Tips And Tricks For Growing Succulents

Tips And Tricks For Growing Succulents

By Norma Lewis – USA

Tips For Your Jade Plant Crassula Ovata


These tips also apply to most plants in the Crassula family.

1. When you water, water thoroughly.

2. Do not keep plant moist all the time. Let it dry out between waterings. Remember these are African dry climate plants, not African violets.

3. If leaves wrinkle something is wrong. Check the roots. Make sure your water is getting all the way down and inside the root ball.

4. DO NOT MIST THE LEAVES. Misting can cause fungus and other nasty problems. It can also destroy the bloom on the leaves of many crassulas.

5. Give very bright light, but never too close to a window. Some crassulas need full sun in order to flower.

6. Give the plants good air circulation.

7. Soil mix, use one of 50 different receipts. What ever works for your other succulent plants.

8. Fertilize only after watering when the plant is growing (starting in Spring) and mix fertilizer at 1/4 the strength recommended on the label.

9. White or red tiny dots on leaves are normal

10. If it doesn’t move, it’s not a mealy bug. Scale doesn’t move although there is a bug under the shell. Mealy bugs do move.

11. Use a 10 power magnifying glass to examine plant for pests. Some pests like spider mites cannot be seen without a magnifying glass.

12. Do not use a bug spray if it contains pyrethrins. Do not use any kind of sprays on crassulas which have leaves with a powdery bloom.

13. It is okay to use a systemic for insects. Don’t use it in the house though.

14. Keep plant clean. Discard old leaves.

15. Change soil and look at roots if plant is not doing well. Use new pots and soil.

16. Jades like to be crowded. Do not put in a pot bigger than the plant needs.

17. Jades will eventually develop rings on the trunk which may in turn develop raised bumps of velour-like material like that of a deer before growing new antlers. This is normal.

18. Don’t be afraid to keep it trimmed like a bonsai which makes it develop good looking trunks.

19. Leaves drop off naturally, especially when it is hot. Plant closes down (stops growing) when temperature reaches 90F.

20. May be propagated from a leaf. Just lay the leaf on the top of soil. Don’t water until you see a new plant forming.

21. May also be propagated by cutting off the tips at the top of a stem and replanting.

(Tip = cluster of leaves at the top of a stem). Wait until you see roots and then plant. Do this in cool months.

22. These are South African plants and can go the complete summer with little water. If they are planted in the ground they like cold night time temperatures.

Propagation Methods:
1. Cut off the heads or tips and let dry for several days .. then sink the stems into DRY soil and let sit for three weeks before watering. or .. Cut off the tips and set out to dry until they form roots. Then sink into damp soil and water in.

2. Take several leaves off, and just sit on top of the soil until the roots form and then use a chop stick or pencil to make a tiny hole and only put in the roots. Do not water until you see several leaves. There is plenty of moisture in the leaves to sustain them. Sometimes the leaf will completely shrivel up. Do not be alarmed. No need to panic. This is quite normal. During the summer I just set these cuttings in the shade. It is far too hot here for them to root during the summer months. (So. Calif.)

3. Propagate from a branch. If you use a branch that is heavy it will take longer (pencil thick is good).

4. By the way, when you trim your plant it will develop a much better, thicker trunk.

5. Remember: When you live in an area of high humidity you must be particularly careful of watering. These plants soak up the water from the air (that is the job of the little white spots on the leaves).

I thought I’d share with you an excerpt from an article that I found in an old garden magazine that is no longer publishing. It was written by the Editor whose name was Peter (no other name given).

“Take my office plants, for example. On the windowsill in my office there are a dozen or so crassulas. I’m collecting them. Each day the afternoon sun pours in on them and their rich, thick leaves shine with good health. They don’t mind the air conditioning or the forced air heat. They prune without trickery or complaint, root from cuttings with ease, need fertilizer only now and then and announce their thirst eloquently in an unpanicked voice. This last quality is what makes them perfect for my office. It’s why I think of my jades as a central part of my lazy gardening scheme.

When a jade dries and is in need of water, its lowest leaves become soft. As it become even drier and even more in need of water, leaves slightly higher up become soft. And the lowest leaves visibly wrinkle. So, once a week I peer at the lowest leaves of my jades to see it they are wrinkled and I give them a gentle squeeze to see if the’re soft. When they announce they are thirsty, I water them thoroughly. The soil is carefully mixed to be porous and their saucers are large so I can drench them indiscriminately and then drain the excess water from the saucers. The shriveled leaves promptly plump and I know all is well.”



Now is the time to take off the leaves of Aeoniums. Peel them off at the stem, making sure you even get a piece of the skin. If done correctly it will look like a cuticle. Just lay on top of the soil on their sides, when you see leaves forming it is now time to water. I put them under a bench, but getting bright indirect light.

Aeoniums in hot inland valleys do not like to be watered during the hot months when they are dormant. I just give them a splash once in a while. Mine are all growing in open run, in very gritty sandy loam, so drainage is very fast. Once an Aeonium flowers it dies. The moral to this story is to quick take off any offsets to start new plants, or chop off the head of the plant yearly to restart in the fall. Save the base as it just may give you so many plantlets that you have to make a bunch of new friends to give them away because you can’t bear to toss out a plant.

If you have a Aeonium tabulforme (flat like a saucer) you may take leaf cuttings when it cools down. Last year it was January for us. This year I believe I could do it right now. I planted 100 leaf cuttings and got 70 plants. This was my first time so I sure I did not peel them right, and I was amazed. Try it. It is extremely



You can also peel off the leaves of Sempervivums in the same manner as aeoniums above.



These are winter growers and are now setting down new roots so remove pups with roots if you want extra plants.

Now is a good time to repot these plants. Mealy bugs can hide in the soil and the only way to find them is to take the plants out of the soil, remove all dead or very old leaves and thoroughly wash them off. Then provide clean soil and pot. You may use the old container if you put it in a solution of water with 10% Clorox for 20 minutes. This job I do at the Huntington Gardens several times a year to keep them in top condition. When anyone visits, they will be found in the conservatory open from 2:00 to 4:00 only but not on Monday.

Again watch the watering. Let them dry before watering again, then do it thoroughly. Some Haworthia lose their roots. These I just sit out on top of the soil until I see the new roots coming down, then I repot. Some Haworthia have deep roots and others shallow. If they lose the roots you can tell by just wiggling the top of the plant. Take this into consideration when choosing the pot for them. They seem to like being crowded. Be sure to use your favorite pesticide spray before repotting, just to be sure. I also remove any flower remains which can be messy looking .. and attract more bugs.



Many Crassulas are setting roots along the nodes (where the leaves join the stem) at this time. So now is the time to start them also.