I'm crazy about jade plants. I've had some humungous ones in my time. Somebody in a plant store once told me that if you can grow a jade, you're a good person. Luckily, jades are easy to grow, so just about anybody can pot up a jade and earn the title of "good person."
Johanna's brother-in-law Andrew is a master at growing jades (which means of course that he's a very very good person!). A few months back he was generous enough to give us some beautiful little cuttings.
We were looking for an interesting way to show off our new baby jades and Mike came up with the idea of planting them in a piece of lace rock. Lace rock is what we use in our fish tank so we tend to have pieces of it lying around. It has deep deep holes, perfect for holding enough dirt for succulents. It's also nice and porous so it holds water and jade roots can really dig in and attach themselves to the rock.
HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN JADE ROCK
Lace Rock - look for a piece that has a sturdy, non-tippy base. Also look for some nice deep holes you can fill with soil. If you don't know where to get lace rock, head to your local aquarium store. We get our pieces of rock at Pacific Aquarium on Delancey Street.
Small Jade Plants - If you don't know Johanna's brother-in-law Andrew, you can sometimes find small jade plants (and other succulents) at big pet stores like PetCo. They are sold for use in reptile cages. The Union Square Market also sometimes has a table with tiny succulents for sale. If you're happy to wait a while you can buy a big jade from a plant store and root up some cuttings in water on a sunny window sill.
Potting Soil - Any kind will do. Jades don't tend to be picky.
Peat Moss (optional) - I used the kind they use for orchids. Normally you wouldn't use peat in a jade potting mixture because jades like soil that totally dries out between waterings. But since there wasn't going to be much soil in this planting method, I decided to add a tiny bit of peat moss to the bottom of each hole. You're not supposed to touch this stuff with your bare hands so you may want to wear gloves when working with peat moss.
HOW TO PLANT YOUR ROCK:
1. Soak the lace rock in a bucket of water overnight. This will help your jades stay moist for the first few days after they are planted.
2. Soak a little bit of peat moss in water.
3. Line the bottom of the holes in the lace rock with a thin layer of wet peat moss (wear gloves for this step).
4. Using a spoon, spoon in a bit of potting soil in each hole. Add the jade cuttings to the holes in an arrangement you like. Not every hole needs to be filled. Pick and choose to make a nice arrangement, remembering that your jade cuttings are going to GROW!
5. Use the spoon again to cover the roots with potting soil and fill up each of the holes where you've placed a cutting. Use something like a pencil (eraser side toward the soil) to gently tamp down the soil around the cutting.
6. Sprinkle with water. Be carful not to dump too much water on your newly planted rock or your top soil will wash away.
7. Place near a sunny window and enjoy!
You can control the growth of your jade cuttings by pinching out the two center leaves of each cutting once they get to about the right size. It's kind of like what you do with a Bonsai. You want it to grow, but not too much.
Every week or so, sprinkle water on your planted rock being careful not to wash away too much dirt. As the jade roots develop, they will help hold the soil in place and you won't have to be so careful about watering.
An alternative way of watering is to place your entire rock in a shallow pan about half full of water. The rock will pull the water up into the dirt from the bottom.
Good luck and enjoy being a "good person."