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. Some are 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 container gardening, these smaller Crassula species are becoming more readily available and their easy growing habit makes them worth getting to know.
Light: Full sun to partial shade. Most needs some shade in the hottest part of summer, but require bright light to attain their most vibrant color.
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.
Temperature: Prefers average summer temps (65ºF/18ºC – 70ºF/21ºC). In winter, cool to 50ºF/10ºC.
Soil: A well-drained succulent mix, with an ideal pH around 6.0 (slightly acidic).
Fertilizer: Many people underfeed their succulents during the growing season. Feed with a controlled-release fertilizer in the beginning of the season or weekly with a weak liquid solution. Use a balanced 20-20-20 fertilizer at 1/4 strength on mature plants, and a fertilizer with less nitrogen on young plants.
Crassula are generally started by division, offsets or leaf cuttings. Plants can be easily propagated from a single leaf: sprout leaves by placing them into a succulent or cacti mix, then covering the dish until they sprout.
Repot as needed, preferably during the warm season. To repot a succulent, make sure the soil is dry before repotting, then gently remove the pot.
Knock away the old soil from the roots, making sure to remove any rotted or dead roots in the process. Treat any cuts with a fungicide. Place the plant in its new pot and backfill with potting soil, spreading the roots out as you repot. Leave the plant dry for a week or so, then begin to water lightly to reduce the risk of root rot.
Crassula are easy to grow, but they are susceptible to mealy bugs and fungal diseases. As with all succulents, overwatering is sure to be fatal, so err on the side of too dry rather than too wet. Never let your Crassula sit in water. If you water from beneath by letting the plant sit in a saucer of water, make sure to pour off any excess water after a few minutes.
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