House Plants/Jade Plant - Disturbed Roots
QUESTION: I've had my jade plant for two and a half months now. Three weeks ago, the pot tipped over while I was out and fell on its side (not a long fall, perhaps 6 inches). Most of the soil spilled out and some leaves got damaged. It was like that for perhaps an hour or two before I came back and noticed what happened.
I replanted it back in its old pot (3 inches wide and 2 inches tall), but in the process, the roots snapped clean off. I didn't know what to do, so I just proceeded and restabilized it as much as possible. I held off watering it for at least a week, but got worried after noticing the leaves starting to get limp and dropping off. For the past week, I've been watering it every two to three days (after checking that the first inch of soil is dry). The leaves still feel quite thin though.
My plant's next to a north facing window that gets lots of natural light all day (but not direct sun), and then there's indoor lighting when it gets dark outside. Before the accident, I was watering it weekly with about a tablespoon of water. It had really fat and fleshy leaves, and was getting this pretty red tinge on the edges.
I hope it's not too late to save it! Would appreciate any help or advice you have.
ANSWER: Hi there,
I don't understand how the roots snapped off. If all of the roots are gone, then you will have to treat the stems as if they are cuttings that you want to propagate. That is done by rooting the stems in plain water or in a small pot filled with damp potting mix. It is important to keep the potting mix just barely damp at all times so that new roots will grow. Warm temps and good sunlight will help promote root growth, but it will take time so you must be patient.
Plants get the water and nutrients they need through their roots. So when the roots have been damaged, the plant is deprived of water and the leaves will wilt somewhat. Jades can withstand drought better than most plants. So yours can survive until new roots gradually emerge.
The artificial light at night has no benefit for your plant, so keep it on your sunniest windowsill during the daylight hours. When the surface of the soil feels dry, add enough water so that some trickles through the drain holes. If the pot has no drain holes, then move your Jade to a similar sized pot that does have drain holes.
I have written detailed articles on propagation and on Jade care that I will email for free to you (or anyone else) who emails a request to me at wcreed@HorticulturalHelp.com. I have also written an indoor plant care book in a PDF format that I can sell you if you contact me at my email address.
Please let me know if any of this is unclear or if you have any additional questions.
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---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Thank you for the advice!
A few more questions:
I don't actually know what damp potting mix is, is it a special soil mix or just damp soil? How would I be able to tell if my jade started rooting again, and would I need to change the soil once it does?
Would it be more simple to root it in plain water since I'd be able to see when it starts to grow new roots. Would I need to stabilize it against anything?
ANSWER: Hi there,
There are many different kinds of potting mixes. For indoor use, it is best to use a potting mix that has no soil, but is composed primarily of peat moss, coir, sand and perlite. If you buy packaged potting mixes, read the ingredients list on the label carefully. Make sure there is no soil, humus, compost or bark added in.
For your Jade, I recommend mixing together 4 parts of plain peat moss and one part of perlite. Add just enough water to this mix to make it feel like a damp sponge.
When rooting plants, use a very small pot. The roots will develop out of sight and eventually fill the entire pot with roots. There is no need to change pots or take it out of this pot until the soil gets very dried out within 2 or 3 days after a thorough watering. At that point, it can be moved into a pot one size larger. NEVER change the soil. If the plant needs a bigger pot, then simply add soil but do not replace the soil.
Yes, you can root the cuttings in a small clear glass of water. If the glass is small, the sides of the glass will provide support. When there are many roots at least an inch long, then you can move it to a small pot filled with the same potting mix I described above.
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
Thanks for your advice so far, I've currently got my jade soaking in water, hope it's not too late for it.
About the peat moss and perlite mix, I came across some contradictory information that advised me NOT to use peat moss because of where I live (hot temperatures above 80 deg F, high humidity). Apparently, peat is "too wet when watered and too dry when dry". I've attached a link to this site, and it appears other succulent owners in my country agree with the assessment about peat.
Should I still go ahead and use peat for the potting mix?
[near the bottom, under b) Soil]
In the link you provided, the author acknowledges that professional nurseries and growers use peat-based potting mixes. Those are the very places who have a large financial stake in producing healthy plants. They experiment with all kinds of potting mixes and they are using peat-based mixes.
When perlite is mixed in with the peat, extended water retention will not be a problem. Likewise, it is only when the peat mixes are allowed to get completely dried out that they become hard and water resistant. When used properly, peat-based mixes are the best way to go, regardless of local temperatures. That said, peat mixes are not the ONLY way to go, so you decide for yourself.