Are Your Jade Plant Dying? 6 Things To Look For!

Jade plants are a type of succulent that are popular for indoor gardening because of their appealing look and minimal care requirements. When properly cared for, these plants can live for over a hundred years. However, their lifespan can be adversely affected by several issues, such as poor drainage, incorrect watering, extended periods without water, pest infestations and diseases, or extreme temperatures.

If you have jade plants, you’d want them to exist beyond you. The earlier you spot a problem among your plants, the easier it gets to address it. In this post, I’ll be helping you pick on the early signs of a dying jade plant, the causes, and how you can address these problems to save your plant. Read on and find out more.

Curled or shriveled leaves

Even though jade plants are generally hard to kill due to their high tolerance levels, some environmental conditions could be causing your plant leaves to curl.

When exposed to chilly or freezing temperatures, jade plants curl, going limp. The water inside the plant often freezes, and it may destroy the plant cells, killing them, which causes the leaves to wilt.

If you can salvage your plants from the cold in time, you can save them better. If the damage is extensive, then your plant will die. The recommended temperatures for growing jade plants are (65° to 75°F / 18° to 24°C). However, the plants are favored by slightly cooler temperatures at night and in the winter (as low as 55°F / 13°C).

If your plant is slightly damaged, you might have a chance of saving it. You can do this by bringing the plant indoors, cutting down on watering, and removing the rotting plant parts.  

Dehydration can also cause jade plant leaves to wilt. Jade plants suffer from excessive water loss due to prolonged drought, which causes them to lose and use up all its stored water.

This water loss causes plant leaves to curl as the cells lose their rigidity. Also, plants use this mechanism to prevent further water loss from the leaf surface. The leaves also become thin and eventually fall off the plant.

Some jade plants can go for three months without water, and others six months, depending on the species. The best time to water your jade plant is when the soil is dried about two inches deep. If your plant suffers from dehydration and the leaves are faded, you need to water it thoroughly, and if it doesn’t recover in two weeks, it is probably dead.

The light levels might also cause your plant leaves to wilt and curl. Jade plants prefer bright indirect light, and when exposed to direct light, they get damaged, and their leaves suffer from dehydration and sunburn. Depending on the extent of damage, your plants might die.

Browning of leaves

A dying jade plant will develop brown leaves. One of the major causes of this problem is exposure to intense sunlight, which causes the plant to develop sunburns. The brown coloration is often an indication of dead plant cells. If the plant is slightly affected, you can remove the severely affected leaves and place the plant in bright indirect light.

If the damage is extensive, you might have to dispose of the plant.

Excessive watering of jade plants will also cause the leaves to turn brown, with spots appearing on the underside. The condition is often referred to as edema, and it will appear on most of the plant leaves at the same time.

If you act early enough, you can save it from root rot, ultimately killing it. You can place an air drier close to the plant or in a better-ventilated environment to help it lose the excess water. Please don’t Place the plant in direct sunlight as it will cause further harm through sunburns.

Water salts are another possible cause of death for jade plants. These are natural salts found in tap water in some regions. As plants give off water through transpiration, these salts remain concentrated in the leaves, burning them. As a result, the leaves develop brown spots and tips on the upper side.

An extensive concentration of water salts in your plants will eventually kill your precious plants. It is always best to give your plants filtered water if you live in such regions.

Besides water salts, your plants might suffer from leaf burns if you use too much fertilizer. Remember that jade plants are slow growers and not heavy feeders. Only do so every three months following the recommended instructions if you need fertilizers.

Finally, jade plants that suffer frostbite will likely develop brown spots on the affected leaves, which go black before falling off.

Remember that the browning of leaves does not always indicate a dying plant. The older leaves often turn brown among healthy jade plants, falling off as the plant ages.

Yellowing of leaves

Most problems with jade plants begin with the yellowing of leaves, and Overwatering is one of the biggest challenges among jade plant growers. When the plant sits in water for prolonged periods, they start suffering from root rot, and the plant leaves begin to turn yellow, mushy, soft then drop.

If the plant doesn’t receive sufficient water, you will also notice its leaves turning yellow, fading, with crispy edges and tips.

Excessive fertilizer use also affects jade plants’ roots burning and killing them. As a result, the plant will begin to assume yellowing coloration on the leaves and eventually die. Other signs indicate that your plant has received excess fertilizer, such as leaf burns and white spots on the leaves.

Also, the yellowing of jade plant leaves indicates that your plant could be dying from too low nutrient content in the soil. Jade plants are slow feeders; this problem will only occur if you leave your plant in the same pot for too long.

Jade plants suffering from trauma could also develop yellow leaves, which could be due to sudden changes in the environment, especially with different temperatures. If this happens, the plant leaves will turn yellow and then drop. Always acclimate your plants as your move them outdoors to avoid this stress.

In other cases, repotting will cause jade plant leaves to turn yellow due to root damage and other conditions. You must follow the recommended procedures when repotting plants paying close attention to the roots. If your jade plant’s leaves turn yellow after repotting, the plant will not survive.

Jade plants can survive in low-light conditions. However, the plant will exhaust the food stock when left in the dark for too long. In the absence of light, the plant is unable to manufacture food. As a result, the leaves will turn yellow and then drop, and eventually, the plant will die.

