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Ode to an overwatered jade

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by Tomacco on August 17, 2006 02:03 AM
I thought I would post a short true story about an overwatered jade and why meter checking for moisture is really important rather than poking a finger 2-3" into the soil.

A little history: All my jades are special as they came from a 30-year-old 'tree' of my mum's. His name was Boris. My biggie jades are 'Sons of Boris,' the smaller, "Grandsons of Boris.' Friends of mine around the world have sons or grandsons. I plead the 5th as to how I got them from here to there hehehe!

Because I was overseas for 2005, I was lucky enough to have someone who would take my huge jade collection on loan (many small jades and two 12-year-olds which take three people to carry). I have had the grandchildren (3-6 years old) back for a few months in my greenhouse and after giving severe haircuts, they are doing very well.

The two oldest sons came back this weekend. I saw one was leaning but it looked healthy. Noticing an oval bulge on one side, I spied bubbles (gasp!). I took a sharp knife and careful not to cut into the trunk, I peeled back some bark. Hissssss. My heart sank. Initially I thought perhaps it had been knocked over, re-set in the pot and was settling on newly-added soil. No. It was leaning because it was slowly collapsing on itself. I called horticulturist 911 for a cure, sat down and had a stiff drink, and while waiting for the call-back, the jade simply fell over. I was looking at a beautiful jade tree filled with leaves and sturdy trunks and a pot with a mushy stump that smelled like baby vomit. They were no longer one and I was crying like a baby.

A box of Kleenex later, I regained my composure. Armed with a sharp knife, some bleach, and three huge mixing bowls, surgery began. I was so hoping that I could save maybe 10 good-sized pieces with large stems. Nope. For every large 'leg' I carefully cut, I had to keep cutting further up the joints until I could no longer see the brown vein of death. I was beside myself. Bowls were filling; the scrap heap of rejects and knuckles was growing. Finally I was done and carefully laid 112 grandchildren on the deck table to callous over.

An hour later I performed a post mortem on the potted stump. The top 3" of soil was dry. Inch #4 was metering a 6. Inch #5 was a 10 and so it went all the way down. It bears mentioning that it was in a plastic pot, not clay (not my preference but it's what I had). The insides were mush -- utter and complete.

I can't tell how long this has been going on (inside of a year) nor do I know when to apply a rooting compound (before or after the cuttings harden). I took pictures throughout the ordeal so perhaps someone else may benefit from knowing what will happen when a jade is overwatered. Like many have posted, better to err on the side of underwatering. I'll try to get those posted today.

Tomacco

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Tomacco

That coffee was so strong, it swallowed the cream...
http://s98.photobucket.com/albums/l268/Tomacco1/
by Pekemom on August 17, 2006 03:41 AM
quote:
I took pictures throughout the ordeal so perhaps someone else may benefit from knowing what will happen when a jade is overwatered
I'm very interested in seeing the pictures. A sad tale - but one we can all learn from. It sounds like you have some serious experience with jades. It does seem that overwatering can be the "root" of all evil...

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Pekemom's Gallery
by Tomacco on August 17, 2006 04:55 AM
Here are the photos: http://tinyurl.com/fngxd

The pics loaded in reverse (oops), so please click "previous" to walk through the process from start to finish instead of finish to start!

Tomacco

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Tomacco

That coffee was so strong, it swallowed the cream...
http://s98.photobucket.com/albums/l268/Tomacco1/
by Pekemom on August 17, 2006 05:14 AM
That is really a crying, crying shame, Tomacco. Those pics tell the story, alright. You freaked me out sufficiently on this overwatering issue, that today, I actually replanted one of my indoor plants (from a plastic container to a clay one) and it was absolutely DRENCHED at the very very bottom of the pot!

The jade plant looks old. How old was it? Did the "grandsons" survive? How did it get in the situation of the terminal overwatering? I'm buying one of those meters TODAY!

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Pekemom's Gallery
by Tomacco on August 17, 2006 07:52 AM
Pekemom, This one and the surviving twin 'son' were started 12 years ago from a then 18-year-old (That was papa Boris). My math is crusty. If Boris were alive today, he would be 30.

The grandchildren (clones of the sons) are fine, thank god. The plant sitter probably stuck a finger in 2-3 inches down, felt it was dry, and watered. Who wouldn't? I'm on the 'net hunt for a large clay pot and will do as you did and re-pot the twin ASAP.

