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Jade Plant Turning Red: Causes and Solutions (Photos)

Jade plants are popular because they are not only easy and low-maintenance plants, but they are also hardy and resilient which make them a great addition to any home or garden. Did you know that in some cultures jade plants are actually a symbol of good luck? It is believed to be auspicious to have them in the house, office or business, which adds to their popularity and make them excellent gifts for housewarming, etc.

Due to their thick, luscious and green leaves, they are a symbol of wealth and prosperity. However, noticing some or many of the leaves turning red can raise a few concerns. Thankfully, there are various reasons for this change in color, and none of them are really a cause for concern.

Let’s take a look at some of the potential causes for jade plant leaves turning red and some possible solutions to help reverse the process. Or perhaps you’ve been wondering how to turn your green jade into a reddish tint, then read on to find out how.

Our jade plant turning red, this is on the ground and gets mid-morning and hot afternoon sun.
Our jade plant turning red, this is on the ground and gets mid-morning and hot afternoon sun.

Causes of Red Coloring in Jade Plants

Sun Exposure

From my experience, one of the primary reasons for red coloring in jade plants is sun exposure. While it’s true that jade plants require plenty of sunlight to thrive and produce vibrant, green leaves, when exposed to excessive direct sunlight, the leaves can turn red or develop red edges. This is a natural response to protect themselves from harsh rays. We can say that this is in response to a stressor in the environment, the stressor being direct sunlight.

Is this bad for the plant? I personally don’t think so. Every year my Jade plant changes color due to sun exposure. And they revert back to green once they are placed in the shade or when the weather cools down. So if you have your jade plant in direct sunlight, especially direct afternoon sun when the sun’s rays are stronger, you might want to move it to a shady location or introduce a shade to block the sun.

On the other hand, if you notice that your jade plant is looking as green as ever, and you’re looking for some variety in your plant’s coloring, then move it to a sunnier location and watch what happens to the leaves’ color. Just as a precaution, you don’t want to expose it to sudden extreme heat or direct sunlight or your plant will surely burn.

You may want to gradually increase the sun exposure to avoid shocking the plant too much. But the general rule is, the more sun exposure, the more red or changes in color you will see in the leaves.

Our jade plant turning red, this is hanging on a railing and gets mid-morning and some hot afternoon sun.
Our jade plant turning red– this is hanging on a railing and gets mid-morning and some hot afternoon sun.

Temperature Fluctuations

Another factor that can cause jade plants to turn red is temperature fluctuations. I have noticed that my jade plants turn red during really hot summer months, or really cold winter months. I live in Northern California where we experience really hot and dry summers, but also very cold, even below freezing winters.

These plants can be quite sensitive to extreme temperature conditions, and turn red in response to the heat as well as the cold. Just like with extreme sunlight, the red coloring signifies stress due to changes in weather conditions.

If you want to prevent this from happening, provide shade during the summer months and protect your jade plant from drops in temperature during the cold winter months. Some people choose to bring their plants in during winter or cover their plants with a protective cloth.

On the other hand, if you are looking to spice up your green jade and wish to turn it red, then exposing the plant to heat and cold temperatures can do the trick. Sometimes just moving the plant outside or near a sunny window can do the trick.

Nutrient Imbalance

At times, I have observed that a nutrient imbalance could also lead to red coloring in jade plants. Although fertilizers are not necessary, Jade plants do appreciate a well-balanced fertilizer to promote optimum growth. A lack of certain nutrients, such as phosphorus or potassium, can cause leaves to turn red.

When leaves turn red due to lack of nutrients, they may also appear misshapen and not fully formed. If you notice your jade plant looking sad, misshapen, and discoloring, you can apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer according to the package instructions.

Our jade plant turning red, this is hanging on a railing and gets a lot of mid-morning and hot afternoon sun.
Our jade plant turning red. This plant gets plenty of mid-morning and hot afternoon sun.

Insufficient Water

Lastly, insufficient water may sometimes cause the leaves of a jade plant to turn red. Jade plants are succulents, which means they can store water in their leaves. When watered very sparingly, the plant may develop red leaves as a sign of stress.

I know I am guilty of this because I often forego watering my succulents until I really have to. I leave most of my jade plants, especially the ones in big pots, outdoors. With plenty of sun exposure, extreme weather conditions from hot to cold, and very little water, my jade plants all turn a beautiful shade of red.

If you want to avoid this from happening, set a watering schedule for your jade plants or water them more often and notice the leaves turn plumper and greener. Make sure to water your jade plant thoroughly whenever the soil is dry to the touch, taking care not to overwater to prevent root rot.

