Q: Can you tell me what kind of plants these succulents are? My maternal grandmother grew them in her back yard, and we inherited several cuttings after her death. We’ve been propagating them for over 30 years now, have never seen anything else quite like them, and nobody seems to know their name.
Alice Baker, Rocklin
A: For your mystery plant, we consulted an expert: Author Debra Lee Baldwin. She has written several books about gardening with succulents.
Baldwin instantly recognized your plant as a crassula, but – as you noted – with a difference.
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“It looks like a green form of Crassula perforata, which is usually more blue and sometimes red-edged,” Baldwin said. “It’s the most common of the stacked crassulas, of which there are many, but this variation is uncommon.”
Crassula is a very large genus and contains many popular succulents such as the jade plant (Crassula ovata) or stonecrop (Crassula moschata). Crassula perforata is nicknamed “String of Buttons,” because it looks like squared buttons threaded together. Most species available in nurseries are native to Eastern Cape of South Africa.
This succulent tolerates a little frost and triple-digit heat, although as the temperature goes up, crassula tends to go dormant. It can thrive with abuse and neglect.
Ideally, crassula likes filtered sun and good drainage. It needs little if any fertilization. Be stingy with irrigation; let the soil dry out completely before watering again. Too much water leads to root rot. Crassula prefers living on the dry side, making it an ideal water-wise choice for container gardens.
As you’ve discovered, this plant can be propagated by cuttings, which root easily in sandy soil. If the mother plant gets too leggy, it can be trimmed back to rejuvenate.
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