jade plant overwatering symptoms and solutions

Jade Plant Overwatering Symptoms (And Solutions)

One of the most common problems with Jade Plants (Crassula ovata) is giving them too much water. It’s so easy to be a little overenthusiastic with the watering can when trying to help your Jade Plant thrive. This article will tell you the signs of Jade Plant overwatering and how to fix and prevent them.

Jade Plant Overwatering Symptoms: The symptoms of overwatering a Jade Plant are yellowing leaves, leaf drop, soft leaves and dry leaves. The soil will usually be waterlogged and the roots will show signs of root rot.

Follow the tips and advice below to identify an overwatered Jade Plant and learn how you can treat and revive it.

Jade Plant Overwatering Symptoms Explained

A Jade plant that is overwatered shows very similar signs to what you would expect from an underwatered plant – signs of dehydration.

While it can seem a little confusing at first, once you understand what happens to an overwatered Jade Plant, it all makes sense.

Overwatering a Jade Plant causes root root and root death, which prevents the plant from being able to absorb water and nutrients. So you can see that two very different watering problems can cause similar symptoms.

It’s crucial that you are able to tell the two problems apart if you want to fix your Jade plant and prevent similar problems in the future. Below is a brief explanation of each of the symptoms of Jade plant overwatering.

An Overwatered Jade Plant May Have Yellowing Leaves

One of the first signs of overwatering a Jade plant is the yellowing of its leaves. Sometimes older leaves can turn yellow as they are replaced by new growth, but if your plant has many yellow leaves, then there is a problem that needs fixed.

The leaves turn yellow as a result of overwatering because the rots are waterlogged, may be suffering from root rot, and the plant is not able to absorb sufficient nutrients to thrive and flourish.

If your Jade Plant is getting yellow leaves, this is an opportunity to identify the cause of the problem and fix it before your plant suffers further. Yellow leaves can be caused by a whole range of issues, such as overwatering, underwatering, high or low temperatures, pests and disease.

This means you will need to investigate things a bit further before you take action to fix the problem.

jade plant overwatering symptoms yellow leaves

Leaf Drop Can Be Caused By Overwatering

Leaf drop can occur whenever an overwatering problem becomes worse. As the Jade Plant’s root system struggles further, it cannot support the leaves, which leads to leaf drop.

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If your Jade plant is dropping older leaves as they mature, this is not always a sign of overwatering. It could be absolutely normal. Keep an eye out for excessive or premature leaf dropping as a sign of too much water.

Soft Leaves Is A Symptom Of Overwatering Your Jade Plant

Your first thought when you squeeze a Jade Plant’s leaves and find them soft is probably that the plant is dehydrated and needs more water. This is not always the case though, so don’t jump to watering it immediately.

A healthy Jade plant has water-filled leaves that are thick and firm to the touch. If the leaves of your Jade plant are more soft and “squishy” than they are firm, it could be a sign that the plant is being overwatered.

Soft leaves often present themselves when the Jade plant suffers root rot, which is directly caused by excessive watering. However, soft leaves can also be a sign of underwatering or dehydration, so you may not be wrong if you first thought as much.

The best way to determine if the leaves are soft from overwatering or underwatering is to check the roots and soil.

Very Dry Leaves Can Be A Sign of Overwatering Your Jade Plant

Very dry leaves on your Jade Plant might prompt you to believe that the plant is dehydrated or in need of watering. While it is natural to think this and reach for the watering can, you might be making a mistake.

In keeping with the other symptoms, dry leaves can indicate an overwatered Jade Plant due to non-functioning roots.

Wet Soil And Root Rot

This might seem obvious, but the condition of the soil, in combination with the symptoms of the plant is what will help you identify the cause of your plant’s problems.

Saturated soil will quickly cause root rot, which can kill the roots of your plant, preventing your Jade Plant absorbing water and nutrients. Without water and nutrients, the plant becomes dehydrated and shows signs of nutrient deficiency.

Feel the soil with your fingers to assess the moisture. If the soil is saturated and the pot is heavy with water, then it is very unlikely that underwatering is the cause of the problem.

If the soil is saturated, and your plant is looking unhealthy, you should lift the plant out of it’s pot to take a closer look at the roots. If the roots appear wet, soft and mushy, overwatering is most-likely the culprit.

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jade plant overwatering symptoms and solutions

How Do You Revive An Overwatered Jade Plant?

Once your Jade plant starts showing signs of being “sick”, you might worry that there is no way to save it. Luckily, an overwatered Jade plant can be revived and recovered fairly easily if you act quickly.

If your Jade plant is showing signs of overwatering, it is best to act as quickly as possible to save it.

