Jade plant leaves turning black is something you should never take for granted. Instead, it requires your immediate attention.
At best, the plant may be struggling.
But at worst, it is sustaining damage and may be in a fatal situation.
When jade plant leaves are turning black it means that there is root rot already happening. This could be minor or very serious.
The same is true if you see its stems turn black. In this case, the root rot is already in an advanced stage.
On the other hand, black spots on jade plant leaves are what’s known as edema. This happens when the roots absorb the excess water faster than it can use it.
Both conditions are signs of problems. And to save your jade plant you’ll need to fix the root rot and overwatered soil.
Why are My Jade Plant Leaves Turning Black?
Below, I’ll go through the different causes that make your jade plant turn black.
In some cases, the entire leaves do not turn black. Instead, you’ll see black spots appear on your jade plant’s leaves.
While these are not a frightening to see, they require immediate attention as well.
Black spots or black leaves on jade plant mean that something is wrong.
More importantly, they’re a sign that the overall health of your plant is declining. In some cases, not immediately applying treatment could pose significant threat to its overall health.
Overwatering is the #1 Reason Why Jade Plants Turn Black
Overwatering is the number one thing you want to watch out for as a jade plant owner.
This plant is a succulent.
And like most succulents, they are native to tropical environments that are quite dry.
This is why this group of plants have evolved over time to have thick, fleshy leaves. Their foliage allow them to store water so they can get through long periods of dryness or drought.
For its part, jade plants are native to South Africa.
And they grow in areas of the region where there’s little rainfall.
As such, they are easily overwatered.
What’s worse is if you consistently water them too much or too frequently, you increase the risk of several problems.
If you see your jade plant leaves turning black or black spots developing on its leaves, it usually means one of the following.
- Black leaves indicate the presence of root rot.
- Black stems are another serious sign. It means that the root rot is spreading upwards to the stems.
- Black spots of your jade plant’s leaves indicate edema.
When you see small black or brown spots on the leaves of jade plants, it means that there is edema.
Edema basically means bloating or swelling.
And it happens when the plant absorbs more water than it should. This is a sign that there’s excess moisture in the soil.
The excessive intake causes some parts of the leaves to puff up unevenly.
If you catch this early enough and allow the excess water to drain, the edema will resolve itself as transpiration will eventually catch up and release the excess fluid from the leaves.
But if things continue as they are, the edema could burst as the tissues are not able to stretch any further. These bust membranes become blisters or damaged tissues that stay around as black spots.
On the other hand, a jade plant with black leaves means that there is root rot occurring.
This is more dangerous than the black spots as it means that the overwatered situation has gotten to the point where it is not damaging, destroying or has killed some roots.
How to Fix This
Fixing black leaves on jade plants and black spots on its leaves differ.
While you need to take immediate action in both, the former requires a different solution to the latter.
Let’s begin with the easier one.
Both cases mean that your jade plant has been overwatered.
But in the case of a jade plant with black spots, the goal is to allow the excess water the quickly drain. This will let the edema subside as the leaves lose the excess moisture via transpiration.
To do this, you have a few options.
One is to pour out or drain any excess liquid that’s still in the soil or pot. You can easily tip the pot over and let the excess water pour out.
Another method is to aerate the soil.
You can do this by poking holes into the soil or turning the soil.
Be careful when doing this so that you don’t end up damaging the roots.
That said, I prefer to just take the jade plant out of the pot. Then let the root ball dry.
Keeping it in a secure spot where there is good air circulation (no wind though) and bright, indirect sunlight will allow the exposed soil or root ball to dry faster.
Depending on how big your jade plant is, this can take several hours to over a day. So, keep the plant in a spot where it is safe from kids, pets or strong winds.
While the plant is out of the pot, you can also give the roots a check.
The goal is to see if there is any sign of root rot. And if there is, treat that first.
If your jade plant leaves or stems have turned black, then it means there is root rot.
In this case, you’ll need to take your jade plant out of its pot and remove all the excess soil so you can clearly see the roots.
You can use a showerhead, garden hose or soak the roots in water in a sink to remove stubborn soil particles stuck to the roots.
Don’t tug the roots as they’re quite fragile.
Next, you’ll need to prune all the rotten roots and stems. These are the black roots and stems that you see.
Unfortunately, these roots and stems are dead. That’s why they’ve turned black.
More importantly, they do not function anymore. Nor can they recover.
So, cutting them off is the best way to prevent the rotting from spreading.
You’ll also need to trim off any of the black leaves and other damaged or affected parts. These will not grow back or return to their healthy green color.
Pruning also encourages growth in these areas later on.
The final step is to repot your jade plant in a new pot with fresh, dry, well-draining soil. This will allow it to start recovery.
Note that in some cases, your jade plant will be beyond saving.
This can happen is too many roots have rotted.
As such, if all the roots have rotted or nearly all the roots have turned black, your best option to save your jade plant is to propagate it.
Either way, once you’ve saved your jade plant from black leaves or black spots, make sure to adjust your watering schedule to avoid overwatering in the future.
Soil Drainage Issues
If you’re sure that you’re watering your jade plant properly or have adjusted your watering schedule, yet the plant still ends up overwatered, then check the soil.
Soil drainage can also cause jade plant leaves to turn black. Or it can be the reason you’re seeing black spots on jade plant leaves.
Once you water the plant, the moisture stays in the soil.
What happens to this moisture depends a lot on what kind of soil you’re using.
If you’re using a heavy soil that retains a lot of water, waterlogging or overwatering can happen. That’s because the soil particles hold on to most of the water.
This is bad for jade plants as they do not like sitting in lots of moisture or wet soil.
