Plant and Garden

Crassula Care and Information

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Crassula (KRASS-you-lah) is a large genus of succulent plants. The species are native to many parts of the world. Crassula originated 60 to 70 million years ago in possibly central Africa.

Crassula evolved as it moved North to Europe, then Asia. Becoming Sedums and Sinocrassula etc.. Presumably due to climate change.

The southern African lot also moved with continental drift with Gondwanaland and New Zealand having around 10 species of Crassula. And other related African genera having close relatives here and in the Southern American continent. So most Crassulacea are in the Southern hemisphere

The name crassula comes from the Latin, meaning thick, referring to the thickening of the succulent leaves. From petite ground covers up to enormous, tree-like shrubs more than 10 feet tall, crassula grows in many forms.

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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.

Crassula ovata was first described by Philip Miller in England during 1768. The name Crassula is the diminutive of the Latin crassus which means thick or fat, referring to the fleshy nature of the genus as a whole. The species name ovata means egg-shaped, referring to the leaves.

Many other Crassula species are much smaller, including some 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.

Crassulacean Acid Metabolism…

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Unlike all succulents, however, crassula have developed a unique strategy called Crassulacean Acid Metabolism, or CAM photosynthesis. All plants turn sunlight into energies they can use, like sugars.

The process is called photosynthesis. And all plants take in carbon dioxide (CO2) and release oxygen back into the air, which is called respiration.

When plants respire (take in CO2 from the air and release oxygen), they also lose a bit of water in the process. Most plants respire all day and all night, while photosynthesis can only happen when the sun is shining.

What is different with CAM is that the plant completely shuts down respiration during the day, and only respires at night. This enables the plant to conserve its store of water while taking in the sunlight.

Some other succulents, like sedum and kalanchoe, employ this clever adaptation, but it was first documented with crassula.

Bugs Bug Them…

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They are susceptible to only a few pests. As in all succulent plants, and mealy bugs can be hard to eradicate. Constant vigilance is essential if you have an infestation.

If all else fails, take a leaf and propagate it, making sure to get rid of any hitchhikers.

Throw the mature infested plant in the garbage right away to eliminate the problem and prevent spreading it around.

Overwatering can lead to root rot.

Blooming Crassula …

Typically, crassula bloom in response to changing day length and temperature changes conditions not typically found indoors. Many varieties of crassula produce showy, long-lasting blooms that are highly attractive to honeybees and butterflies as well as gardeners!

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There are ways to coax a crassula houseplant, like the jade, or money tree, to bloom indoors. But naturally, most crassula with showy flowers produce them from March through September.

The flowers are followed by seeds, spread by the breeze to encourage more baby crassula to grow.

To induce a potted specimen to flower, move it into a sunny or brightly lit position during summer and autumn

Watering Crassula… I Mean Hardly Water Crassula!…

Particularly with potted specimens, remember that it needs little water, so water sparingly in summer and withhold water all but completely during winter. It’s best to drench the soil and then allow it to completely dry out before watering again.

Propagate Crasuula…

Propagate by seed or cuttings. Seed can be sown in spring, summer or autumn in frost-free areas. Seedlings can be watered with a fungicide to prevent damping off. Cuttings root at any time of the year but optimal rooting is achieved during summer. Keep them fairly dry to prevent them from rotting.

How to Root Cuttings

Growing Crassula plants from cuttings start with taking the cutting. Select a branch on the plant that is healthy and free from disease. Use a sharp, clean knife to cut the selected branch off the plant.

The next step for starting a Crassula plant from a cutting is to allow the cutting to dry. The wound on the plant cutting you have taken will be wet and will invite disease if you try to root it wet. Allow the plant cutting to rest in a warm, bright, and dry spot until a callous develops (about one to two weeks). In order to further make sure that disease does not infect the plant cutting, you can dust the open wound with rooting hormone, which will also contain an anti-fungal compound.

We recommend using a stepping stone, lined with loose soil. Lay the leaf on the stone for two to three weeks. Misting only a couple of times. Lightly listing at that.

Once the cut on the plant cutting has dried, place the cutting into a potting mixture made of half vermiculite or perlite and half soil. When rooting a plant, water sparingly so that the potting mixture is only damp until the plant cutting takes root. After it has rooted, you can treat it as you would a normal Crassula plant.

Propagating Crassula Plants from Leaves

If the Crassula plant is small or if you are only able to harvest a few leaves from the plant, you can still propagate plants with only the leaves.

When starting a Crassula plant from a leaf, start by selecting a healthy leaf from the plant. Snip the leaf from the plant. The next step in propagating plants from leaves is to lay the leaf onto a potting mixture of half vermiculite or perlite and half soil. Water the potting mixture once after you lay the leaf down and water sparingly until the leaf puts out roots. Misting is the best method.

Once the leaf has taken root, the leaf will start to grow plantlets, or tiny plants, from the edges of the leaf that touch the soil. It should take anywhere from two weeks to two months for plantlets to appear.

Once the plantlets are a few inches tall, you can treat them as normal Crassula plants.

Crassula Change Color…

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Many varieties of crassula change colors in vivid fashion when given a great deal of direct sunshine.

In some circumstances, the color change is related to hormonal changes, preparatory to blooming. In others, it may be cooler temperatures or high light environments.

Yet, color changing in your succulents could be a sign of stress.

Crassula Is Good For What?

The Khoi and other African tribes ate the roots, which they grated and cooked and then ate with thick milk. The leaves were also used medicinally, boiled in milk as a remedy for diarrhea, and used to treat epilepsy, corns and as a purgative.

In the Far East, Germany and the USA it is traditionally grown in square porcelain tubs with ‘lion feet’ to bring good financial luck and has attracted more common names including the money tree, penny plant, dollar plant and tree of happiness.

Flowering Jade Plant reflects well on the owner and symbolizes great friendship, luck, and prosperity. The green leaves signify energy and the joy of friendship, and the flowers represent the fragrance of great friendship.

Feng Shui practitioners recommend Jade as good feng shui plants. Feng shui is a tradition that really likes drawing parallels with nature. It talks about the integration of human life with nature so as to achieve maximum positive chi, one of the best ways through which a person can achieve the maximum benefit and unity with nature is through the use of feng shui plants.

Houseplants like Crassula provide freshly-generated oxygen, air filtering, removal of carbon dioxide (C02) from the air, and many other benefits.

 The Crassula Can Live For 45 years to 50 years



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