Crassula ovata: Jade plant, Lucky plant

Family: Crassulaceae
Common name: Jade plant, Lucky plant, Money plant, Money tree, Lucky tree, Friendship plant, Silver dollar plant

Jade plants are considered lucky, and if you have a beautiful, thriving jade plant, you are indeed lucky, since they can make your garden very pretty. The name Crassula stands for ‘fat’, denoting the plant’s fat, succulent stems and leaves; and the name ovata means ‘egg-shaped’, since its leaves are egg-shaped.

Jade plants are capable of growing to a height of 2.5 meters, though most houseplants only grow to about 1-1.5 meters. There are over 300 species of plants in the Stonecrop or Orpine family of Crassulaceae, all of them characterized by succulent leaves and stems.

Jade plants also have fleshy, succulent stems that becomes light brown and woody when they mature. But this woody texture is only on the outer surface, while the inside stays succulent throughout its life time. The leaves are glossy, green, fleshy, arranged opposite to each other, and is about 3-7 cms long.

If the plants receives good sunlight, the leaves will be tinged with red, and this is good indicator of the plant’s health. Jade plants receiving low light will have yellowing leaves.

Though very rare, these plants can produce small, star-shaped white or pink flowers in winter when the days are shorter. These lightly scented flowers attract bees, insects and ants; that help pollinate them. Once pollinated, the flowers turn into small fruit capsules containing seeds. But most jade plants go through their entire lifetime without flowering even once.

Jade plants need good direct or indirect sunlight for 4-6 hours during the day. They make good indoor plants provided they are kept near sunny windows. Watering is key factor in growing succulents, as overwatering can cause root rot. Make sure that they are placed in well-drained, porous soil; and watered after the soil dries out completely. As with all succulent plants, it’s better to underwater Jade plants, than over water them, especially during winter and rainy season.

Since these plants need very little fertilization, water and maintenance; they are ideal for amateur gardeners. Jade plants are slow-growing and need repotting only if they fill a pot, or become too top-heavy for the existing pot, causing it to topple. They are ideal bonsai plants since the stem looks woody and aged, even when the plant is quite young.

There are some awesome variants like Bronze beauty with copper-colored leaves; Gollum with tubular leaves that look at like suction cups at the ends; Hobbit having dense, red-tinged, tubular leaves; Tricolour with white and pink streaked leaves; Variegata with bicolor leaves; California red tip with with purple-red tinged leaves.

Propagation is through seeds, leaves or stem cuttings; of which stem cuttings method is the most efficient one. Make sure the stem is allowed to dry out and get callused, before planting them in well-drained soil.