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Crassula ovata may be known as 'Living Coral, but with a name like 'Gollum', it's positively precious.
Photo: © Marie Iannotti
Overview and Description
Crassula is a diverse and extensive genus of succulent plants
, with about 350 species. 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. Many other Crassula species are much smaller. Some are 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.
Crassula plants lend themselves to very descriptive common names, because of the shapes and forms of their leaves. Crassula barklyi
, the 'Rattlesnake Plant', looks like the tip of the snakes tail. Crassula argentea
, shown here, is called ‘Living Coral’. Crassula perforata
, with it's twirling leaves stacked one on top of another is known as 'String of Buttons'. This is an intriguing genus.
Most are only hardy in USDA Zones
9 - 10, but they make great houseplants.
to partial shade. Most needs some shade in the hottest part of summer, but require bright light to attain their most vibrant color.
Size will vary with species and variety, from shrubs several feet tall to tiny specimens of a couple of inches.
Spring and summer. Some varieties have lovely flowers and other are insignificant. Many gardeners remove the flowers that are not particularly showy.
The smaller Crassula are prefect container plants - low maintenance, evergreen and eye-catching. If you have the climate, they plants look terrific tucked into and hanging over walls.
Jade plants in their natural element will be one of the easiest to maintain plants in your garden.
There are so many to choose from, you may become a collector. Here are a few that have caught my eye.
- Crassula ‘Morgan’s Beauty’ - Thick silver leaves dusted in white, with a pretty pink late spring flowers. Grows about 8 in. wide.
- Crassula erosula 'Campfire' - Long branching leaves turn blazing red in winter. A clump former that grows about 1 ft. tall and spread 3 ft. wide.
- Crassula pellucida subsp. marginalis 'Variegata' - a flowing mass of heart-shaped leaves variegated in pink, green and creamy yellow. Nice in a hanging pot.
- Crassula perforata - Known as the stacked Crassula, their leaves rotate around a center stem, giving them their common name, String of Buttons'.