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bernardyjh

Help Needed: I think I killed my very first Jade Plant

9 years ago

Got this baby Jade "Gollum" a few weeks ago from home depot. Repotted straight into a gritty mix immediately when I got it home.


It was doing fairly well, as I was slowly introducing it into more sunlight. I only started watering a few days after I repot, and have only been watering sparingly - about twice a week. Until a few days ago, it started showing signs of under watering stress and wrinkles - that's when I started giving it more water daily for the past few days. I was hoping for the leaves to plump up more.


I'm at a crossroad now:

1) should I keep up with the new watering routine and wait till the plant grows past the stress?


2) should I uproot it and check the health of roots for signs of rot or infestation? The lower part of the stem does look a little brown; not sure if it's rot because they are dry when I touched it, it's only the leaves that are feeling soft and stressed.




Comments (38)

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Two things. First, maybe it's just hidden from view but I don't see any turface or floor-dry in your mix. If you're just using gravel and bark that's not going to hold enough water.

    Second, when you switch to gritty mix you have to water a lot more often until a new root system develops that can really extract all the stored water from the mix. At least once a day. The re-potting process destroys a lot of the little feeder roots that suck up the bulk of the water from the soil, and on top of that you switched to a mix that holds a lot less water. The point of the gritty mix is that watering often won't hurt the plant because you don't have perched water sitting at the bottom of the pot.

  • 9 years ago

    Andy is 100% correct; gritty mix must have Turface, DE, or some other moisture retentive ingredient. It is also true that you water after a repot with gritty mix right away, and more often. I don't know if that Jade will make it, because it's pretty parched, but you will need to water the mess out of it right away.


    Joe

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  • 9 years ago
    I'm 100% certain that the mix contains turface. See image from the top.

    I'm confused, some say do not water immediately after repot to give new roots some time to callous and heal to prevent rot and stress to the plant - only water (completely drenched) a week or more after.

    Some say water immediately to quench the mix. Not sure which one works best.

    So I'm ruling out rot, I've already watered it this morning. The pot is still cool, should I water it again, or do it again tomorrow?

    - Bernard
  • 9 years ago

    If it were me, I'd soak the pot in water for about 10 minutes or so and see how it does. I've had a few succulents dry out on me & soaking helped get mine back on the right track.

    I know it goes against popular opinion, but I've had good results with succulent mix amended with perlite 1:1. Those pots did better when soaked rather than watered from the top.

  • 9 years ago

    Why not just take it out of the pot and check the roots? That would be the first thing I would do.

    Christopher


  • 9 years ago

    Just needs a serious watering - full saturation. And then another saturation in 3 - 4 days.

    Josh

  • 9 years ago

    Christoper - what exactly should I be looking out for unrooting the plant? Root rot? The plant was fine when I repotted it into the gritty mix. Won't removing the roots further stress the plant? I mean I trid tugging the plant up, it's holding pretty firm into the mix.

    Hooki and josh - I haven't tried the complete submerged method yet, but I have been watering full force daily. Initially a couple of days, but the plant still seems parched. I'm going to try soaking the mix tomorrow in the day, at least it's less cool for the plant.

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Removing the plant from the mix will damage whatever fine feeder roots have grown to this point, setting it back even farther, so take that piece of advice at your own risk. In a possible rot scenario, that would be advised, but I wouldn't do it in this case.

    The whole topic of watering after a repot has more to do with soil type, because in a traditional bagged peat soil, the mix stays wet too long, increasing the chances of rot. However, in a fast draining gritty mix, you want to water immediately, because the mix won't stay waterlogged. Also, dry mix will pull whatever moisture the roots did have away, which is bad news. To make sure you wet the whole mix, plug the drain hole with your finger as you hold the pot, fill with water until the whole mix is wet, wait a minute, then drain. The bark tends to be hydrophobic, repelling water, so that may be the issue. I quit using bark for that reason.

    Joe

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Im just curious if you rinsed everything b4 you made your mixed? Did you soak the bark b4 hand? Soaking the bark b4 hand helps it from repelling the water. I rinse eveything b4 and when i put my mix together its damp and ready to go.

  • 9 years ago

    Joe/Josh - I gave it a good soak in the water this morning. I must say it felt disturbingly sensational to feel the sizzle, even after dunking it in for a 2nd time. Well I hope this will give what the roots need - moisture.

    LilBit - I had never pre-rinse my mix before, I've read that upon repotting, roots are vulnerable to rot and needs time to heal and adjust to the new pot/mix before they touch water.

