Jade plants are resilient succulents that tolerate neglect, making them a favorite for beginners. But, let’s say you don’t get that much natural light in your home. Can a Jade plant grow without sunlight indoors?
As a whole, Jade plants do not tolerate low-light conditions. The plant requires 4 or more hours of direct sunlight but will also thrive with bright, indirect sunlight. It is best to supplement the plant with artificial lights such as LED grow lights if sunlight is not attainable indoors.
Below, I elaborate on the effects of inadequate lighting for Jade plants, along with helpful tips and alternative lighting for its best growth. If you’d like some low-light options, check out:
(As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.)
Table of contents
Can Jade Plants Grow in the Dark?
Jade plants are native to the arid and hilly areas of South Africa and Mozambique. Based on their origins, it’s no surprise that these succulents do best with plenty of sunlight at their disposal. Where possible, it’ll thrive in 4 or more hours of direct light, but it can also flourish in bright, indirect sunlight. In fact, if you notice red tinges on the leaves’ edges, that’s a sure sign the plant is receiving sufficient sunlight for its needs. Red is only bad if the plant is exhibiting leaf shriveling or other signs of damage.
Jade plants can, for short instances, tolerate low-light conditions but, not for long periods of time. If your jade plant is not getting enough light, it will start to stretch out and become leggy. This means the stems will grow longer and thinner to reach for more sunlight. Jade plants cannot grow in complete darkness, they still need light to perform photosynthesis.
Usually, the first signs of inadequate light are deep green foliage with no red tinges at the edges and a droopy stem. This doesn’t immediately mean your Jade plant is in trouble or sick; it’s just sulking, and you’ll need to give it more sunlight to keep it happy. But don’t plop it in direct sunlight immediately! Gradually ease the plant into a brighter spot every 2-3 days so it can get used to its new surroundings.
You can also try using grow lights if there’s no way to get more sunlight. They come in different shapes, sizes, and intensities, so you’ll need to research what will work best for your plant. I will talk more about this in the next section and I have a recommendation for a product too.
Do Jade plants thrive in low light?
As a general rule, Jade plants can survive in low-light conditions but won’t grow as much. Eventually, the stems will droop before stretching out to reach for more light. Where possible, place it near a curtained window with indirect sunlight. LED grow lights are generally better for creating a strong and fast growing plant but, if you are fine with a little slower growth, no problem.
How Much Light Do Jade Plants Need?
As mentioned in the introduction, Jade plants require 4 or more hours of direct sunlight indoors. But if you notice the leaves looking kind of scorched, just nudge it out of the sun’s glare and let it recover. It’s worth noting the damaged leaf won’t improve so you can just pull this off if you’d like.
But depending on your region’s weather patterns and type of home, this may not be feasible. For example, if you live in a small apartment with no windows or a lack of natural light, it’ll be pretty hard to fulfill your plant’s light needs as is. This is where supplemental lighting like grow lights comes in handy.
You can get various kinds on the market, but the most popular one is LED. It may be a bit pricy upfront, but it is generally a good investment in the long run. It’s pretty valuable for providing additional lighting to your houseplants or even starting seeds indoors. I personally use this product from Amazon for my seedlings and propagated cuttings, and it has been nothing but beneficial! For 4.6 stars with 3,549 ratings, it certainly holds up as a quality product.
When using grow lights, placing them about 12-24 inches from your Jade plant for about 12-14 hours is best. Remember to adjust the distance when the plant starts getting taller.
Where is the best place for a Jade plant indoors?
Brightly lit and low humidity areas such as the living room are the best places to put a Jade plant. The plant doesn’t appreciate high humidity, so places like the bathroom or the kitchen where water use is frequent are not great for Jade plants.
Can a Jade plant be an indoor plant?
Jade plants thrive well in indoor conditions where it’s dry and warm with low humidity levels. However, ensure that you place the plant in a sunny area to fulfill its light needs. A Jade plant is naturally slow-growing and can live several decades. As long as they also receive adequate water and bi-monthly fertilization, they will flourish indoors.
How Can I Keep My Jade Plant Healthy?
There’s no secret recipe to keeping a Jade plant healthy or any other plants for that matter. It’s all about nailing their basic care needs; if you got those basics down, you’re well on your way to success! Here are all the essential care you need to address for your Jade plant:
- Provide plenty of bright, indirect sunlight or 4+ hours of direct sun exposure. As mentioned previously, Jade plants with red tinges on the leaves are a good sign because it means your plant’s light needs are more than adequate.