However, if you want to experiment with your plant a bit and see it change color from green to red, avoid pampering your plant too much. Expose it to the elements with more sun, heat or cold, provide as little water as possible, and notice your jade turn a beautiful shade of red.

Caring for a Red Jade Plant

Assessing the Situation

Years ago, when I first noticed that my Jade plant was turning red, I didn’t know what was happening to my plant. But I did notice that the plant would revert back to green and turn red again, kind of like an ongoing cycle. After learning more about this and reading up on it, I just expect it to happen every year and expect it as the norm.

This is a Gollum jade plant which also turns red when exposed to direct sunlight, heat and cold.

Related Article: About Crassula Ovata Gollum Jade Care and Propagation

To summarize, factors that might be causing your Jade plant to turn red include:

  • Extreme sun exposure or direct sunlight
  • Temperature fluctuations (i.e. summer heat and/or winter cold)
  • Insufficient watering or very dry conditions
  • Possible nutrient deficiencies
This jade I briefly put behind a big jade plant, and immediately the baby leaves shows up as green and stays green.
I placed this Crosby jade behind a big jade plant and the baby leaves immediately turned from red to green and has stayed green while remaining in the shade.

Related article: Crassula Ovata Crosby Dwarf Jade care and propagation

Implementing Solutions

Now that you have determined the cause of the red coloration, you can take the appropriate steps to address the issue and help your jade plant regain its healthy green color. However, if you’re like me and actually like the change in color, your don’t need to do anything and just enjoy the beauty of its many attributes.

If you think your Jade plant is struggling and needs help, you can implement the strategies listed below (one at a time), and observe your jade leaves to see which one helps to turn it green.

Jade leaves with yellowish and reddish hue.

For excessive sunlight or temperature fluctuations:

  • Move your Jade plant to a location with bright but indirect sunlight, or provide it with shade during the hottest hours of the day. Jade plants prefer temperatures between 65-75°F (18-24°C) during the day and 55-60°F (13-16°C) at night.
  • Or move your jade plant inside the house for a week or 2 to see if the red leaves dissipate.
  • Keep the jade plant inside during really hot and/or really cold temperatures

For insufficient watering or over-watering:

  • The way I determine if my Jade plant needs water or not is to pinch a few leaves. If they feel soft, I water them. If they feel plump and full, I don’t have to water them.
  • While under watering or over-watering might be one of your concerns, I feel the type of soil is actually more of a problem than under watering or over-watering. You want to make sure you have fast draining soil for your Jade plant. I believe the number one jade plant killer is the soil the retains moisture for a long time.
Nutrient deficient jades makes them more yellow than red, this one we haven't fertilized for a while it has lots of yellow leaves.
Nutrient deficient jades makes them more yellow than red, this one we haven’t fertilized for a while it has lots of yellow leaves.

Related article: Jade plant turning yellow

For nutrient deficiencies:

  • Some people supplement their Jade plant with a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted to half strength, and apply them once every 3 months during the growing season. They avoid fertilizing during the dormant period.
  • For me, I use slow release fertilizer like Osmocote (check this in our resource page) and water it based on my suggestion above.

By implementing these solutions, you can help your Jade plant turn it’s leaves back to a vibrant green color.

Is it bad if my Jade plant leaves turn red?

I think we’ve already answered this question more than once in this article. However, I think it’s necessary to address it again because we get questions about this over and over again.

The question is, as the owner, do you like them red or not? Your preference as the plant’s caregiver will determine your course of action.

Leaves turning red for a Jade is probably as natural as growing a leaf, it’s part of their nature. I don’t think it’s a problem at all and I personally love the way they look either way, green, red or in-between. As I mentioned, I have a lot of my jade plants that turn red and back to green every year. And they continue to thrive year after year.

The main thing you need to make sure is to have fast draining soil and adequate drainage for your pot. Once that is ensured your Jade plant will most likely thrive for many years to come. The rest of the problems your jade might encounter will just be minor annoyances. These are hardy and highly adaptable plants, which is why they are loved by many so just enjoy them.

Happy Gardening!

Here’s more photos of our Jade plants with leaves turning red or edges turning red!

Jade with very reddish leaves
Jade leaves turning red edges
Big Jade leaves turning red edges and shows the smaller jade in the background also with red leaves.

Credit Photos: We are proud to say that all these photos are our own. If you use the photos on this page please be sure to link back to this page. Thank you!