    Bernard

  • 9 years ago

    It is obviously not pulling up water into the leaves. This could be from a lack of water for the roots to pull up, or lack of roots. Lack of roots could be from physical loss during the repot, or it could be from death of roots due to too much water. Unless I was sure which direction- too wet or too dry- I would do as Christopher suggests. Unpot and inspect. You would be looking for soft, mushy black roots. Succulents can handle drying and the stress of an extra potting much better than they can handle soggy, rotting roots. If there is rotting, cut it all away and repeat the drying/callusing process again before repotting.

  • 9 years ago

    when you repotted, did you break off/damage any of the roots? i almost always do (i'm kind of a klutz lol) so my plants tend to look like sh*t for various periods of time after repotting. if giving it a good, long soak doesn't help, you might want to just sit tight and give the roots a chance to re-grow?

  • 9 years ago
    K8 - here's a photo when I reported it. I'm pretty harsh when I clear old roots. But that was about a month ago, and I should assume the effects be immediate - within a few days to show signs. Underwatering might be a huge possibility as it's still a young plant.

    Breathnez - I'm going to give the plant some more time since I just tried to soak the mix and see how it fairs. If it proves futile, the last resort is probably to lift it up and inspect for rot..
  • 9 years ago

    I'm going to be a lone voice of dissent here and say that I have found that jades do better in soil. Not water retentive soil, but soil that won't dry out in 24 hours the way gritty mix can. I have mine in a mish mash of cactus mix and perlite, sometimes I throw on a granite top dressing that eventually just mixes in with the mess ... they do well. The leaves I've rooted in soil have sprouted some spectacular baby plants (clustered around the jade in the back of the photo below). The leaves I've tossed on the granite top dressing have produced much more compact and slow growing plants (on the left, clustered around the jade in the bright blue pot in the photo below). It's not a bad thing, but they clearly do better in soil that holds a bit more moisture than gritty mix.

    I'll also add that I don't think your plant is near death in any way. It's really dehydrated, but IMO, fine. It's a succulent. It could drop ALL of its leaves and STILL bounce back good as new. If you're going to keep it in the mix, I'd soak it for 10 minutes every few days as suggested above.



    This guy and the one in the square pot are currently under mealy-bug attack, we're working on it ... but they're hangin' in there, in two inch pots.


  • 9 years ago

    Dannie - Quite a lovely collection you've got there; love the deep maroon color on the tips.

    I really hope mine will bounce back soon..

  • 9 years ago

    Bernard the admonition about watering right after repotting is correct, but one day is sufficient for the roots to callous over.

    I think Dannie is right that it's just dehydrated and will come back with time.

    Dannie, with regard to regular soil vs. gritty...there isn't a "right" answer here. They're two solutions to the same problem and each has tradeoffs. I've been growing crassula in a soil mix for years and they're quite happy, but I do have issues with the soil getting packed after a few years. I'm trying out the gritty mix because the advantage I see is the stability and not having to repot as often.

    Also I suspect that in a small pot, 1:1:1 gritty mix may not have enough water retention for new plants. The nice thing is you can just change the proportions. I'm currently experimenting with two Echeveria agavoides cuttings, both with new roots, one in 1:1:1 gritty mix and the other in 100% DE (Floor Dry). I'll let them grow for a few weeks and see how the roots look. I suspect the right mix for succulents in small pots is somewhere in between 50% and 100% DE/Turface.

  • 9 years ago

    Dannie, have you ever used gritty mix before? For yours to dry out in 24 hours, are you sure you made it correctly? How long did you use gritty mix before you decided that it wasn't any good for your jades? I also notice that in the first picture, you've got a jade with yellowing leaves, a sign of soil with poor drainage. Did that occur while in the gritty mix, before you repotted it in soil?


    Joe



  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hi Andy, thanks for the clarification. I'll start watering my other new plants that I've repotted more often now. No wonder my plants all look thirsty, because I've been at a very stringent mood to water them.

    Thanks everyone for your input. I'll provide updates again.

  • 9 years ago

    I don't use gritty mix, it's just not a feasible option for me. I've been given plants in gritty mix, and they're doing fine. The larger plants fare better. My windowsill get an intense amount of sun, and the smaller pots are dry in 24 hours, no matter what the media in the pot. As Andy said above, I don't think there's a right way and a wrong way, just what's working best for you, which in my case is soil over grit.

    That sad jade with the yellow leaves? It's been in that pot for ... hmmm ... 5 years? Six? I'm kind of ashamed to admit it, but haven't been able to summon the motivation to tackle getting the absolute BRICK of old soil off of it. It was in that pot LONG before I started paying more attention to soil mix, so it's entirely possible that it's the remnants of a peaty MG nightmare. It's going to take a lot of soaking, and then there's the issue of the little gollum babies that are growing in the top granite dressing. There are two others down the hall in the same condition, poor things. :/

  • 9 years ago

    Bernard, what you are holding in your hand- is that how you replanted it? It looks like a lot of the old soil surrounding the roots.

