Why Is My Jade Plant Dropping Leaves?

Jade plants, with their thick woody stems and oval-shaped glossy leaves, are a popular and easy-to-grow houseplant. However, even this durable succulent can run into problems and start dropping its leaves. Knowing the reasons why and how to fix them will help keep your jade plant looking lush and healthy.

Common Causes of Jade Plant Leaves Falling Off

There are several key reasons why the leaves on your jade plant may start to yellow, wither, and drop off. Identifying the cause is important so you can take the appropriate steps to remedy the issue.


One of the most common reasons for dropping leaves is underwatering. Jade plants are succulents that store water in their thick leaves and stems. If the soil dries out too much between waterings, the plant will start to parch and drop leaves in an effort to conserve moisture.

Signs of underwatering include:

  • Leaves turning yellow or brown and shriveling before falling off
  • Stems appearing wrinkled or shriveled
  • Soil pulling away from the sides of the pot
  • Soil feeling dry 1-2 inches below the surface

If the soil feels dry and the plant is showing these symptoms, it needs a good, thorough watering to rehydrate it.


While jade plants don’t need frequent watering, getting too much can also cause leaf drop. If the soil stays soggy, the roots may rot leading to dead, yellowing leaves.

Signs of overwatering are:

  • Soft, mushy leaves
  • Leaves turning yellow or black
  • Stems that are dark or mushy
  • Wet soil that takes a long time to dry out
  • A foul odor from rotting roots

Allow the soil to dry completely between waterings and water less frequently to avoid overwatering issues.

Low Humidity

Jade plants prefer a minimum humidity level of about 40%. In very dry indoor air, the leaves can lose moisture faster than the roots can absorb it. This moisture stress leads the plant to shed leaves.

Signs of low humidity are:

  • Dry, shriveled leaf tips
  • Leaves feeling “crunchy”
  • Leaf edges turning brown

Using a humidifier nearby or placing the pot on a pebble tray can boost the humidity around the plant. Misting the leaves occasionally helps as well.

Drafts and Temperature Changes

Sensitive to temperature shifts, jade plants may drop leaves when exposed to cold drafts or excessive heat. Keep the plant away from drafty doors, windows, and air vents. Avoid placing it near heat sources like appliances or in hot, direct sunlight. Ideal temperatures are between 65°F to 75°F.

Bright, Direct Sunlight

While jade plants need several hours of sunlight per day, too much direct sun can scorch the leaves, causing them to yellow, wither, and fall off. Filter the light with a sheer curtain or provide shade during the hottest part of the day.

Transplant Stress

Re-potting or dividing the plant can disrupt the roots and cause transplant stress. Water sparingly after transplanting until the roots recover. Expect some leaf drop as part of normal adjustment in the weeks following any potting procedures.


Insect infestations can weaken and damage jade plants. Mealybugs, scale, and spider mites cause yellowing, speckled, or stippling on the leaves before they drop. Treat infestations immediately to prevent major leaf loss.

Improper Pruning

Pruning jade plants too aggressively can “shock” the plant into dropping leaves. Always sterilize pruners before trimming. Make cuts at a 45° angle just above leaf nodes. Remove no more than 20% of the foliage at one time and avoid pruning in winter.


As jade plants grow older, some leaf loss is normal. Focus on the overall health and vigor of the plant vs. a few dropped leaves. If it is growing new stems and leaves in spring and summer, minor leaf drop is usually nothing to worry about.

Corrective Care for a Jade Plant Dropping Leaves

Once you’ve diagnosed the cause of the leaf drop, take these steps to get your jade plant healthy again:

Adjust the Watering

If leaves are falling from under-watering, give the plant a good, deep watering, allowing the soil to drain completely. Water again when the top inch or two of soil is dry.

For over-watering, allow the soil to dry out completely before watering again. Check for root rot and treat if needed. Water less frequently going forward.

Improve Humidity

Use a pebble tray, humidifier, or regular misting to increase moisture in the air. Misting offers a quick fix when humidity is very low.

Moderate Temperature and Light

Move jade plants out of drafts and away from heat and A/C vents. Provide shade during intense midday sun. Keep the plant where temps remain between 65°-75°F.

