How to Grow and Care for Crassula Plants

This large genus includes popular varieties like jade plants

Crassula plant

The Spruce / Corinne Bryson

Crassula is a diverse genus of succulent plants, with about 300 small and large species, including the emerald green jade (Crassula ovata). Crassula plants can be annuals to perennials, herbaceous or woody plants, groundcovers, shrubs, and small trees. They naturally grow in South Africa, thriving with at least six hours of direct sun and sandy, well-draining soil. Water these succulents thoroughly when dry, then allow them to dry out before watering again. Fertilizer is unnecessary, but you can give it fertilizer suitable for cacti once in the summer. Crassula plants can be toxic to pets.

Common Names Jade plant, rattlesnake tail, living coral, string of buttons
Botanical Name Crassula spp.
Family Crassulaceae
Plant Type Varies by species
Mature Size Varies by species
Sun Exposure Full, partial
Soil Type Well-drained
Soil pH Neutral, acidic
Bloom Time Spring, summer
Flower Color Varies by species
Hardiness Zones 10–12 (USDA)
Native Area Africa
Toxicity Toxic to pets

Crassula Plant Care

Here are the main care requirements for growing a crassula plant:

  • Grow these plants in a bright, southern-facing window, providing at least six hours of direct sunlight.
  • Plant in well-draining soil, preferably potting soil for cacti or succulents that's neutral or slightly acidic.
  • Water thoroughly, but allow the soil to dry between waterings.
  • Fertilize at your discretion; it is unnecessary, although you can feed it once in the summer with cactus food.
  • Keep temperatures consistent; too hot or too cold, and the plant can go dormant. Frost or temperatures below 30 F can kill the plant.
close up of crassula ovata
The Spruce / Corinne Bryson
closeup of crassula ovata
The Spruce / Corinne Bryson


Most crassula plants need shade in the hottest part of summer but require bright light to attain their most vibrant color. When grown outdoors, a site with morning sun and afternoon shade is perfect (if placed in full sun all day, the leaves may scald). When grown indoors, place your plants in a spot that receives bright indirect light or direct sun for six hours of the day. A southern-facing window is ideal.


Crassula plants need very well-draining soil and will do best in sandy, rocky blends formulated especially for succulents. They prefer neutral to slightly acidic soil, but extreme pH levels rarely kill the plant. Crassula plants will react badly to boggy, wet soils, as their roots can easily rot.


As a general rule of thumb, succulent plants prefer sparse watering. To avoid overwatering, soak the plant, allow it to drain completely, then wait for the soil to dry out before watering again. Given their low water needs, jade plants and other crassula species are ideal for people who neglect their plants.

During cooler months, you can reduce watering, as the roots can rot in cold, wet soil. Crassula plants begin actively growing in the spring, so watch for a slight increase in watering needs. Watering should be minimized from late fall through winter when grown indoors, as the plants go semi-dormant.

Temperature and Humidity

Crassula can be sensitive to temperature. If the plants are too hot, they will go dormant and drop their lower leaves. If the plants are too cold, they will fail to grow or thrive.

Crassula plants naturally grow outdoors as perennials in zones 10 through 12, sometimes as shrubs in warm climates. Elsewhere, bring them in for the winter or grow them as houseplants. Few species will tolerate a mild frost, but temperatures below 30 degrees Fahrenheit may kill off most. Jade plants and other crassula species prefer low humidity but can survive in humid climates.


Feed crassula plants sparingly. You can give them a little organic fertilizer that mentions on the label that it's good for succulents. Fertilize in summer when they start actively growing, but further feeding is unnecessary.

Types of Crassula

There are so many species and cultivars of crassula to choose from that you may become a collector. In addition to the standard jade plant cultivars (Crassula ovata), here are a few others that may catch your eye:

  • Crassula' Morgan's Beauty': This hybrid cultivar has silver leaves dusted in white, with pretty pink late spring flowers. It grows about 4 inches tall.
  • Crassula erosula 'Campfire': This variety has long-branching lime leaves that turn blazing red in winter. It's a clumping plant that grows about 4 to 8 inches tall and spreads up to 3 feet wide.
  • Crassula pellucida variegata: This plant exhibits a flowing mass of heart-shaped leaves variegated in pink, green, and creamy yellow.
  • Crassula perforata: Also known as the stacked crassula, this plant has leaves that circle a central stem, giving it the common name string of buttons.
  • Crassula arborescens: Commonly known as Chinese jade or silver dollar jade, this species has rounded blue-gray leaves with maroon edges. It will grow into an attractive multi-stemmed shrub, as much as 4 feet tall.
  • Crassula muscosa: Sometimes known as watch chain, rattail crassula, or zipper plant, this species has small light green leaves that give the stems a rough, corrugated look.
  • Crassula capitella: This species has many subspecies, all sharing green leaves that develop strong reddish colors in the sunlight. They are relatively small plants, usually biennial. It is not commonly grown as a houseplant.


All crassula species can be cut back about 1/3 of their growth whenever they get straggly or leggy. Leave at least a few leaves on each pruned branch. If your crassula flowers (it rarely does when grown indoors), ideally prune after it blooms.

Propagating Crassula Plants

Crassula is easy to propagate from cuttings. Even a single leaf that falls from the plant can take root in potting mix. Crassula plants are generally propagated from leaf or stem cuttings and are faster and easier than growing new plants from seed.