Hooray for your new meter; it's gonna save a lotta lives! I was shocked at how wet the soil was 4 inches down and to the bottom. Just got back from the nursery with 3 bags of vermiculite and 40 small containers. The plan is to take 4 rubber bands, wrapping 2 North/South, 2 East/West around a container, and plant the cutting through the intersection so it will be held in place until it takes root. I'm concerned about the lightweight vermic so will mix with a bit of sterile potting soil.

Needless to say, I have my work cut out for me over the next few days [Smile]

Meter meter meter!!!

Tomacco

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Tomacco

That coffee was so strong, it swallowed the cream...
http://s98.photobucket.com/albums/l268/Tomacco1/
by Pekemom on August 17, 2006 12:29 PM
quote:
The plan is to take 4 rubber bands, wrapping 2 North/South, 2 East/West around a container, and plant the cutting through the intersection so it will be held in place until it takes root.
Now that's quite clever!

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by comfrey on August 17, 2006 03:16 PM
The surviving Twin Brother is absolutely beautiful!!!! I felt like I needed a box of Kleenex [tears] while looking at the pictures, and it made my stomach feel queasy also. What I want to know is what are you going to do with all those grandsons???? Are going to put one to a pot or a couple to each pot. Do you have a green house? Where will you keep all the grandsons while waiting for them to root??? And I see the need also for a water meter...I have a lot cactus and African violets, which I have lost a few violets due to over watering, So I will be getting one also as soon as I locate one. Thanks for sharing your pictures...I found it very interesting and very educational. [wavey] Welcome to the forum!!!

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by Tomacco on August 18, 2006 12:51 AM
Hi Comfry, I can't seem to get that twin pic to display correctly but you got the gist. I, too, still get queasy just looking at the photos, and let me say that the smell lingers. The deck's been bleached and I can still catch a whiff... Wait until the binmen come for the rubbish today: One plastic pot, 5 bags carnage and soil, one carcass... I don't dare put it on the mulch pile.

Yes I have an all-glass sunroom for 12 well-established grandsons. The twin is outside at present until I can make a larger door opening ha ha!

As of last night, 78 cuttings were set in. Some of the larger cuttings needed to be separated so the final count will 150+. A proper flat nursery table with sides would be great but have no space. I'll need a few shelf units to stack the kids (I'm ready for g'daughters).

Some containers have as many as 4 cuttings, most have 2. Some needed trussing (rubber bands/popsicle stix), others I partially buried the bottom leaf pair for stability.

Absolutely, I am going back to clay at the next repotting marathon. Never thought much about a meter until this sad event.

Soil Moisture Meter (example): http://snipurl.com/v2r4
Try Wal-Mart or Home Depot (avg $10).

Tip: I keep a spray bottle of 100% bleach and clean shop towels handy. After meter testing a plant, wipe down the wand so bacteria won't be carried from pot to pot. Also wash hands before moving on to another plant.

What varieties of cacti do you have?

Tomacco

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Tomacco

That coffee was so strong, it swallowed the cream...
http://s98.photobucket.com/albums/l268/Tomacco1/
by comfrey on August 18, 2006 03:59 AM
Some of the cacti I have is unidentified, But I do have several varieities of Echinopsis, If you go here you can see one of my Echinopsis Blooming They seem to thrive on my neglect of them, maybe that is why I love cactus so much. Other species I have are opuntia subulata, euphorbia enopla & euphorbia mammillaris, I have three different types of aloe also.

That is cheap for the water meter, I was thinking it would be around $20. Thanks for the tip about the bleach bottle and cleaning the meter from plant to plant, I know that is important and I probable wouldn't have thought about that, nor would alot of other people who might decide they need to get one also.

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by Tomacco on August 18, 2006 04:11 AM
Lucky you, Comfrey! Gorgeous flower [Smile]

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Tomacco

That coffee was so strong, it swallowed the cream...
http://s98.photobucket.com/albums/l268/Tomacco1/
by Pekemom on August 18, 2006 05:45 AM
That bloom is exquisite, comfrey...That's why I love cacti so much. They're so surprising!!

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by plants 'n pots on August 18, 2006 06:05 AM
Tomacco - thank you so much for sharing this upsetting episode with us!
I, too, have a rather large potted jade that I got as a gift about 4 years ago and would be devasted, as you are, if it were to fall apart like that!

