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Botanical name: Crassula falcata
Synonmy: Crassula perfoliata var. falcata, Crassula perfoliata var. minor
Common names: Propeller Plant, Scarlet Paintbrush Plant, Airplane Plant, Sickle Plant
Crassula falcata commonly called Propeller Plant or Scarlet Paintbrush Plant is a single-stemmed plant which bears gray-green, succulent, propeller-shaped leaves and dense clusters of scarlet-red blooms.
Propeller Plant leaves grow around the stem in a slight angle and can grow to a length of 2 ft. The shape and growth pattern of the leaves give this plant the common names, Propeller Plant and Airplane Plant.
Propeller Plant blooms in summer although it is unlikely to flower when grown indoors. The flowers are small, scarlet-red which occur in dense clusters and are borne on a long stalk from the center of the plant.
The flowers are attractive to bees and butterflies and smell like cinnamon. The blooms can last over a month.
The common name, 'Scarlet Painbrush', is in reference to the dense clusters of scarlet-red flowers.
Scarlet Paintbrush Plant can grow to a height of 2 ft and a spread of about 1 ft.
Crassula falcata also called Crassula perfoliata var. falcata or Crassula perfoliata var. minor is endemic to the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa.
Propeller Plant (Crassula falcata) thrives in bright light with some direct sunlight of about 4-6 hours, average warmth and moderately moist, rich, well-drained soil coupled with monthly feeding during the growing season.
Crassula falcata has no need for high humidity or regular repotting as it grows best when pot-bound. Pruning is necessary to keep the plant neat, to discourage pest and disease infestations and to rejuvenate growth. Keep reading for more on these growing conditions and how to achieve them.
Propeller Plant requires bright light with at least 4-6 hours of morning or late afternoon sunlight. Keep it away from too hot direct sunshine to avoid scorching of the leaves.
You can grow the Scarlet Paintbrush Plant outdoors, however, gradually acclimate it and place it in a shaded place to prevent scorching the leaves.
Regularly rotate the pot to ensure that the plant receives light on all sides for even growth and to prevent lopsided growth.
If the light is not sufficient, Scarlet Paintbrush Plant will be leggy with elongated stems, wide spaces between the leaf nodes and small pale leaves.
Crassula falcata can also grow under a grow light if the natural lighting is not adequate.
Water Propeller Plant thoroughly during the growing season and allow the top half of soil to dry out between waterings to keep the soil moderately moist.
Decrease watering in the cold period as growth is reduced to maintain the soil barely moist but do not let it dry out completely.
Use water that is at room temperature to water the plant to avoid shocking the plant as it can cause sudden leaf loss.
Make sure that the pot has a drainage hole and the soil is free-draining to prevent the plant from sitting in soggy soil which can result in rotting and death of the plant.
Be careful not to wet the foliage to avoid fungal diseases or water from the bottom instead.
Propeller Plant prefers an average warmth between 15-260C during the growing season and a minimum of 100C in the cold season. Keep it away from cold drafts like windy doors and windows as they can cause brown leaf spots.
Propeller Plant has no need for high humidity. Average room humidity is ideal for this plant. Clean the leaves regularly by damp-wiping with a soft cloth to get rid of dust and discourage pest infestations. Take care not to damage the fragile leaves.
Make sure that there is good air circulation for the Scarlet Paintbrush Plant to prevent fungal disease infestations which are prevalent in damp, poorly aerated conditions.
Propeller Plant is not a heavy feeder, therefore, feed it monthly during the growing season with a Cactus and Succulents Fertilizer for a lush growth.
Stop feeding in the cold season as growth is reduced at this time and feeding at this time can result in fertilizer burn and death of the plant.
Repot Propeller Plant at the beginning of the growing season only when it becomes pot-bound. Use a pot that is only one size larger than the current one to avoid overpotting as it is a slow grower.
Confirm that the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy to avoid root-rot and eventual loss of the plant.
Use a clay pot for Scarlet Paintbrush Plant as a clay pot is porous and allows the soil to dry out faster preventing it from staying wet for too long.
The best soil for Propeller Plant should be rich in organic matter, loose and free-draining to prevent it from getting soggy. The soil should be loose enough to allow water to drain out fast enough.
Cactus and Succulents soils like these Cactus and Succulents Mixes available online at Etsy are ideal for the Scarlet Paintbrush Plant.
Pruning Propeller Plant is easy as it involves removal of any dead or diseased leaves and spent flowers to keep it neat and also discourage pest and disease infestations.
Snip the leaves and the flower stalk at the base with a sterilized knife or pair of scissors to prevent diseases transmission.
