How to Grow and Care for Crassula Succulents (Crassula spp.)

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Crassula succulents cover a diverse species of plants that number around 350. The most well-known and popular of these is the jade plant (Crassula ovata). The plants in this genus can range from groundcovers to shrubs and small trees. Most plants in this genus are slow-growing and are perfect for growing indoors.

These plants are generally fairly easy to take care of and propagate readily from just leaves or stem cuttings. You’ll also find that some species have different leaf colors and these can be enhanced by giving the plant some extra sunlight. 

You can grow these plants almost everywhere in your home and office. Although, according to the Chinese art of Feng shui, the jade plant should not be placed in the bathroom as this is too closed off for the plant to survive. In many Asian countries, jade plants are popular housewarming gifts because it’s believed that they bring positive financial energy into the home.

History

The Crassula genus was first discovered and named by botanist Carl Linnaeus way back in 1753. At the time, he only identified ten species belonging to this genus. 

The name “Crassula” comes from the Latin word “crassus” which means “thick” and pertains to the thick, fleshy leaves of all Crassula species.

Plant Facts

Scientific nameCrassula spp.
Common namesJade plant, rattlesnake plant, string of buttons, living coral, Pigmyweeds
GenusCrassula
FamilyCrassulaceae
HeightVaries between species
WidthVaries between species
USDA Plant Hardiness Zone9 to 12
OriginSouth Africa
Flower colorsVaries between species
Blooming seasonSpring and summer
Plant/Flower special featuresCrassula succulents are toxic to dogs and cats. Crassula ovata is commonly used as a bonsai specimen due to its growth habit. It can easily be pruned and trained to look like a miniature tree.

How to Plant and Grow Crassula Succulents

This must be one of the easiest succulents to propagate. All you need is a few leaves or stem cuttings and before you know it, you’ll have some new plants.

crassula ovata

How to Propagate Crassula Succulents

Crassula succulent plants are easily propagated from leaf or stem cuttings. This can be as easy as removing a couple of leaves from a mature plant and sticking it in a pot filled with a slightly damp succulent mix.

However, to get the best results, use these steps:

  1. Remove a few leaves from a mature plant.
  2. Leave these in a warm spot for a few days until a callus forms at the cut end.
  3. Dip the end with the callus into some rooting hormone.
  4. Fill a small pot with succulent mix and water.
  5. Make a small hole with a pencil or dibbler and stick the cut end of the leaf into the soil and firm down the soil a little so that the leaf is sitting upright.
  6. Place the pot in a sunny spot that gets bright, indirect light.
  7. After a couple of weeks, the leaf should have started producing roots. It may shrink a little during this time.
  8. Once roots have started to form, give your new plant a few drops of water using an eyedropper. This is a nice gentle way to give the roots some moisture without actually disturbing them.
  9. Don’t water again until the soil has dried out.
  10. You can put your plant into a larger pot when it reaches a decent size.

You can follow the same procedure if you want to propagate from stem cuttings. When choosing stem cuttings, make sure that they’re at least three inches long and that there are at least two pairs of small leaves on the stem.

crassula pyramidalis x congesta

Care and Maintenance

These lovely succulents are amazingly easy to take care of. Just plant one in a nice pot, place it in a bright spot in your home, and water it only when the soil has dried out. These plants can give you years of pleasure and enhance your indoor environment with their lovely presence.

Here are basic crassula care tips to follow:

Soil

Crassula plants prefer well-drained soil. Outdoors, they’re most happy in friable sandy soil that drains well. When grown in a pot, these plants need a loose succulent mix that has excellent drainage.

Water

When watering these plants, use the soak and dry method. This means that the soil should be allowed to dry out in between watering. Then, once the soil is dry, give the plant a good soaking and let all the excess water drain away.

As the crassula plant goes dormant in winter, watering can be reduced greatly during the colder months of the year from late fall through to early spring.

Fertilizer

These plants only need to be fertilized once a year in mid-spring. Try and find a fertilizer that’s specifically designed for succulents if you can. Otherwise, a standard houseplant fertilizer will be fine but just use it half-strength.