I greatly appreciate your sharing your pictures with us - they were very detailed and quite clear.

I hope your survivors give you many years of pleasure. Whatever will you do with so many?

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 - Lynne's knitting journal  -  -  -
"I'm spayed, declawed, and housebound - how's YOUR day going???"
by Tomacco on August 18, 2006 07:27 AM
You're most welcome [Smile] It helped to chronicle, if only so no one else suffers needlessly. This is preventable!!! In the caretaker's defense, I'm certain their being away for a few weeks at a time caused worry (and more watering).
quote:
Whatever will you do with so many?
Jade store? Jade salad? LOL! No! See what works best as far as planting methods and medium, with rooting hormone, without, etc. It's the best way I know to pay homage to a twin who, with his brother, flowered for me every year and tolerated being stuffed with Christmas ornaments, string lights, presents, and the occasional lounging cat wrapped around the trunk.

Tomacco

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Tomacco

That coffee was so strong, it swallowed the cream...
http://s98.photobucket.com/albums/l268/Tomacco1/
by gardeningmomma on August 18, 2006 02:09 PM
I can only begin to imagine how devastated you were. I, too, would have been a wreck. Thank you for sharing your story. We so often hear about the cons of over-watering, but your story and pictures show the reality. Please keep posting about the grand-babies, I'd love to know how they make out.
by Tomacco on August 19, 2006 01:23 AM
Just did a head count [Smile]

53 containers
3 small bags Vermiculite
1 small bag potting mix
1/2 bag rubber bands
40 popsicle sticks [Smile]
1 pail of stone
2 gallons water
1 very dirty table and deck

161 cuttings, not including 16 large multi-stem leftovers (need more containers!). There are at least 40 more cuttings there (need more vermiculite!)

Whew, I'm tired! All g'daughters are on wire shelving in the sunroom, which reaches 90 F on a sunny day. They should love it [Smile]

Ironically, the twin was 5' tall and over 4 foot wide. Sitting on the shelves, dismantled, he is still 5' tall and 36" wide LOL!

Tomacco
by Pekemom on August 19, 2006 02:44 AM
Wow, what a job, Tomacco...I'm tired just reading your post!! [Big Grin]

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by comfrey on August 19, 2006 03:14 AM
quote:
Ironically, the twin was 5' tall and over 4 foot wide. Sitting on the shelves, dismantled, he is still 5' tall and 36" wide LOL!
[Big Grin] [Big Grin] You have been one busy person. Alot of people would not have gone to that much trouble to save any of the plant let alone every savable piece. You are a great Mom to them [kissies] [thumb] [thumb] I to am interested in their progress!!!

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by Tomacco on August 19, 2006 03:26 AM
It just wasn't an option not to try. I mean it wasn't like performing CPR on a dying lizard [Smile] I'll grant this was a grand effort. I won't tell you how I kissed each one as I put her on the shelf and said: "You have Grandpa Boris running through your veins. It's not an option to die. Make him proud."

Tomacco

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Tomacco

That coffee was so strong, it swallowed the cream...
http://s98.photobucket.com/albums/l268/Tomacco1/
by comfrey on August 19, 2006 01:30 PM
quote:
Originally posted by Tomacco:
I kissed each one as I put her on the shelf and said: "You have Grandpa Boris running through your veins. It's not an option to die. Make him proud."

Oh...pass the Kleenex, that is so touching [thumb] Here's to each ones success [muggs]

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by Tomacco on August 19, 2006 02:05 PM
Kinda sappy, huh?! Oh for stock in Kimberly-Clark [Smile]

Tomacco

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Tomacco

That coffee was so strong, it swallowed the cream...
http://s98.photobucket.com/albums/l268/Tomacco1/
by Pekemom on August 19, 2006 03:44 PM
Okay, Tomacco, now that we're ALL involved in these babies survival, don't forget to post up pics on their progress!!!

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by gardenfairy on August 20, 2006 09:18 AM
I'm really sorry about your BEAUTIFUL Jade. I want to get a box of tissues now [tears] I hope the babies are doing well. I will have to remember not to over water a Jade plant, it is one of the plants on my wish list and I have been looking around for one. Best of luck for your babies!

