Jade plant root rot is something you should never take for granted.
Unfortunately, as dangerous as it is for your plant’s health, it is also a hidden killer since it happens under the soil.
What’s worse is that the plant, being a succulent, has thick, fleshy leaves that store moisture. This makes it even more sensitive to overwatering.
Thus, making the jade plant prone to root rot.
How to save a jade plant from root rot? Pruning away the rotten roots and treating the plant with fungicide is essential. Then repot the jade plant into a new pot with dry, well-draining soil.
Make sure to let it recover first before you start watering it again. Also, adjust your watering schedule to avoid root rot from happening again.
Jade Plant Root Rot Symptoms
Jade plant root rot is difficult to catch in its earliest stages because the roots are hidden under the soil.
This is what makes it dangerous.
It is sort of a “hidden killer” in that it has the ability to destroy the plant. But the only time you’ll be able to notice the symptoms are when the they reach the stem and the leaves.
Thus, by then, the plant’s roots have already sustained some kind of damage.
This is why precaution is always important.
At the same time monitoring for any changes in the leaves and stems of your jade plant is essential.
These are the most common symptoms of jade plant root rot.
Here are the above ground (soil) symptoms of jade plant root rot.
- The jade plant’s leaves will turn yellow – When healthy, they should be a nice green color.
- Its leaves will be soft and later fall off – Ideally, healthy jade plants has fleshy, firm leaves since they store moisture.
- Wrinkled leaves that are squishy when you squeeze them – this is a later symptom which means that there’s a likelihood that the root rot is in its advanced stage.
- Stems start sagging and feel soft – this is a very bad sign since it usually means the rotting is already severe.
Another danger sign that I like to look for is wet, mucky or soggy soil.
If it has been a few days since you’ve watered and the soil still feels wet, then something’s wrong. When this happens, I just unpot the plant to check the roots.
Yes, it is very aggressive.
But I’d rather be safe than sorry.
With a jade plant, this is easy to do since it is a small plant. So, it takes but a few minutes to remove it from its pot, check and put it back in.
Once you’ve taken the jade plant out of its pot, here’s what to look for in the roots.
These are the symptoms of jade plant root rot under the soil.
- Brown or black colored roots
- Foul smell
- Soft, mushy roots
Healthy roots are white in color and firm to the touch. The are also pliable so you can easily bend them. However, rotten roots have a foul rotting odor.
The smell is what you’ll notice first.
Rotten roots are also brown or black that feel soft and mushy.
So, if all the roots are white, then there is no root rot.
But if there are any brown or mushy roots, then there is root rot.
Causes of Jade Plant Root Rot
Next up, let’s go through the causes of jade plant root rot. These are the reasons why root rot happen in this succulent.
And they are important to understand since knowing them will allow you to avoid possible problems later on.
Also, by knowing the cause, you have a better chance to fixing the problem.
Overwatering is the number one cause of root rot.
Basically, it means that the plant is getting too much water.
Often, this is because of frequent watering. Thus, water is added while the soil is still moist or wet.
As a result, more and more water fill the soil and keep it wet. This means that all the air pockets in the soil will eventually be filled with liquid.
This causes the roots of the jade plant to suffocate as they become deprived of oxygen.
If they cannot get oxygen for long periods of time, they’ll eventually die of suffocation.
After that the dead roots will rot.
Besides, watering too often, another cause of overwatering is poor drainage.
Here, you want to consider two things.
- Soil drainage
- Pot drainage
Soil drainage is how well the potting mix is able to drain excess water.
Since the jade plant is a succulent, it does not like sitting in water for long periods of time. So, you need soil that drainage well.
Poor drainage means that the soil will retain too much moisture which will keep the roots of the jade plant wet.
This increases the risk of root rot.
In addition to soil drainage, there is also pot drainage.
Pot drainage means that the pot can get rid of excess water that drains from the soil.
Here, having holes under the pot is essential to let the excess water drip out.
If not, the water will just accumulate at the bottom of the pot. And its will keep the soil wet.
How to Treat and Save Jade Plant Root Rot
Once you’ve confirmed that there is jade plant root rot caused by overwatering, there is no time to spare.
Here, every hour will count as you don’t know how far the rot has spread across the root system.
So, it is important to take immediate action since the big problem with root rot is that there is never a guarantee of saving the plant.
The good news is that you’ve confirmed the problem.
And you already know that the issue with your jade plant is root rot as verified by the brown, mushy, smelly roots.
Now, it is time to take action to save your jade plant with root rot.
Unpot the Plant
If you haven’t yet, unpot the plant.
Here, you want to carefully take the plant out of the pot. Ideally, try to do this somewhere you can make a bit of a mess.
There will be some soil that will end up on the ground.
Because there may be the risk of fungal disease in the soil, roots and pot, I highly suggest doing this away from other houseplants.
If you can unpot and work in an area where you can easily clean up all the soil and dispose of it safely after.
When unpotting, you want to be gentle.
Don’t worry if you rip the rotten roots. They’re useless at this point.
However, you don’t want to tear or damage any of the healthy roots. Thus, it is important to be careful.
Remove the Soil from the Roots
Once you have the jade plant out of its pot, it is time to clean and remove any soil and dirt in its root system.
Again, you want to be careful where the soil ends up because they may contain fungi.
