Botanical name: Crassula multicava
Synonym: Septimia multicava, Crassula quadrifida
Common names: Fairy Crassula, Pitted Crassula, London Pride, Cape Province Pygmy Weed, Mosquito Flower
Crassula multicava commonly called Fairy Crassula or Pitted Crassula is a mat-forming succulent plant which bears glossy round leaves with tiny pores along the edges.
The small pores along the leaf edges are hydathodes which allow moisture absorption from the air. It is an important feature in its natural habitat where the conditions are generally dry.
The species name, 'multicava', which means 'many caves', is in reference to the tiny pores or pits on the leaves.
Fairy Crassula leaves are borne in opposite pairs on the stems and are a lighter green color in good lighting and a darker green in shady conditions.
Fairy Crassula blooms from late winter to early spring though it is unlikely to flower indoors. The flowers are small, star-shaped borne above the foliage and are attractive to bees. They start off as pink buds which open into white stars.
The common name, 'Fairy Crassula', is in reference to the beautiful, tiny, star-shaped flowers.
Pitted Crassula is a mat-forming plant which can grow to a height of about 1 ft.
Crassula multicava also called Septimia multicava or Crassula quadrifida is native to southern Africa in the mountainous regions, river and streams banks, coastal and subtropical thickets.
Fairy Crassula is considered invasive in Australia and other warm regions. The plant bears tiny plantlets on the flower stem which drop and grow into new plants.
Pitted Crassula can successfully compete with native species in these regions as it can form dense mats which choke out other plants.
Avoid growing Crassula multicava in the ground as it may be dificult to control. The plant is beautiful in a hanging basket.
Fairy Crassula (Crassula multicava) thrives in bright light with at least 4-6 hours of direct sunlight, average warmth and moderately moist, rich, well-drained soil coupled with monthly feeding during the growing season.
Crassula multicava has no need for high humidity or regular repotting as it grows best when pot-bound. Pruning is required 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.
Fairy Crassula grows best in bright light with at least 4-6 hours of direct sunlight. Keep it away from too hot direct sunshine to avoid scorching of the leaves.
You can also grow the Pitted Crassula outdoors, however, gradually acclimate it and place it in a shaded place to prevent scorching the leaves.
Regularly rotate the pot to make sure that the plant receives light on all sides for even growth and to prevent lopsided growth.
If the light is not sufficient, Pitted Crassula will become leggy with elongated stems, wide spaces between the leaf nodes and small pale leaves.
Crassula multicava can also grow under a grow light where the natural lighting is not adequate.
Water Fairy Crassula deeply during the growing season while allowing the top half of soil to dry out between waterings to keep the soil moderately moist.
Cut down on watering in the cold season as growth is reduced and maintain the soil barely moist but do not let it dry out completely.
Only use water that is at room temperature to avoid shocking the plant as it can cause sudden leaf drop.
Ascertain that the pot has a drainage hole and the soil is free-draining to prevent the plant from sitting in soggy soil as it can result in rotting and death of the plant.
Do not wet the foliage while watering as it can lead to fungal diseases or water from the bottom instead.
Fairy Crassula requires an average warmth between 10-260C during the growing season and a minimum of 40C in the cold season. Keep it away from cold drafts like windy windows and doors as they can cause brown leaf spots.
Fairy Crassula has no need for high humidity. Average room humidity is ideal for this succulent. Occasionally clean the leaves by damp-wiping with a soft cloth to get rid of dust and also reduce pest infestations. Take care not to damage the fragile leaves.
Ensure that there is good air circulation for the Pitted Crassula to prevent fungal disease infestations which are prevalent in damp, poorly aerated conditions.
Feed Fairy Crassula with a Cactus and Succulents Fertilizer monthly during the growing season for a lush growth. Take care not to overfeed as the plant is a slow grower.
Withhold feeding in the cold season as growth is minimal at this time and feeding at this time can lead to fertilizer burn and eventual death of the plant.
Repot Fairy Crassula at the beginning of the growing season only when it becomes confined in its current pot. Use a pot that is only one size larger than the current one to avoid overpotting.
Make sure that the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy as it can lead to root-rot and eventual loss of the plant.
Use a clay pot for Pitted Crassula as a clay pot is porous and therefore allows the soil to dry out faster which prevents it from staying wet for too long.
The best soil for Fairy Crassula should be loose, rich in organic matter and free-draining to prevent it from getting soggy. The soil should be loose enough to allow water to drain out quickly.
Cactus and Succulents soil is ideal for this plant as it drains easily like these Cactus and Succulents Mixes available online at Etsy.
Pruning Fairy Crassula involves removal of dead or diseased leaves and spent flowers to keep it neat and also discourage pest and disease infestations. Snip the leaves 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 injuries to reduce disease infestations.
Fairy Crassula (Crassula multicava) can be propagated at the beginning of the growing season from plantlets borne on the flower stem, leaf cuttings or stem cuttings.
Carefully seperate the plantlet from the mother Fairy Crassula. Select an offset that has several leaves to increase your chances of success.
Pot the plantlet 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 multicava is well established after which you can begin routine care.
Take Fairy Crassula 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 multicava into individual pots after which you can begin routine care.
Take 3-5 in. stem cuttings from a healthy Fairy Crassula 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 Fairy Crassula after which routine care can begin.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Fairy Crassula (Crassula multicava) problems indoors include leaf drop, leggy growth, leaf spots, wilting, pests and diseases among others. Keep reading for more on these problems and how to solve them.
Elongated stems or leggy growth in Fairy Crassula is due to two possible reasons. One possible reason is overwatering or soggy soil in the cold season.
Reduce watering during the cold season to keep the soil barely moist as growth is minimal at this time, therefore, the plant does not need a lot of water.
In addition, ensure that the pot has a drainage hole and the soil is free-draining to prevent it from getting soggy.
The second possible reason for elongated stems or leggy growth in Pitted Crassula 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 not adequate.
Sudden leaf drop in Fairy Crassula is due to two possible causes. One possible cause is watering the plant with very cold water which shocks the plant.
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 multicava 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 decrease watering in the cold season and keep the soil slightly moist but do not let the soil dry out completely.
Brown dry leaf spots in Fairy Crassula are due to underwatering during the growing season as the plant requires that the soil be maintained moderately moist through out.
Water the Crassula multicava liberally during the growing season and allow the top half of soil to dry out between waterings but do not allow it to dry out completely.
Wilted and discolored leaves in Fairy Crassula are caused by overwatering during the cold season. Decrease watering in the cold season to maintain the soil barely moist as growth is reduced at this time.
Brown soft leaf spots in Fairy Crassula are caused by leaf spot disease which is enhanced by poor air circulation coupled with overdamp conditions.
Ensure there is good air circulation at all times. In addition, water the Crassula multicava from the bottom to avoid wetting the leaves.
Apart from leaf spot disease, Fairy Crassula is also prone to black leg disease and powdery mildew which are common 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 multicava from the bottom to avoid wetting the foliage and always allow the top half of soil to dry out between waterings.
Keep the soil moderately moist during the growing season and barely moist in the cold period.
Do not allow the Pitted Crassula to sit in soggy soil by ensuring that the pot has a drainage hole and that the soil drains easily to prevent it from getting soggy.
Common pests in Fairy Crassula 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.
Fairy Crassula (Crassula multicava) 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.