Jade Plant Root Rot | Signs, Causes, and How to Save your Plant

Of late, indoor plants have been all the hype. Be it them adding character to your house, or helping the home be a healthier place, plants do a lot for us without even realizing it. One such plant is the Jade. 

This succulent is a fantastic mood booster and bearer of good luck for the homeowners. But is the work done once you have gotten yourself a bonsai? We need to know what are the problems it might face, especially about the roots of the tiny plant. These delicate beauties need care and attention which can’t be summed up in 4 sentences. 

Here is everything you need to know about them.

What do we know about the Jade Plant?

The jade plant is known to be a popular succulent houseplant with fleshy, oval-shaped leaves and thick, woody stems that resemble tiny tree trunks. With just a bit of care, it can grow to be between 3 and 6 feet tall, but it does so slowly, growing about 2 inches a year.

This tiny green leafy beauty, with its round leaves and smooth unique texture, is known to bring luck and symbolizes growth, prosperity, wealth, and positive energy. Also if you are having a little tiff with your friends, the Jade Plant might help in the flourishing of your friendship. 

You do not need to be lucky to know how to properly care for a healthy jade plant because it is fairly easy.

jade plant care

What are the signs of root rot?

Jade plants are known to be tough and resilient to a certain extent. But like most succulents, they are often ignored and this ends up causing a lot of damage to your little beauty. One of the most common problems of ignorance or too much care is root rot. But what causes root rot in jade plants?

When affected by root rot, the plant ends up displaying signs to tell you what they are experiencing. Usually, when the signs start showing, it means they are affected and have been suffering for a long time. 

Though some of these signs are common to that a lot of other problems, understanding them will help you check for potential problems and might help you save your root in time.

Brown and mushy roots

Root rot, as the name suggests, ruins the roots of a plant. Unfortunately, the speed at which root rot affects your jade plant is so fast that you may lose your plant even before you know they are suffering. So, you must act in the right manner.

Healthy roots are firm, strong, and white, whereas when the plant is sick, they get mushy, weak, and brown. Contaminated soil might be the reason for root rot.

The roots become very weak, so even when they are tugged on softly, the roots break down quickly. Therefore, you need to check the roots either by digging deeper or taking out the plant from the pot it is residing in.

Foul odor from the roots

Plants usually have a pleasant smell to them, even emitting from the soil, so it is easy to spot this one. If you have a strange and foul smell originating from your jade plant, the chances are that the roots are decaying, probably due to root rot.

It is better that you pay attention to this because this sign generally shows up at the initial stage of root rot. At this point, the leaves and stems are not affected yet, and if you rescue your green friend immediately, your jade plant has a higher chance of survival.

Pale and Yellow leaves

Although yellow leaves are common symptoms of a lot of problems your plant might be facing, it is mostly the sign of you overwatering your plant. Yellow and pale leaves without a doubt indicate your plant may have a problem. As overwatering ends up clogging your soil, it might lead to root rot in your jade.

Healthy green leaves are the face of a healthy plant, and when they look like they are in bad shape, the chances are the roots and soil are unhappy. 

And even though jade plants are succulents and store water for future use, they do not respond nicely to overwatering; hence root rot might not be too far.

Stagnant growth

Jade plants are resilient, and your plant doesn’t get affected by many common problems. If you feel something is wrong with your green friend, the reason could be overwatering, poor drainage, or root rot. All of these tend to affect the growth of your plant.

Since a lot of common issues do not easily stress them, you need to take prompt actions if you cannot find significant growth or no growth in your jade, especially in the growth phase. The first thing to do here is to get the roots and soil of your plant examined.

Wilted leaves

Leaves of jade plants are generally thick and fleshy and have vibrant shades of greens to their leaves and when they do not get water and nutrients for a long time, they start wilting.

For the leaves to maintain their integrity, they need to have a good supply of water and nutrients to them. If this isn’t in place, the plant will start losing its leaves.