Since the jade plant is small, it is easy to clean the roots in a sink. Use water to make to make it easy to remove the stubborn or stuck pieces of soil.
Prune the Rotten Roots
Now, it is time to prune all the rotten roots.
Rotten roots are dead roots that later rot. Therefore, they don’t function anymore. And they will not recover or get revived.
Make sure to sterilize your cutting tool before you start cutting.
And when you cut, only prune off those brown or black colored roots. Don’t include any of the healthy, white roots.
Be very thorough here, you don’t want to leave any of the rotten roots around.
Also, keep track of how many roots you removed. A rough estimate will do like a quarter, a third, a half or three quarters.
Remove the Affected Leaves and Stems
After you’ve removed the rotten roots, it is time to remove the affected leaves and stems as well.
These are yellow and brown leaves. They also include anything that has damage or is abnormal.
If you pruned more than 1/3 of the root system in the previous step, you’ll also want to prune the corresponding amount of leaves from the plant.
This makes the size of the jade plant appropriate for the remaining root system.
Fewer roots won’t be able to support the original size of the plant. Plus, it needs to try to support the plant to save it and recover from the overwatering and root rot problem as well.
Thus, by cutting the corresponding amount of plant above the soil, you’re giving it a better chance of survival and saving itself.
Don’t forget to sterilize your scissors again after cutting the rotten roots (before you cut the leaves and stems).
Treat the Roots with Fungicide
To ensure that there are not fungal pathogens in the root system, it is important to treat it with fungicide.
If you do not, and the original cause of the jade plant root rot was a fungal infection, then it will re-emerge even after you repot the plant.
Thus, you’ll end up dealing with the same problem soon after.
And this time, the odds of saving your jade plant is lower since it is in a much weaker state.
Note that you can use fungicide or a hydrogen peroxide solution. Both will work well.
The easiest way to disinfect the entire root system is to submerge it into the solution. You can do this in the sink or a basin.
After doing so, pat dry the root system using paper towels.
Then leave it somewhere to dry.
Choose a well-ventilated area to speed up the drying process. But don’t use any heat including hair driers or anything similar to dry it faster.
Repot the Jade Plant
The last step to saving a jade plant from root rot is to repot it.
But don’t be in a hurry to do this yet.
First, make sure that the roots have dried after the washing and the disinfecting. You don’t want to plant them wet into the new pot.
Remember, they’re trying to recover from an overwatered state.
The other two things to ensure is to:
Select a well-draining soil.
You can use a good quality succulent soil since the jade plant is a succulent. The key is that it has sufficient drainage.
I prefer to make my own jade plant potting mix. Here’s the recipe I use:
- 3 parts potting soil
- 1 part perlite (you can use pumice as well in place of perlite)
- 2 parts coarse sand
Use the right size pot and make sure it has drainage holes.
The second requirement is to use a pot that is the right size. Also, the pot needs to have drainage holes.
To measure the pot, choose one that is 2 inches wider than the root ball of your jade plant.
Avoid a pot that is too small or too big.
Also, the holes at the bottom are a must.
They will allow any excess liquid that drains from the soil to drip out of the container.
Make sure the pot is clean and disinfected.
Finally, time to repot…
Once you have both the soil and the pot ready, it is time to repot the jade plant.
Fill the pot with soil about 1/3 of the way. Then place the jade plant in and backfill the remaining space with soil.
Don’t overpack the pot with soil. You don’t want it to be too tight. This will allow air to easily get through.
After repotting, don’t water the plant for a while to give it time to recover.
Also, place the pot is a well-lit location with no direct sunlight.
If You Cannot Save a Jade Plant with Root Rot, Propagate It
Sadly, saving a jade plant from root rot has no guarantees.
This is especially true when there is already widespread root rot.
Ideally, you hope when you unpot the plant that all the roots are healthy. And the next best scenario, in case there is root rot, is that only a small portion of the roots have rotted.
But if you’re unlucky, the root rot may have already gotten through most of the root system.
If this is the case, I highly suggest propagating your jade plant before you even try to save it.
That’s because there’s a high likelihood that there is already no saving the mother plant. Therefore, it is best to focus your attention on propagating it first before trying to save the parent.
This way, you’re playing the probabilities.
And you’ll end up “saving” your jade plant as the new plant will eventually grow into a clone of its parent.
Here’s how to propagate a jade plant with root rot to save it.
Take 2 to 3 healthy stem cuttings. Make sure that the stems don’t have any symptoms and it has several leaves on it.
The most important part is to ensure that there are at least 1-2 nodes with the stems.
Next, sterilize a pair or scissors or pruning shears and cut the stems. Snip them just below a node. Try to get something that isn’t too short to make it easier to plant into soil.
Once you have the cuttings, plant them into a pot with well-draining potting mix.
Don’t water the cuttings.
Normally, you’d be watering the soil at this point. But because the plant is coming from an overwatered environment, it is best to keep the soil dry for now.
Position the pot somewhere with medium, indirect light.
It will take a few weeks for the cuttings to take root.
Alternatively, you can also propagate the jade plant from leaf cuttings. Because of the root rot situation, you want to see whether stem cuttings or leaf cuttings is the best.
A lot will depend on which ones are still healthy because if the jade plant root rot is advanced, many of the stems and leaves will have been discolored or affected as well.
So, you’re limited to the healthy ones only.