How to Grow and Care for Crinkle Leaf Plants

crinkle leaf plant

The Spruce / Krystal Slagle 

Crinkle leaf plants (Adromischus cristatus) are easygoing, unique-looking succulents that make excellent additions to your home or garden. The crinkle lead plant is a small and slow grower characterized by its fleshy, triangular, gray-green leaves that grow upward out of a central base and are crinkled at the top. The leaves of the crinkle leaf plant are covered in tiny hairs, giving them a fuzzy appearance. The plant typically blooms on a tall stem with small, tubular, reddish-white flowers in the spring. The succulent is best planted in the spring, but if grown indoors, it can be planted in any season. 

Common Names Crinkle leaf plant, key lime pie plant
Botanical Name Adromischus cristatus
Family Crassulaceae
Plant Type Succulent
Mature Size 6 in. tall, 3 in. wide
Sun Exposure Full, partial
Soil Type Sandy, well-drained
Soil pH Acidic
Bloom Time Spring
Flower Color Red
Hardiness Zones 9–10 (USDA)
Native Area Africa
crinkle leaf cactus
The Spruce / Krystal Slagle 
crinkle leaf plant
The Spruce / Krystal Slagle  

Crinkle Leaf Plant Care

Crinkle leaf plants are easy to care for. They prefer warm temperatures and lots of light but can tolerate temperatures down to freezing and reduced light if necessary. The succulents typically grow best when kept outdoors within 9-10 hardiness, but they can also quickly adapt to indoor environments.

The crinkle leaf plant's hardy nature makes it perfect for both plant enthusiasts and beginners. It is essential to water regularly from spring to fall, reducing moisture in the winter. Feed the plant in the spring and summer, providing ample warmth. You can prune your plant using your fingers when you notice dry leaves and adjust watering practices if you see falling or yellowing leaves.

Light

While they can tolerate partial shade, crinkle leaf plants prefer full sun, meaning at least six hours of direct sunlight. However, during the hottest parts of the year, they benefit from shade in the harsh afternoon sun. Crinkle leaf plants should be placed near a bright, south-facing window when grown indoors. You also can sunlight with an artificial growing light.

Soil

Crinkle leaf plants require well-drained soil, sandy soil. Typically, standard potting mixes are too dense, so a blend made especially for cacti and succulents is best for these plants.

Water

Crinkle leaf plants don't need excessive water to survive, and overwatering can lead to root rot and leaf loss. Wait until the soil has dried out between waterings. Crinkle leaf plants usually require watering every one to two weeks from spring to fall. Reduce watering over the winter only to just enough moisture to keep the leaves plump. It's much easier for a crinkle leaf plant to recover from underwatering than overwatering.

Temperature and Humidity

Warm, dry conditions are ideal for crinkle leaf plants, and the average household temperature and humidity are usually adequate. The plants prefer temperatures above 50˚F and can tolerate temperatures down to 20˚F, though prolonged frost and cold will eventually damage or kill them. Protect your plant from extreme temperature swings caused by drafts, air conditioners, and heaters.

Fertilizer

Fertilize your crinkle leaf plant monthly in the spring and summer with a liquid fertilizer designed for cacti and succulents. Do not fertilize during the fall or winter months.

Types of Crinkle Leaf Plants

  • Adromischus cristatus var. clavifolius
  • Adromischus cristatus var. schonlandii:
  • Adromischus cristatus var. zeyheri

Pruning

Like all large succulents, the crinkle leaf plant may need occasional pruning. It's best to prune at the beginning of the growing season by pulling away dead leaves with your fingers. However, you may prune whenever you find it necessary.

Propagating Crinkle Leaf Plants

Crinkle leaf plants can be propagated from seeds, though it's generally easier to propagate with leaf cuttings. Here's how to propagate a crinkle leaf plant:

  1. Wait two weeks or until you begin to see small roots growing from the end of the leaf
  2. Don't water the plant until its roots appear
  3. Once the roots have emerged, water them as you would a mature crinkle leaf plant
  4. Leave the leaf attached to the new plant until it dries up and falls off
  5. Transfer the crinkle lead plant into a new container

How to Grow Crinkle Leaf Plants From Seeds

You can easily grow crinkle leaf plants from seeds. Fill a pot with moist, well-drained soil. Place (don't press) the seeds onto the soil and cover them with a thin layer of sand. Make sure the plant is growing at a temperature between 68˚F and 72˚F. The seeds should germinate within two weeks.

Potting and Repotting Crinkle Leaf Plants

When choosing a pot for your crinkle leaf plant, opt for one with ample drainage holes. An unglazed pot is ideal because it will allow excess moisture to escape through its walls and drainage holes. This slow-growing plant won't need frequent repotting and can grow in cramped pots. Once you see roots growing out of the container and the leaves spilling over the sides, move your plant to a slightly larger pot. Gently remove it, and plant it at the same depth in the new pot filled with fresh potting mix.

Overwintering

Overwinter your crinkle leaf plant when grown indoors by maintaining warm temperatures and access to plentiful sunlight. The plant can resist some coldness but will die below if in freezing temperatures. If your area is experiencing a brief frost, cover your plant or place it in a temporary greenhouse. Still, moving your crinkle leaf plant indoors during cold weather is best.

Common Pests & Plant Diseases

While crinkle leaf plants generally don't attract pests, they may be affected by mealybugs and vine weevils. The plant is prone to root rot, which can cause extensive damage to its health. Root rot is typically caused by overwatering or underwatering.

Common Problems With Crinkle Leaf Plants

The crinkle leaf plant is generally easygoing, but poor watering practices can lead to several issues. Pay attention to the health of your plant through all stages of growth.

Leaf Loss

If your crinkle leaf plant receives too much water, its leaves can swell and drop. In addition, you may notice its stem is puffy. To correct this, refrain from watering your plant until its soil feels completely dry before watering again. Consider transferring it to a new pot or adjusting its soil composition.

Withering

Withered leaves on a crinkle plant are usually caused by underwatering. The withering often begins at the top of the plant and spreads downward. You can fix the issue by watering more frequently and being mindful of extreme summer temperatures.

Yellow Leaves

Both underwatering and overwatering can cause yellow leaves on your crinkle plant. To determine which is causing the yellowing, examine the root of the plant for swelling or the mushiness of its leaves. You're likely underwatering if the leaves are withered and the soil is dry. If the leaves are swollen to the touch, you're likely overwatering your plant.

FAQ
  • What are alternatives to crinkle leaf plants?

    If you're looking for an alternative to the crinkle leaf plant, you should consider a Haworthia retusa. These succulents are similar in color and leaf shape but grow only to 2 inches, which may be preferable depending on where you plan to place the plant.

  • Do crinkle leaf plants grow quickly?

    Crinkle leaf plants are considered to be slow-growers, but in ideal growing conditions, can develop more quickly.

  • Are crinkle leaf plants easy to care for?

    Crinkle leaf plants are easy to care for. The most important part of growing and maintaining a healthy crinkle leaf plant is not overwatering or underwatering.