If you are in such a situation, check the roots and your watering schedule, as it is the most prevalent cause of wilted leaves in jade plants. In addition to this, if your jade plants are suffering from root rot for some time, they are likely to start losing their leaves.

Thin canopy

Jade plants, most varieties of them, have strong stems with thick foliage. So when they start developing a thin, odd-looking canopy, the chances are that the root rot has affected your plant beyond recovery. 

Although don’t jump to conclusions by just the looks of it and have your plant tested anyway.

We know that plants have roots that reside in the soil from where they get all their nutrient requirements. When your plant is suffering from root rot, it is natural that your plant will not have enough nutrition to it and this will end up harming the foliage of your green beauty.

Black spots

When your plant is in the traps of root rot, there is a very high chance that your plant starts showing up black spots across the foliage. The decay due to the root rot spreads and ends up giving rise to pathogens and bacteria in the root. 

When the infection starts to spread, it ends up showing on the leaves of your jade, hence leading to the black spots.

If your plant is demonstrating any of these symptoms then you need to do a quick root ball inspection. This although may or may not be a definitive test of whether it is root rot that is causing the symptoms or not.

Go on and tap the plant out of its pot and examine the root ball thoroughly. Healthy jade roots tend to be firm and white. 

Rotting roots, as was mentioned before, become brown and have a slimy coating to them which is a definite sign that root rot is the culprit behind your plant’s unhappy demeanor. Very often, as you tip the plant from its pot you will get a hint of a damp, swampy smell.

What are the causes of root rot?

We have seen multiple symptoms that show that your plant is having root rot but there are also multiple causes of your plant developing one. All these causes have different ways to be dealt with and hence you must know what is causing your plant to die and troubleshoot it in the very beginning. 

There are several reasons you’ll fall victim to jade plant root rot and the following article has outlined the leading causes below.


This far in the article, it must be common knowledge that overwatering is one of the most common causes leading to root rot in your plant. 

With the best of intentions and some serious lack of knowledge, some gardeners water their plants excessively under the assumption that more water will provide a healthier and faster-growing plant. They work on the premise that the plants can store this water and will not be thirsty.

When your jade plant’s roots become waterlogged, they stop working in proper capacity. They are unable to supply the body of the plants with the nutrients they need or carry oxygen around the plant, and the rotting soon starts to harm your pretty leafy friend. 

What happens, in this case, is that the plant is both suffocating and starving because the roots are no longer able to adequately perform their function due to the excess water in the soil.

How to Resolve the issue?

You can start by allowing your jade plant to dry out completely between each watering. You can test this by feeling whether the surface of the soil is dry or not, but another thing you need to ensure that the soil below the surface is not still damp. This can be checked with ease using the finger test. 

To conduct the finger test, put your finger into the potting soil to a depth of one or two inches. Only when the soil is dry to your knuckle-deep finger, is it time to water your plant.

Soak the soil thoroughly by pouring water onto the surface. Post this, allow this water to drain through the soil completely, and then do not water again until the soil is dry again. 

This doesn’t mean you make a watering schedule for your plant. To assess your plants’ watering needs, you will need to regularly use the touch method I have just mentioned. 

It is this habit of regular testing the dampness of the soil that will ensure that your plant is receiving the right amount of water, at the right time.

And as was mentioned, allow frequent use of the touch method to determine when you should water, rather than making a rigid schedule, no matter how much that tempts the micromanager in you.

This is because the evaporation rates of plants will vary in response to the ambient temperature, the size of your plant, and the central heating system in the home.

As trustworthy as the schedule sounds to you, it is that methodical probing of the soil with your finger that will lead to the most accurate water supply for your jade. It should be noted that when a Jade Plant lacks water and becomes too dry, the leaves tend to shrink and wrinkle before dropping off. This is very similar to the signs of overwatering.

The difference between that and overwatered leaves is that they become soft and mushy first. The other sign that will make the difference obvious will be the dryness/clogging of the soil. 

