How to Grow Crinkle Leaf Plants

crinkle leaf plant

The Spruce / Krystal Slagle 

In This Article

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

Also commonly referred to as key lime pie plants, these succulents are small and slow growers. They are characterized by fleshy, triangular, gray-green leaves that grow upward out of a central base and are "crinkled" at the top—hence the plant's common name. The leaves of the crinkle leaf plant are also covered in tiny hairs, giving them a fuzzy appearance. The plant typically blooms in the spring on a tall stem with small, tubular, reddish-white flowers. The succulent is best planted in the spring, though houseplants typically can be started at any point.

Botanical Name Adromischus cristatus
Common Names Crinkle leaf plant, key lime pie plant
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 Reddish white
Hardiness Zones 9–10 (USDA)
Native Area South Africa
Toxicity Toxic to people and animals
crinkle leaf cactus
The Spruce / Krystal Slagle 
crinkle leaf plant
The Spruce / Krystal Slagle  

Crinkle Leaf Plant Care

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. The succulents typically grow best when kept outdoors within their growing zones, but they can easily adapt to indoor environments as well.

No green thumb is necessary for this succulent's care. The crinkle leaf plant's hardy nature makes it perfect for both plant enthusiasts and beginners alike. Plan to water regularly from spring to fall, reducing moisture in the winter. Feed in the spring and summer, and provide your plant with lots of bright light and warmth.


While they can tolerate partial shade, these succulents prefer to grow in full sun, meaning at least six hours of direct sunlight on most days. However, during the hottest parts of the year, they will appreciate some shade from the harsh afternoon sun. When grown indoors, crinkle leaf plants should be placed near a bright window. A south-facing window is recommended. You also can supplement light with an artificial grow light to help your crinkle leaf plant thrive.


Crinkle leaf plants require well-draining soil, such as a loose sandy soil. Typically, standard potting mixes are too dense for them, so a potting mix made specifically for cacti and succulents is best for container plants.


Generally, crinkle leaf plants don't require a lot of water to survive, and overwatering is an easy way to kill your crinkle leaf plant. Too much water can lead to root rot and leaves falling off the plant. So wait until the soil has dried out between waterings. From spring to fall, the plant will usually need water roughly every one to two weeks. 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. Usually, the average household temperature and humidity are adequate for them. The plants prefer temperatures above 50 degrees Fahrenheit but can tolerate temperatures down to 20 degrees Fahrenheit, though prolonged frost and cold will eventually damage or kill them. Be sure to protect your plant from drafts and blowing from air conditioners and heaters, which can cause extreme temperature swings.


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

Potting and Repotting Crinkle Leaf Plants

When choosing a pot for your crinkle leaf plant, select one with ample drainage holes. An unglazed pot is ideal because it will allow excess moisture to escape through its walls in addition to through the drainage holes. This slow-growing plant won't need repotting often and doesn't mind being a little cramped in its container. Once you see roots growing out of the container and the leaves of the plant are spilling over the sides, then it’s time to move your plant to a slightly larger pot. Gently remove it from the old container, and plant it at the same depth in the new one with fresh potting mix.

Propagating Crinkle Leaf Plants

Crinkle leaf plants can be propagated from seed, though it's generally easier to propagate via 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. Don't 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 near these roots. Leave the leaf attached to the new plant until it eventually dries up and falls off. At that point, the plant will be large enough to plant in its own container.

Crinkle Leaf Plant Varieties

There are several varieties of crinkle leaf plants, including:

  • Adromischus cristatus var. clavifolius: This is a dwarf variety that only grows around 3 inches tall and 0.5 inch wide.
  • Adromischus cristatus var. schonlandii: This is another small variety, and its stems are wrapped in red aerial roots.
  • Adromischus cristatus var. zeyheri: This variety features pale to bright green leaves that are hairless and spoon-shaped with wavy edges.