HOW TO GROW AND CARE FOR OUR PLANTS
The Crassula they are very common succulent plants, present in almost all of our homes and are native to the arid areas of southern Africa.
Species: see the paragraph on "Main species"
The kind Crassula belongs to family of Crassulaceae, large group of succulent plants originating of the arid areas of South Africa.
The name derives from the Latin crassus "fat".
They are plants with a bearing very varied, mostly erect, but there are also species of bushy, creeping and climbing appearance. Both the stems and the leaves are fleshy and have the function of storing water. The leaves they are opposite and alternately arranged along the stem and covered with a waxy substance or a light down. flowers they are mostly star-shaped and very different in size but mostly small, depending on the species; in some species they are united in corymb, cluster or panicle inflorescences. Depending on the species blooms from March to September.
There are more than 300 species belonging to the genus Crassula among which we remember:
There Crassula arborescens or Crassula cotyledon it is a delightful plant with an upright and very branched habit.
It can reach a height of up to one meter with green - silver, succulent leaves. The flowers are slightly pinkish white and appear from the month of May.
There Crassula perforata it looks like a small and delicate tree with very small leaves of gray-green color covered by red spots.
There Crassula rupestris it has a very compact and branched appearance with very thin stems and small, very pale gray-green leaves with rosy flowers.
There Crassula portulacea or Crassula argentea it is a beautiful plant up to 1 meter tall with stems even 7 cm thick in the basal part.
The leaves are very fleshy with a beautiful deep green color and with pinkish-white flowers that appear in spring.
There Crassula falcata (synonymous Rochea falcata) has the particularity of being formed by a single stem which remains so branched as to form a dense bush with the branches falling downwards. For this reason it is a very suitable plant to be grown in hanging baskets.
The leaves are green-blue and very pointed. The flowers are of a beautiful orange-red color gathered in corymb inflorescences and appear starting from June.
We also have:
CRASSULA PYRAMIDALIS (CRASSULA QUADRANGULARIS)
CRASSULA CAPITELLA 'CAMPFIRE'
CRASSULA EXILIS 'PICTURATA'
CRASSULA DECEPTOR or C. DECEPTRIX
CRASSULA BUDDHA'S TEMPLE '
A widespread belief is that succulent plants grow well even if they are neglected. This is not true at all because like all living beings, they need attention and care. They can survive if we neglect them but certainly not live to the best of their abilities. Considering that the care they require is not that many, we dedicate a few minutes a week to these incredible plants and they will pay off with a stupendous growth.
The Crassula they are plants that require a lot of light, in all seasons of the year, with direct exposure to the sun. The best is a southern exposure and a northern exposure to be avoided.
If the plant is kept on a windowsill behind double glazing, during the summer keep it in light shade as the sun's rays are too concentrated in that case.
The optimal summer cultivation temperatures are around 21 ° C even if it grows well at temperatures of 27 ° C. Winter temperatures must be around 10-13 ° C but be careful not to drop below 10 ° C. If temperatures drop around these values, be sure to leave the plant perfectly dry.
They are plants that love the air so give them fresh air especially in summer by placing them near an open window.
The watering of the Crassula they must be carried out when the soil surface is dry. A good practice is to wet the soil well, then drain all excess water and then wait until the soil is dry before proceeding with the next irrigation.
During the autumn-winter period (from mid-November to mid-March), irrigation must be suspended until spring.
It is necessary to carefully avoid leaving stagnant water in the sub-pot as water stagnation is not tolerated in any way and would lead to root rot.
TYPE OF SOIL - REPOT
There Crassula, like all plants, it needs to be repotted periodically, in spring, if the roots have occupied all the space available to them.
Repotting is also an excellent time to check the state of the roots: if you notice blackened or greyish roots (the roots must be creamy-white) they must be eliminated. Then take some washed and sterilized scissors (possibly at the flame) and proceed with the cut. Then sprinkle broad spectrum fungicide powder into the cut wounds and then repot. In this case, however, wait at least a week before watering to allow the wounds to heal.
For repotting, use a specific compost for Cactaceaeto which you add coarse sand or perlite in the measure of 2: 1 (2 parts of compost for 1 part of sand or perlite).
Take care to place pieces of crock in the drainage hole so that the earth or roots do not obstruct the drainage hole as waterlogging is lethal for this plant.
Use low pots with a maximum diameter of 15 cm. Personally I always recommend using terracotta pots and not plastic ones as they allow the earth to transpire and if the drainage hole has been arranged in order to ensure a good drainage of the water, well, I'd say it's perfect. Furthermore, the vessels must be wider than deep as the root system tends to develop in width rather than in depth.
The first watering after repotting, do it by immersion of the pot. Remember that if you have pruned the roots you need to wait at least a week before watering to give the wounds time to heal.
From spring and throughout the summer fertilize every week with a liquid fertilizer to be diluted in the irrigation water by decreasing the doses compared to what is indicated in the package.
Starting from autumn and throughout the winter, stop fertilizing because theCrassula it goes into vegetative rest so you must not give fertilizers that would accumulate in the soil, creating a harmful environment for the roots of the plant.
