Creating a wildlife haven one plant at a time

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Blooming on Neglect

Many years ago I was introduced to the world of succulents by my husband. When I first meet him he had an amazing collection of succulents and despite all our moves through the years (U.S. and abroad) it has continued to grow. When we purchased our first house together we bought two jade plants (aka the luck plant or money tree). These beautiful plants are still with us today and I would say we have had our share of luck over the years so, they have been a good investment.

A few weeks ago my jade started to bloom for only the second time since we've had them! They have adorable tiny starry white flowers.


Since jade are not really known for their blooms I never really thought twice about getting them to bloom. On both occasions it just "happened". This time around my interest was peaked and I decided to do some research into when jade bloom and this is what I discovered. Blooms are triggered by long nights in autumn and a sharp contrast between day and night temperatures. Well, this year I left my jade outside longer than I usually do. I stuck them in the garage about a month ago when we had an early hard frost. Things got busy and they stayed in the garage where it was dark and cool. Unintentionally these where the ideal conditions to trigger them to bloom. So voilĂ , I have blooms!


This has to be one of the easiest house plants ever. They practically thrive on neglect. Over watering will cause it to loose its leaves and the stems will rot (I've learned this the hard way) so I usually keep a 10-20 day watering cycle in the summer and up to a month dry in winter. They can tolerate full sun but mine do best in light shade. During the warmer months I keep mine on the covered back deck where they get bright filtered light.

My 10 year old jade (Crassula ovata)

The rich green leaves grow in opposing pairs along branches. If they need to be pruned it is best to do it in spring before the growing season begins by cutting back to lateral branches. Calluses will form over new cuts. My husband usually does this (he is the "expert") and typically he will only prune to keep the top from getting too heavy and topple over. We like the more natural, random look of how the plant grows than trying to prune for certain shape so it doesn't get pruned often. What is great about this plant is that you can easily start a new plant from stem cuttings. And, they make great gifts!


One year this plant got a natural pruning of sorts. It was out on the back deck when some squirrels decided it would make a tasty snack. They nibbled off several branches and ate them. I wouldn't have believed it; however, I witnessed them gnawing on it and running off with a large limb. These were a bunch of crazy squirrels to say the least because they also chewed through the gas line on the outdoor grill.

A relative of the jade plant are Kalanchoes. They are both members of the Crassulaceae family. They also have thick, attractive leaves that are succulent in nature. Their vibrant blooms can vary tremendously. I have two of these plants each with very different blooms.


 
Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana)

These beautiful succulents are brightening up my house with their lovely blooms. It is amazing what a few blooming plants in the house can do to raise the spirits during the doldrums of the winter months. They are helping me get through the unseasonably cold, freezing temperatures we are having in Northeast Georgia right now.

8 comments:

  1. So very true. I have many succulents indoors and the Kalanchoe are miracle plants, I say. I work so much and my Christmas cactus and Kalanchoe bloom even that they are often forgotten. My aloe and orchids suffer the same fate too. Lucky these plants have adapted to our neglect, yet they still reward us irregardless.

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  2. Those are certainly pretty blooms. I must say that I really like the look of your jade, even without the flowers.

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  3. My greatgrandmother, who lived in northern California, had a massive jade plant that was passed down through the family. It's canopy was probably about six feet in diameter the last time I saw it. It was over 50 years old! Great post! :o)

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  4. I have a huge old jade plant with a trunk the size of a small tree. It seems to thrive on neglect. In the winter I water it every 2 months when I change my Britta filter and in the summer it's outside and relies on nature. Pieces of it drop off and root in the sides of the pot and I give them away. Thanks for sharing your flowers and your research. Mine has only flowered once. Carolyn

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  5. Good to know about the stem cuttings -- starting new plants. I was given a jade plant as a gift, and half of it rotted at ground level. Apparently I was watering too much. I might need to neglect mine a little bit more, it seems!!

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  6. I don't think I've ever seen a Jade Plant in bloom before ... what a beautiful sight! How lucky you are to see it twice. I've only just recently been given a slip of a Jade plant and it's started to take off ... I just love the structure and form of it.

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  7. I loved reading this posting. I'm a succulent nut too, but have to say that I mostly took jade plants for granted until I attended an auction in Virginia and one sold for over a hundred dollars.

    I have an 80 year old jade hedge, an actual hedge, outside the front of my home. It is about 20' long and it is in full bloom right now and ALIVE with the comings and goings of bumblebees, syrphid flies, and honeybees. I love it.

    Sending joy across the miles,

    Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

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  8. I have a jade plant that persists despite the neglect that I inflict upon it. You have to admire such a perfect little trooper! I must say that I had no idea that jade plants flowered. I will keep your pointers in mind to see if I can coax some flowers. Have a great Christmas holiday!

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"Don't wait for someone to bring you flowers. Plant your own garden and decorate your soul"

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