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Monica

"Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take, but by the moments that take your breath away."
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God gave us memories so we can have roses in the winter.
by Tomacco on August 20, 2006 10:59 AM
Thank you, Monica. There is still a way to go. [Smile]
Today, I got an 18" clay pot (thank goodness for nursery sales!) and repotted the twin out of the plastic pot. I got a great suggestion from a horticulturist this morning to get some of the water out of the twin: Newspaper (acts as a wick, duh).

Who would have thunk it! After sitting all afternoon on newspaper, nekid as a jaybird, it's happily in a new pot in the hot sunroom with lots of stone in the bottom and no direct sun for a while. It's not going to see one drop of water for at least a month!

I'll get pictures of the girls and their dad up this week.

Thanks to all of you for wending your way through my posts. Although I didn't have many questions, per say, it really helped me to know there were others out there who understood. You are the greatest!

Tomacco
by gardeningmomma on August 21, 2006 12:56 AM
Well you inspired me to get a jade plant. I put it in a terracotta pot in a sunny, warm part of the Kitchen. After your experience, I know not to over-water. I think I'll invest in a water measuring tool. I've read a lot about jade plants on the internet, but would appreciate any advice on caring for them.
Thanks [clappy]
Gail
by Tomacco on August 23, 2006 04:05 AM
Gail, Can you post a picture of your jade? As for advice on caring for your jade, here are my suggestions:

1. Turn your jade 1/4 turn every few days.
2. Pinching off the upper two leaves of long stems encourages growth elsewhere. Use your thumbnail or a sharp knife.
3. Discourage growth toward the inside of the plant.
4. Should stems and leaves start to cross, decide which one stays or goes [Smile]
5. Prune off new growth that points down and pinch back stems that are top heavy and leaning over.
6. Save all viable cuttings for rooting [Smile]

Your picture will tell the tale about how yours should be selectively and occasionally pruned. Congrats! It will give you years of beauty [Smile]

Tomacco
by Tomacco on August 23, 2006 05:19 AM
Finished!! Final count:

77 containers
4 small bags Vermiculite+a little from a 5th

211 grandaughters in all. Now for names... just kidding! (or am I...)

Tomacco
by gardeningmomma on August 23, 2006 03:45 PM
Jade Plant

Tomacco, Thank you for the info you posted. The plant I bought is very little. I can't wait to watch it grow! How quickly do you find they grow? Plus did you give your jade plants anything extra to help them grow?
Thanks [thumb]
by Tomacco on August 24, 2006 03:39 AM
Gail, that's a fine looking healthy jade! I see two double tops that 'may' need thinning out (one from each) in a month or so. It looks like it's three plants in this pot. Follow your instincts as to shape. If you turn it halfway, the right-hand stem at the base in the picture may turn out for you.

Great!

Tomacco
by gardeningmomma on August 24, 2006 03:00 PM
I noticed some new growth on it today! I'm sure I'll have questions for you as my jade gets bigger.
How are your babies doing?
by Tomacco on August 24, 2006 11:58 PM
Hooray! I'm sure there are many here who can answer any questions you may have, and I'll surely try, as well.

Grandaughters are doing well, thanks [Smile] I try not to dote but it's hard!

Tomacco
by gardeningmomma on August 27, 2006 12:43 AM
What will you do with all those babies? Are you planning on keeping them? I'm trying to figure out a good place to put mine for the Winter [flower]
by Tomacco on August 28, 2006 08:39 AM
Gail, for the moment I am simply going to get them through their first month. As for your jade for Winter, just be sure it's in a good place for light. You may have to provide some extra humidity (but not extra waterings) [Smile]

Tomacco
by gardeningmomma on August 31, 2006 02:22 PM
We are lucky that our fish tanks give us a lot of humidity in the Winter. The Winters can be so harsh here. I have a good spot in my Kitchen for my jade plant that will give it lots of sunny light, but it won't be near a draft. My plants have done really well this Summer- probably due to all the rain we had and I've had to split some of them into seperate containers. Now with the cooler nights, I'm just wondering were to put everyone!!!
by Tomacco on September 01, 2006 07:32 AM
That's great [Smile] I do think the rain helped a lot, and everything looked great for a few days until the rain hit us again... and again. Some seasons are like that. You're wondering where to put everyone? LOL!