Instead, they prefer dry soil.
On the other hand, if the soil drains water too quickly, your plant will end up dry and dehydrated if you do not water it frequently enough.
As such, the right kind of soil plays a huge role in whether your jade plant is being overwatered or not.
Ideally, jade plant prefers well-draining soil.
This allows the roots to get enough water to drink but also quickly drains excess moisture so the roots do not end up sitting in too much moisture for long periods of time.
That said, if there is insufficient soil drainage, you may end up seeing black or brown spots on your jade plant’s leaves.
Again, these are a sign of edema present.
Edema happens when the roots absorb more water than what the plant uses up and loses via transpiration.
So, you end up with black spots on leaves which are actually lesions on the leaves.
If you see your jade plant leaves turning black, it means that the roots are now dying and rotting.
Root rot happens as the roots suffocate from lack of oxygen.
What many people don’t know is that roots need both water and air. There has to a balance between the too.
Too much water means that the moisture will fill up all the air pockets between the soil particles. And in doing so, push out all the oxygen.
This deprives the roots of air needed to stay healthy.
And if this condition persists, the roots die from suffocation, then rot.
On the other hand, to little water means there will lots of air.
Unfortunately, plants need water to survive. So, without it, the roots will become dry and brittle.
Eventually, if the plant gets too dehydrated, it will deteriorate and possibly die as well.
In the case of jade plant turning black, we’re dealing with the first case, roots dying from suffocation then rotting.
How to Fix This
Once again, there are two solutions here.
One is all about prevention, so the black leaves or black spots never happen again. Another is to save the plant that’s already been afflicted by this problem.
If your jade plant leaves are turning black, then there is root rot.
As such, pruning the rotten roots as well as the black leaves is needed. You can then repot the plant in new, dry, well-draining soil.
In case you’re seeing black spots on jade plant leaves, the draining the soil and letting the plant dry as soon as possible is your main goal.
After you’ve done either, make sure to replace the soil you’re using.
Since your watering schedule is not the problem, then it is important to fix the cause. In this case, it is the soil that’s retaining too much moisture.
So, make sure to use well-draining soil to ensure that the soil mix does not end up holding on to too much water.
Using Pots with No Drainage
What if you’re sure you’re watering your jade plant properly and you’re also using the right kind of soil, yet your jade plant leaves keep turning black?
It could mean that your pot may not have sufficient drainage.
The first thing you want check here is to see if the container your jade plant is in has holes at the bottom.
Also, are there enough holes to let the excess moisture drain out from the soil?
Unfortunately, jade plant leaves can turn black if the pot you’re using does not have sufficient drainage.
Once you water your plant, the soil will either retain or drain some moisture. The rest, the plant gets to use by absorbing the moisture through its roots.
If you’re using well-draining soil, the soil mix will drain the excess water so the roots don’t end up sitting in too much liquid for prolonged periods of time.
But what happens to this excess water once it drains from the soil.
If the pot you’re using has drainage holes, the liquid will drip out and escape through these holes.
But if you’re using a container with no holes, the excess liquid will just pool at the bottom of the pot. This will keep the soil there wet.
Each time you water, the excess moisture keeps building up at the bottom of the pot since it has nowhere else to go.
So, while you’re following the right watering schedule for your jade plant and use the right kind of soil, you still end up with wet soil.
This causes overwatering since the moisture that drains from the soil is trapped and will keep accumulating at the bottom of the pot.
As such, it increases the risk of root rot if the excess water is not relieved.
Root rot is what causes jade plant leaves to turn black. And before they do, you’ll notice edema happen which will result if black spots on the leaves of your jade plant as well.
How to Fix This
The first thing to check is if your pot has drainage holes.
Often, we choose pots and containers for our plants based on their looks and decorative designs. Many decorative pots do not come with holes at the bottom.
Thus, this can be what causes your jade plant leaves turning black.
If this is the case, you have two options
One is to replace the pot with a container that had drainage holes. You’ll need to repot your jade plant.
And while doing so, if the soil is wet, it is a good idea to replace the soil as well with fresh, dry, well-draining soil.
This way, your jade plant will be able to start recovering.
You’ll likewise need to prune any black leaves since these will not recover or turn green again.
If there is root rot, prune the rotten roots as well.
The second option is to drill holes at the bottom of your decorative pot.
This may or may not be something you’ll want to do. If you don’t want to make holes on your decorative container, then just use another pot with drainage holes.
Sometimes, the pot you’re using may already have drainage holes. So why are your jade plant leaves turning black?
First, check the holes.
At times, the holes may get clogged. This can happen when roots start blocking the holes. Or larger pieces of soil that have clumped together start blocking the openings.
If this is the case, then unblock the holes.
Again, since black leaves on jade plant indicate the presence of root rot. You’ll also need to treat the root rot and repot the plant in fresh soil.
Another reason that your jade plant is turning black or has black spots is if you happen to place a saucer or tray under the pot.
In this case, your pot will likely have holes.
This is why many indoor plant owners will use saucers or catch trays and place them under the pot.
Doing so prevents dripping or spilling, which can make a mess in your home.
The downside to using saucers or trays is that the water pools in the saucer or tray. This means that the soil will stay wet as the moisture in the tray or saucer will eventually get reabsorbed by the soil.
Therefore, if you use a tray or saucer underneath your containers, make sure to throw away the water regularly.
Do not let it pool or accumulate there.
If the moisture stays there for long periods of time it can cause your jade plant to turn black.
Unfortunately, this is a sign that there is root rot present. And you’ll need to address this and repot the plant in addition to throwing out the excess liquid in the saucer.