Jade survives cold and dark

Update that miss: Cellaring the jade's a hit

Back at the end of fall, B.C. asked,

Can I really keep (jade plants) in a cool, dark place for the next four or five months?

We said we'd check it out, then "cellared" a big branch from a jade tree (Crassula ovata). Since the light's sometimes on in that cold storage room, we bagged the branch to keep it dark.

 

Fraxy the cat inspects a jade branch and reports it's still healthy, ready to root, and just as unpalatable as when it went into the bag three months ago for a cold storage winter at 50°F and 50% humidity.

Fraxy the cat inspects a jade branch and reports it's still healthy, ready to root, and just as unpalatable as when it went into the bag three months ago for a cold storage winter at 50°F and 50% humidity.

The cold storage conditions

Temperature in that storage room is a pretty steady 50°F. About humidity, we guess 50%. That's moister than our desert-like centrally heated home but drier than the air in a typical root cellar, where 80-90% humidity is normal. The difference is in the floor and walls. Floor and/or walls are bare earth in most root cellars; those surfaces are covered by cement slab in the room we used.

At three months into the test, we looked into the bag (above) and thought, "This  jade's still fine. We'll recommend dark, cold storage -- 50°F and 50% humidity."

The result:

We compared the stored branch (above, left) to its self of 90 days before (above, right). We found little difference, other than that the stored branch had dropped about a dozen leaves. That's not surprising. Jade's a model of efficiency. It probably withdrew and used the water from its oldest foliage before dropping those leaves. 

 

Our conclusions:

  1. This branch will still be good to go after having spent another month or six weeks in storage. So we've returned it in its bag and to cold storage. We'll let you know the outcome.
  2. Chances are good that a potted jade would come through cold, dark storage with even less leaf loss than this branch.
  3. After a total of 3 months on "hold," the plant's leaves may be thin and wrinkly  but they'll recover quickly.

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