Overwatering is almost always accompanied by soggy soil so make sure that you take care of that so that your plant’s roots don’t decay.

Poor Drainage

Waterlogging of your Jade Plant may not be simply because you have become a little overgenerous with your watering. It has more to it than just a careless gardener watering without purpose. 

This has a lot to do with the soil mix that is being used. The potting soil your plants lives in needs to be able to drain rapidly or waterlogging will occur. The most obvious point of poor drainage is the container in which your plant is growing.

Whatever container you opt for, there must be sufficient drainage holes in the base for the water to escape freely. A more appropriate container for your jade is made out of clay or even terracotta to help soak the extra bits of water that might seem unnecessary to your plant.

How to Resolve the issue?

One needs to know that the drainage hole in the container containing your jade should have a drainage hole that should be at least large enough for you to thrust your finger into. In the case of larger plants, there should be more than one hole of the same size.

If the pot is sitting on a draining saucer, that will delay the water’s escape from the pot once it becomes full. In this case, let the water drain after watering, and only after that, place it in its saucer which should remain dry. 

Note that you can also tip the pot to drain whatever water is accumulated on the surface of the soil.

Soil that doesn’t drain well

Like all plants are different, so are all kinds of soil. Most soil mixes are designed to retain water for as long a period as possible. 

This might make them ideal for most houseplants, but far from satisfactory in the case of succulents. Jade plants are succulents, and as such, they thrive the most in very free-draining soil.

While the normal potting mix will provide you with a sort of doable component of your Jade Plant’s potting medium, you will need to include additional ingredients to ensure that water flows away and is not retained long enough for rot to set in. 

If the soil mix is not ideal, the plant will contact the fungus sooner than anticipated.

How to Resolve the issue?

At your local nursery, you will be able to purchase potting soils that are mixed exclusively and particularly for cacti and other succulents. These offer the enhanced drainage properties you are looking for when planting your Jade Plant. 

Although there is no need to panic even if your local nursery is unable to provide you with the said mix. You can easily concoct something similar by mixing three parts of ordinary potting soil with two parts of coarse sand or grit, and one part of perlite. 

This mix will drain perfectly adequately and the soils you need to mix are generally easy to come by at garden centers.

Pathogenic Infections

These are infections that are generally carried via the soil to the roots of your tiny jade plant and they can quickly lead to root rot and other plant diseases. 

How to Resolve the issue?

In this case, practicing good garden hygiene is your best chance at defense. Avoid the temptation to reuse whatever potting soil from another pot or the same plant. Instead, you need to use new and sterilized potting soil every time.

It usually becomes very tempting when repotting your plant, to save some of the potting soil and use it for planting another plant. 

The soil generally looks and feels perfectly healthy, but it can also harbor pathogens that can prove to be lethal for the new plant but these are invisible to the naked eye. 

Likewise, these pathogens can live on the edges of your newly empty pots. Although you need not throw away the precious pots each time you pot a plant, you can wash your pot and use it.

All that you need to do is make sure that the pot is thoroughly clean before putting another plant into it. A thorough wash in a bucket of water containing a cap full of bleach will end up doing the trick.

Bacterial Soft Rot

This is a common name for a group of diseases that might affect many different plants, and unfortunately, this might also include your Jade Plant. 

The symptoms tend to start as watery spots on the leaves similar to blisters. These then go on to make your leaf become soft and mushy and so it is quite easy to get them confused with root rot.

Like root rot, this problem can be exacerbated by wet and soggy soil, the causes usually differ. The bacteria is known to enter the plant through some sort of wound. 

This could be due to a hole left by a sap-sucking insect, right through to wind-damaged branches, or injuries that might be caused to the roots by a careless gardener.

How to Resolve the issue?

Unfortunately, there is no definite cure for this problem and if you ascertain that your plant has an infection, then you are better off destroying the whole plant before it gets a chance to infect other plants in your collection. 

