Identifying and Treating Jade Plant Diseases

A close shot of the leaves of a variegated jade plant.
What You'll Need
Plant clippers
Baking soda
Dish soap
Spray bottle

Jade plants are very similar to cacti and are in the succulent family. They originate from China and have attractive and waxy green leaves that have a fleshy texture. This plant can grow to 5 feet in height and live a very long time if kept healthy. Jade plants are easy to care for and require only minimal attention. They do well as indoor plants when placed in a sunny spot. Jade plants hold moisture in their leaves and do not require a great deal of water to survive, once a month is generally sufficient. You can move your Jade plant outdoors during hot weather.

The diseases that affect the jade plant include bacterial soft rot, powdery mildew and black ring disease. These diseases are easy to identify and can be treated or dealt with when they are discovered.

TIP: Our expert gardening advisor, Susan Patterson adds, "Jade plants do best in soil that is coarse and sandy. Be very careful not to overwater. Keep dead leaves picked off of your plant, and re-pot your jade plant when it outgrows its container."

Bacterial Soft Rot

Bacterial soft rot causes the plant to collapse, which is how you can identify the disease. When this condition starts, it can spread throughout the plant and kill it. The cause of this disease is a bacterium called Erwinia, a bacterial pathogen related to e-Coli and salmonella.

When you discover your jade plant has bacterial soft rot, treat it by removing the affected parts using clean clippers. Dispose of affected plant parts immediately. If you catch it in time, you will be able to prevent the further spread of the bacterial infection and save your plant.

Powdery Mildew

The condition known as powdery mildew appears as scabs on the waxy leaves. It is caused by a fungus known as Sphaerotheca and spreads on the leaves and stems of the plant. Treat mildew naturally by mixing 1 teaspoon of baking soda, 1 quart of water, 3 drops of dish soap and garlic together. Spray the plant and soil liberally.

Black Ring Disease

Black ring disease makes black rings on the underside of the jade plant’s leaves. It is caused by a virus. The disease does not kill the plant but there is no real effective way to treat black ring disease once you detect it.

TIP: Susan cautions you, "Do not take cuttings from jade plants that have black ring disease."

Routine plant care and maintenance should keep these problems from occurring. When problems are discovered, take immediate action to diagnose and treat the plant.

photo (c) Pinguicula 2006,