It’s a plant that is both fragile and robust at the same time. A gentle knock dislodges a cascade of thick, succulent leaves, all ready to send out new roots and shoots in the stoniest of ground. For this plant fragility is an aid to movement.
The jade plant or money tree (Crassula ovata) is an undemanding house plant. It will survive a shady corner and regular watering but thrives in full sun with regular drought. When the going’s good, the rain falls or the indoor gardener remembers to water it, the plant stores up water in its stems and leaves. When drought comes it draws on those stored resources.
For the last three years this plant has thrived on neglect and erratic watering. It’s been through lean times before. I don’t remember how old I was when I potted up a fallen shoot from the plant in my childhood home. When I came to leave home the new plant was well established and ready to move with me. It survived a succession of student rooms and the long droughts of summer vacations, then spent a year in a caravan in an apple orchard. It returned to our parental home (mine and the plant’s) while I lived abroad for two years before rejoining me in a London flat. For twenty years it’s had pride of place and plenty of sunshine in the small conservatory of our York home, steadily increasing in size and weight despite the number of shoots knocked off by children and cats over the years.
We’re moving again next week. The new house has many advantages but they don’t include a sunny spot for a veteran succulent so, at two o’clock this afternoon, I put an advert on Gumtree. ‘Magnificent 40 year old jade plant needs new home.’ Half an hour later I received a text. ‘The plant sounds lovely…’ At 4.00 the plant’s new owner was staggering under its weight as he struggled to fit it into his car. Shortly after I received another text. ‘Just to say thanks again. My partner absolutely loves the plant. She’s very happy.’ It was time for that plant to move on.
P.S. I kept some cuttings.