Jade Plant is a favorite of houseplants lovers for two main reasons. First of all it looks great in almost any surroundings, and secondly it is super easy to take care of, and can tolerate a lot of neglect (like when you leave for three weeks holiday and don’t leave your neighbor a key to water the plants). However, some growers experience strange phenomenon with Jade Plants–their leaves suddenly changing color, either to silver, black, red, or to purple. We will address the last one in this article, looking at three possible causes, and what you can do to address each one.
Before diving into details, let me quickly summarize the three main reasons why leaves of your beloved Jade Plant may turn purple. No. 1 is too much sun exposure, no. 2 is a sudden temperature change, and no. 3 is inappropriate use of fertilizer. These causes are responsible for 95% of cases of Jade Plants turning purple, but you should always remember that nature does not follow exact rules as we citizens do, and in specific cases the reason may be different, or it can be the combination of various factors that cause certain stress to the plant.
Mild purple coloring of leaves is typically no reason to worry
Any change of colors in Jade Plant signifies some stress the plant is going through. Plants (just like animals or humans) release certain chemicals when experiencing stress. Jade plant releases anthocyanin, which causes the leaves to turn purple (or similar color). And while in my opinion we should try our best to not expose plants to unnecessary stress, you should also realize that this is a natural reaction, and Jade Plant won’t die after the leaves turned purple.
It may surprise you but some experienced succulent growers actually stress the jade plant on purpose, either with extreme sun exposure or with big temperature changes, with a goal of achieving certain coloring of the leaves. This conduct may be questionable from ethical point of view (people do not care much about plants’ rights though), but it is hard to say whether or not the plant actually “feels” any discomfort. Some people even sell jade plants with purple leaves, charging high price, benefiting from lack of knowledge of customers, who think it goes about a special type of Jade, whereas in reality it is a normal Jade Plant that has undergone some stress recently. Be aware of of such scammers should you consider buying purple Jade Plant.
Exposure to extreme sunlight is the no. 1 reason of Jade Plant leaves turning purple
Jade plant, like any other plant, needs light to grow healthily, but it doesn’t need as much light as many people think. It prefers indirect sunlight, ideally only for few hours a day. When you give it too much light, however, it may start releasing anthocyanin, and the leaves will turn purple. What confuses many growers though is that this may not happen for a couple of years and then it suddenly does. How is that possible?
Well, we should not forget that plant life is complex, and many factors come into play–the soil quality, moisture, right size of pot, nutrients in the soil, watering, temperature, pests, and so on. It can happen that something else is also not right for the plant. Combination of secondary factor with exposure to direct sunlight or too much light during the day will eventually result in the leaves turning purple. It did not happen the other year because the secondary factor was not present, or the overall health of your Jade Plant was better.
Luckily enough, the remedy to this problem is simple–reduce the stress on the plant, in this case the extreme light exposure. Move it to other part of the room, or adjust the blinds in order to prevent that much light from entering the room.
Extreme changes in temperature may also cause Jade Plant leaves to turn purple
Jade plant cannot wear a coat or take the shirt off, like we do when we feel cold or hot. It is as it is, and has to live with the surrounding temperature. When it experiences changes that feel extreme to it, it will again release the anthocyanin and change color, often to purple. Now, what does an extreme temperature change mean? It actually depends on the plant. For sensible Jade Plant even 5 degrees Celsius change can feel extreme. Other jade plants won’t change color even when they experience a temperature change of 10 degrees.
What many people do not realize is how opening a window for a night or turning on heating can affect the Jade Plant, especially if it is close to the window or radiator. You may not feel the change to be extreme. But a plant located just half a meter from a radiator will feel it differently… If you rule out extreme sun exposure as a reason for the leaves turning purple, look at the location of the plant in your house, and whether it actually doesn’t trigger common changes in temperature. It may very well be the reason for the problem.
Luckily it again isn’t hard to address the issue. Just change the location of a plant, making sure it remains in a zone with relatively constant temperature. In a relatively short time the leaves will return to their normal color.
Inappropriate use of fertilizer can sometimes be blamed for purple leaves
Big companies want you to spend money, advising you to buy products you do not really need. Jade Plant doesn’t need fertilizers. It is enough if you leave some leaves of the plant slowly decompose on the surface of the soil, or if you water your Jade Plant with rain water (instead of chemically treated tap water). It will get all nutrients it needs.
However, some people (no doubt with good intentions) fertilize their Jade Plant. Wanting to do some good to the plant, they actually harm it, adding too much fertilizer to the soil. Just as the plant can experience stress from sun or temperature changes, it can experience a lot of stress for bad things going on in the soil, such as too much nutrients that may actually burn the roots, or will at least cause stress to the plant. Even in this case, with the use of some fertilizers, the leaves will turn purple. If you’ve fertilized your Jade Plant recently and leaves turned purple afterwards, it is most likely the reason.
Addressing excessive fertilization isn’t always easy. If you really overdid it, you’d have to repot the plant to succulent soil mix with no added fertilizers. In mild cases, however, you may simply let the plant run its course and deal with the situation on its own. Mature Jade Plant should easily handle it.
Leaves of Jade Plant may turn different colors. If your favorite plant turns purple, you know now that it is most likely due to extreme light exposure, sudden or repeated changes in room temperature, or over-fertilization. Once you find the cause you can address it, or you can decide that you actually like the purple leaves and leave things as they are. Thank you for reading and good luck with your plants!
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