Below are a few things that you can do:

Remove The Waterlogged Soil

The most important thing to do with a waterlogged Jade Plant is to improve conditions for the roots. You should remove the plant from the pot and gently remove as much of the waterlogged soil from around the roots.

You’ll then need to assess the health of the roots. Drastic action may be needed.

Remove The Most Affected Rotting Roots

Root rot can spread throughout the entire root system and even into the stem of the Jade plant. Your Jade plant’s rotting roots should be pruned back using sterile pruning shears.

How much should you cut off? When you cut the root, the inside should be entirely white, if it is expected to survive. If you see any brown coloring in the center of the root, keep cutting it back until it is completely white.

Once you have done this, and the Jade plant only has healthy roots left, you can make another cut into each of the healthy roots, which will encourage new root growth and hopefully help the plant to bounce back.

Make sure that you sterilize your pruners after removing root rot areas. This can be done by wiping them with rubbing alcohol or holding the blades under a flame for a few seconds.

Repot The Plant

You can now repot your Jade Plant into a more suitable living environment. Choose a container that is appropriately sized for your plant. A pot that is just large enough to accommodate the root structure of the plant is perfect. Avoiding a pot that is too large will allow the soil to dry out quicker.

It is essential to use fresh, dry potting mix when repotting your Jade plant. The soil must be fast draining to reduce the risk of overwatering in the future.

Opt for creating your own soil mix for the best results. A good mix is equal parts potting soil, coarse sand and perlite. You can also use cactus soil or succulent potting soil for convenience.

Don’t water the plant for a few days. Only do so when the plant looks like it might be pepping up a bit or when the roots and soil feel completely dry. When you start watering the plant again, make sure that you don’t overdo it.

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Only water the Jade plant when the soil has completely dried out. This may only be once every few weeks depending on the conditions in your home.

jade plant overwatering symptoms and solutions

Best Practice To Avoid Jade Plant Overwatering Issues

While there are things that you can do to recognize, diagnose, treat, and revive symptoms of overwatering, it is often better to look at preventative care strategies.  

The best way to ensure that your Jade plant doesn’t suffer any of the symptoms of overwatering is to ensure that you don’t overwater it in the first place (or subject it to poor drainage conditions).

The most important thing is to check the soil of your Jade plant before watering to ensure that it is sufficiently dry and that more water is required. There are a number of ways of checking to see if your houseplant needs watered, such as testing the soil with your finger, or checking the weight of the pot to estimate how dry the potting soil is.

If you want to learn more, I’ve written an article all about how to tell when your houseplants need watered.

Tips For Creating A Happy Jade Plant Environment

First and foremost, look at creating a happy and healthy environment for your Jade plant. This should include a good potting, watering, and maintenance schedule.

You can also use the following tips to ensure that the living environment for your Jade plant is good or suitable:

Pot Your Jade Plant Correctly From The Start

If you start off well with your Jade plant, you will only have to maintain it and not work so hard at recovering and reviving it. It all starts with how you initially pot the plant.

The soil and the pot that you use for your Jade plant can impact on how much water it has to deal with. If the pot doesn’t drain well or the soil tends to waterlog, your Jade plant will be forcibly overwatered.

When potting your Jade plant, ensure that the container has plenty of drainage holes and that the soil doesn’t block them every time you water the plant. Increase drainage by adding some perlite into the soil mix.

Get Rid Of Excess Water From The Drip Tray

If your Jade plant’s pot has a drip tray, you might find that water drains out of the pot and settles in it every time that you water it. This means that your soil is draining well and that the pot’s holes aren’t clogged – it’s good news!

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It is however important to promptly get rid of excess water from the saucer so that the Jade plant doesn’t sit in it for an extended period of time. As you might guess, this can cause root rot! Once you have watered your succulent, wait about 30 minutes and then empty the saucer out.

Quickly Rectify Overwatering Mistakes

Providing a little too much water every now and then won’t do your Jade plant much harm, but repeated overwatering will cause problems.

If you think there is a problem, stop and assess the situation. Consider the factors we have discussed in this article and make some adjustments to prevent your plant from suffering.

Replace Poorly Draining Soil Promptly

It is easy to overlook the problem of poor-quality soil. If your potting mix isn’t draining like it should, it will compromise the health of your Jade plant’s root system. If the soil doesn’t seem to drain, you need to improve the drainage or repot your Jade Plant with better draining potting mix.

Last Word

When you first see the tell-tale signs of overwatering, you might think it is already too late to save your favorite house plant. The good news is that there are a number of things you can do to revive your Jade plant and get it flourishing happily once more.

Make sure that you set up an ideal living environment for your Jade plant from the start and you may never face the problems of overwatering.

