I find Jade plants (Crassula ovata) to be some of the easiest houseplants to care for thanks to their low-maintenance needs, but they do require a suitable soil base to set them up for success. In my experience, Jade plants thrive best when grown in a loose, well-draining growing medium. This substrate should be a little on the acidic side within a pH range of 6.0 to 7.0. The ideal soil mix for a Jade plant is a 2:2:1 blend of a houseplant or cactus potting mix, coarse sand, and perlite or pumice.
- The Importance of Well-Draining Soil for Jade Plants
- What Soil pH Levels Are Best?
- The Ultimate Jade Plant Potting Mix Recipe
- Common Signs You’re Using the Wrong Soil Mix
- Soil Considerations Based on Pot Choice
- Soil Considerations When Repotting or Propagating
- Can You Use Cactus or Orchid Soil Mixes with Jade Plants?
- The Role of Soil in Plant Growth and Health
The Importance of Well-Draining Soil for Jade Plants
Jade plants need well-draining soil for one main reason – it prevents too much water from being held around the roots. If the medium doesn’t drain well enough, the plant is forced to wallow in excess water. This can effectively rot the roots, killing the plant.
To prevent this, I always use growing mediums that create plenty of drainage. On its own, houseplant compost is too dense for Jade plants. In my experience, you can still use it as long as you add something like coarse sand or perlite as well.
What Soil pH Levels Are Best?
I find Jade plants prefer soils that are neutral or a little acidic. Anything too alkaline can result in serious issues. The optimal pH level for Jade plants ranges from 6.0 to 7.0.
The Ultimate Jade Plant Potting Mix Recipe
Creating the ultimate Jade plant potting mix isn’t as tricky as it sounds. You can provide a well-draining but supportive growing medium for your Jade plant with a few simple and easily obtainable ingredients.
We’re going to cover the basic components of an excellent potting mix and then provide a recipe below.
Components of a Jade Plant Potting Mix
Potting Soil – the soil provides the basic framework for your potting medium. Ideally, you want something light, aerated in texture, and comprising organic and aged natural matter.
Horticultural sand – this very coarse ‘sand’ typically comprises crushed stones such as quartz, granite, or sandstone.
Sphagnum peat moss has fine particles yet a coarse texture. This leads to great water-holding and nutrient-holding capacities along with good aeration.
Coco coir is made from the husks of coconuts. It has a similar texture to peat moss but compacts a bit more over time.
Pine bark fines are small pieces of coniferous trees such as firs, pines, and spruces. This bark has a high percentage of lignin, which means it retains its shape over time. Therefore, it’s excellent at resisting compaction and providing air pockets.
Perlite is a type of expanded rock. It looks and feels a lot like styrofoam. It does not absorb water, so it is great at providing aeration and drainage to a soil mix.
Now that you understand a bit about what each component provides to a potting mix, here’s a great recipe to follow that I use. It offers excellent aeration and drainage yet also holds enough water for your plant to take up all it needs.
You will need:
- Well-draining houseplant compost or potting mix (2 parts)
- Coarse horticultural sand (2 parts)
- Perlite or coco coir or pine bark fines (1 part)
Combine two parts of houseplant potting mix with two or even three parts coarse sand with part of either perlite, coco coir, or pine bark fines. The potting mix provides some nutrition and stability, while the sand facilitates excellent drainage. Mix in one part perlite, coco coir to increase aeration and drainage even further. Don’t add water to the mix.
Some pre-mixed soils can be great for Jade Plants, although they may require some sand or perlite to improve drainage (via Garden Goods Direct):
As noted, Cactus soil will work for this plant, but you may want to consider add-ins like a small amount of compost. This can help increase the nutrition your jade plant receives.
Common Signs You’re Using the Wrong Soil Mix
Like other succulents, Jade plants use their fleshy foliage to stockpile moisture because they naturally grow in loose, rocky soils. If a Jade plant is placed in dense soils, too much water will be retained. This can cause multiple health problems.
The following symptoms may indicate that the soil conditions of your Jade plant are becoming a problem:
- Dropping leaves
- Mushy or rotting roots
- Saturated soil
- Spongy leaves
- Yellowing on multiple leaves
Most of these ailments also indicate overwatering a Jade plant or inappropriate temperature, or the plant might not be located in an optimal spot for growth. That’s not a coincidence.
Soil Considerations Based on Pot Choice
The construction material of your chosen pot can have influence the quality of your Jade plant’s soil as well. Jade plants can grow just fine in most containers as long as drainage holes are provided. This helps stop the plant from sitting in excess water.
While plastic pots are a common choice, the ideal vessels for Jade plants are clay or terracotta pots. These materials help to diffuse excess moisture from the soil within. Again, make sure the pots have drainage holes.
Soil Considerations When Repotting or Propagating
Repotting or propagating your Jade plant provides a great opportunity to refresh the soil. In the new pot, use a well-draining growing medium that has the correct pH levels. The ideal time to repot is early spring.
You’ll probably only need to repot a Jade plant once every couple of years. Once the Jade plant has been repotted, hold off on watering for about a week. This helps the roots acclimatize to the new pot.
Can You Use Cactus or Orchid Soil Mixes with Jade Plants?
Although cactus or succulent soils can make a good foundation for Jade plants, it’s worth remembering that these plants don’t grow in the same way. Jade plants are basically a mixture between a succulent and a small shrub. As such, Jade plants typically develop into a miniature tree shape.
Cactus mixes are designed to be very loose. However, because of the way a Jade plant grows, these mixtures can’t provide enough support for the woody stems. To remedy this, mix in a little bit of houseplant compost. This adds some extra support to the soil while still providing a well-draining medium.
Orchid mixes aren’t ideal for Jade plants. This is because orchid mixes can vary wildly in terms of drainage levels. Some orchids need more moisture in their soil than others. This can make some orchid mixes too dense for Jade plants.
The Role of Soil in Plant Growth and Health
So why is the right soil type so vital for a plant’s development? Using a root system, plants take in most of the necessary things to survive through the soil. These integral resources include nutrients, oxygen, and water. The correct soil type provides a secure place for the roots to anchor a plant to the ground.
Each plant species has slightly different soil preferences, so knowing what kind of soil a plant needs is vital. This allows you to give the plant the best possible situation for it to develop and grow. If soil parameters aren’t right, most jade plant varieties can be more susceptible to health problems, pests and diseases, and physical harm.
For more, see our in-depth guide to how big and how fast jade plants grow indoors.
Providing the best possible growing medium for your Jade allows you to enjoy these fantastic succulents for years to come. Remember, Jade plants need soils that have good drainage while providing plenty of aeration for the roots. Give your Money plant some money soil and watch it thrive!
Further reading: Discover where to position Jade plants for optimal care and feng shui benefits.
Andrew is the Editorial Director at Petal Republic. He holds a BSc degree in Plant Sciences and has trained professionally at leading floristry schools in London and Paris. In amongst overseeing a global editorial team, Andrew's a passionate content creator around all things flowers, floral design, gardening, and houseplants.