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Breathnez, I'm holding onto a ball of rootbound roots holding onto the old soil. Rest assure, I cleaned the roots bare before I repotted it.

  • 9 years ago
    Thanks everyone for your all your help and input. I believe my gollum is rising from the ashes and plumping up after a couple of good soaks.

    I'm also seeing a few new bulbs and bums coming out from the sides, so I guess it's must be a good sign witnessing new growths.

    B
  • 9 years ago

    Hi Bernard, sorry I am a little late to this discussion. I have noticed sometimes my plants take a little while to bounce back from a soil to gritty repot. You need to really rely on what your plants are doing to tell you what they need from you. It is important to let any damaged roots from a repot heal before dousing them with water. It sounds like you did give them some rest, but if they get too much water and they aren't strong, it could lead to rot - even in gritty mix. I definitely already see improvements in yours already so I think you did the right thing. Just remember to be patient with it. It's okay to let it dry out a bit before soaking again. Once you are sure they are doing well by noticing new growth I would recommend adding fertilizer to your water; I use the Foliage Pro.

    I agree with Joe that if your gritty mix is drying up within 24 hours it may not be mixed correctly. I have mine outside in mostly full sun (depending on which plant it is) and have noticed even in clay pots of various sizes that are still wet at the bottom after a week. I have some of my succulents in the 1:1:1 gritty mix and some in a mix of turface, granite and perlite. The one with perlite dries out a bit faster than the one with bark.

    It doesn't sound like you do this, but just something to keep in mind, I would not recommend to water on a schedule - for example every Sunday. Water them when they need it! Some plants will require water at different times depending on when you potted them up, how much sun and ventilation they are getting, and how fast they are growing.

    I sift my ingredients but do not soak them before I use them for a variety of reasons and I haven't had any issues.

    Dannie - I like your T-Rex

    -Erica

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Erica, it's never too late for more feedback. I must say I'm still fairly new to taking care of plants in a gritty mix pot. I've also noticed that my terracotta pots definitely dry much much faster than my other pots. Now I've learnt when picking up the pot and if it is still feels moist, I know for sure it's good and I'll leave it alone. If it isn't, I'll further probe the mix with a stick for moisture.

    But I guess every time a new plant is repotted, I'm still learning how the plant adapts to a new pot with its roots. That's perhaps the key - to balance roots establishment and moisture - from plant to plant and pot to pot.

    I'm implementing a rule of thumb for re-potted plants to rest for 24 hours (As Andy suggested) before I water. Did you have any experience with plant roots rotting in the girtty mix before due to pre-maturing watering to raw roots?

    I don't soak my mix either, it gets messy and hard to repot.

  • 9 years ago

    I did lose some to all roots on a couple plants after repotting but this was largely due to me missing a major storm come in. Where I have my plants on the porch they usually do not get wet when it rains, but we had a really windy storm come in and my porch, plants included, got drenched. This was not even 24 hours after I watered most of them. Ordinarily when I do a repot I just skip watering that pot that week. It usually ends up being at least a week until it gets watered for the first time. I don't mind if they start to look dehydrated in the meantime because they always seem to bounce back better.

    I had my already weak Maruba Nishiki on my jade table and had just given it it's first water after potting. It got drenched that night and never recovered. I lost all the roots and the plant began to rot. I managed to get a couple cuttings and some leaves from it that I am trying to root now. Really hoping I don't lose the entire plant!

    -Erica

  • 9 years ago

    Erica, I'm sorry to hear about your mishap with the storm. At least you have saved some leaves and cuttings; which I'm sure will show signs of new growth soon!

    -B

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    It's kind of crazy how much this small guy which I thought I had killed from dehydration, is recovering in leaps and bounce. So happy to see the tips showcasing the plump shapes again. Thank you everyone for your advise!

    (PS ignore the white powder, I spread some diatomaceous earth powder after the clover mites scare last weekend)

    - B with Happy Gollums

  • 9 years ago

    Looks great! How often are you watering now?

    -Erica

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I started a weight log for all my plants that are in bigger pots, once it weighs below its dried measure point, I water. No more fixed schedule, the weighing does give me a more accurate indication. For the most parts, it's about every 2-3 days, to answer your question.

  • 9 years ago

    I have too many plants for that! I would be weighing and watering plants for hours. Sounds like a great idea if you only have several though and it seems to be working for you.

    -Erica

  • 9 years ago

    I'm definitely spending alot more time with my plants.

    I have quite a handful now, but I am focusing only on the few that needs more attention.