To propagate with a leaf cutting:

  1. Remove a leaf from a healthy jade plant.
  2. Put the leaf in a warm spot indoors (on a paper towel or plate) for several days and let a callus form over the cut area for a week. The callus is essential to help the leaf root and prevent rot.
  3. Dust the callused end of the leaf with rooting hormone (this step is optional).
  4. Stick the callused end of the leaf into a small pot filled with slightly damp potting mix. Do not water again.
  5. Put the pot in a warm, bright (but not directly lit) spot.
  6. After a week or two, the leaf will sprout roots. (The leaf may shrink slightly while establishing roots, but this is normal.)
  7. Gently water the leaf cutting (using droplets of water). Some gardeners use a turkey baster or eye dropper for careful watering. Get water into the soil without disturbing the roots. Let the soil dry out between waterings.
  8. When the roots are well established (gently tugging on the cutting lets you know how deep the roots go), plant it in a permanent pot or place it in the garden.

To propagate with a stem cutting:

  1. Take a stem cutting from a healthy plant. The cutting should be about 3 inches long with at least two pairs of leaves.
  2. Keep the stem warm for several days (on paper towels or a plate) until a callus form over the cut area, which helps rooting and prevents rot.
  3. Dip the bottom end of the cutting in rooting hormone (this step is optional).
  4. Fill a small pot with a well-drained potting mix that is slightly damp but not wet.
  5. Place the stem upright into the soil; Help it stand on its own with the help of toothpicks or rocks.
  6. Put the pot in a warm, bright (but not directly lit) spot. Do not water.
  7. Wait a week or two until the cutting sends roots into the potting mix.
  8. Gently tug on the cutting to check for established roots. Once established, water deeply but gently, so the sensitive roots are undisturbed.
  9. Let the soil dry out between waterings and keep out of direct sunlight until the roots are well established, then plant it in a permanent pot or in the garden.

How to Grow Crassula From Seed

Sow seeds in spring or summer. It can take five days to three weeks for seeds to germinate. Here's how to grow it from seed:

  1. Use a 4-inch pot with ample drainage holes. Sow one to three seeds at least 1 inch apart in the center of the pot. Do not cover the seeds. Water the soil, keeping it moist. Cover with a clear plastic bag.
  2. Place the pot in a full-sun location, keeping the soil moist and the temperature consistently at about 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Open the bag or remove it for one hour every day.
  3. If you notice more than one plant has sprouted from the same spot, pull out, discard, or replant the weakest in another planter. Once the seedling has three leaves, remove the plant from the starter pot.
  4. Make a hole in the center of a larger pot just large enough for the plant roots or, similarly, in a permanent location outside (if growing in USDA zones 10 through 12). Fill in with well-draining soil around the roots.

Potting and Repotting Crassula Plants

With the resurgence of succulent container gardening, smaller crassula species are becoming more readily available, and their easy-growing habit makes them worth getting to know. They are perfect container plants—low maintenance, evergreen, and eye-catching.

Choose a medium-sized ceramic pot or sturdy plastic container for your plants, but the containers must have excellent drainage holes to keep the soil and the roots from becoming soggy. Select a potting soil for succulents with a loose, grainy texture that drains evenly and thoroughly and won't become clumpy.

Common Pests

While specific pests and diseases may differ, most crassula plants encounter issues with aphids, spider mites, mealybugs, and other common pests—mainly when grown indoors. These issues are best dealt with using non-chemical treatments, such as neem oil or other horticultural oils.

Common Problems With Crassula

Nearly all crassula plants are long-lived, growing slowly and steadily. You can set and forget them (for a little while) with relatively few problems. Watering, sun, and temperature are the main things to watch with this plant.

Leaf drop

Crassula prefer being underwatered to overwatered; however, they can get stressed out if neglected too long. They can start dropping leaves if allowed to become extremely dry. Other signs of underwatering include soft or shriveling leaves and stem, leaves turning brown and drying out, or wrinkled leaves turning red or purple. An underwatered plant can bounce back after being watered

Yellowing Leaves, Drooping Stems

Signs you might be overwatering your crassula include yellowing leaves, drooping stems, or stems that fall off entirely. If you water your plant because you notice withered leaves that don't plump up afterward, its roots could be overly wet. If the main trunk feels soft or mushy, it potentially has root rot, often caused by overwatering. Rotting stems and leaves are another sure sign of root rot. To remedy this condition, allow the plant to dry out—only water when the plant appears completely dry.

Leaves Turning Red

Crassula leaves can turn red when exposed to a lot of sunlight. If you do not like the red color, move it to a spot with a little less light. Leaves can also turn red when the plant is stressed from a lack of nutrients or water or dislikes a temperature change. The redness will not harm the plant, so if you like the reddish hue and only think that too much sun is the cause, you don't have to move the plant if you do not want to. However, fix the other conditions.

  • How long can a crassula plant live?

    The lifespan of succulents, including crassula plants, varies widely, from 20 to over 100 years. If you take care of your crassula plant, you can enjoy it for a long time.

  • How can I identify what crassula plant I have?

    Crassula plants usually have symmetrical stacking and fleshy leaves. The easiest way to figure out what type of crassula plant you have is by looking at the shape and pattern of the leaves to determine exactly which one it is.

  • What's the difference between Crassula ovata "Hobbit" and "Gollum"?

    These two plants are entirely different from each other even though their tubular leaves look alike, and they are both native plants in South Africa. The only difference is when they flower. "Hobbit" flowers in the summer; "Gollum" flowers in the fall or winter.

  • Does crassula need full sun?

    Crassula likes full sun; however, it only needs it for about six to eight hours. If your plant is in direct sun during summer heat for 12 hours, it can get sunburned. Move it to a spot where it can get afternoon shade during hot summers. Or keep it in a location where it can get indirect sun all day long.

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  1. Top 10 Toxic Household Plants for Pets. VCA Animal Hospitals.

  2. Jade Plant. PlantTalk Colorado, Colorado State University.

  3. Crassula Ovata. Missouri Botanical Garden.