Jade Plant, more correctly known as Crassula ovata, is a popular succulent, rich in symbolism, and is commonly grown as a houseplant. The plant takes its common name from the deep green of its rounded, somewhat waxy leaves. While it is relatively low maintenance and can thrive in a wide variety of indoor conditions, it does face some pest and disease issues. Find out what potentially threatens your Jade Plant’s health and how to protect it with proper care.
- Common Jade Plant Pests & Diseases – The Essentials
- The Most Common Jade Plant Pests and Diseases (& How to Identify Them)
- Pesticide and Insecticide Options/Solutions
- How to Use Pesticides & Insecticides for Jade Plants
- Managing Pests & Diseases
- Wrapping Up
Common Jade Plant Pests & Diseases – The Essentials
Jade Plants are attacked by aphids, mealybugs, scale insects, and spider mites. These are all treated with insecticidal soaps, Neem oil, or hand removal. Keeping the Jade Plant healthy and happy is the best way to keep insects and diseases away in the first place.
The Most Common Jade Plant Pests and Diseases (& How to Identify Them)
Many insects target a range of Jade Plant types, but thankfully only a few diseases cause problems for these houseplants. It takes a keen eye and patience to determine which tiny pest is damaging your plant.
Bright white and almost fluffy-looking mealybugs are tiny pests that can cause a lot of damage. First, they directly damage Jade Plants by biting into the leaves and sucking out the sap. Second, they leave behind sugary droppings known as honeydew that attract other insects or encourage disease.
They like to congregate around the bases where leaf stems meet the main stem as well. Minor infestations can be treated naturally, but pesticides safe for Jade Plants will be needed for severe infestations.
While these insects look similar in size and color to mealybugs, they’re a different species and are found only on the roots of Jade Plants. They’ll extensively damage the root system if allowed to spread. Usually, a wilting or dying plant is the first sign of trouble, by which time the infestation is too extensive to treat. There’s no known way to reliably eliminate these pests with pesticides, so it’s best to discard a plant that’s infested and look for signs of damage in surrounding pots.
Spider mites aren’t a common problem on Jade Plants, but they can move over from a more readily infested plant in the nursery or at your home. As the name suggests, these tiny mites make spider-like webbing on the stems and undersides of plant leaves.
The mites themselves are so small they’re hard to see as they suck sap from the leaves, causing them to turn yellow or brown. The plants may develop darkened and sunken spots or lose vigor as well. They’re easily treated with natural and chemical options if caught early.
You may notice a raised brown or black spot on a leaf that seems to move every once in a while. It’s not mechanical damage; it’s an insect known as a scale. While these insects aren’t too quick to overtake a succulent like a Jade Plant, they can still do damage over time by sucking the sap and introducing bacteria.
Scales aren’t the most damaging insects that can infest a plant. However, they’re so easy to overlook that they often cause damage for weeks before being noticed. They’re resistant to most pesticides due to their hard outer shell, so they’re best removed by hand weekly.
Tiny and green in most cases, aphids are hard to spot until they start leaving sunken spots in the leaves. They’re the least common insect pest threatening Jade Plants, but they can still do a lot of damage if they move in.
As with mealybugs, aphids tend to leave behind honeydew that encourages disease growth and attracts ants. In fact, ants visiting your Jade Plant are a sign that either aphids or mealybugs have moved in. Treat aphids by regularly cleaning with an oil or soap product or using a pesticide on an intensive infestation.
Sooty mold is a disease that only comes along with an aphid or mealybug infestation. This gray to black mold grows on the sugary waste deposits from these insects. As the name suggests, this disease looks like literal soot and wipes off the leaf with some effort.
Treat the pest infestation causing it and wipe the plant’s leaves a few days in a row, and it should disappear.
Bacterial Soft Rot
Jade Plant leaves that suddenly go soft and appear brown or rotten are likely affected by bacterial soft rot. Caused by a common bacteria, the best protection against this problem is good cultivation to keep the plant healthy and resistant.
Jade Plants may develop an unpleasant odor if this disease sets in. If you notice rot around the stem, especially at the soil level, replace the potting mix and cut off all affected material to try and save the plant.
The most common fungal infection to hit Jade Plants, powdery mildew starts as a white powdery film on a few leaves. It will spread to a thick layer of white dust along with sunken, withered leaves and stems.
This issue is caused by overwatering and humid air, so dry the plant out and give it a little extra air circulation to help deal with humidity. Use an anti-fungal spray to fight the mildew and prune damaged leaves on your jade plant since they won’t recover.
Pesticide and Insecticide Options/Solutions
Treating existing insect infestations requires more than just a wait-and-see approach. Removing any insects you see is the first step, but it will only deal with the lightest infestations. For more aggressive treatment without risking the Jade Plant, try these recommendations.
Rubbing oil on the leaves can kill off small insects like aphids and mealybugs by smothering them. Products with Neem oil are recommended if you have an active pest infestation. This oil derived from tree bark helps protect plants from a wide range of insects, but over-application can damage the leaves.
Try plain canola oil for a homemade treatment for minor infestations or suspected ones. This treatment also works on powdery mildew and other fungal diseases causing dead spots on the leaves. Oil helps stop the spores from spreading across the plant, killing off the infection as long as you improve the overall conditions.
Cleaning the Jade Plant with insecticidal soap takes repeated performances, but it’s a gentle and reliable way to kill pests. Specially made soaps are likely to do less damage and kill more pests.
If there’s no time to wait for specialty products, mix a few drops of dish soap into warm water to apply to the leaves for a homemade alternative. These soaps can also help with powdery mildew and sooty mold diseases.
For everything from removing stubborn scale insects to wiping sooty mold off the leaves, 50% rubbing alcohol is a great choice. It won’t hurt the sensitive Jade Plant but will work on practically any pest attacking the plant and most diseases.
Pesticides and Insecticides
Few non-organic products are safe for Jade Plants. Cinnamate-based sprays and soil drenches are an excellent option for infestations that resist other methods. This is a natural product that works nearly as well as stronger chemical options without requiring you to mix up anything on your own. It also won’t damage the Jade Plant as long as it’s applied as suggested.
Sticky traps placed around the base of the plant can stop aphids and spider mites in particular. However, they won’t be enough to treat infestations already in progress. Use them for prevention only. Keeping the soil dry at the surface between waterings is a better way to prevent these issues.
For more, see our in-depth guide to the best soil mix for Jade plants.
How to Use Pesticides & Insecticides for Jade Plants
Many general pesticides and insecticides are unsafe for Jade Plants, so only use products that list them as compatible. Even treatments safe for other succulents may cause damage to this specific group of plants. Apply at the recommended dilution or lighter only since this plant is susceptible to dosing.
Also – it’s worth noting that Jade plants are considered mildly toxic to pets and humans so it’s best to wear gloves during the process.
Managing Pests & Diseases
A healthy Jade Plant kept in the recommended conditions will best resist both pests and diseases. Like most succulents, Jade plants need full sun and direct light all year round. They often thrive best when positioned in a southeastern corner of the home.
They don’t need a lot of heat, preferring temperatures around 75 to as low as 55 F in the winter. It’s also worth repotting a jade plant with fresh, nutrient-rich soil every 18 months to 2 years.
Jade Plants that seem soft or discolored likely need less watering and more sunlight. Jade Plants should be dark green with firm leaves and stems.
Jade Plants are some of the easiest succulents to take care of and make rewarding house plants. Don’t let diseases or pests cut your plant’s life short when a little observation and care can make a big difference. Some diseases aren’t treatable, so try propagating your Jade Plant while it’s healthy just in case you end up losing a plant eventually to a serious disease or pests.
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.