To insure yours Crassula excellent growth, give an equally balanced fertilizer in nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (for example 30:30:30) .In addition to these elements (macro elements), however, make sure that the fertilizer you use always contains microelements, that is to say those compounds of which the plant needs in minimal quantities (but still needs it) such as magnesium (Mg), iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), copper (Cu), zinc (Zn), boron (B) , molybdenum (Mo), all important for a correct and balanced growth of the plant.
If you insure the Crassula the right amount of sunlight, water and fertilizer, as indicated in the respective paragraphs, you will have beautiful blooms.
The plant usually begins to bloom from March and continues throughout the summer, until September.
There Crassula it cannot be pruned. The leaves that gradually dry up or become damaged must simply be eliminated to prevent them from becoming a vehicle for parasitic diseases.
Make sure that the tool you use for cutting is clean and disinfected (preferably with a flame) to avoid infecting the tissues.
There Crassula it multiplies by cutting or by seed or by suckers.
In choosing the technique to be adopted, it should be borne in mind that the multiplication by seed has the disadvantage that, taking over the genetic variability, it is not certain that there will be plants equal to the mother plants, in which case if you want to obtain a very specific plant or you are not sure of the quality of the seed you are using, it is good to do the multiplication by cuttings.
MULTIPLICATION FOR POLLONS
In spring, a basal sucker is taken (they are the small plants that grow at the base of the mother plant) using a well-sharpened, clean and disinfected knife (possibly with a flame).
The sucker is planted in a mixture of peat and sand in equal parts and keeps warm, in good light but not in direct sun and fertilizes once a month.
Once you see the new shoots appear, it means that the Crassula has taken root. At that point you can treat it as an adult plant.
MULTIPLICATION FOR TALEA
The best time to take the cutting is usually between May and June.
The cuttings must be 10-15 cm long, taking them with 2-3 pairs of leaves and must be removed using a very sharp and disinfected knife (possibly over a flame) .The cut surface is left to dry for 7-10 days or more to heal the wound and then planted at a depth of 5 cm in a compost formed by sand and peat. The soil should be kept slightly moist and the pot should be placed in a place where the temperature is about 21 ° C.
Once the first roots start to appear (usually after a few weeks) it means that the Crassula has rooted at that point, treat it as an adult plant.MULTIPLICATION BY SEEDS
The multiplication by seeds is carried out in March or September by distributing the seeds as evenly as possible on a soil formed by 2 parts of thin sand and one of soil per seed.
You can use pots that are not too tall or multiply trays leaving a space of at least 2 cm between the edge of the pot and the ground. Then immerse the pot in water until the soil is well wet. At that point, let the excess water drain and arrange the seeds on the surface of the soil evenly and possibly use a piece of wood to bury them evenly or sprinkle a little soil on top.
The tray should be covered with a transparent plastic sheet or a glass plate that will guarantee a good temperature and avoid too rapid drying of the soil. The plastic sheet should be removed every day to check the moisture content of the soil and to remove the condensation that forms on the plastic or glass. The tray or pot containing the seeds should be kept in the shade, at a temperature around 21 ° C and slightly damp (use a sprayer to completely moisten the soil) until the moment of germination. some light. So arrange the tray or vase so that they receive a little light, but not too much, so as to respect even the seeds that have not yet germinated.
Once the seedlings are large enough to be handled, they are transplanted into the final pot as indicated for adult plants and treated as such.
PARASITES AND DISEASES
The Crassula, like all succulent plants, they are not particularly disease-prone plants. In their case, perhaps it is more correct to speak of physiopathies, that is to say diseases due not to pathogens but to bad cultivation techniques.
The stem of the plant rots
This symptom in the Crassula it is a sign of too much watering.
Remedies: unfortunately if the whole plant looks like this, there is nothing more to be done. If, on the other hand, some stems are not yet affected, you can try to save the plant. Remove the plant with all the earthen bread from the pot and leave it in the air so that the soil dries quickly. Check the roots and remove any rotten ones by cutting them for at least 1 cm above the rotten area with a sharp and disinfected scissors (possibly with a flame), as well as the now dead stems. Sprinkle the cutting surface with a broad spectrum fungicidal powder and then repot. Wait at least two weeks before watering again and, above all, take greater care in the amount of water you administer for the future.
The plant withers and sheds its leaves
Mostly this symptom is due to too low temperatures or cold drafts.
Remedies: place the plant in the most suitable position.
The green parts of the plant discolour and appear as "hollowed out":
This symptom is usually due to too little irrigation. If we stay several months without watering the plant, especially in summer, the plant runs out of all the water contained in the tissues and therefore appears as "emptied".
Remedies: not always if you reach this stage it is possible to recover the plant, in any case, it is worth giving a try by giving a little more attention to our plant with the right irrigations.
Brown spots on the underside of the leaves
Brown spots on the underside of the leaves could mean that you are in the presence of cochineal: brown cochineal or mealy cochineal. To be sure, it is recommended that you make use of a magnifying glass and observe yourself. Compare them with the photo on the side. They are features, you can't go wrong. Also if you try to remove them with a fingernail, they come off easily.
Remedies: remove them with a cotton swab soaked in alcohol or if the plant is large and potted, you can wash it with water and neutral soap rubbing very gently with a sponge to remove the parasites, after which the plant must be rinsed very well to eliminate all soap. For larger plants planted outdoors, you can use specific pesticides available from a good nurseryman.