Allow Time to Adjust

When re-potting, wait 2-3 weeks before fertilizing or pruning. Water sparingly until new growth appears. Expect some leaf loss as the roots establish in the new pot.

Treat Pests

Isolate infested plants and use appropriate organic sprays or systemic products to eliminate pests. Prune away severely infested stems and discard fallen leaves.

Resume Normal Care

Once any issues have been corrected, resume a normal care routine. Be patient and continue providing proper light, temperature, fertilizer, and water to help the plant regain its leaves and thrive.

How to Prevent Jade Plant Leaves From Dropping

Providing consistent and attentive care is key to keeping jade plants looking full and lush long-term. Here are some tips:

  • Allow the soil to dry between waterings, then soak thoroughly. The soil should be dry about 1 inch deep before re-watering.
  • Water less often in winter when growth slows.
  • Check for pests like spider mites under the leaves regularly and treat early.
  • Prune judiciously in spring to shape the plant. Don’t remove more than 20% of the foliage at once.
  • Repot in fresh soil every 2-3 years in the spring after flowering. Trim the roots if root bound.
  • Dust the leaves occasionally with a soft cloth to keep them clean.
  • Turn the plant periodically for even sun exposure and growth.
  • Keep the plant away from cold drafts, hot radiators, and direct sunlight.
  • Mist the leaves with water if humidity drops below 40% for an extended time.
  • Feed monthly in spring and summer with a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted to 1/2 strength.

Common Questions about Jade Plant Leaf Drop

Why are the leaves on my jade plant falling off after repotting?

Some leaf drop after repotting is normal due to transplant stress on the plant. Allow it time to establish new roots before fertilizing or pruning. Water sparingly for a few weeks. Once the plant resumes growing, the leaf loss should stop.

What causes drooping, yellow leaves on a jade plant?

Yellow, sagging leaves are a sign of under-watering. Check the soil moisture and water thoroughly if the soil is dry 1-2 inches below the surface. Drooping leaves can also result from overwatering if the roots are rotting. Allow soil to dry completely before watering again.

Why do jade plant leaves turn brown and brittle?

Dry, brown, brittle leaves point to low humidity. Jade plants prefer 40% humidity minimum. Increase humidity around the plant by using a pebble tray, humidifier, or misting. Keep it away from heating and AC vents which can dry the air.

How often should I water a jade plant?

Water a jade plant only when the top 1-2 inches of soil are dry. This is typically every 2-3 weeks in spring and summer and less in winter. Water thoroughly until it drains freely from the pot but avoid keeping the soil constantly soggy.

Should I mist my jade plant?

Occasional misting is beneficial for jade plants, especially when humidity is very low. Use room temperature, distilled or filtered water and mist a few times per week. Allow the leaves to dry before nightfall to prevent fungal disease.

Caring for a Jade Plant With Leaf Drop

Jade plants are resilient and can rebound surprisingly fast once their care is corrected. Here are some tips for nurturing your plant back to health after significant leaf loss:

  • Remove all shriveled and yellowed leaves to promote new growth.
  • Prune overgrown or damaged branches using sterilized pruners.
  • Repot in fresh, well-draining soil if roots are rotted or pot bound.
  • Water deeply to moisten dry soil then allow it to fully dry before re-watering.
  • Place in medium, indirect light out of direct sun while recovering.
  • Eliminate drafts and keep the temperature moderately warm around 70°F.
  • Increase surrounding humidity with pebble trays or a humidifier nearby.
  • Apply a diluted, balanced fertilizer once every 3-4 weeks in spring and summer.
  • Inspect closely for pests and treat any found accordingly. Isolate from healthy plants.
  • Be patient for new growth which may take several weeks after corrective care begins.


Jade plants are cherished for their low maintenance and tolerance to various growing conditions. However, leaf drop can occur if certain conditions are not met, such as insufficient watering, excessive sunlight or pests. By identifying the cause and making adjustments to care, most plants can fully recover with time. Adequate water, humidity, light, and pest management are vital for keeping jade plant leaves lush and growing. With proper care, these succulents can live for years as full, vibrant evergreen houseplants.