QUESTION: I have a jade plant that has grown well for several years, but the stems are tall and bare and all the leaves are at the top. I admit there are times I forget to water it. Can this be fixed?
Given the right conditions, a jade plant (Crassula ovate) should be an easy-care houseplant. It’s shiny, fleshy leaves make it an interesting addition to your décor. If it has been neglected, it can probably be rejuvenated as long as there is still healthy growth.
You can take stem cuttings of the old plant and root them in new soil. Houseplant expert Barbara Pleasant suggests this method: Cut the stems just below a node, and allow the cuttings to dry for about five days, then plant them in a mixture of damp sand and peat moss. Keep the soil moist, but not soggy. Each cutting should grow roots and form a new plant. You may also have some success if you root the cutting in water, and plant the rooted cutting in potting mix.
That doesn’t address the problem of neglect, though. Jade plants can be forgiving, yes, but they do need a little attention. The plants become leggy when they receive too little light. They need about four hours of filtered sun each day, and average room temperature. Allow the soil to dry slightly between waterings. Spring through fall, feed every few weeks with a balanced houseplant fertilizer at half the normal strength, Barbara Pleasant suggests. It is not necessary to fertilize in winter. A jade plant may enjoy the summer outdoors as long as you can provide a shady, protected spot.