Why Your Jade Plant Has Wrinkled Leaves, and How to Perk It Up ASAP

Don't stress if your jade plant starts looking a little wrinkly or limp. Just follow these tips to restore it to health.

Jade plants are popular succulents, both as easy-care houseplants and also outdoors in regions where it never freezes. They grow much like small shrubs or trees, with thick stems and fleshy leaves sprouting from the branches. But sometimes you may notice your usually upright plant start to flop over, and its smooth, plump leaves may start looking wrinkled. What's going on? These are likely your jade plant's ways of showing you that it's either very dehydrated or extremely overwatered. Here's how to figure out which situation may be causing the problem, and how you can perk up your plant again.

jade plant in modern black planter on table
A healthy jade plant has firm, smooth leaves and upright stems. Marty Baldwin

Watering Jade Plants

Native to South Africa, jade plants growing wild there get big rains periodically, instead of some sprinkles every week. You need to recreate those natural conditions by watering thoroughly, then waiting until the top of the soil is dry before watering again. But you'll know you've waited too long between watering if you notice the leaves looking shriveled and the stems going limp. Give your plant a good soaking and it should soon return to normal.

Drainage and Overwatering

It's also possible that overwatering or poor soil drainage are the culprits when your jade plant starts to sulk. Either of these would cause the roots to rot to the point where they can't take up enough water for the leaves anymore. To find out if there is root rot, tip the plant on its side and slide it out of the pot. Rotten roots are mushy and brown.

If there are still some firm white roots, you can save the plant. Just gently pull or trim off the squishy roots and repot in a container ($14, Etsy) that has drainage holes in the bottom. Use a fast-draining soil mix such as the Espoma Organic Cactus Mix ($10, Ace Hardware.) If you use a saucer ($11, Etsy) under the pot, always empty it so the plant doesn't sit in a pool of water.

Jade plants are easy succulents to grow indoors because they thrive in the same temperatures and dry indoor air we enjoy. With periodic soakings, good drainage, and bright light, you can keep your jade plant growing for decades.

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