’s an urge to that I haven’t learned to control yet! However, I loved reading about moving it outside to get sun. I can’t wait to head home & try that! Thanks for the tip!

  2. They’ll grow back! It’s surprising how few roots you need to get a whole new plant to grow, especially succulents. Mine was a mere HUSK and now he’s looking amazing.

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