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Think back to those scientifically-sound and completely accurate mood rings everyone seemed to love back in the day. A red color meant something quite dramatic. Perhaps the bearer was frothing mad or on the brink of declaring endless love to someone, a bit of red appearing on the leaves of your succulent jade plant isn’t as necessarily life-altering as all that.
Several reasons jade plants turn red are excessive sunlight, intense heat or cold, insufficient watering, and insufficiently fertile soil. But it is indicative of changes in your jade plant’s growing conditions.
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These reasons for reddening may sound all negative, but having a red jade plant is not necessarily bad. Some growers covet red-hued jade leaves. Keep reading for tips on achieving your desired jade color, whether you want to keep a classic deep emerald green or would like to “make it blush” a little bit. You can grow a happy, thriving jade plant either way!
Why are my jade plants turning red?
As stated above, several reasons your jade plant might be turning red.
Here are the most likely culprits:
Jade plants are sun-lovers. If left alone in a bright room, they will thrive, but this doesn’t mean you should stick them under the hot sun for 12 hours a day. The magic word for jade plants and the sunlight is “indirect.” Jade plants are most happy in bright, indirect light. Refer to my jade plant lighting guide for details on jade plants and sunlight.
Jade plants will redden under harsh sunlight; this is simply a survival mechanism from jade’s wild days. Jade plants are incredibly well-suited for surviving conditions that kill most other plants. Allowing its leaves to redden helps the plant prolong necessary nutrients.
Once again, sunlight is the most common cause of reddening in jade plants. If you notice your jade plants turn red, consider their lighting conditions first. If you determine sunlight as the reason and don’t mind the redness, no further action is necessary.
An underwatered jade plant may start to turn red. Like leaves in autumn, this reddening indicates that growing conditions are no longer ideal, and the plant is undergoing a chemical change in response.
If you suspect your jade plant is turning red because of underwatering, be careful not to overcorrect. Jade plants are very susceptible to root rot and infestation caused by overwatering.
Jade plants are succulents; as with most succulents, they do not respond well to high-moisture environments. Better to have a tinge of red in the leaves than a dead jade plant!
Insufficient Soil Nutrients
Jade plants can exist in infertile soil, but, like any other plant, they will thrive in well-amended, properly fertilized soil. Soil that lacks proper nutrients may make jade plants turn red.
The ideal soil condition for a jade plant is succulent- or cactus-specific soil that is slightly acidic. Its container must allow for complete drainage (remember: they don’t like to stay in moist soil!).
Extreme Temperature Changes
Jade plants have a bit of a Goldilocks attitude regarding temperature. They are not cold-tolerant and don’t like to be subjected to intense heat. They want their temperature just right.
Many jade growers keep their plants inside, so controlling the temperature is easy. If your jade plants turn red, consider exactly where it is placed in your home. Is it near a drafty window in the winter?
Is it sitting by a heating vent? Seemingly minor conditions such as these may be just drastic enough to start to make your jade plants turn red.
Is it bad if jade turns red?
Red might be a warning for sailors in the morning, but it’s not necessarily a cause for alarm for jade plant growers.
Redness in jade plants is not bad. Some jade growers prefer their plant to have a red hue, and intentionally cultivating this look is fine if it is your preference as a grower. As stated, jade plants are survivors; think of their reddening as a sort of colorful “celebration” of this trait.
The key to determining whether or not the reddening of your jade plant is “bad” is control.
If your jade plants turn red, and this is unintentional, you should take time to assess why it’s happening, especially if it comes on suddenly. Turning red due to out-of-control watering, temperature, or fertilization isn’t lethal for your jade plant, but it can cause it to decline in health and may eventually lead to its demise over time.
What colors do jade plants come in?
Jade plants come in a rainbow of colors: dark green, red, yellow, pink, grey-green, purple, and even variegated. What color a jade plant (or Crassula) depends on its variety, and there are over 1,400 varieties of jade!
When someone says “jade plant,” the image most of us will conjure is that of Crassula ovata: plump leaves, tree-like stem, emerald green in color. This variety is considered the classic jade plant and is by far the most common, but there are dozens of other jade varieties.
Some of these varieties are more likely to turn red than others.
For example, the grey-green Crassula falcata will not turn red in the leaf (although it does deliver gorgeous orange blossoms when thriving), no matter what conditions it is under. If it is experiencing less-than-ideal growing conditions, it will respond with drooping and wrinkling but no color change.
The “Red Flames” jade variety (Crassula capitella) is on the other side of the jade spectrum. Its leaves are beautifully sensitive to sunlight and respond to increased light with bright pinkish-orange edges. Some people call this variety “Campfire Jade.”
How do I make my jade plants turn red?
To intentionally turn your jade plant red, follow these three steps:
- Move your jade plant into direct sunlight. Still, try to limit its direct sunlight exposure to under six hours a day.
- Reduce your watering schedule. Ease your plant into its new, drier lifestyle; plants generally don’t love drastic changes. I also have a foolproof watering guide for jade plants.
- Extend the time between regular fertilizing. As with watering, your jade plant will adjust better if you take baby steps.
FAQs about Jade Plants
Conclusion on why jade plants turn red
Sometimes trying to keep track of your plant baby’s happiness forces you to take on the role of a codebreaker. What does this new color mean? What is this droopy shoot here trying to tell me? Lucky for jade growers, jade plants aren’t so secretive about their feelings.
If they’re not thriving, they’ll let you know, so don’t hit the panic button just because you see a little red coming in. follow our tips and enjoy the lovely color show!
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