Cut back the plant at the beginning of the growing season if it is too straggly to rejuvenate growth.
Minimize the number of cuts as much as possible to avoid unnecessary injuiries to reduce disease infestations.
Propeller Plant (Crassula falcata) can be propagated at the beginning of the growing season from offsets, leaf cuttings or stem cuttings.
Carefully seperate the offset from the mother Propeller Plant by cutting with a clean, sharp knife while ensuring that the offset has adequate roots.
Pot the offset in its individual pot in moist, loose, free-draining soil and place in a warm, well-lit place away from direct sunlight.
Maintain the soil moist through out until the new Crassula falcata is well established after which you can begin routine care.
Take Propeller Plant leaf cuttings complete with the petiole. Allow the leaf cutting to dry out (callus) for a few days to prevent rotting.
Once calloussed, lay the leaf cutting on moist, free-draining, rooting mix while ensuring that the cut end does not come into contact with the soil to prevent rotting.
Place the set up in a warm, well-lit place and maintain the soil moist until a new rosette forms at the base of the leaf cuttings.
Allow substancial growth of the rosette before transplanting the new Crassula falcata into individual pots after which routine care can begin.
Take 3-5 in. stem cuttings from a healthy Propeller Plant and allow the cutting to dry out (callus) for a few days.
Once callused, insert the lower cut end of the stem cuttings in moist, well-drained, rooting soil.
Place the set up in a well-lit, warm place and maintain the soil moist until the stem cuttings are rooted. Rooting may take about 4 weeks.
Allow substancial growth before transplanting the new Propeller Plant after which routine care can begin.
Photo Credit: Indoor Plants
Propeller Plant (Crassula falcata) problems indoors include leaf drop, leggy growth, leaf spots, pests and diseases among others. Keep reading for more on these problems and how to solve them.
Leggy growth in Propeller Plant is due to two possible reasons. One possible reason is overwatering or soggy soil in the cold season.
Lessen watering during the cold season to keep the soil barely moist as growth is reduced at this time, therefore, the plant does not need much water.
In addition, make sure that the pot has a drainage hole and the soil is free-draining to prevent it from getting soggy.
The second possible reason for leggy growth in Scarlet Paintbrush Plant is too little light during the growing season.
Position the plant in bright light with at least 4-6 hours of direct sunlight during the growing season or instal a grow light if the natural lighting is inadequate.
Sudden leaf drop in Propeller Plant is due to two possible causes. One possible cause is watering the plant with very cold water which results in plant shock.
Use water that is at room temperature to water the plant to avoid shocking this tropical plant.
The second possible cause of sudden leaf drop in Crassula falcata is underwatering which results in too little moisture in the soil.
This means that the plant cannot obtain enough water to take up to the leaves for food making. To save energy needed for the vital functions, the plant drops the leaves.
To prevent leaf drop, water the plant thoroughly during the growing season and allow the top half of soil to dry out between waterings to keep the soil moderately moist.
Significantly reduce watering in the cold season to keep the soil slightly moist but do not allow the soil to dry out completely.
Brown dry leaf spots in Propeller Plant are due to underwatering during the growing season as the plant requires that the soil be maintained moderately moist through out.
Water the Crassula falcata liberally during the hot season while allowing the top half of soil to dry out between waterings but do not allow it to dry out completely.
Brown soft leaf spots in Propeller Plant are caused by leaf spot disease which is enhanced by poor air circulation coupled with overwet (damp) conditions.
Better the ventilation and ensure that there is free air circulation at all times. In addition, water the Crassula falcata from the bottom to avoid wetting the leaves.
Apart from leaf spot disease, Propeller Plant is also attacked by powdery mildew and black leg disease which are prevalent in overwet conditions coupled with poor air circulation.
Isolate the affected plant to minimize spread to other houseplants and treat it with Neem oil. Improve ventilation and make sure that there is free air circulation for the plant.
Water the Crassula falcata from the bottom to avoid wetting the rosette of leaves and always allow the top half of soil to dry out between waterings.
Maintain the soil moderately moist during the growing season and barely moist in the cold period.
Do not allow the Scarlet Paintbrush Plant to sit in soggy soil by making sure that the pot has a drainage hole and that the soil is free-draining to prevent it from getting soggy.
The common pests in Propeller Plant are scale insects, mealy bugs and spider mites. Isolate the affected plant to reduce spread to other houseplants.
Spray the plant with an Insecticidal soap to get rid of the pests. Make sure to cover the entire plant.
Propeller Plant (Crassula falcata) like its cousin, Jade Plant, is considered toxic to both humans and pets as indicated by ASPCA.If ingested it can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Keep the plant away from the reach of children and pets.