Comments

  1. I have had to launch a rescue mission to save what I thought was an under-watered jade plant which it transpired was overwatered. The plant is 20+ years old and is nearly 5 foot in height. The plant has also had to move twice in the last 6 weeks due to a house move so has been through some trauma. Anyway after following all the instructions above I have signs of healthy new shoots and new leaves on existing branches…..however, the leaves lower down the stems are still de-hydrated. So my question is will these revive and become green and plump again like the new growth?? Should I prune back hard to get rid of unhealthy leaves to promote new growth??

    1. Author

      So glad your jade plant is on the road to recovery! If your plant is putting out healthy new shoots and leaves, but the leaves on the lower branches are still looking dehydrated, it is unlikely they will recover. I would let the plant sit for at least a few months without pruning. Pruning does put additional stress on your plant in the short term, so it would be better to let it recover a little more. Once there is plenty of healthy new growth, feel free to prune back hard as this will help the plant remain healthy and looking well in the longer term. Best wishes,
      Andrew

  2. Hi Andrew! I need serious help and advice. I overwatered my jade tree so my husband put the tree outside for the soil to dry. Four days went by and the leaves were burnt! Now I don’t know what to do. I’m freaking out! HELP!!!

    1. Author

      Hi Miriam
      Thanks for getting in touch. It was good thinking to put your plant outside to help the soil dry out. However, most plants acclimatize to the light conditions they are in and they often can’t cope with a sudden change in light conditions. The first thing to do is to ensure that your Jade plant is potting in appropriate potting mix, to help avoid overwatering again. Always wait until the soil is almost completely dry before watering again. Place your Jade plant in bright indirect light, avoiding more than 1-2 hours of direct sunlight per day, to help it recover. Whilst you can’t repair the leaves that have become burnt, if you focus on providing excellent and consistent growing conditions for your Jade plant, it will start to put out new and healthy growth, restoring the plant to health quite quickly.
      Feel free to email me a photo of your Jade plant and I can try to give you some more specific advice for your plant.
      Best wishes
      Andrew

  3. I have very large plant that is probably over 20 yrs old. Lately I am seeing what looks like fine sand on some leaves. I am wondering if it’s powdery mildew, but it’s not white. I suspect over-watering, but am curious as to what the sandy grit is on leaves.

  4. Hi!

    I bought a jade plant over the summer but now the jade plants leaves have become thin and soft. The edges of leaves have also begun to turn red and shrivelled and I don’t know what to do! I’m not sure if the plant is too dry or overwatered. I’m scared my plant won’t survive through the winter! HELP PLEASE!!!

    1. Author

      Hi Unice
      I think your plant is most likely getting too much light and not enough water. I actually wrote an article about why Jade plants get red leaves which you will hopefully find helpful. Increasingly red leaves are a sign of stress. It can sometimes not be immediately clear whether overwatering or underwatering is the cause of shrivelled, soft and thin leaves, so make sure to really check the soil well.
      If the soil is very dry and you have only been watering every few weeks, then underwatering is likely a contributory factor. Move your jade plant somewhere that it gets bright, indirect light and water once the top half of the soil dries out.
      Alternatively, If the soil is wet, or if the pot has poor drainage, you should probably repot and check the roots for signs of root rot.
      Let me know if I can help any further or email me some pictures of your plant and I’ll try to give you some more specific pointers.
      Best wishes
      Andrew

  5. Hi there! I have a fairly new jade plant and in the past couple of weeks the leaves have begun to droop, become soft, and appear a bit wrinkled. The edges of some leaves are turning red. Am I over or under watering? Thanks!

    1. Author

      Hi Jessalyn
      The redness at the edges of the leaves suggests that this is an underwatering problem, but it could be either. Jade plants can normally tolerate drought conditions very well. How often have you been watering your plant and have you been letting the potting mix dry out fully in between watering?

  6. Hi Andrew,

    I think I have a dying jade plant on my hands and don’t know what to do next. It had been a couple of weeks since my plant was watered, the soil was totally dry, and the leaves were starting to droop. I freaked out and “thoroughly” watered it. Now it looks awful; the leaves are drooping even more and some have totally shriveled up.

    Did underwatering, then overwatering cause my problem? Should I repot and/or move to a sunnier location? Any suggestions you have would be welcome!

    Thanks,

    Rachel

    1. Author

      Hi Rachel
      It’s difficult to be 100% sure what the problem is from the information you’ve given so far, as most Jade plants will tolerate drying out fully and then being watered thoroughly very well. If you’d like to send a few photos of your plant to [email protected] I’ll take a closer look and try to help you out.
      Best wishes
      Andrew

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