Sunlight

When growing these plants indoors, they require a bright spot that receives plenty of indirect light all day long. A south-facing window is perfect for this. If the plant doesn’t get sufficient light, it will often grow quite leggy as it searches for more sunlight.

If you live in a more temperate area and want to grow your Crassula outdoors, choose a spot that gets morning sun but is shaded in the afternoon. The harsh midday and afternoon sun can easily burn the leaves on these plants.

An interesting phenomenon about these plants is that the leaves will turn varying shades of red, pink, orange, yellow, or even purple when exposed to periods of direct sunlight. But, when grown in low light conditions, the leaves will always be green.

Temperature and Humidity

Crassula succulents prefer a fairly moderate range of temperatures. Their ideal temperature range is between 65 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit (18 and 21 degrees Celsius). 

If the temperature is too hot, the plants will go dormant and this results in them dropping their lower leaves. On the other hand, if the plants are exposed to periods of cold temperatures, they will stop growing.

These plants also prefer low humidity. However, they have been known to survive quite happily in humid climates as well.

Pruning

Most species in this genus require regular pruning to maintain their shape. They can be cut back quite aggressively in spring or after blooming and will respond with much bushier growth. The good news is that all those prunings can be put to good use to propagate new plants. 

Repotting

One of the good things about Crassula succulents is that they’re slow-growers. That means that they don’t need repotting all that often and can live happily in the same pot for several years.

When it does come time to repot your plant, wait for the soil to dry out completely before removing the plant from the pot. Gently knock away the old soil from around the roots and place the plant in its new pot filled with a suitable succulent mix. The best time to do this is in spring.

Once repotted, don’t water your Crassula succulent plant for about a week.

Pest and diseases

These plants don’t have too many pest or disease problems. The main pests to look out for are aphids, mealybugs, and spider mites. These are easy to control with an insecticidal soap spray or a spray made from neem oil and water.

The one disease that most commonly affects these succulents is root rot. However, this only happens when you overwater your plant and the roots are allowed to sit in water. If your plant is in a pot with drainage holes and you follow the soak and dry watering method, you shouldn’t have this problem.

Uses of Crassula Succulents

Most Crassula succulents are grown purely for their ornamental value. However, during the 1970s, the jade plant (Crassula ovata) was considered a lucky plant and one that brought money into the house. This was due to the popularity of Feng shui. According to Feng shui traditions, you should place a jade plant at the front door to bring in luck and money and also one at the back to stop the luck and money from exiting again.

This is why Crassula ovata is often called the money tree or dollar plant.

Common Varieties and Cultivars

As we mentioned previously, there are hundreds of different species in the Crassula genus. Here are just a few crassula types that are commonly grown by succulent lovers.

  • Crassula arborescens (Silver dollar jade)
  • Crassula ovata ‘Gollum’ (Gollum jade)
  • Crassula ovata (Jade plant)
  • Crassula ovata ‘Botany Bay’ (Botany Bay plant)
  • Crassula ovata ‘Hobbit’ (Hobbit jade)
  • Crassula ovata ‘Skinny fingers’ (Lady fingers jade)
  • Crassula ovata ‘Minima’ (Miniature jade)
  • Crassula ovata ‘Pink Beauty’ (Pink jade)
  • Crassula marginata ‘Variegata’ (Calico kitten)
  • Crassula capitella ‘campfire’ (Campfire)
  • Crassula mesembryanthemoides (Crassula Moon glow)
  • Crassula multicava (Fairy Crassula)
  • Crassula capitella (Red flames)
  • Crassula rupestris (Baby’s necklace)
  • Crassula falcata (Propeller plant)
  • Crassula ‘Gandalf’ (Gandalf jade)
  • Crassula tetragona (Miniature pine tree)
  • Crassula arborescens undulatifolia (Ripple jade plant)

Conclusion

Crassula succulents are very easy plants to grow even for beginners. They require very little care except for the occasional watering when the soil is dry and some pruning to tidy up any leggy growth. There’s a large and attractive variety of Crassula succulents that you can grow. Plus, these plants are easily propagated so you can have spares to give away to your family and friends.

Check our succulents list to grow.