by Tom Wentzel
Jade (Crassula ovata)
This succulent is native to South Africa.
I received this plant as a gift several years ago and have managed to keep it alive and, apparently, thriving. For the first few years it was kept outside and brought in when the night temperatures. Recently I have been keeping it indoors throughout the year. It is a fairly forgiving plant. Moderate amounts of a balanced fertilizer and water. Overwatering will lead to root rot and be the end of the plant. Make sure is doesn’t dry out for too long. It must be one of the easiest plants to propagate. Even leaves that drop off will root in soil. The branches of the jade plant are fragile. Be careful when moving or working around the plants. If branches break off, just put them in some potting soil and you have a new plant.
According to the literature, getting a jade to bloom is a daunting task. Withhold water and fertilizer in the fall and early winter. Keep the plant and cool temperatures and limit light to 4 hours. COMPLETE darkness for 20 hours. I have never done this. My jade is kept in a south facing kitchen window all year. It starts blooming around Christmas and will continue to bloom for a couple months. I believe that is it the decreasing amount of daylight and a day/night temperature change are what cause the plant to but on a display.