Even botanists love a little fantasy now and then, as evidenced by the many names for one of the most famous cultivars – Crassula ovata (KRASS-oo-la oh-VAY-tuh).
Officially called Crassula ovata ‘monstruosa’, this Jade plant it is often referred to by the sport names’ Cristata’ and ‘Gollum’ as well as such common names as:
- ET’s fingers
- Finger jade
- Gollum Jade
- Green coral jade
- Trumpet jade
There is also some debate over whether Crassula ovata ‘hobbit’ (aka hobbit jade) is the same cultivar.
However, it is generally considered a separate sport as ‘hobbit’ tends to have a more ear or spoon-like shape to its leaf tips.
The Gollum jade plant was first “discovered” in Abbey Garden during the 1970s and had little resemblance to its South African parent.
However, like its parent and other members of the Crassulaceae plant family, this perennial succulent is extremely popular for its coloration and unique foliage.
Gollum Jade Care
Size & Growth
Finger jade can vary in size depending on how much space it has to grow.
It will grow to a little over 12″ inches tall in small pots but has a potential max height of 3′ feet tall and 2′ feet across.
The lime green leaves are round and have a finger-like appearance with flat tips.
When provided with ample sunlight, a red ring will form on these tips.
The plant has pores, called hydathodes, which help in the transference of water.
These will sometimes create tiny black or white dots on the tubular leaves as they do their job.
How fast does Gollum Jade grow?
This plant is a slow grower.
Flowering and Fragrance
This sport will often give a wonderful display of small white to light pink flowers during the fall and winter months.
Flowering is not guaranteed, however, and numerous conditions may encourage or discourage growth.
Bright Light & Temperature
ET’s fingers are very sensitive to the intense afternoon sun, but this doesn’t mean they hate light.
They look best when exposed to the right amount of light. In partial shade, they will be a darker green color.
You will want to keep them on a windowsill when growing indoors for the best results.
How Much Light Does Gollum Jade Need?
4 to 6 hours of direct sun in the morning or afternoon is best.
Be sure to place the plant somewhere it will have dappled or indirect light during the hottest part of the day to avoid sunburn.
This plant is best suited for USDA hardiness zones 9 to 10 but can grow in warmer climates when provided some noonday shade.
It isn’t cold tolerant and will die out during a hard frost.
For the best results, keep the plant in temperatures between 45° and 85° degrees Fahrenheit.
While the plant prefers humidity, it can tolerate most household humidity levels.
You may choose to augment its ambient humidity with a pebble tray as needed.
Watering and Feeding
Succulent plants like the Gollum Jade needs less water than other jade plant cultivars.
Water thoroughly when the soil is dry to at least 1″ inch deep to the touch.
This plant is drought-tolerant but highly sensitive to overwatering. Use the “drench or soak and dry watering” approach. Allow the soil to dry out further than 1″ inch if you are worried about overwatering.
Be sure to only use natural rainwater or distilled water, as this plant is very sensitive to salts and chemicals.
Also, avoid getting the leaves wet when watering, as this can lead to sunburn.
How Often Should I Water Gollum Jade?
This is a common problem among growers less familiar with this plant.
The higher the relative humidity, the less often your Gollum plant needs watering.
Always do the finger test over using a schedule for the best results.
As the plant is dormant during fall and winter, it will need even less water.
A general rule is to water only once the soil has completely dried out or no more than once per month.
Read this article for this question: How Often Do You Water A Jade Plant?
Does Gollum Jade Require Fertilizer?
As long as the soil is replaced annually, your Gollum plant will likely do fine without fertilizer.
If you choose to fertilize, dilute a balanced cacti fertilizer to about ¼ strength and feed every 3-4 weeks during spring and summer.
Succulent Soil Mix & Transplanting
Good drainage is essential for this plant, and the soil you use should reflect this.
Aim for a good, well-draining soil like a cactus and succulent mix and amend it with a 1:1 to 3:1 ratio of coarse sand, perlite, or pumice to the soil.
It’s usually best to repot your finger jade in early spring.
Use heavier pots with good drainage holes, such as ceramic or terracotta, so the plant’s weight will be less likely to tip the pot over.
When sizing up, choose a pot only one size larger.
Remove this plant by tipping the old pot onto its side, gripping the stem at its base, and gently sliding it out of the pot.
Trim away any long or scraggly roots using sterile shears.
Fill the bottom of the new pot with fresh soil mix, add the plant, then gently fill around it.
Finally, water the plant thoroughly and avoid stressing it for the next month as it recovers.
Grooming And Maintenance
This plant is incredibly low-maintenance and will self-prune by shedding excess leaves over time.
How Do I Prune Gollum Jade?
Try to prune only in spring and summer using sterile shears.
Look for areas where the leaves have begun drooping due to the weight and remove any excess leaves until the branches no longer droop.
How To Propagate Crassula ovata ‘Gollum’
Propagate Gollum jade through leaf cuttings or stem cuttings.
Choose a healthy stem with several plump leaves and let it dry away from direct sunlight for 2-3 days.
Place the stem in a small pot of well-drained soil mix and only water when the soil is dry to the touch.
Avoid direct sunlight until the plant has had a month or two to take root.
While it is also possible to propagate from the leaves, this process is more prone to failure.
Finger Jade Pests or Diseases
This cultivar is drought tolerant but may suffer sunburn when in direct sunlight during high heat conditions.
It is highly susceptible to root rot.
Aphids, mealybugs, scale, and spider mites tend to be the biggest infestation problems with this plant.
Gollum jade is toxic to both humans and pets.
When ingested, it may cause diarrhea or vomiting.
The sap is also known to cause skin irritation, so wearing gloves and/or washing your hands after handling is advised.
Crassula Ovata ‘Gollum’ FAQ
Is The Crassula Ovata ‘gollum’ An Indoor Or Outdoor Plant?
While this cultivar is usually grown indoors, it can be grow outside in zones 10 and warmer.
The plant adapts to its home, allowing for bonsai shaping in a small pot and becoming a large shrub when given plenty of growth space.
Check out these Tips on Growing Jade Plants Outdoors
Why Is My Gollum Jade Wrinkled?
Wrinkly leaves indicate the plant is getting either too much or too little water.
Check the soil to see how far down you get before feeling moisture.
If the soil is dry to a deep level, a good watering will help.
However, if the soil feels moist, your plant may have a more serious root rot problem due to overwatering.
Why Does My Finger Plant Have Brown spots?
Brown spots on the leaves are a sign of sunburn. Be sure your plant has some shelter from direct sun during the hottest part of the day.
Does Gollum Jade Require Pruning?
Pruning is entirely optional, as the plant is largely self-maintaining.
However, you may choose to use pruning to shape younger plants bonsai-style.
How Do I Make My Jade Plant Bushy?
A good growing environment with ample light will encourage more closely packed new growth.
Pruning will also allow you to encourage the plant to grow into a bushier shape.
Fertilizing will also encourage fuller growth.