The leaves often turn yellow when pests and bugs infest a jade plant. Some pests will damage the plant roots losing their functionality which kills the plant. Some pests you need to watch out for include mealybugs, spider mites, and aphids.

Leaves dropping

As your snake plant dies, it will shade its leaves first. Shedding leaves in jade plants could occur from all kinds of causes, including overwatering, under watering, lack of nutrients (nitrogen), excess exposure to light, staying too long in the dark, and being attacked by disease and pests.

Naturally, plants shed leaves whenever they cannot sustain themselves or if the leaves are completely dead.

In some cases, the plant leaves will change color or wilt before they drop, and if your jade plant is dropping its leaves, you need to identify the cause and address it while you can.

Also, read Propagating jade plants at home a complete guide.

Wilting/drooping of leaves

Jade plants dying from water problems will always assume a drooping appearance, and the cause can be excess or insufficient water. The cells lose their turgidity whenever the plant loses more water than it can obtain from the ground, and the plant starts to wilt.

Besides causing leaf burns, intense heat from the sun and transplantation shock will cause your plants to droop.

Overwatered jade plants may also wilt due to root suffocation and root rot. Jade plants often go dormant during winter, and they often have enough water stored for survival.

Consequently, if you water jade plants in winter, you risk killing them. In such cases, the earlier you find out why your plant is wilting, the better the chance of saving it.

Spotted and speckled leaves

A healthy jade plant has smooth and green leaves. Changes in the plant’s leaf texture indicate a problem among your plants.

The plant will often develop black spots on the leaves, resulting from insect attacks, viruses, fungal disease, and even improper care.

When the plant roots take up more water than the plant can use or are exposed to high humidity, it develops dark brown corky lesions on the plant leaves, which continue to darken as the condition progresses.

These spots gradually affect the plant’s health; if not addressed, the plant will eventually die. However, when discovered early enough, it is possible to save the plant by transplanting it in well-drained soil such as sand.

Fungal diseases are also common in overwatered jade plants and can cause a change in the leaf texture. When the plant is severely affected, you may have to dispose of it. In other cases, an antifungal spray could help cure the plants.

Viral infections often spread by insects can potentially harm your plants. One of the signs that your jade plants are infected with a virus is the appearance of black spots on the leaves. Even though viruses hardly kill the plant, they can when combined with other problems. Always isolate infected plants from the rest to avoid the spread.

Bugs can also kill your plants, insects lay their eggs on the leaf surface, and their young ones feed on the plant sap causing black spots on affected areas.

If not addressed in time, these insects can quickly kill your plants. Their eggs appear as white spots on the leaf surface, and you can control them by spraying your plants with insecticidal soap.

Also, read, Jade plants make excellent house plants; here’s why

Frequently Asked Questions

Do snake plants attract mosquitoes?

One of the biggest problems many people have with growing plants is that they tend to bear insects and mosquitoes. But if you grow a snake plant, you will have no problem. The snake plant has a chemical called Saponin, which repels mosquitoes.

Are snake plants poisonous?

Because they do just fine in low light, snake plants are common in office spaces and homes. But they are also poisonous if ingested. Large doses can cause nausea and vomiting, and the poison found in the plant has a numbing effect that can cause the tongue and throat to swell.

Why is the snake plant called mother-in-law’s tongue?

Dracaena trifasciata is commonly called “mother-in-law’s tongue,” “Saint George’s sword,” or “snake plant” because of the shape and sharp margins of its leaves. It is also known as the “viper’s bowstring hemp” because it is one of the sources of plant fibers used to make bowstrings.

Do snake plants need sunlight?

Light: Plants grow in any light level, from low to high. They grow more quickly in brighter light, but direct solid sunlight burns leaves, especially when plants are outdoors. Temperature: Snake plants thrive in hot, dry environments. Consider placing potted ones outside for summer in bright shade.

Why does my snake plant have holes?

When you overwater the plant, the leaves may develop brown spots on their surface. Some of these spots and patches turn into holes due to severe damage. These locations are ideal for insects to find a host plant in the garden. When they reach the Snake plant, they can cause a few holes in the leaves.

Summary table

Signs of a dying snake plantsCauses
Curled or shriveled leavesExposure to extreme temperatures, prolonged drought/dehydration
Browning of leavesOverwatering, under watering, excess exposure to light, staying too long in the dark, and being attacked by disease and pests.
Yellowing of leavesOverwatering, excess use of fertilizers, too low nutrient content in the soil, stress from a drastic change in environment, improper transplantation, root damage, too low light conditions, and infestation by insects.
Dropping of leavesOverwatering, under watering, excess exposure to light, staying too long in the dark, and being attack by disease and pests.
Leaf wilting/droopingOverwatering, under-watering, and root damages
Spotted and speckled leavesInsect attacks, viruses, fungal disease, overwatering, and excess humidity


Jade plants are some of the easiest to care for. Also, for the same reason, they are susceptible to neglect. Whenever your snake plant is in trouble, it will signal you through the appearance of its leaves.

If your plants’ leaves deviate from their usual green glossy look, they have a severe problem that needs to be addressed urgently. Most jade plants will die from watering problems, among other least likely causes such as inappropriate light, over-fertilization, and attack by disease and pests.

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