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Crassula arborescens, of South African origin, belongs to the Crassulacee family. Its name takes us back to the Latin word "Crassus" or "fat" which crowns the queen of succulent plants, improperly called "succulent plants". These plants have tissues through which they store large amounts of water and it is precisely the presence of these tissues that makes the leaves and stems fleshy and enlarged. Common belief is that succulent plants require little care but it is not entirely true, in fact they also require some attention: they will take a few minutes a week and they will repay us with a very beautiful growth and flowering.
Characteristics of the Crassula arborescens
It is an evergreen plant with an erect and very branched habit, which can reach up to 1 m in height.
The leaves are spatula-shaped, succulent, and silvery-green in color while the flowers, which appear from April to September, are white-pink star-shaped.
Its leaves are positioned along the stem and are very smooth as they are covered with a waxy substance, but also slightly hairy, which protects them in high temperatures. The leaves are green with edges that tend to red and its flowers are white, slightly tending to pink and appear starting in May.
It is a plant that requires good lighting and direct sunshine in all seasons of the year in fact their optimal exposure is to the south; if you decide to place the Crassula behind a window, choose a half-shade position as the sun's rays may be too strong, causing a dangerous lens effect.
The minimum winter temperature must never fall below 10 ° C while the maximum can easily reach 27 ° C (the optimal temperature is 21 ° C).
The Crassula Arborescens is easily recognizable by its stem and its leaves which are both fleshy. This allows it to accumulate water and survive for long periods of drought.
The Crassula Arborescens, like all succulent plants, is not particularly subject to attacks by pathogens, but may suffer in the event that the necessary care is lacking or incorrect cultivation techniques are adopted. It suffers cold as hot, so in the summer months it is better to remove it from particularly sunny points.
|Leaf||Colored - spatula|
|Flower||A star, pinkish-white|
|Flowering time||From March to September|
|temperatures||Minimum 10 ° C - Maximum 27 ° C|
|Watering|| In spring and summer: when the soil is dry|
In autumn and winter: sporadically
|Composting|| In spring and summer: once a month|
In autumn and winter: suspend the fertilizations
Watering and fertilizing
As for watering, the Crassula arborescens must be wet when the soil is dry, avoiding water stagnations that could cause root rot: the optimal technique is to wet the soil well and let it drain completely. From autumn and throughout the winter they must be kept almost dry, while in spring and summer they are watered generously.
The Crassula arborescens is fertilized from spring and all summer, once a month, with a liquid fertilizer to be diluted in the irrigation water, balanced in nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (for example NPK 30:30:30) and equipped of microelements. In autumn and winter the fertilizations must be suspended because the plant is in vegetative rest and does not need nutrients.
The fat plates do not require special care, but a few precautions are enough. My favorite location is south in full sun, but possibly in a ventilated spot. Optimum temperature 21 degrees in summer (but can withstand up to 27), 10-12 in winter. If it drops below 10 degrees, keep it dry. Watering should be done when the heat is dry, avoiding water stagnation. The ideal is to wet it abundantly, eliminating the water from the saucer. From mid-November to mid-March, watering can be suspended. Repotting should be done in the spring by using a vase that is wider than it is tall, placing a shard in the drain hole, eliminating the dark roots (using some sterilized scissors) and taking care to spread fungicide powder on the cut roots. In this case the plant should not be watered for a week. However, the first irrigation must be carried out by placing the pot in the water. Use earth for succulent plants (2 parts) to which to add coarse sand (1 part). Fertilization is carried out in the period from spring to autumn once a week.
Pruning and reproduction.
Crassula arborescens should not be pruned. The only care is to remove the dry leaves along the stem to prevent them from being a vehicle for the transmission of parasites.
The cut must be made using a tool cleaned and disinfected with fire. We describe the reproductive techniques:
For suckers: take a sucker (small seedling at the base of the stem) and place it in a mixture of peat and sand. Keep warm but without direct sunlight, and fertilize every month. When the buds are born, you can plant them in pots.
By seed: it is made from March to September by spreading the seeds in the soil (two-part thin sand and one part soil for seeds). Dip the jar in water and drain it. Cover it with a sheet of clear plastic that will be dried every day. Keep in the shade and moist until the seedlings grow. Planting in pots.
For cutting: it is done in May / June. Cut a cutting with a sharp and disinfected tool and let it dry for 10 days. Put 5 centimeters deep in a mixture of peat and sand. Keep at a temperature of 21 degrees and wet a little until the roots appear. Plant in pot.
Crassula arborescens does not require pruning but it is advisable to remove dry or damaged leaves with clean tools. It can be easily propagated by cuttings or suckers. The multiplication by cuttings takes place between May and June with cuttings provided with 2-3 pairs of leaves; after cutting wait about seven days to heal the wound and then plant it at a depth of 5 cm placing the pot in a warm place and keeping the soil moist. The multiplication by suckers is done by taking one of the small seedlings that grow at the base of the mother plant and planting it in a vase placed in a warm place, fertilizing once a month. In both cases, after about a week, the roots will appear and the Crassula can be treated as an adult plant
Something wrong, what to do?
There crassula arborescens suffers from incorrect cultivation techniques; this is how the plant can manifest it. If the stem of the plant rots it means that it has been watered too much. If the whole plant appears rotten, there is nothing left to do. Otherwise remove the skin from the pot and let the soil dry. Eliminate the rotten parts of the stem and roots. Spread some fungicide on the cut parts and repot, without watering for about two sevenths. If the leaves are shriveled and falling it means that the plain is suffering from cold currents, so move it to a more sheltered place. When the leaves appear emptied it means that the plant is suffering from thirst, so it is necessary to water more regularly. If brown spots appear on the upper page of the leaves it can be a cochineal, so take a cotton ball soaked in alcohol and remove them, or treat with a pesticide purchased from a nurseryman. If the spots appear on the lower part of the leaves it can be a powdery cochineal: use the previous remedy.
Repotting of the Crassula
The Crassula should be repotted only if the roots have occupied all the space available to them. The repotting is carried out in spring taking care to check the roots which, in their optimal state, are white.
Any blackened or rotten portions must be eliminated using sterilized scissors and taking care to sprinkle a broad spectrum fungicide on the wound, after which you can repot by passing a week before watering.
The soil to be used is the specific one for the Cactaceae, mixing it with sand or perlite in a 2: 1 ratio, placing pebbles on the bottom of the pot to ensure drainage of the water and avoid stagnation. The pots must be wider than deep as the roots tend to grow in width.
Crassula arborescens: Diseases and problems
It may happen that Crassula arborescens shows typical symptoms of a wrong cultivation technique. If the waterings are too frequent the stem of the plant rots, on the contrary if the waterings are scarce the green parts of the plant become discolored and empty; while if the plant is exposed to too cold temperatures or drafts it withers and loses its leaves. In the first two cases it is not always possible to recover the Crassula but it is worth trying more attention by rebalancing the irrigations.
In the latter case, the plant should be placed in a more suitable location, ie at higher temperatures and in a sheltered position.
Rarely is it affected by pests and diseases but on certain occasions it may happen to observe symptoms typical of phytopathologies. The farinosa cochineal is a very frequent parasite that affects the Crassula arborescens and is recognized by the presence of white cottony formations under which the insect lives, feeding at the expense of the plant's sap. If the infestation is not serious you can try to eliminate it by rubbing the affected part with an alcohol swab. Conversely, if the infestation is extensive, it is necessary to treat the plant with a systemic antiparasitic product.
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