Overwatered Jade Plant – Signs, Symptoms & Fixes

An overwatered jade plant is unfortunately a common occurrence. That’s because Jade Plants are succulents.

So, if you water them like regular houseplants, you’ll end up giving it too much moisture.

That’s because it stores water in its fleshy leaves.

How can you save an overwatered Jade Plant? First, it is important to know the symptoms. This way, you can identify overwatering from other potential problems.

Once confirm that your Jade Plant is overwatered, check for root rot. If there’s not root rot, let the soil dry out completely. If there is root rot, prune the rotten roots and repot the plant.

Overwatered Jade Plant Signs and Symptoms

The most important thing to figure out when your jade plant has problems is to identify the cause. And this usually begins with knowing what the signs and symptoms the plant is displaying.

From there, you’ll be able to narrow down the possible causes.

The tricky part is that most plants, including the jade plant will exhibit different symptoms. Many of these symptoms will overlap between different problems.

As such, understanding what to give priority to is very important.

This is why for me, overwatering always takes precedence over other issues. Overwatering can lead to root rot. And root rot can lead to plant death.

This makes it more dangerous than other issues like lack of humidity, slow growth or leggy stems.

In fact, when I suspect overwatering, I will immediately investigate and try to fix it as soon as possible.

 

Yellow Leaves is a Common Sign of Jade Plant Overwatering

Yellow leaves are one of the most common signs of overwatering. As such, it is usually your first clue since it is very obvious.

However, just because a plant, including jade plants, have yellow leaves, it does not mean that overwatering is automatically the cause.

The reason is that many issues can lead to yellow leaves.

However, since overwatering is the more dangerous, never let yellow leaves just be. Instead, immediately investigate.

Overwatering can cause yellow leaves because the roots are sustaining damage. As a result, they’re not able to absorb as much nutrients from the soil as they used to.

This leads to nutrient deficiencies which cause yellowing of the plant.

 

Leaf Drop Can Occur with an Overwatered Jade Plant

Leaf drop is usually a more serious issue because it happens a bit later. Usually, some kind of stress causes this.

But leaves only drop once the plant is weaker and has sustain quite a bit of stress and difficulty. In fact, to the point where it cannot support all the leaves anymore.

This is why it will drop leaves because it cannot sustain them all.

Again, leaf drop can mean different things.

While it can be a signal of root rot and overwatering, it can also be normal as the plant will shed older leaves to make way for new ones.

Therefore, further investigation is warranted.

 

Soft Leaves

Soft leaves can mean overwatering but it can also mean underwatering.

That’s because jade plants store water in their leaves. As such, the leaves are thick, fleshy and feel firm to the touch.

When the plant is underwatered or starts to get dehydrated, its leaves will get softer because there’s less water stores left.

This is normal.

But never assume that soft leaves is due to underwatering only.

If you water the plant and the soft leaves happen to be due to overwatering, you’ll be worsening the situation.

The reason why excess watering can lead to soft leaves is because they get overloaded with water. So, instead of being soft and flatter (like they are when underwatered) they’ll feel soft and squishy due to overwatering.

 

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Root Rot is a Serious Problem from Overwatering Jade Plants

Root rot is the most serious issue which is why overwatering is very concerning.

Overwatering causes root rot because excess moisture will drown the roots in water. When this happens, the excess liquid pushes out all the air from the tiny pockets in the soil.

If the moisture does not drain or dissipate in a while, the roots eventually suffocate because they cannot breathe with all the water.

Should this happen, the roots eventually die leaving you with root rot.

Rotten roots mean they stop functioning.

So, no matter how much you water the soil or fertilize it, the roots cannot absorb these any more. That’s because they’re dead.

After a while, the lack of water and nutrients will weaken the plant. It will experience dehydration and malnutrition. This causes it to get weaker and weaker until it dies.

As such overwatering is the #1 cause of houseplant death because it can lead to root rot.

 

Wet, Mucky Soil

This is one of the confirming signs that overwatering is happening.

Because many of the symptoms of overwatering and underwatering are similar, it can be hard to tell one from the other.

What’s worse is if you guess incorrectly, you’ll be worsening the situation.

For example, if your jade plant is overwatered and you believe it is underwatered. Adding more water increases the risk of root rot.

The opposite is true as further dehydration will damage the roots after a while.

To verify one from the other, always feel the soil.

Wet, soggy or mucky soil means the plant is overwatered. Very dry soil means it is underwatered.

