Thank you in advance for your help! The plant is about 12-14 inches in height. It has been pretty happy until the last two months or so. Please let me know if anyone needs larger pictures or more details.
The leaves are green, no tint of color on the edges. The leaves are more rounded and less boat shaped than other crassulas I have seen. The leaves are fleshy and firm but an rough brush against them will cause them to fall (especially now that the plant is struggling). The plant sprouts leaves at each joint of the stem, growing first two leaves and then two more leaves to make a cross of four at each sprout. When they start growing they are heart shaped, but the ends round off as they continue to grow. The adult leaves are only about one cm long, some smaller.
The stems each have their own roots, but are entangled with the roots of the other stems. The stems are thick, reddish-brown, and are about the size of a finger in circumrence. The stem has many joints, and as the plant has been dying, each section of the stem dries up, shrivels, and hardens and then either falls off or is easily picked off. When the died section is picked off it reveals the top of the section below which is bright green. Within a day or so the stem forms a protective brown top over this and a new set of leaves sometimes sprout. I have not noticed the plant growing new sections of stem, but it is possble that it does and I am not noticing because it happens slowly.
When I bought it, the pot that it was in was very small and it was root-bound. Perhaps I should have left it that way. But instead I transferred it into a peat/soil mixture and that is the pot that you see in the picture, which is not a clay pot (perhaps two mistakes so far).
Regardless, it was happy for a long time but then leaves started falling off too easily, it was looking straggly and so I moved it to a sunnier location, then to a shaded location. I watered it more, I watered it less. More humidity, less humidity. Then about two weeks ago I noticed these fuzzy white mold-like projections growing on the soil. And several of the stems had dried up and died completely, and when I pulled them out of the soil the roots were gone. A few days ago I noticed tiny, tiny little bugs crawling around in the soil - gross!
A search tonight revealed the possible answer - root mealy bugs. The problem is that treatment depends upon the plant, as some succulents are very sensitive to insecticides and I don't want to kill this plant. So I really need to know what it is before I can treat it. Beyond that, I might be able to make it happier after treatment is done if I know what this plant expects from me.
I have gotten alot of happiness from this plant, I feel attatched to it and it's my duty to fix it. I appreciate any help you can give me. I hope that someone can identify it. It looks very similar to some crassulas that I have seen, but after looking carefully through dozens of plant books and hundreds of pictures online, I cannot find it.
Don't assume on my word that it is a crassula - I really don't know!
Thank you again for your assistance!
Susan Parkhurst (parkhurstohana)
Last edited by parkhurstohana; January 7th, 2004 at 10:51 PM.
Reason: changed font size - I didn't realize it was so big on first post!
I have to say that when I looked at the pictures of this plant in its current condition, it looks like an orphan left out in the cold compared to the way it used to look.
I have a baby plant that is very tiny (only 2-3 inches high) and you can see from the pictures below how my bigger plant used to look - leaves clumpy and bushy. I keep looking over at my jade plant, thinking how similar the two plants are, but the reddish-brown stems on this plant have stumped every plant book I've looked at.
I am posting pictures of the fuzzy-white moldly looking stuff in the soil under the Hort forum.
UBC Botanical Garden and Centre for Plant Research
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Vancouver, Canada
The plant is Portulacaria afra. A member of the Portulacaceae (purslane family), the genus is only distantly related to Crassula. Succulent plants belonging to this family are, in my experience, slightly more sensitive to root disturbance than those in Crassulaceae.
Take tip cuttings including 3 or 4 nodes, if possible, and root them in a sandy mix, well away from your infested plants. Wash your hands after handling the mother plants, as mealy bug crawlers are incredibly small and easily transported to new environments. Root mealy bugs are much like other mealy bugs; see this HortBoard link for more information.
Curator of Collections
Thank you so much to everyone who helped me! The plant is an Elephant Bush, although I referred to it as my Feng Shui plant, lol. I tried to treat it but it was just too far gone and died completely within a week. I was very sad as I had been very attached to it. I managed to find another one and it is doing fine although it is much smaller and not nearly as developed as my first one.
Jade plant, DO NOT OVERWATER, allow to dry out throughly between watering sparingly. they are very long-lived. Sprinkle cinnamon(Cassia sp.) on the soil surface to deter mealy bugs,and other small critters. Red streaks in the stems indicate a healthy plant, a condition not usually seen. I have one that is well over 50years old. When and if you transplant dip the entire plant in "Safers" soap solution, works for me(but not described on the package). Considered somewhat poisonous,also.
I find the nomenclature somewhat confusing. I assume that all jade plants are different species of Crassula. But it is not uncommon to see references to Crassula Portulacaria afra , a name which seems to be against what I understand to be accepted botanical nomenclature.
I suspect that they both require very similar cultural conditions - i.e., well drained soil, kept dry when in the dormant/semidormant state, and a ph of 6.5. They are prone to root rot, which seems to be what happened to your plants. I suspect the use of peat in the potting media may have done your jade plant in, by decreasing pH and, with regular watering, making the media too waterlogged. I wonder if the mealy bugs were a secondary phenomenon.
They originated in South Africa. They prefer bright sunlight and low humidity the best. If a jade plant has been grown outside in bright sun all summer long and brought in, it will drop some of it's leaves as it adjust to the lower light levels. It needs a well drained potting medium. During it's active growth period, in spring and summer, I water approximately once a week. I water well each time, but then allow the potting media to dry out completely before the next watering. I use soluble either orchid or african violet fertiliser at 1/2 strength with each watering. In the winter months, with the shorter days, and being brought indoors to lower light levels, I stop fertilising completely, and keep the potting medium dry, giving just enough water to moisten the medium once a month.
I joined this website only today, so I hope the plant is still living with you. It is Portulacaria afra, commonly known as Jade plant. It is asucculent plant & needs warm & dry climate. Your problem may be of excess of water. It could also be root mealy bugs. If it is root mealy bugs, you may try Dimethoate (1ml. to 1 lit. water). This will not damage the plant. However, confirm that you arenot over watering the plant. It can not tolerate shade & needs open sunlight. Lack of sunlight too may show similar symptoms. Visit www.gardentia.net for plant care info.