Jade plants are one of the most beautiful plants in the world. This plant is originally from arid regions of South Africa but is now grown all over the world. The plant has beautiful leaves and petals. Sometimes, Jade plant leaves can appear to get crystals on them. Jade plant leaves crystallizing is a minor problem. Let’s explore why this can happen.
There is a certain amount of mythological information on the internet suggesting Jade plants have special powers to create crystals. This is not really the case. More often than not, any phenomenon has a simple explanation. They just use natural processes to manage their world, and one or two of these processes produce crystals.
So, are you interested in why some leaves are covered in crystals while others are not? You might also want to know if there is a way you can easily induce leaves to take on a crystalline appearance. In this article we will take a closer look at the jade plant leaves crystallizing process and its causes.
On my drive out to the new Meadery, my friend and I are building I actually drive through a forest of wild jade plants. Last year in the middle of winter, we had an exceptional 1 in 50-year black frost, and some of the jade plants had these beautiful frost crystals on their leaves. Succulent plants have an interesting moisture-to-body ratio – this means they are very wet inside, and water has a great thermal buffering capacity (compared to say wood).
The result is that when you do get one of these frost events the water crystals that form on the leaves are quite stunning – unlike a smaller frost event, this does actually kill some of the leaves.
For a normal frost event, jade plants can take on light white crusting of little frost flakes and the plants seem to emerge largely unscathed. Sometimes the leaves will go a bit purple and get “frost bites” out of the edges of the leaf. Generally, my advice is to avoid having your Jade plant get so cold it gets frost crystals on it. It will not enjoy this much.
Is It Normal For the “Jade Plant Leaves Crystallizing Effect” To Happen?
Ok, frost aside, the most normal things I have seen on jade plants that could be mistaken for crystals are fungi and then actual little salt crystals. The fungi are a symptom of a weak plant (probably over-watered, and too little sunlight) and the salt crystals that form on leaves are quite a standard method for certain plants to get excess salt out of their leaves.
Read more about A Deeper Study Of Jade Plant roots
Jade Plant Leaves Crystallizing – Is it Fungal Growth?
If succulent plants are in poor health and have insufficient light and very wet roots they can sometimes begin to ooze sugar secretions on the leaves. This can be exacerbated by insects and pests, and then you can end up with fungi growing on the leaves. These can look like little tufts, which could be mistaken for crystals if you are not a crystal expert.
If your jade plant is not getting at least 10 hours of decent sunlight – as they would in their native habitat, and the soil is too wet, – you may find this happening. These sorts of lights can help with supplemental lighting. It is always best to get your plants to a place where they can get natural light, but sometimes the light just is not strong enough in winter, and supplements help a bit. Use a soil moisture meter to check that your soil is not too wet. Jade plants actually quite like it if their soil dries out completely between waterings.
Jade Plant Leaves Crystallizing – Real Crystals Forming
Many plants, specifically succulent plants are capable of performing a metabolic trick called bio-crystalization. In this form of plant crystal formation, specific specialized cells actually produce crystals in the plant. In many succulent plants, these will take the form of some or other calcium oxalate crystals. When the leaf dries out you can sometimes see these little crystals in the dry leaf. I have spent hours observing certain succulent plants under the Scanning Electron Microscope and always enjoyed the beautiful symmetry of calcium oxalate crystals.
Salt Crystals Forming on The Outside of Leaves Giving The Impression of Jade Plant Leaves Crystallizing
In many cases, succulent plants can deal with relatively salty (saline) soils by removing salts from their cells and depositing this on the surface of the leaves. This can lead to the plant getting a sort of powdery white look on its leaves. Crassula ovata, the Jade plant, has a specialized cell type called a hydathode on its lower leaves. These appear to be able to exude water onto the surface of the leaf – this contains salts, and these can crystalize.
If you get this phenomenon, just take the plant, place it outside or in the shower and hose it down. The crystals wash away quite rapidly. I vaguely remember my Mom doing this when we lived in a desert region when I was a kid. Although the plants grew outdoors – they hardly ever got rain, so they basically had “indoor” conditions. A little hose down made the leaves shiny and beautiful.
You may also find that you have a salt build-up in your soil – you will see this if you can see salty deposits on the soil surface. In this case, placing the plant outdoors during rain and letting the soil get rinsed can help too. If the soil gets too much salt building up in it, it can inhibit the jade plant. Try to water your plant with rain water, or some low salt water. Often tap water contains quite high levels of salts that can accumulate in the soil over time.
Learn more about Do Jade Plants Need Direct Sunlight?
Conclusion On Jade Plant Leaves Crystallizing
In conclusion, this is a natural phenomenon and a normal part of the plant’s life cycle.
For other plan-related topics, check our other articles. I hope you got the insight into the jade plant leaves crystallizing process and why it happens.
Why do jade leaves crystallize?
Jade plant leaves can temporarily crystalize if they freeze - this is bad and kills the plant often. They do not enjoy temperatures below about 50°F.
Jade plant leaves can take on a fluffy "crystal covered" appearance when they are sickly due to fungi growing on the leaf surface. This is common with overwatered plants that do not get enough sunlight.
Jade plants have structures on their leaves called hydathodes that can exude mineral rich water that then crystalizes. This can be removed by hosing the plants down.
Why are there crystals on my plant leaves?
There is a good chance that you can see crystals on your plant leaves if your plant has absorbed a good amount of water. In that case, the plant is releasing the water as droplets on their leaves. They do this to remove salts mainly, using specialised areas called hydathodes. You can easily hose these off the leaves, and it is a good idea to rinse your soil too - slats build up in soil, and if your Jade plant has too many salts in its soil it will start to do this in an attempt to survive.
What are white crystals on plants?
This really depends on the plant. In Jade plants if the crystals are on the outside of the leaves they will be various salts such as calcium and sodium that can be in excess to the plants needs. In certain cases, succulent pants can also accumulate calcium oxalate crystals inside their leaves.
Should I remove wrinkled jade leaves?
I never remove leaves from jade plants - if they don't want a leaf, they will quickly dry it out and drop it to the base of the plant where it makes a useful mulch. If a leaf is looking really tired and gunky you can always just flick it with your finger and if it is nearly ready to fall it will fall off.