If you thought you were a die-hard collector of everything Tolkien, there are a few more options that you might not be aware of, which you should consider adding to your collection. Oh, and they’re living plants.
Any Lord of the Rings fan who is a plant enthusiast should know that there are several succulent cultivars which are named after JRR Tolkien’s characters. All have the benefit of being easy to care for, as well as being striking plants in their own right.
Succulent plants are known for their novel and unusual appearance, and the Gollum Jade is no different (see also Rare And Unusual Succulents). It almost looks like something you’d find in a coral reel, not something to have on your windowsill!
At a Glance: The Gollum Jade Plant
You probably know the jade plant, in one form or another. Perhaps you’ve heard that it is good luck, or that it lives for years, and that it is very easy to care for.
All are true, and as the plant is easy to propagate, new cultivars are being developed all the time.
Often, those who create new cultivars will name the species after something they’re passionate about, and there was bound to be at least one JRR Tolkien fan in there somewhere!
The Gollum jade is just as unusual and almost unnerving in its appearance as the character it is named after. The leaves have a tubular form, which gets narrower at the tips. If you place ‘Gollum’ in a bright position, the leaves will turn pink at the edges.
Like ‘Gollum’ himself, this plant doesn’t get very tall, it prefers to grow close to the ground, but unlike Gollum, it doesn’t shun the sun.
There are other succulent plants to complete your collection, including ‘Hobbit’ and ‘Gandalf’, though I bet more varieties will be developed in the future. Although Tom Bombadil might be a tall order, as he’s literally described as a deity who sees off any kind of menace.
You may be asking why this jade cultivar in particular looks so different from what you normally picture when you think of a jade tree. A bacterium called mycoplasma is believed to be responsible.
This bacterium causes a mutation within the leaves, making the foliage curl in on itself, fusing into a tubular form.
The Gollum jade plant also has some less exciting names, such as the green trumpet jade, or green coral jade, referring to its appearance.
How to Care for a Gollum Jade Plant?
Like most succulents, the Gollum jade plant doesn’t have a big list of demands when it comes to plant care.
The longer you leave them in between watering will result in a happier, healthier plant. It’s one of the most forgiving plants when it comes to neglect – and more often than not, leaving it alone will guarantee new growth.
Where You Should Put a Gollum Jade Plant?
Unlike Gollum himself, the Gollum jade plant will not scream at you if you put it in sunlight, or anywhere the “Yellow Face” can see it.
It will thrive both indoors and outdoors, but only outdoors during the summer months.
Although, if you keep it in direct sunlight all the time, it might start, as it is sensitive to too much sunlight, and will burn eventually.
The Gollum jade needs bright, indirect light in order to thrive, though a limited amount of direct sunlight will help it keep that pink hue.
Too little sunlight will mean that it will lose its vibrant color, and the plant may elongate to search out more light.
When You Should Water a Gollum Jade Plant?
As with most succulents, the Gollum jade plant needs a rest in between watering, to prevent root rot (see also How To Spot Root Rot in Succulents), which it is very susceptible to.
Depending on the conditions you put the plant in, you may need to water this plant as little as once every two to three weeks.
It can also tolerate spells of drought – and this is the best side to err on, as the plant will readily handle being under watered, after all, it’s what the plant’s evolved to do.
Watering will also depend on the season and the climate you live in. If you have hot summers, you may need to water every week or two weeks.
Cooler temperatures will require less frequent watering, and you’ll be able to tell when the plant needs watering as the leaves will start to look wrinkled or smaller, and the soil will be bone-dry.
In particularly cold climates, watering will only need to be done sparingly.
Some people forgo watering altogether in the winter, and succulents will adapt to this readily, but it also depends on the cultivar and its environment as to how well they will cope.
The Right Temperature and Humidity for a Gollum Jade
It’s not recommended that you keep your Gollum jade plant somewhere that will get frost. Frost can easily kill succulents, and while some types are hardier than others, it’s best to play it safe and put your succulent somewhere protected.
Gollum jade plants will also suffer under extreme heat, so to be sure, keep your Gollum plant in the region of 45-85°F.
Like most succulents, Gollum jade plants need average or low humidity levels, making them perfect for the dry environment that houses provide. Refrain from misting your succulents, as this will make them rot!
The Best Soil for a Gollum Jade Plant
Above all, a Gollum jade plant needs soil that drains freely. You can get specialist cacti and succulent potting mix readily available, and this will suit your Gollum jade just fine.
If you’d prefer to mix your own, use a ratio of 2:1 soil and sand mixture which doesn’t have a lot of nutrients, or 1:1:1 of perlite, sand, and soil.
Fertilization and Pruning: Does a Gollum Jade Need Either?
No. It’s not necessary to prune or even fertilize your Gollum jade. Fertilizing a succulent plant is a risk – as an imbalance of nutrients will readily kill your succulents.
They have evolved to exist in extreme climates which don’t hold many nutrients in the soil, so upsetting this delicate balance can be disastrous.
Fertilizer causes your plants to grow more rapidly, which puts your succulents under stress, and can result in a much weaker plant, vulnerable to disease and pests.
Warnings aside, if you really want to feed your Gollum jade (no raw fish, please), then use a succulent feed, and steer clear of manure, potent fertilizer, or slow-release mixes.
You don’t need to prune your plant, as it will grow to the size of the container. If you want it to get bigger after that, move it to a larger pot. You can, however, propagate it.
How to Propagate a Gollum Jade Plant?
You can propagate a Gollum jade by taking leaf or stem cuttings. Pop these cuttings somewhere warm, and once the wound has dried, put them upright in a succulent mix, and they will form roots within a couple of weeks.
These weaker cuttings may need a watchful eye, but you’ll soon be rewarded with Gollum jade plants (see also How To Propagate Jade Plants Through Leaf Cuttings)!
Gollum Jade Plant Toxicity
Unfortunately, the Gollum jade plant is poisonous, to both pets and humans. It’s advised to keep your Gollum jade out of reach, and to use gloves when propagating.