Jade Plant Stems Shriveling and Breaking

Hi Judy,
I have a 20 yr old jade plant which is losing branches rapidly. It has probably lost 30 to 40% of it’s branches in the last month. They are shriveling and breaking. I live in the desert and have been watering and fertilizing once a month for years. I have been using a 2-7-7 Cactus plus liquid plant food by Schultz. This plant had this problem when I first moved to the desert about 10 years ago. At that time I had started watering once a week because it was so dry here and was probably over watering. But now I am wondering if I am either under watering or over fertilizing? I am attaching 2 photos. One of the ailing plant and one of it’s progeny that I started when this happened before. The progeny is being cared for in the same way and doing well. Thanks for your help.

Hi Julie,

I think you are definitely over fertilizing the plant. I recommend feeding a Jade plant with a fertilizer low in nitrogen every other month at 1/4 the recommended strength when the plant is actively growing. You’ve used so much plant food for so long it has probably just been sitting in the soil and has not been absorbed. The salt in the fertilizer has burned the roots and the plant can no longer absorb water. You can either flush the soil with distilled water 4 or 5 times so that it runs out the drip holes in the bottom of the pot & hopefully washes away the salts; or take the plant out of the pot,  get rid of the old soil, and replace it with new soil. I like the second method because while the plant is laying out bare root, you can trim off any roots the appear dead or dying.  Remember, if your jade plant has lost so many stems  of leaves ,  it will not need to be watered as often.