As far as succulents go, jade/money plants/crassulas are perhaps some of the most ‘classic‘ plants in this category. My apartment doesn’t really have the best conditions for succulents so my houseplant collection leans more towards the leafy side of things, with my succulent collection taking up a good proportion of desk in my south facing office for maximum light and warmth (in summer at least). But there are a few that are pretty forgiving, such as my jades. I made this little pot up with cuttings from my bigger plant that really grew wild… here is a photo of it last year!

crassula 2018
The mother plant in July 2018

The plant in question lives on my kitchen windowsill, which gets east facing light through a frosted window and in these conditions has grown surprisingly well; slow but steady and it’s a lovely deep green colour. I do neglect this windowsill (luckily the only other plant there is a small sanseveria cylindrica!) but when I was watering earlier, I noticed these little white ‘dots’ on some of the leaves.

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I remember seeing this a few years ago on a crassula ovata cutting and at the time, was a bit concerned it was either bugs, a fungal infection, or mildew… anyway, I isolated the plant and did a bit of research…never underestimate how satisfying a root around (pun very much intended) gardening books is when something like this is puzzling you!

I was pleased to discover that these white speckles are actually mineral deposits on the leaves that can be caused by either the soil, hard water, over-watering or over-fertilising. Just think how your old terracotta pots look with the white markings…basically the same issue was happening with my crassula; a build up of minerals was being expelled and revealing themselves as little white dots.

POTENTIAL CAUSES :

◊  MINERAL BUILD UP IN THE COMPOST This can happen to any of your potted plants due to the plants’ uptake of nutrients over time. With succulents that need infrequent repotting, the goodness in the compost can gradually get depleted; especially if your plant has been in the same pot for years! This can cause a mineral imbalance or just a potting mix that no longer has enough nutrients to sustain a healthy plant. My jades hardly ever get repotted so this is something to be mindful of; a soil change or refresh might be an option to consider.

◊  WATERING WITH HARD WATER: ‘Hard’ water that is high in calcium can be damaging to your houseplants as the gradual build up of salts can ‘burn’ the plants’ roots which stops them from being able to absorb water well and the general health of the plant will start to suffer. Using filtered rainwater is brilliant for your houseplants so if possible, get collecting those raindrops (plenty here in the UK at the moment!) You can also ‘flush’ out your pots so long as they have drainage (which your plants should have!) by watering over a tray until the water runs right through the compost, which can help minimise salt build up. 

◊  OVER WATERING: As the excess water evaporates, these markings are a residue of salt deposits on the leaves. The crassula family really don’t require a lot of water and if you notice some soft leaves or leaf drop, these are also telltale signs that your plant is getting too much to drink. 

◊  OVER FERTILISING: If your compost has slow release fertiliser in it, then you want to make sure you aren’t ‘double feeding’. I’ve written a blog post that you can refer to for more information on this; how to feed your houseplants. Excess fertiliser can also exacerbate salt build up too. 

The main point to make though is that these markings do not harm the plant, and it’s a cosmetic decision as to whether you want to remove these ‘speckles’. They only tend to occur on the tops of the leaves and the edges, and do not usually cover the whole plant. I chose to clean them off with tepid water and a cotton bud. As the photos above show, the marks are easily removed after this process. I rinsed my plant lightly under the shower and have left it somewhere warm to dry. Zqa1gVCMQ52GM8mIs0gHeQ_thumb_178d

A NOTE ON JADE PLANT CARE :

I thought I’d touch on some basic care tips to conclude this post that will help to keep your jade plants happy and healthy. I water only when the top inch of the compost is dry and aerate the soil using a chopstick before watering. Keep the waxy leaves free from dust by giving your plant a shower every couple of months. Place somewhere warm and sunny and your plant will appreciate it. It can also get a lovely red tint during summertime. There are some lovely variegated varieties, and crassula ovata ‘sunset’ has the most beautiful coral edging!

Hope this post was helpful if you have been perplexed by some mysterious dots on your crassula plants! Thank you for reading as always, 

Laura

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Posted by:Laura HPH

One thought on “The cause of white speckles on jade plants (+ what to do)

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