Crassula is a genus of plant with many species. Among them is the jade plant (Crassula ovata or Crassula argentea), perhaps the most well known of the group. All plants in the Crassula family are succulents, meaning they are fleshy plants that store water in their leaves and stems. They flower in winter, but are utilised more often as a foliage plant. Most are native to Southern Africa.
Jade plants (and other Crassula) are popular indoor plants because they are generally maintenance free. They need full sun, so place them near a window, ideally where they will get three to five hours of bright light a day. When they are actively growing, water the plants thoroughly, then allow them to dry out. Crassula require quick-draining soils and temperatures between 12.8 and 29.4 degrees Celsius. Most problems with jade plants are related to over watering, but they are susceptible to mealy bugs and scale insects.
Crassula in the Landscape
In areas where winter temperatures don't fall below 4.44 degrees Celsius, Crassula is used as a landscape plant. They are a diverse group, and come in an assortment of textures and colours. They can be used as a focal point, as part of a grouping, as a potted plant and sometimes even as a hedge. Many are suitable for bonsai. They require fast-draining soils with a pH level around 6.5.
Crassula is easiest to propagate using stem or leaf cuttings. For Jade plants, take a 2- to 3-inch cutting from the branch tip. Let the cutting sit until it is completely dry (callused)--about one to two weeks. Plant in potting soil. Leaf cuttings work better on plants that don't have an obvious stem. Cut about 50 per cent of a leaf off, and let it callus. Put the callused end into the soil just enough to cover the callus. Leaf cuttings usually take longer than stem cuttings to produce plants.
Crassula 'Buddha's Temple' is a tight-leaved plant with an overall cactus shape. 'Estagnol' leaves grow in an upward spiral pattern. 'Albino' has cream coloured new growth. 'Campfire' has bright orange-red new growth. 'Gollum' has leaves that resemble fleshy tubes. 'Moonglow' has thick blue leaves that form an upright column. 'Bluebird' had thick blue, disk-like leaves.
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