Crassula atropurpurea (Haw.) D.Dietr.
Purple Crassula, Purple Stonecrop
Crassula atropurpurea var. atropurpurea, Crassula clavifolia, Globulea atropurpurea,
The native range of this species is from southern Namibia to Karoo and Port Elizabeth in South Africa. It occurs on stony slopes, gravelly flats, or sand among bushes.
Crassula atropurpurea is a much-branched succulent shrublet with erect to decumbent branches that bear green to yellowish-green or tinged red or purple, rarely deep red or purplish-red leaves. It grows up to 2 feet (60 cm) tall. The basal branches are woody, while the younger ones are fleshy, hairy, and green to purplish, with old leaves deciduous. Leaves are usually glabrous, oblanceolate to obovate, rarely linear-elliptic, flattened and slightly convex above and below, up to 1.2 inches (3 cm) long and 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide. Flowers are small, tubular, cream-colored, and appear in spring and summer in globular clusters in an elongated, 3-many-branched inflorescence on a pubescent, up to 169 inches (40 cm) long peduncle.
The specific epithet "atropurpurea (at-ro-pur-PURR-ee-uh)" is the feminine form of the Latin adjective "atropurpureus," meaning "dark purple," and refers to the color of the leaves and branches.
How to Grow and Care for Crassula atropurpurea
Light: C. atropurpurea prefers full sun to partial shade. However, intense afternoon sun in the hottest period of summer can burn the leaves of the plant. Therefore, a place with morning sun and afternoon shade would be perfect. Indoors, place your plant in a window that receives at least 6 hours of direct sunlight.
Soil: This plant is not particular about soil pH but requires very porous soil with excellent drainage. Use commercial potting soil mixes designated for succulents, or mix your own.
Temperature: Like most Crassulas, this succulent will tolerate some amount of short-term freezing, but extremes of cold or heat will cause it to lose leaves and die. C. atropurpurea can withstand temperatures as low as 30 °F (-1.1 °C). USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 10a to 11b, 30 to 50 °F (-1.1 to 10 °C).
Watering: Avoid overwatering using the "soak and dry" method, where the soil is soaked with water, slowly drained, and left to dry out before watering again. Reduce watering in winter. Potted plants require more frequent watering than those in the ground.
Fertilizing: C. atropurpurea does not need much feeding but will benefit from a small amount of organic fertilizer in mid-spring when it starts actively growing.
Repotting: Repot as needed, preferably in spring, at the beginning of the period of active growth. Make sure the soil is dry before you begin repotting.
Propagation: This succulent is generally started by leaves or stem cuttings. It can also be grown from seeds and offsets. The easiest way is to propagate C. atropurpurea from a single leaf, while using stem cuttings is the fastest way to get a decent-sized plant. These processes are most successful if done at the beginning of the plant's active growth period. Sow the seeds in the spring or summer.
Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Crassula.
Toxicity of Crassula atropurpurea
C. atropurpurea is nontoxic to people and pets.
Varieties of Crassula atropurpurea
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