Everything You Need to Know About the Meaning, Symbolism, and Cultural Significance of Jade Plants
Jade plants are fabulous low-maintenance plants rich with meaning and symbolism – quite literally. These succulents are believed to represent good luck, success, and wealth, which explains why the jade plant is often known by alter-egos like the “money plant” or “money tree.” In this guide, we’ll discover the meaning and symbolism of jade plants in various cultures and philosophies around the world.
- Jade Plant Meaning and Symbolism – The Essentials
- About Jade Plants
- Why is the Jade Plant Called a Money Plant?
- Why are Jade Plants Associated with Friendship?
- Other Folklore, Myths, and Symbolism Associated with Jade Plants
- Use of Jade Plants in Feng Shui
- Jade Plant Care at Home
- Wrapping Up
Jade Plant Meaning and Symbolism – The Essentials
Jade plants represent prosperity, success, and wealth in many belief systems. This association comes from the coin-like shape of jade plant leaves. Feng shui practitioners celebrate the jade plant as a symbol of good luck. As evergreens, jade plants also represent growth, permanence, and renewal.
About Jade Plants
Jade Plant Family and Genus
Jade plants are commonly known by their botanical name of Crassula ovata. These succulents come from the Crassulaceae family – also known as stonecrops. Many types of jade plants are incredibly hardy, which explains why jade plants do so well as houseplants. They are considered mildly toxic to pets though so it’s best to keep them out of reach of any eager cats or dogs in your home.
Origins and History of Jade Plants
Jade plants are indigenous to the arid, rocky hill slopes of Mozambique and South Africa. In South Africa, you’ll mainly find them in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal regions. Jade plants have been cultivated as houseplants for over a century and are now grown worldwide.
Botanical Characteristics of Jade Plants
Jade plants depend on their fleshy evergreen leaves to help them survive the harsh, dry conditions of their homeland. Their slow-growing foliage is typically dark green and oval-shaped. Many jade plants develop red blushing around the edges of their leaves when exposed to lots of sunlight. As they grow, jade plants look more and more like mini trees thanks to their thick, woody stems.
Why is the Jade Plant Called a Money Plant?
Jade plants developed their “money plant” alter-ego thanks to their role in feng shui. An ancient spiritual practice from China, feng shui associates jade plants with good fortune, financial wealth, and success. Jade plants are especially popular as a good luck gift for new business ventures.
However, things can get a bit confusing here. Jade plants aren’t the only plants with this nickname. The Pachira Aquatica is commonly called the “money tree”. However, this is not a succulent like the jade plant. Pilea peperomoides are also called the Chinese money plant, but again, they’re not succulents.
Why are Jade Plants Associated with Friendship?
One of the jade plant’s many nicknames is the “friendship tree.” This mainly refers to flowering jade plants that are traditionally given as gifts.
Jade plants need certain conditions to flower, so putting in the effort to nurture a jade plant like this takes dedication. And gifting that plant to a friend symbolizes how dedicated you are to their friendship. The foliage represents the joy and energy of a strong friendship. Meanwhile, the scent of the small white flowers is seen as the fragrance of a strong bond.
Again, the feng shui connection is another reason why jade plants are associated with certain qualities. In this practice, jade plants are seen as a symbol of good luck. Giving a jade plant to someone you know is a way of wishing them success in their endeavors.
Other Folklore, Myths, and Symbolism Associated with Jade Plants
In Chinese culture, jade plant symbolism has gradually evolved beyond feng shui. Jade plants are used at Chinese New Year to cultivate good fortune and prosperity for the year ahead. People may put investment documents underneath a jade plant to get a higher payoff.
Another practice is to tie little red envelopes containing money or coins onto the jade plant using red ribbon. These envelopes are known as “lai see” and are a way of asking for good luck. This practice began in China during the Han Dynasty and has since spread to other Asian cultures.
Traditionally, jade plants are seen as excellent gifts for new business owners or during first-time business meetings. Presents like this are given to bless the venture with success and good fortune. These succulents are also traditional housewarming or birthday presents.
Use of Jade Plants in Feng Shui
What do Jade Plants Represent in Feng Shui?