- Plant in dry, well-draining soil like a cactus mix. Like all succulents, Jade plants prefer airy potting soil that doesn’t retain moisture for too long.
- Water the plant once a week after the soil has completely dried out. Jade plants store water in their fleshy leaves and stem, so there’s no need to keep the soil constantly moist. During winter, it’s usually best to just not water the plant. But check it once every 2 weeks using the knuckle test or a moisture meter. You’re far more likely to overwater the plant during this time than underwater it. I highly recommend getting this moisture meter tool I got from Amazon. It has helped me prevent accidentally un-aliving my plants ever since I got it! If you don’t believe me, you can see for yourself that it has 4.4 stars with 27,707 ratings!
- Fertilize every 2-4 months in spring and summer using an all-purpose fertilizer. The plants are generally slow-growing and may not always need fertilizing. But a little pick-me-up once in a while ensures your Jade plant gets a nutrient boost to help it grow better.
- Keep Jade plants in a warm room at 65-75°F during the day and 50-55°F at night. In winter, place the plant away from the windows to prevent leaf contact. They may be able to handle a bit of frost, but they will die in freezing temperatures and cold drafts.
- Avoid placing the plant in high-humidity areas like the bathroom. Indoor humidity levels are often sufficient for Jade plants to develop. They don’t like high humidity, so keep them away from your humidifier.
- Repot every 2-3 years in spring or summer when it’s generating new growth. It generally doesn’t mind being rootbound, but it may get topside heavy and eventually tip over. It also doesn’t need a large pot because of its shallow root system. So be sure to use just a slightly bigger pot than its previous one when repotting. Be sure to water even less frequently after repotting to ensure the plant settles into its new home first.
- Prune side stems annually in spring to encourage a thicker main trunk. It’s typically unnecessary to trim your Jade plant. Still, this little tip helps ensure the plant has a solid central stem to support the rest of the new foliage and branches that’ll grow. I personally maintain mine like a bonsai and trim it every couple of years to guide the plant’s growth and prevent its roots from getting too big for its perfect-looking pot.
- Propagate leaf cuttings in moist soil during the summer. The plant takes root quite easily, so you can make multiple mini versions with just one Jade plant! Just be sure to dry out the leaf cuttings first so that the open wound heals and doesn’t rot. You can find out how to do this type of propagation in this ultimate propagation guide.
- Do a weekly pest & disease check on the plant. Mealybugs tend to be their number one enemy for Jade plants in the pest department. I have a Passion fruit vine right next to my Jade plant and I assume the Mealybugs must like the Passion fruit vine so much that they never even bother with my Jade plant. As for diseases, the most common offenders are bacterial soft rot and powdery mildew. It’s usually too late to save the plant from bacterial rot, but powdery mildew can be quickly dealt with in no time. You can find out how to deal with houseplant pests & diseases in this plant pest & diseases article I wrote.
Frequently Asked Questions about Jade Plants
Weekly watering after the soil has dried out is an ideal schedule for Jade plants. These are succulents, so they don’t require much water. If you’re unsure whether your plant needs water, do the knuckle test or use a moisture meter.
Jade plants store water in their thick leaves and stems, so adding too much water can cause root and stem rot. But giving too little water may also damage the plant. Lack of water symptoms may include stunted growth, leaf drop, and spots on the foliage.
Jade plants should not be placed in bathrooms due to the high humidity levels. The plant prefers a dry environment to thrive in, mimicking the arid atmosphere of their native habitat in South Africa. Where possible, keep Jade plants away from humidifiers and areas where water is used frequently, like bathrooms and kitchens.
Plenty of sunlight, occasional fertilizing, and yearly repotting can help Jade plants grow faster. However, it’s important to note that the plant is typically slow-growing. Repotting can encourage more root development and overall growth.
Several weeks of dark, dry, and cool conditions at 55°F in the fall will trigger a Jade plant to form buds and eventually bloom. Water the plant regularly after this period to ensure the plant is well-hydrated. This will help your Jade plant produce small clusters of sweet-smelling flowers of white and pink. However, it’s worth noting that flowering is not common for the plant in indoor conditions.
A healthy Jade plant has strong, thick stems with an abundance of fleshy green leaves sometimes tinged with red. Don’t worry if the stems turn brown and woody or if older leaves at the bottom drop. This means the plant is naturally maturing as it develops new growth at the top.
Overall, Jade plants are not an exception to the no-sunlight rule. Like all plants, they require light to survive and grow well. Give it as much as you can, and your Jade plant will live for so long that it may just become a family heirloom. Happy planting!