How to Grow Crinkle Leaf Plants

No Green Thumb Necessary

An overhead shot of a crinkle leaf plant (Adromischus cristatus) above concrete.

 The Spruce / Cori Sears

Looking for a new plant to add to your plant collection? Crinkle leaf plants are easy-to-care-for, unique looking succulents that make excellent additions to any home or office.

Crinkle leaf plants, also commonly referred to as key lime pie plants, are a slow-growing succulent from the Crassulaceae family. They are characterized by fleshy, triangular-shaped leaves that grow upwards out of a central base, and are 'crinkled' at the top, which led to the plant's common name. The leaves of the crinkle leaf plant are also covered in tiny hairs which gives them a fuzzy appearance.

Botanical Name Adromischus cristatus
Common Name Crinkle leaf plant, key lime pie plant
Plant Type Succulent
Mature Size 6" tall
Sun Exposure Bright, direct light
Soil Type Well draining, cactus soil
Soil pH 6.0
Bloom Time Spring
Flower Color Red
Native Area South Africa
Crinkle leaf plant (Adromischus cristatus) in front of cacti on a windowsill.
 The Spruce / Cori Sears

How to Grow Crinkle Leaf Plants

Crinkle leaf plants are sun-loving succulents that are native to South Africa. They prefer warm temperatures and lots of light but can tolerate temperatures down to freezing, and reduced light if necessary. If grown in their ideal conditions, crinkle leaf plants will flower in the spring or summer months, boasting beautiful reddish-white flowers that emerge on a tall stem from the main plant. While it is ideal for crinkle leaf plants to be grown outdoors, they can easily adapt to indoor environments as well. No green thumb is necessary here, the crinkle leaf plant's hardy nature makes them perfect succulents for both plant enthusiasts and beginners alike.

Light

Crinkle leaf plants prefer full sun, which can only truly be achieved when grown outdoors. When grown indoors, crinkle leaf plants should be placed in a spot that receives bright, direct sunlight. If you live in a place that doesn’t receive much direct sunlight, you can supplement the light with an artificial grow light to help your crinkle leaf plant thrive.

Soil

Crinkle leaf plants require porous, well-draining soil that allows water to pass through it easily. Typically, standard potting mixes are too dense for cacti and succulents, and a dedicated cactus soil is ideal. Cactus soil can be found at most garden centers and nurseries.

Water

Generally, crinkle leaf plants do not require a lot of water to survive, and overwatering is the easiest way to kill your crinkle leaf plant. You should wait until the soil has thoroughly dried out between waterings. Usually, this will be one to two weeks during the summer, but during the winter, you may only need to water your crinkle leaf plant once or twice in total. Remember that it is easier to recover from under-watering than it is from overwatering. Water with caution!

Temperature and Humidity

Warm, dry conditions are ideal for crinkle leaf plants. Usually, the average household temperature and humidity are adequate for them. However, crinkle leaf plants are able to tolerate slightly colder temperatures than most succulents and cacti, but it is not recommended that they are exposed to temperatures below freezing during the winter. This means that unless you live in a climate that is relatively warm all year round, you will need to grow your crinkle leaf plant indoors for at least part of the year.

Fertilizer

Fertilize your crinkle leaf plant once or twice during its active growing period (spring and summer months) with a liquid fertilizer meant for cacti and succulents. Do not fertilize during the fall or winter months as the plant is more prone to fertilizer burn when it's not actively creating new growth.

Potting and Repotting

Crinkle leaf plants should be repotted only as necessary and do not require regular repotting. When choosing a pot for your crinkle leaf plant, a pot with adequate drainage is essential to ensure that the plant does not suffer from overwatering and root rot. Typically, terracotta pots are a great choice for succulents and cacti as the terracotta helps to absorb excess moisture.

Propagating Crinkle Leaf Plants

Crinkle leaf plants propagate easily via leaf cuttings, but can also be propagated by seed. To propagate using leaf cuttings, carefully remove a leaf from your crinkle leaf plant and place it on a tray of soil in bright, indirect light. Within a couple of weeks, you should begin to see small roots growing from the end of the leaf—do not water the leaf until you see these roots, it doesn’t have any other way to absorb the water! Once the roots have appeared, water the roots on the leaf as you would a mature crinkle leaf plant. Eventually, you will begin to see a small plant growing at the base of the leaf. Leave the leaf attached to the new plant until it eventually dries up and falls off.

Toxicity of Crinkle Leaf Plants

Crinkle leaf plants can be toxic to humans, cats, and dogs if ingested. Be sure to keep your crinkle leaf plant in a location that is not easily accessible by curious toddlers or pets.