Crassula multicava Lem.
Cape Province Pygmyweed, Fairy Crassula, Grandfather's Watch Chain, London Pride, Mosquito Flower, Pitted Crassula
Crassula multicava subsp. multicava, Crassula quadrifida, Septimia multicava
This species is native to South Africa. It occurs from Mpumalanga (Eastern Transvaal), KwaZulu-Natal (Natal) to the Eastern Cape and Southern Cape provinces in forest margins, river and stream banks, and coastal and subtropical thickets.
Crassula multicava is a mat-forming succulent with soft decumbent branches that bear rounded leaves marked with pitted dark green to red dots on the upper surface. The branches rarely grow longer than 16 inches (40 cm), including the inflorescence. Leaves are green, often yellowish green, and rarely with a purplish lower surface. They are elliptic to oblong–obovate with slightly recurved margins, up to 2.6 inches (6.5 cm) long and 1.6 inches (4 cm) wide, with an up to 0.8 inches long petiole. The inflorescence is a rounded or elongated thyrse with few to many dichasia. Flowers are star-shaped, usually 4-merous, white to cream-colored, and usually tinged red towards apices. They appear from late winter to early spring.
The specific epithet "multicava (mul-tee-KAH-vuh)" means "with many holes" and refers to the many pore-like holes on the leaves, which are called "hydathodes." It is a compound of two words, the prefix "multi-" and the feminine form of the Latine adjective "cavus," meaning "hollow, concave."
The common name "Fairy Crassula" refers to the charming little star-shaped flowers that appear in masses above the foliage.
How to Grow and Care for Crassula multicava
Light: C. multicava 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 short-term freezing, but extremes of cold or heat will cause it to lose leaves and die. C. multicava can withstand temperatures as low as 25 °F (-3.9 °C). USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 9b to 11b, 25 to 50 °F (-3.9 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. multicava 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 cuttings. It can also be grown from seeds. The easiest way is to propagate C. multicava from a single leaf. 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. C. multicava also propagates itself by producing plantlets on the flower stems that fall off and grow into independent plants.
Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Crassula.
Toxicity of Crassula multicava
C. multicava is nontoxic to people and pets.
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