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Jade Plants-Crassula Ovata With Wrinkled Leaves

Jade plants (Crassula Ovata) make great house plants because they are very easy to take care of. They are also stunning plants, with thick stems and fleshy leaves that give them almost miniature tree-like appearance. But there’s one common problem with jade plants: sometimes the leaves can get wrinkled instead of staying plump.

The leaves of a jade plant can wrinkle if overwatered or underwatered. Problems of underwatering can be fixed by watering the plant more frequently but overwatered jade plants can have rotted roots. To fix this, remove the wet soil, cut off the most rotted part of the root, and replant it.

In this article, we will explore this topic in detail. We will start by exploring the symptoms, and the reasons behind the wrinkling of jade plant leaves in detail. We will then share some tips on how to properly plant and take care of a jade plant.

Why Do Jade Plants Wrinkle?

A jade plant will wrinkle for one of two reasons. Either the plant is underwatered, or surprisingly, it is overwatered.

Jade plants, for the most part, require very little care. They can either be grown indoors or outdoors, as long as the temperature doesn’t go below freezing. The thick fleshy leaves are actually where these plants store their reserve water. So when the plant is running low on water, one of the first signs it exhibits is a wrinkly leaf that in time flops over.

But by far, the more common reason most Jade plants wrinkle is that they are being overwatered.

Crassula ovata jade plant with yellowing shriveled leaves

Jade plants are native to South Africa. In their native habitat, these plants evolved to adapt to the local climate. This includes heavy rainfall for a short time, followed by a long spell of dryness. Hence these plants evolved to store water collected during this short period of rainfall in their leaves. This explains the plump, fleshy leaves of the jade plant.

When they’re planted outdoors in a climate that gets frequent rainfall, or when a novice on jade plants decides to grow them indoors and then proceeds to water these plants as frequently as you would any other, this can once again lead to wrinkly leaves.

Why Overwatering Leads to Wrinkly Jade Plants

Crassula ovata Jade plant with wrinkled leaves

Of course, this can be confusing to anyone who isn’t familiar with jade plants. It is intuitive to consider that underwatering these plants can lead to wrinkly leaves due to dehydration. But why exactly do the leaves wrinkle when the plant has all the water it needs?

Like we mentioned before, Jade plants are native to a climate where there is a short spell of heavy rainfall followed by a long spell of dryness. Thus these plants evolved to store the water they collected during the short spell of heavy rain in their leaves and use it to sustain itself through the long dry season.

If watered too often or too much, the soil underneath it will get waterlogged. This will slowly lead to the rotting of the roots that aren’t used to this frequency of exposure to water. At first, before they start to wrinkle, the leaves of your jade plant will show a couple more sequential symptoms. The first clear sign is when leaves start to turn yellow.

Of course, a few yellow leaves aren’t something to worry about. But if too many of these start to turn yellow, that’s when you should be concerned about your watering frequency. The leaves turn yellow because the roots, which may be rotting due to the soil being waterlogged, aren’t able to absorb the necessary nutrients as they normally would be able to.

Another sign is when the leaves turn soft. A normal healthy jade plant will have thick and firm leaves. But once the root starts to rot due to overwatering, this can lead the plant and its leaves to lose their normal healthy appearance.

How to Fix Jade Plant Wrinkles

Trimming jade plant's (Crassula ovata) roots that are rotting
Trimming jade plant’s rotting roots

The first thing you need to do to fix a jade plant with wrinkly leaves is to determine the reason behind the wrinkling. Is the plant overwatered? Is it under watered?

The best and quickest way to determine this is to check the soil and the roots. If the soil is moist and the roots appear to be rotting, then this is a clear sign that the culprit is overwatering. If the wrinkles and other symptoms seem severe, the quickest and best solution to the problem can be changing the waterlogged soil for a dry patch of soil. If you have a potted plant, this can mean changing the pot or the soil in it.

Another thing you should consider doing for overwatered plants is to cut off the roots’ most rotted section. You can do this while you are changing the plant’s soil.

If there are no symptoms of the roots rotting or the soil being waterlogged, then the culprit is underwatering. In this case, you can water the plant and the leaves should start plumping up and looking better after a few days. Remembering these plants’ natural habitat and the climate is crucial in order to take proper care of them.  

Proper Potting & Taking Care of Jade Plants

Jade Plant crassula ovata in succulent potting mix and perlite
Jade plant (Crassula Ovata) in succulent/cactus potting mix and perlite

Let us now briefly look into how we should pot and take care of a jade plant. Potting your plant properly is the first and perhaps the most crucial step in ensuring that the plant does well. If you take the first few necessary steps in taking care of these plants, you hopefully won’t have to worry about the leaves wrinkling and you having to revive them.

First, make sure that the pot has proper drainage. A pot that doesn’t drain well tends to trap a lot more water than is needed. So make sure the pot you are using has drainage holes in it. Sometimes the soil can form clogs and block these holes. 

To avoid this, try mixing some perlite or pumice in the soil you use. This will improve the drainage and aeration of the soil. Once you have planted the jade plant, you will have to wait at least a week before watering it for the first time, allowing enough time for the roots to settle.

In the long term, a mature jade plant does not typically need to be watered more than once every 2-3 weeks. Like we have discussed above, overwatering can be a much more serious problem than underwatering. When the leaves start to wrinkle and start to feel flat and shriveled, this is when you know it is asking to be watered. Once you’ve watered it, the leaves should turn plump again within 48 hours or so.

During spring & summer, which are the growing seasons for the jade plant, and also when the weather is warmer, you will need to water them more often (once every 2 weeks, or more during a heatwave). During the fall and winter, the plants go dormant and will require no more than 1-2 watering per month.

Final Thoughts

Jade plants are a great choice for an easy-care houseplant. Sometimes the leaves tend to wrinkle, and they are usually a sign of overwatering or underwatering. Overwatering is by far more serious than underwatering, and something that confuses new owners. In the wild, these plants are used to a short bout of heavy rainfall followed by a long period of dryness. This is why overwatering them can lead to problems.

You can avoid these problems by watering the plants at the right frequency. Observe your plant and see how it reacts to changes in your watering and adjust your frequency as needed.

Other care articles specific for Jade Plants

Jade Plants Wrinkled LeavesJade Plant Falling OverJade Plant Leaves Turning YellowJade Plant Branches/Leaves Shriveling/DroopingJade Plant Care, Propagation and Types

Jade plant (crassula ovata) with wrinkled leaves
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