Crassula ovata (Miller) Druce
Friendship Tree, Jade Plant, Money Tree,
Cotyledon ovata, Crassula argentea, Crassula portulacea,
This species is native to South Africa (Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal), also found in Mozambique and Swaziland.
Crassula ovata is a popular succulent shrub or small tree with branches that bear rounded shiny green leaves, often edged with red. It usually grows up to 8.2 feet (2.5 m) tall, with a single main stem or sparingly branched at the base. Branches are fleshy grey-green, becoming woody as they mature with scars of the fallen leaves and older bark peeling in horizontal brownish strips. The main stem grows up to 8 inches (20 cm) in diameter. Leaves are thick, fleshy, up to 3.6 inches (9 cm) long, up to 1.6 inches (4 cm) wide, and grow in opposite pairs along the branches. Flowers are white or pink, star-shaped, up to 0.6 inches (1.5 cm) across, and appear in compact round-topped terminal clusters from mid-winter to early spring. Fruits are oval and about 0.2 inches (0.5 cm) long.
The specific epithet "ovata (oh-VAY-tuh)" is the feminine form of the Latin adjective "ovatus," meaning "ovate" or "egg-shaped," and refers to the shape of the leaves.
How to Grow and Care for Crassula ovata
Light: This succulent thrives in full sun and requires about 4 to 6 hours of daily sun exposure. It will survive in partial to medium shade but needs direct sunlight for flowering. If kept indoors, find a bright spot in your home.
Soil: C. ovata requires well-draining soil. It does best in potting mixes with perlite, sharp sand, pea gravel, and chicken grit without moisture-retentive components. Use commercial potting soil mixes designated for succulents, or mix your own.
Hardiness: This plant is tolerant of a wide range of temperatures and may even tolerate light frost. However, prolonged cold is usually fatal. C. ovata can withstand temperatures as low as 30 to 50 °F (-1.1 to 10 °C), USDA hardiness zones 10a to 11b.
Watering: One of the most important things when caring for C. ovata is ensuring it is properly watered. Although it is a succulent plant, it does need water. During the growing season, it does best when the soil is allowed to dry out between deep waterings. In summer, it requires little water and even less in winter when it is semi-dormant.
Fertilizing: C. ovata is a slow-growing plant and does not need much feeding. However, it will benefit from a small amount of organic fertilizer in mid-spring when it starts actively growing.
Repotting: This succulent does not mind being root-bound in a small pot, although it is best to repot it every 2 to 3 years or when the plant becomes top-heavy. The best time to repot is in spring when the new growth starts.
Propagation: C. ovata is generally started by stem or leaf cuttings but can also be grown from seeds. Growing it from a stem cutting is the fastest way to get decent-sized C. ovata. Always take cuttings when the plant is growing. This process is most successful if done at the beginning of the growing season. Sow the seeds in spring or summer.
Learn more at How to Grow and Care for a Jade Plant.
Toxicity of Crassula ovata
C. ovata is toxic to cats, dogs, and horses and mildly toxic to humans through ingestion or skin contact.
Forms and Cultivars of Crassula ovata
- Crassula ovata 'Crosby's Compact'
- Crassula ovata 'Gollum'
- Crassula ovata 'Gollum Variegata'
- Crassula ovata 'Hobbit'
- Crassula ovata 'Hummel's Sunset'
- Crassula ovata 'Hummel's Sunset Variegata'
- Crassula ovata 'Minima'
- Crassula ovata 'Obliqua'
- Crassula ovata 'Pink Beauty'
- Crassula ovata 'Skinny Fingers'
- Crassula ovata 'Tricolor'
- Back to genus Crassula
- Succupedia: Browse succulents by Scientific Name, Common Name, Genus, Family, USDA Hardiness Zone, Origin, or cacti by Genus
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