How to Grow and Care for Crassula Plants

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    Crassula Plants

    Growing Crassula ovata 'Gollum'
    Crassula ovata may be known as 'Living Coral, but with a name like 'Gollum', it's positively precious. © Marie Iannotti

    Overview and Description


    Crassula is a diverse and extensive genus of succulent plants, with about 350 species. Probably the most well known is the Jade plant (Crassula ovata). Many of us know it as a houseplant, but in warm climates it grows into a shrub. Many other Crassula species are much smaller, including some miniatures and creeping ground covers. They are all quite fascinating, the types of plants you see occasionally and wonder "What is that?" With the resurgence of succulent...MORE container gardening, these smaller Crassula species are becoming more readily available and their easy growing habit makes them worth getting to know.


    Botanical Name:


    Crassula spp.


    Common Name(s):


    Because of the shapes and forms of their leaves, Crassula plants lend themselves to very descriptive common names,. Crassula barklyi, the 'Rattlesnake Plant', looks like the tip of the snake's tail. Crassula argentea, shown here, is called ‘Living Coral’. Crassula perforata, with it's twirling leaves stacked one on top of another is known as 'String of Buttons'. This is an intriguing genus.


    Hardiness:


    Most are only hardy in USDA Zones 9 - 10, but elsewhere you could bring them indoors for the winter. They make great houseplants.


    Light Exposure:


    Full sun to partial shade. Most Crassula need some shade in the hottest part of summer, but require bright light to attain their most vibrant color.


    Mature Size:


    Size will vary with species and variety, from shrubs several feet tall, to tiny specimens of a couple of inches.


    Bloom Period:


    Spring and summer. Some varieties have lovely flowers and other are insignificant. Many gardeners remove the flowers that are not particularly showy.


    Design Tips:


    The smaller Crassula are prefect container plants - low maintenance, evergreen and eye-catching. If you have the climate, they plants look terrific tucked into and hanging over walls.


    Jade plants in their natural element will be one of the easiest to maintain plants in your garden.


    Suggested Varieties:


    There are so many to choose from, you may become a collector. Here are a few that might catch your eye.


    • Crassula ‘Morgan’s Beauty’ - Thick silver leaves dusted in white, with pretty pink late spring flowers. Grows about 8 inches wide.

       

    • Crassula erosula 'Campfire' - Long branching leaves turn blazing red in winter. A clump former that grows about 1 ft. tall and spreads 3 ft. wide.

       

    • Crassula pellucida subsp. marginalis 'Variegata' - a flowing mass of heart-shaped leaves variegated in pink, green and creamy yellow. Nice in a hanging pot.

       

    • Crassula perforata - Known as the stacked Crassula, their leaves rotate around a center stem, giving them their common name, String of Buttons'.

    Keep reading for Crassula Growing Tips


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  • 02 of 02

    Growing and Caring for Crassula

    Growing Crassula marginalis rubra
    The heart-shaped leaves of Crassula marginalis rubra 'Variegata' form a colorful, spreading mass, lovely in containers or rocky gardens. © Marie Iannotti

    Growing Tips:


    Soil: Crassula plants need very well draining soil, but they are not particular about soil pH. Sandy or even rocky soil is fine.


    Water: As succulents, they don't need frequent watering, since they store it in their leaves. If they are left to sit in wet soil, their roots will rot. During cooler months, give them a good drenching and then allow the soil to dry out, before watering again. They go dormant when the temperature gets hot in summer and need even less water.


    Feeding: Feed...MORE sparingly. You can give your plants a little organic fertilizer in mid-spring, as they start actively growing.


    Propagation: Crassula are generally started by division, offsets or leaf cuttings.


    Maintenance:


    Crassula can be sensitive to temperature. Too hot and they will go dormant and drop their lower leaves. Too cold and they will simply pout, not doing much of anything. Other than that, they laugh off both neglect and abuse.


    Stacking crassulas send out suckers, which is really only a problem when grown in the ground. However they are slow growers and can be controled with a little effort.


    When plants start to get straggly or leggy, don't be afraid to cut them back.


    Pests and Problems:


    Keep an eye out for the usual succulent pests: aphids, mealy bugs and spider mites. The biggest problem is root rot and sparse watering will help avoid that.


    More Drought Tolerant Succulent Plants to Grow