When disposing of infected plants, don’t pile them on your compost heap as this could end up spreading the disease later. 

Burning the infected plant is regarded as the best option, but place the plants in the garbage if that is not possible.

Pot size

Here is one of the plants that people don’t often take into consideration when talking about the health of their plants.

You might be happily cruising around the shelves of your local nursery when you find the most delightful pot and you just need it for your home.

Now don’t be fooled by these good looks and bring the plant home, thinking about the plant that will suit the pot the most. This is a bad idea. Planting a plant into a pot of the incorrect size, even though you think it goes great with your living room, can influence the health of your jade from both directions.       

If you move your plant to a pot that is huge for it, the surrounding potting mix will end up absorbing too much water and will not drain quickly enough. This, in turn, will provide your root rot with the perfect place to hear your plant.

Alternatively, if you end up forcing your plant into a pot that is way too small for it, the roots will become too wound up by the tight-fitting pot that there will not be enough space surrounding the roots to breathe better. 

The wound-up roots will be unable to supply the plant with everything it needs. All of this will end up with symptoms that are very similar to those of root rot because both problems ultimately result in a sort of starvation effect for your jade.

How to Resolve the issue?

In an ideal scenario, you get to replant your jade plant when it is starting to become pot-bound. This tends to happen when the roots of your jade fill the pot and one for sure symptom of this is that you’ll start to see the roots of the plant popping out through the drainage holes. 

Tip the plant out of the pot and if you see the roots starting to circle the edges of the pot, then it is time to pot on to the next pot size up, not bigger. This is best done in the spring, just as the main growth period starts.

Some plants are known to remain in their pots for most of their life, including your Jade Plant, which will benefit from being repotted every 2 to 3 years. 

Also while repotting your plant, make sure that you always use a pot that is only one size up and use a fresh potting mix of the sort that has been discussed before.


Temperature is one of the most basic requirements for your plant to grow and thrive in the best possible manner. Temperature is always something you need to be careful about in the case of any plant. In terms of root rot, when the temperature is on the cooler side the evaporation rate tends to decrease which might lead to water logging in the roots.

The soil will, in such conditions, remain moist for much longer than it might in the summer months. This is one of the reasons why you need to test the moisture level of your soil before you water it again.

How to Resolve the issue?

In the winter months, the time when the plant is dormant, you will need to water jade plants far less often. It is succulent and can withstand long periods without water.

You need to make sure that potting soil is well and dry between each watering. The stagnancy period that the plant goes through during this time is normal.

The plant, even though resilient, is not frost-hardy and should not be allowed to go below 13°C in the winter months. In the summer months, it is the happiest at temperatures ranging between 18 and 34°C. 

If you reside in a very cold region, lower than the temperatures mentioned here, make sure that your plant is not standing against a window that will see dramatic temperature drops. This will result in a faster decay of your plant as the dramatic changes are harsh on the delicate roots.

How to treat a jade plant root rot?

If you are cautious and lucky, you can detect the root rot at the right time and help your plant survive the predicament it has been going through. You just need to act quickly and take remedial measures. 

You must know that every minute counts in a case like this. It’s definitely an emergency for your jade plant as soon as you find out about it.

If you can detect the problem at an early stage, displaying the symptoms that were mentioned, you need to follow these steps as quickly as possible. Sometimes the rot spread up to the stems. Then it becomes difficult to revive the plant.

Rot is limited to the roots

The condition becomes a little hard to identify on its own because you will see the external symptoms when the damage is already done. But you can check the root system to ensure that the plant is fine in case you see any symptoms

If you sense that something is wrong, go ahead and do the following:

Remove The Plant From Its Pot

You don’t need to pull the plant out of the pot the very instant, you may cause damage to the plant. As you have overwatered the jade plant, it should be quite easy to remove the plant from the pot. 

Hold the plant base and turn the entire vessel pot upside down. Keep on tapping on the pot to make the process easier. 

