If, like me, you’ve been growing a jade plant for some time, you’ll notice that some leaf drop is completely unavoidable with this plant over time. However, it’s not normal to lose more than one or two leaves at a time. Jade Plants most often drop leaves due to stress from a lack of light, too much or too little water, or drafts of cold or hot air. They can also naturally lose leaves due to age. Other issues include pests and poor quality potting mix. In this guide, I’ll run through 10 of the most common causes of jade plant leaf drop and how I fixed the issue with my plant at home.
Common Reasons Your Jade Plant’s Leaves are Dropping
There are dozens of reasons why a Jade Plant could lose leaves since it’s a relatively sensitive plant. However, for these symbolic plants, most leaf drop cases are caused by one of these common reasons. All are quickly addressed with a few improvements in conditions.
1) Overwatering and Saturated Soil Bases
Jade Plants are succulents, and like other succulents, they prefer less water rather than more. Overwatering is one of the top causes of leaf drop in all members of the Crassula genus. Jade plant leaves turning yellow is a common early sign and may begin to shrivel before falling off. Even after you stop watering, the leaf loss can continue if the roots are affected. Drain any saucers and consider changing your jade plant soil mix if it is saturated and won’t dry out quickly.
Switching to a more rapidly draining soil mix made for orchids, cacti, or succulents will encourage faster drying. Don’t water a Jade Plant until the top two inches of the soil dry out to ensure you’re not overwatering.
2) Overly Dry Conditions
On the other end of the spectrum, avoiding watering or forgetting about the Jade Plant will also lead to leaf drop. Since they’re succulents, these plants do need the occasional deep watering to ensure the leaves stay plump and healthy.
Larger Jade Plants may develop compacted areas in the soil mix or rootball where it’s harder to get water to penetrate. Try soaking the plant when it’s watering time and using a good draining soil mix to ensure moisture reaches every part of the Jade Plant.
Leaves may continue to drop for a week or two after adjusting your watering habits, but be careful not to overwater in response.
3) Temperature & Humidity Issues
Most types of Jade Plant aren’t as picky as many other succulents regarding the specific temperature. They prefer around 60 to 70 degrees F during the day and above 55 degrees F at night. However, they don’t want to experience sharp swings in temperature even within these ranges.
Cold or hot drafts blowing directly on the leaves can lead to leaf drop. This is especially likely if the air is dry, such as blasts from a heating vent or air conditioner. Jade Plants don’t like low humidity levels either, preferring at least 50% to 60% ambient humidity to prevent leaf drop.
4) Insufficient Light Exposure
Jade Plants share a need for bright light with other succulents commonly grown as houseplants. In most cases, leaf drop related to light will be caused by a lack of light rather than too much. If there is too much direct light, sunburn will cause the edges of the Jade Plant leaves to turn red first. Reducing the light levels slightly keeps the coloration without risking leaf drop. Unless you see your Jade Plant’s lost leaves turning red first, they’re likely not being lost to sunburn but rather to a lack of light instead.
5) Pest, Disease, or Bacterial Infections
Common jade plant pests can also trigger leaf loss, but it’s less common than many other causes. In most cases, pest damage only causes minor damage to leaves rather than an entire loss.
Bacterial infections that kill off the roots or entire stems can lead to widespread leaf drop. Mealybugs are the most common pest of indoor Jade Plants. However, they’re not usually so damaging to the leaves as to cause them to drop off. Look for signs of overwatering or fungal diseases like mold growth on the soil instead, and try changing out the soil mix and watering less.
6) Too Much or Too Little Fertilizer
Fertilizer shock is a hard-to-spot cause of persistent leaf drop. If you add too much fertilizer at once or too often, your Jade Plant will lose leaves from the bottom upward. The leaves may turn yellow or shrivel up before falling off despite proper watering practices. It’s rare that a Jade Plant would lose leaves due to a lack of fertilizing.
A lack of growth and loss of color and shine are common signs of too little fertilizer. Try not to fertilize more than once every three to six months and only during the growing season to avoid shocking the plant.
7) Environmental Shock or Stress
Any significant change in the environment or stress to the plant can trigger the loss of at least a few leaves. Even just moving Jade Plants from one room to another can cost you a leaf or two as the plant adjusts to the new conditions.
Cold and hot drafts, in addition to bright, intense spots of light, are common environmental problems. Don’t be surprised by minor leaf loss after transplanting a mature plant or cutting off material for jade plant propagation. If you’re spraying chemicals around the home or use a leaf shine spray, you’ll lose any coated leaves.
8) Root Rot
Overwatering isn’t just a direct cause of leaf drop itself. Once the plant becomes saturated for too long and struggles to get dry, root rot can set in. This is a bacterial infection that requires excessive moisture to begin. A Jade Plant suffering from root rot will turn yellow and lose leaves from the bottom upwards, with the problem continuing until you dry out the roots and reverse the problem.
Mature plants may need a fresh potting mix or a root trim to stop the problem. Make sure that the container used for the Jade Plant drains properly and empty out any saucers or drainage basins used under the plants.
9) Poor Quality Soil Mix
Soil mix causes leaf drop in Jade Plants through a number of indirect ways. First, compacted mix that has sat in the pot for years on end will interfere with proper drainage. This increases the chances of both underwatering and root rot.
Second, a soil mix with little to no nutrients will leave the Jade Plant struggling to grow. Look for a fast-draining soil mix that won’t hold water too close to the roots. Make sure it has a good proportion of organic material in the formula to add some slow-releasing nutrients while keeping the texture light and fluffy.
10) Age and Maturity
Finally, a Jade Plant can’t help but lose a few leaves per year as it grows. The oldest leaves at the bottom will eventually fade in color and fall off. A little shriveling may occur, but naturally lost leaves shouldn’t turn dramatically yellow or dry up entirely before dropping off. Watch out for an acceleration in leaf drop since that usually indicates a problem. If you only see one to two leaves per month dropping off the plant, it’s likely just a part of the plant’s normal growth pattern. There’s no way to completely avoid this kind of leaf loss. Eventually it will lead to the plant developing a tree-like look with a bare trunk and foliage gathered at the top.
There are tricks for pruning the jade plant to encourage more growth to sprout around the base and fill in the shrub-like shape again. Remember to wear gloves when handling jade plants as they can be mildly toxic to humans and pets.
Growing Happy, Healthy Jade Plants at Home
Jade Plants need warm temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees F, with 55 degrees F acceptable as a nighttime low. They prefer higher humidity levels and only need fertilizing once every three to six months.
These plants can grow quickly when given enough light, so you may need to repot jade plants twice a year for at least the first three years of growth. Use a lightweight soil mix that is designed for cacti, orchids, or succulents, and ensure the Jade Plant gets at least four to six hours of bright light per day.
Jade Plant Dropping Leaves FAQs:
Is some leaf drop normal for Jade Plants?
Jade Plants all lose a few leaves per month due to normal aging.
Will fallen Jade Plant leaves grow back?
As long as the plant gets enough light and fertilizer, it should replace any lost leaves within a month or two.
How long do Jade Plants take to reach maturity?
Jade Plants take around three to five years to reach their mature size.
Jade Plants dropping leaves often show few signs of distress before losing all leaves. Watch for leaf drop after any significant change in conditions to know when to adjust the water, light, or temperature your houseplant is exposed to on a daily basis. For more, see our ultimate jade plant care guide.
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.