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Botanical name: Crassula tetragona
Common names: Miniature Pine Tree, Mini Pine Tree
Crassula tetragona commonly called Miniature Pine Tree or Mini Pine Tree is an upright, naturally branching, shrubby succulent plant whose leaves are green to dark green and occur in crossed pairs.
The common name, 'Miniature Pine Tree', is in reference to the naturally branching form and interesting leaf structure of this spectacular plant.
Mini Pine Tree bears thin narrow stems and leaves which look-like needles. The stem is woody with a brown bark as it matures and is highly branched. This form of growth makes this plant perfect for a bonsai.
Crassula tetragona is nicknmaed the "miniature pine tree" for its popular use as a "pine tree" in Bonsai.
The specific name, 'tetragona' is in reference to the phyllotaxy (the arrangement of the leaves on the stem) of the leaves.
Miniature Pine Tree blooms from spring to summer though it is unlikely to flower indoors. The flowers are small, cream white clusters borne at the branch tips once the plant matures, usually, at the age of 4 years.
Mini Pine Tree can grow to a height of 3-4 ft and a spread of about 2-3 ft.
Crassula tetragona is native to southern Africa from the Orange River boundary of Namaqualand to beyond the Kei River in the Eastern Cape.
Miniature Pine Tree exhibits CAM (Crassulacean Acid Metabolism) where the plants harvest Carbon dioxide at night and use it during the day for photosynthesis.
As the plants photosynthesize (make food) during the day, the plants store the oxygen they produce in the process and release it at night.
Therefore, if you keep this plant in your living spaces, it will increase the oxygen concentration and thereby clean (freshen) the indoor air.
Mini Pine Tree is readily available online at Etsy. Buy Miniature Pine Tree (Crassula tetragona) online from Etsy.
Miniature Pine Tree (Crassula tetragona) 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 tetragona 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.
Miniature Pine Tree 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 grow the Mini Pine Tree 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 adequate, Mini Pine Tree will grow leggy with elongated stems, wide spaces between the leaf nodes and small pale leaves.
Crassula tetragona can also grow under a grow light if the natural lighting is not sufficient.
Water Miniature Pine Tree liberally during the growing season while allowing 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 minimal to maintain the soil barely moist but do not let it dry out completely.
Only use water that is at room temperature to water the plant to avoid shocking this tropical 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 as it can result in rotting and death of the plant.
Take care not to wet the foliage as it can lead to fungal diseases or water from the bottom instead.
Miniature Pine Tree requires 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 windows and doors as they can cause brown leaf spots.
Average room humidity is ideal for Miniature Pine Tree. It has no need for high humidity. Regularly clean the leaves by damp-wiping with a soft cloth to get rid of dust and discourage pest infestations. Take care not to damage the fragile leaves.
Ensure that there is good air circulation for Mini Pine Tree to prevent fungal disease infestations which are prevalent in damp, poorly ventilated conditions.
Feed Miniature Pine Tree with a Cactus and Succulents Fertilizer monthly during the growing season for 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 result in fertilizer burn and death of the plant.
Repot Miniature Pine Tree at the beginning of the growing season only when it becomes crowded in its current pot. Use a pot that is only one size larger than the current one to avoid overpotting.
Confirm 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 Mini Pine Tree. 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 Miniature Pine Tree 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 soil is ideal for this plant as it allows water to drain easily and does not hold too much water like these Cactus and Succulents Mixes available online at Etsy.
Pruning Miniature Pine Tree is easy as it involves removal of any dead or diseased leaves 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 injuiries to reduce disease infestations.
Miniature Pine Tree (Crassula tetragona) can be propagated at the beginning of the growing season from offsets, leaf cuttings or stem cuttings.
Carefully seperate the offset from the mother Miniature Pine Tree 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 tetragona is well established after which you can begin routine care.
Take Miniature Pine Tree 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 tetragona into individual pots after which routine care can begin.
Take 3-5 in. stem cuttings from a healthy Miniature Pine Tree 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 Miniature Pine Tree after which routine care can begin.
Miniature Pine Tree (Crassula tetragona) 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 Miniature Pine Tree 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 elongated stems or leggy growth in Mini Pine Tree is too little light during the growing season.
Place 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 Miniature Pine Tree 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 tetragona 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 Miniature Pine Tree are due to underwatering during the growing season as the plant requires that the soil be maintained moderately moist through out.
Water the Crassula tetragona 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.
Wilted and discolored leaves in Miniature Pine Tree are caused by overwatering during the cold period. Greatly decrease watering in the cold season to maintain the soil barely moist as growth is reduced at this time.
Brown soft leaf spots in Miniature Pine Tree 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 tetragona from the bottom to avoid wetting the leaves.
Apart from leaf spot disease, Miniature Pine Tree 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 tetragona 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 Mini Pine Tree 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 Miniature Pine Tree 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.
Miniature Pine Tree (Crassula tetragona) 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.