Now, that you have removed the jade out of the pot, it’s time to inspect the root system. Try loosening the roots and examining them carefully. Healthy roots are white in color and feel firm on touch.

Clean off The Roots and Dry

After this, you have to clean off the dirt around the roots and then dry off the plant. Poke around the soil to loosen around the roots and try to take them off as much as you can.

Go on to rinse the root ball under tap water to clean off the rest of the soil. After cleaning off you have to let it dry for about 1-2 days. You can also use tissue paper or a towel to squeeze out the water from the roots. 

Make sure you place it in a well-ventilated area where it can dry quickly. In your haste, do not use any heat source of the dryer to dry it off, it is sure to harm your plant and weaken the roots even more.

You might think that you need to repot the jade plant immediately, but it will worsen the situation. Jade plants can take 1-2 days worth of delay before the repotting. 

Trim off the Infected Parts

The next part of the process is to check the whole plant and root system. Get rid of the yellowing mushy leaves, because they are not going to recover. 

Now, look out for the brown-colored roots which are soft and mushy. You have to make sure you have got rid of all the rotten root parts.

Root Treatment with Fungicide

The problem is not solved yet. You need to treat your jade root ball with a fungicide solution. This step is quite important to make sure your jade plant roots do not have any fungal agents left to their name. If you don’t do this, all your efforts will be in vain.

When you have fungicide, read the instructions and take proper precautions before using the fungicide. The process is usually very easy, just make the solution and dip the whole roots into it, and we’re done.

Prepare Soil Mix And Pot

You can do this by making your soil mix or using a ready-made potting mix for succulents. This time ensure a soil mix that is capable of draining the excess water successfully.

Also, make sure that you don’t use the same pot as the plant was previously in before you treat it properly with a disinfectant. You can use boiling water to disinfect the pot. Also, drying the soil in the oven is another way of getting rid of any pathogens. But using fresh new soil and a new pot is the best way to go.


Can the infection spread from one plant to another?

Root rot is not infectious in itself until it is caused by bacteria or pathogens. Also, root rot can give birth to certain diseases in the plant that will end up spreading to the plants that might be next to them in such a situation.

What sort of pot should be used?

The pot that needs to be used can be made out of clay or any other material that can allow the absorption of extra water. Also, ensure that it is the right size and gives enough space for it to grow, along with proper drainage. 


From all the information that has been provided so far, it is clear that although jades are resilient, even they can’t escape an inconsiderate owner. 

You need to be careful about your plant, especially when it comes to taking care of it and its roots. Root rot is a serious problem and can be the end of your plant. 

Take care of your plant and keep it under constant observation in case you notice any symptoms of trouble in your plant and act before the infection spreads to more parts of the plant than you can take care of. 

As a plant parent, it is your responsibility that you take care of the plant, in the best possible manner, without compromises.

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  • Maansi

    Maansi is a botanist with a strong passion for understanding and preserving the natural world. She holds a Master's degree from the prestigious Banaras Hindu University (BHU) in India and has a wealth of experience in her field. For the past two years, she has been working with the Adani Landscaping Project, where she has been able to apply her knowledge and skills to create sustainable and beautiful outdoor spaces. Maansi is dedicated to using her expertise to make a positive impact on the environment and is constantly seeking new opportunities to learn and grow as a professional. She is also a great communicator and able to convey complex scientific concepts in an easy to understand manner.She has worked with Jayoti on Recent Advances on Floriculture and Urban Horticulture in Global Perspective Highlights and Recommendations https://www.researchgate.net/publication/360313545_Highlights_and_Recommendations_Recent_Advances_on_Floriculture_and_Urban_Horticulture_in_Global_Perspective_Highlights_and_Recommendations She has also worked with Shobha on Effect of Climate Changing on Horticultural Crops in India-A Review https://www.researchgate.net/publication/331987868_Effect_of_Climate_Changing_on_Horticultural_Crops_in_India-A_Review

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