Here's an update on the granddaughters. So far, only three multi-stem cuttings have lost a stem or part of a stem. I won't be trying to save them. They atrophied for whatever reason [Smile]

They all have names (I wasn't kidding!) so over the winter when they're settled into their winter spots, I'll tag them.

Photos are uploaded here: http://snipurl.com/vqnf

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Tomacco

That coffee was so strong, it swallowed the cream...
http://s98.photobucket.com/albums/l268/Tomacco1/
by gardeningmomma on September 01, 2006 12:40 PM
Well they all look strong and healthy. Can't believe that you ended up with some many babies!
My little jade has some new growth- yay! [grin]
by Tomacco on October 06, 2006 10:27 PM
Granddaughters' Update [Smile]

With Fall fast approaching, a few days were spent last week moving everyone from the greenhouse to various places in the house. I set up a table for inspections, tugging for root strength, and repotting, if nec. Whenever a cutting failed since D-day, I'd cut her back and replant. And wait [Smile]

Most that were trussed up with rubber bands are standing on their own. Same with popsicle stix. 90% are independent!!

I was lucky to acquire some yo-yos (made in Italy). They are used on orchid farms to keep orchid stems growing straight. US orchid growers had no idea what these were. It helped to have a Dutch connection!

Imagine a wire above the orchids to which the yo-yo attaches. A tensioned, retractable pull-out string, at the bottom, is then hooked to a sturdy part of the stem to hold it up. They keep long jade stems from growing downward. Miracle things, these yo-yos...

Things I've learned:

1. Vermiculite comes in (at least) 2 grades: Fine and chunky. Fine works better. Chunky dries out faster and the cuttings start to lean.

2. Rooting compound made no difference.

3. Vermiculite or straight potting soil made no difference, except that with the fine vermic, repotting was easier. Those initially put in potting soil rooted faster and required no repotting.

Latest head count: I started with 211 cuttings; I still have 211 cuttings. We'll see how many do or don't appreciate the environment change and lesser amounts of light.

So far, so good!

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Tomacco

That coffee was so strong, it swallowed the cream...
http://s98.photobucket.com/albums/l268/Tomacco1/
by plants 'n pots on October 06, 2006 10:46 PM
Tomacco - I sooooo appreciate your sharing this experience with us here. Your pictures are fantastic, and I cannot believe that you have 211 cuttings!

As you know, I'm going through a similar thing, after having either drowned or sprayed to death, my large jade. I don't have nearly as many cuttings, but I do have some just the same. I just don't have room to put them in as many pots as you have, so mine will be grouped together in large pots.

I am using the rooting hormone powder, and find that they are doing well, so I will continue using it. I'm also using the potting soil that I use for all my plants - it's mostly peat, and has done well for all sorts of plants so far.

Keep up the great work, and please keep posting pictures of their progress! [kissies]

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 - Lynne's knitting journal  -  -  -
"I'm spayed, declawed, and housebound - how's YOUR day going???"
by Tomacco on October 07, 2006 01:20 AM
Thanks for the encouragement, plants 'n pots!! I'm glad the rooting hormone works for you. I have never used it except for this gaggle of granddaughters [Smile]

It's wonderful that your jade is doing much better despite its own traumatic event but you and I know jades are like the energiser bunny and oh so forgiving, hehehe! How many babies do you have now?

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Tomacco

That coffee was so strong, it swallowed the cream...
http://s98.photobucket.com/albums/l268/Tomacco1/
by plants 'n pots on October 07, 2006 01:40 AM
Let's see...

I threw a bunch of them out, because they were too long and spindly with just a leaf or two on the tips, after the multitude of leaves fell off the mamma plant.

I planted 5 stems in the base of a large diffenbachia plant, to help fill the empty looking bottom. I have 3 pieces in a pot in here on top of the small tv on the desk. There isn't a whole lot of light there, so I'm experimenting - I'd like to put more there, but don't want them to die there either.

I'm going to plant 3 into another pot this afternoon, and then I have about 5 more to find room for. I decided that I'm going to severely cut the mamma plant, in hopes that it gets MUCH fuller ones the babies pop out of the stems. Then I'll need to find room for those cuttings too.

So you see... I don't have nearly as many as you do - can't imagine having to find room for so many!

I wish my friends locally were more interested in houseplants - then I'd feel better about whacking up the mamma.

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"I'm spayed, declawed, and housebound - how's YOUR day going???"

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