Therefore, whenever you experience similar symptoms, feel the soil and stick your finger a few inches down into the soil.

You’ll quickly be able to determine overwatering from underwatering.

 

Very Dry Leaves

Dry leaves are another misleading symptom.

That’s because many home gardeners believe that dry leaves means the plant needs more water. Therefore, it is being underwatered.

However, overwatering can lead to dry leaves.

More importantly, it is a later, more serious sign.

The reason is that dry leaves in an overwatered Jade plant only happens when the roots have sustained quite a bit of damage.

When this happens, the roots cannot absorb enough moisture to support the plant. As such, leaves will dry up and turn brown.

 

How to Revive an Overwatered Jade Plant

Now you know the symptoms of an overwatered jade plant, it is time to learn how to save and revive it.

The most important thing here is to spot the problem early. The earlier you’re able to notice the symptoms, the less likely root rot has set in.

Additionally, there’s also less symptoms which makes the overwatering problem easier to fix (and your Jade plant to recover).

 

Allow the Soil to Dry

The first step is to allow the soil to dry. This is your main goal since dry soil allows your jade plant to start its path to recovery.

However, before you do this, make sure there is no root rot first.

If there is root rot, the extra time to give the soil to dry allows the root rot to keep spreading. That’s a bad idea!

By checking for root rot first, you’ll know if it is safe to do this or if you need to take more drastic measures.

To confirm whether there is root rot or not, take the plant out of its pot.

Remove some excess soil because you want to see all the roots clearly.

If there is root rot, you’ve already probably smelled it. It stinks! That’s because the roots have rotted.

Nevertheless, check the root system.

Healthy roots are white and firm to the touch. They are also flexible. On the other hand, rotten roots are black or brown in color, soft and mushy. They tear off or break easily.

One look and you’ll immediately know the difference.

 

Take Your Jade Plant Out of the Waterlogged Soil

If there is no root rot, breathe a sigh of relief.

Now, your goals is to get the plant in dry soil.

Here, you have two options:

  • Leave the plant in the wet soil and allow the soil to completely dry out.
  • Get the plant out of the waterlogged soil and into fresh dry soil.

Since I’ve very aggressive with treating for overwatering, I always go with option 2. It takes extra work since you have to get fresh, dry soil and remove as much of the wet soil as you can.

But it is also safer.

You can take either option.

If there is root rot, proceed to the next step.

 

Cut Off Rotting Roots

Rotten roots are dead roots. In short, they are useless.

What’s worse is they can spread.

Therefore, prune them. Use a sterile pair or scissors or pruning shears. Remove all the rotten roots but be careful not to cut off any of the healthy ones.

You want to keep all the healthy roots intact since the plant will need them.

If you cut more than 1/3 of the entire root system, you’ll also need to cut off 1/3 of your jade plant’s leaves.

That’s because fewer roots have a better chance of recovering and surviving if they’re not overworked. Therefore, reducing the size of the plant decreases the load on the remaining roots to support the plant.

In addition to pruning the roots, remove the yellow, brown or affected leaves.

These use up the plant’s energy and resources as it tried to help them recover (which they never will). So, cutting them off lets the plant focus on new and healthy leaves instead.

 

Repot the Plant in Fresh, Dry Soil

Finally, after removing all the wet soil and letting the roots dry, pot up the plant in fresh, dry, well-draining soil.

You can use a new pot or the same pot. But if you use the old pot, clean it first with hydrogen peroxide solution or bleach solution just in case there’s fungi left there.

Don’t water the Jade plant for about a week to give it time to recover.

Then start watering slowly and gradually increase over time. But make sure you’re using an adjusted, scaled-back watering schedule to avoid overwatering in the future.

For best results, either wait until the soil has dried at least halfway down from the top. If you want to be more conservative, wait until the soil has completely dried out.

The latter is safe because jade plants store moisture in their leaves. So, they can tolerate drought without harm or any problems.

By allowing a good part of the soil to dry between watering, you eliminate the risk of root rot.

 

How to Properly Water a Jade Plant to Avoid Overwatering

The best way to avoid overwatering and all the problems that come with it is to understand the watering requirements of the Jade Plant.

From there, you’ll be able to know when and how to water it.

This lets you avoid overwatering in the first place.

 

Know When to Water

Jade plants are succulents. They have thick, fleshy leaves that store water.