The Chinese spiritual practice of feng shui is the most famous source of jade plant symbolism. This philosophy teaches that we can cultivate positive energy or chi by arranging our living environment in specific ways.
Jade plants are seen as one of the money-makers of feng shui. These succulents embody prosperity, success, and wealth – both financial and physical. This association came about because jade plants have round leaves that resemble coins.
The color green plays a big part when using jade plants in feng shui. Green has specific associations in feng shui – it’s linked with growth and prosperity. It also represents renewal and regeneration. Evergreen plants, like the jade plant, also embody permanence and stability.
As well as colors, feng shui can also be divided between five natural elements – wood, fire, earth, water, and metal. Like all plants, jade plants belong to the wood element, representing energy and growth. Wood is also associated with the family and wealth zones of the Bagua Map.
Where Should Jade Plants be Located in the Home According to Feng Shui?
So how do you actually use jade plants to generate positive chi? Well, in feng shui, objects should be placed in specific areas that maximize their potential energy. For jade plants, locations on the Bagua Map are associated with success and wealth.
The southeast is the most common Bagua zone to focus on when cultivating wealth. This area is associated with the wood element. The southeast is also related to the sun, which works well for jade plants because they need plenty of sunlight. You can also place a jade plant in the southeastern part of an office or study to encourage success.
Jade plants can help cultivate not just financial wealth but also health. Put a jade plant in an eastern aspect of your home to do this. This region governs family and health, so adding a jade plant here can help bring good health luck to everyone you love.
Getting positive feng shui from jade plants isn’t just something for the home either. If you own a business, particularly a restaurant or a store, a jade plant could help the chi in your business property. A jade plant should either be placed at the entrance or right next to the cash register in these situations.
Don’t put a jade plant in the bathroom to avoid messing up your carefully cultivated feng shui. Otherwise, your positive chi could literally end up down the toilet.
The bedroom isn’t a recommended location for jade plants either. Plants produce yang energy, which is associated with activity and work. Too much yang energy can make your bedroom feel restless rather than relaxing.
You’ll also need to keep your jade plant healthy to get the maximum benefit for feng shui. If a plant becomes unhealthy when not properly cared for, that produces negative chi.
Jade Plant Care at Home
Thankfully, it’s easy to keep a jade plant healthy, allowing you to really cultivate that positive chi. Jade plants are incredibly hardy because they’re used to much harsher conditions than our cozy, sheltered homes and are rarely troubled by pests and diseases.
The most important thing to provide for jade plants is plenty of sunlight. These succulents require between four and six hours of sunbathing a day. The best practice is to put jade plants somewhere where they can get direct morning sun. However, the direct afternoon sun in the summer will be too much even for these heat-loving plants and can lead to yellowing jade plant leaves.
Jade plants also like to be on the dry side. As succulents, they’ll store all the water that they need in their fleshy leaves. As such, jade plants don’t need a lot of water. Check them once a week or so and give them a drink if the soil is almost completely dry. Overwatering a jade plant is the fastest way to make it unhealthy.
These plants are gradual growers – only getting a few inches taller each year, so you won’t need to repot your jade plant very often, and they only need occasional pruning. As such, jade plants don’t need to be fertilized religiously. A diluted dose of fertilizer applied to moist soil every six months is more than enough.
Because they don’t like too much water, jade plants need fast-draining soil. Mix some sand in with your potting mix, or use a specialized succulent growing medium. Jade plant soil also needs to be a bit acidic – about 6.0 on the pH scale is ideal.
Jade plants prefer warm temperatures somewhere between 55 and 75ºF (12 to 23ºC). In winter, never let their temperature fall below 50ºF (10ºC). Jade plants also like drier conditions, with 30% to 50% humidity levels.
Jade plants are also easy to propagate if you want to expand your collection.
Jade plants are extremely popular succulents with a wealth of meaning and symbolism. In Chinese feng shui, jade plants epitomize good fortune, success, and wealth or prosperity. This extends to health as well as money.
Jade plants are traditionally presented as good luck gifts for friends or new business ventures. They’re associated with prosperity at Chinese New Year and also represent friendship and renewal.
If you’re looking for your next jade plant, see our in-depth guide to the best plant shops delivering jade plants nationwide.
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.