  • 8 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Hi Bernard,

    I hope I don't repeat something because I only got about halfway through this thread before I got sick of reading and decided to go ahead and post.

    #1. I don't know where the idea come from that calloused roots are good. Callouses can't absorb water. It's dry scar tissue that keeps in/out moisture, thereby protecting broken stems and so on. When a plant's roots are partially exposed by wildlife digging, etc., the exposed portion callouses to keep the plant from dehydrating, but that calloused portion will never absorb water again. We don't want roots to callous (except maybe Bonsai growers who like to expose some roots over a rock or something). Putting a root system into dry mix is never good for it. I challenge anyone to prove how dehydrating or callousing a root system can possibly be good for it. The previous poster who said the dry mix will dehydrate the plant is correct. Always use damp mix for re-potting a healthy root system. If the roots are dead, it might be a different story.

    #2. As you've already learned, it's easy to under-water gritty mix. Since it's pretty close to impossible to over-water grit, I'm with the posters who say to soak it deeply and often. If you're paranoid, soak it daily, or even twice daily, but then give the pot a quick, little down-up motion to dislodge any perched water. That way it'll always be just barely moist. If it were mine, and planted in grit, I'd just water every day or two until the roots are well-established.

    As one who has killed off whole, healthy root systems by under-watering grit (once weekly), I feel confident in telling you that you're extremely unlikely to drown a plant in grit. I'm watering my succulents daily right now, and some are STILL too dry.

    BTW, Danny, I think mentioned he prefers soil for jades. I don't disagree with him. The one I have in soil has grown much better than the ones I have in grit. Furthermore, the Aeonium I had in a 1:1 soil:pumice mix has a huge, beautiful, healthy root system. The big one in grit has puny roots. These aren't experiments with standardized variables, so something else might be going on, but for now, I'm also not certain that grit is always a better medium.

  • 8 years ago

    I agree with kwie in that grit is not the best mix for all. I also agree that I've underwatered quite a bit & stumbled upon the soaking of the pot in order to get enough moisture to the root systems. It was only after the leaves plumped up that I figured out where my mistake was.

    OP, glad you were able to figure out that rehydrating was all your little plant needed =)


  • 8 years ago

    kwie, a couple of comments on your post...

    #1. I think you're misunderstanding the intent, it's not to callous all the roots, just to let the tips of any broken or damaged roots callous before exposing them to water. Cactus and succulent roots aren't generally going to die from being dry for a day.

    #2. You should tune the ratio of ingredients in your gritty mix to your situation. 1:1:1 is a baseline but that doesn't mean you have to use it for everything. I haven't had any problem re-potting plants into 1:1:1 *if* they have an established root system, but I've been using 100% Floor Dry for plants with very few roots. If you're watering every day and you don't want to be, add more Turface or Floor Dry. Of course 1:1 soil:pumice works great too, as long as you repot frequently. There isn't a "right" answer here, these are just different paths to the same end goal.

  • 8 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Karin, thanks for your input. I'm most certain smaller plants/plants with little roots takes quite a while to establish itself in a gritty mix. I'm watering my plants a lot more now that whenever I see signs of thirsty leaves, I dunk the pot in water.

    I must say for sure though, that some of my plants (ie my jade) is having a hard time looking plump if I do not water them daily. However, some of my other plants thrive in the periods of dryness I had left them - I even had 2 plants that decided to bloom for me, and as a new grower, I had done something right somewhere down the road - soil mix included.

    Another observation, when I accidentally knocked down of my pots, I noticed my Sedum Buritto that I saved from my boss had BALLS of white root hairs, which startled and gave me a fright at first because when I plugged them in the girtty mix, they had close to no roots and are at the brink of dying.

    On and all, I believe. my plants in general are doing well with the girtty mix.

    Andy - I have yet to try 100% turface soil just yet, I've read good stuff about it though.

    My Gollum sends its regards! - 06.02.15

    - Bernard

  • 8 years ago

    Just an aside here, but since terra cotta/unglazed pots dry out so quickly, maybe potting your Gollum into a glazed pot, would cut back on the need to dunk it so often. Just a thought...

  • 8 years ago

    I think it's just a temporary thing because the root mass on that plant is small relative to plant's water requirements. The roots don't have access to enough of the mix to supply enough water for several days. As they grow and spread out they'll be able to suck in water from a larger portion of the mix and this will become less of an issue.

    I have plants in terra cotta pots that have been in gritty mix for nearly a month now, AND they're outside in dry and windy conditions, and I'm only watering them every few days. These plants had mature root systems when I repotted them so they're able to pull in a lot of water before it evaporates from the mix. Would they go longer with glazed or plastic pots? They might, but I'm also thinking ahead to winter time when I'm going to want them to dry out faster.

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