As such, they can tolerate dry periods and drought. More importantly, they become more susceptible to overwatering because they have water stored up.

Therefore, you want to be more careful with watering too frequently.

As a result, jade plants only need watering once every 7 to 14 days. However, this is on average.

During the hotter times of the year, water will evaporate faster. Therefore, you may need to water once a week. On the other hand, during the cold months, you may only need to water once every 3-4 weeks.

I’ll explain more about this below.

So, the best way to know when to water to is to listen to what the plant is telling you.

To do so, feel the soil.

As a minimum, wait until the top few inches (2-3 inches) of soil has dried between waterings. Don’t add water before this. Otherwise, you increase the risk of overwatering.

The reason is you’ll be adding more water when the soil is still moist or even wet. After a while, there will be too much water around the roots.

I prefer to wait until the soil is dry halfway down (50% of the soil is dry). This ensures that you won’t end up overwatering the plant.

Some home gardeners will let the soil completely dry before they water.

That works too since the Jade plant has water stores in its leaves.

 

How to Water

How you water is just as important as when you water.

The reason is that the roots need water. However, they don’t like too much as they’re prone to overwatering.

So, you have two options.

 

Water from Above

Watering from above is the traditional way to water plants.

Make sure you’re not watering over the plant and getting all the leaves wet. This only increases the risk of fungal infections and leaf diseases.

Instead, water directly onto the soil.

You can use a watering can with a long neck or set the hose on the rim of the pot when watering. This way, the liquid goes directly onto the soil.

When watering from above, make sure you water thoroughly.

This means to keep adding water until the liquid begins dripping from the bottom of the holes of the pot.

This is the sign to stop. It also tells you that the entire root ball is now saturated.

By doing this, you give your Jade plant’s roots all the water they want. This keeps them hydrated and happy.

After that, let the soil completely drain.

This is important because root ball is currently drenched. Now you need to make sure to let all the excess moisture drain out. This usually takes between 10 to 25 minutes depending on how big your pot is.

So, I like to leave it on a tray or stand and let it drip in the sink or bathtub.

When all the excess water has drained, you’re left with moist soil which the plant likes. And you eliminate the risk of overwatering or waterlogged soil.

 

Water from Below

Watering from below is a safer option if you want to avoid overwatering.

Here, you put the pot in a larger bin, bathtub or container filled with water. The water should be up to around a quarter of the height of the pot.

The soil will then slowly absorb the water through the holes at the bottom of the pot.

In doing so, the soil slowly gets watered from the bottom going up.

It takes around 10-15 minutes for this to get done. So, you can go do something else. But check every now and then.

Once you feel the surface of the soil feel moist, you can take out the pot from the water. Then, let it drain completely to get rid of any excess water.

 

Soil and Pot Drainage

Soil and pot drainage prevent waterlogging.

In addition to knowing when and how to water, it is important to use well-draining soil for your Jade plant and a pot with holes at the bottom.

This kind of soil will let excess moisture drain quickly. In contrast, heavy soils will hold water which increases the risk of root rot.

Additionally, the holes at the bottom of the pot will let any liquid that drains from the soil to drip out. Without holes, the liquid will accumulate and build up at the bottom of the pot.

This will keep soil wet which increases the risk of root rot.

 

Light, Temperature, Humidity Changes

Light, temperature and humidity change depending on the time of year.

During the summer, there’s more light and it is hotter. Therefore, you’ll need to water more frequently to keep your jade plant from drying out.

In winter, it is colder, there’s less sun and humidity drops as the air gets dry. Therefore, you want to scale back watering because it takes much longer for soil to dry.

This means that you need to be aware of how much light, the temperature and humidity since they all affect how quickly or slowly soil dries.

 

Pot Size and Material

Pot size and material are likewise important aspects of watering.

Never overpot your plant. instead, use a pot that is just the right size. When repotting go up one pot size each time. Don’t skip sizes just to reduce the number of times you need to repot over the years.

Very large pots means a lot of excess soil.

So, when you water the plant, there’s a lot of excess water which drowns the roots.

Pot material, from my experience, is less of a big deal.

But it is worth knowing.

Clay and terracotta pots are porous. This means water can seep out through the pot and not just the drainage holes at the bottom.

This helps prevent root rot.

It is also why terracotta pots turn white after a while.

On the other hand, plastic and metal pots don’t let moisture seep out. So, they reduce the frequency of watering. But you also don’t want to water as often if you use these kinds of pots.

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