Succulents are nature’s little gems, providing exquisite garden decorations. Some family members produce stunning flowers, while others are prized for their curious forms and highly decorative leaves. This vast family of succulents includes trees, shrubs, and tiny plants.
Crassula muscosca is probably the most familiar in the succulent world and is commonly kept in homes and gardens. Crassula muscosa is named for the mossy appearance of its leaves and thick fleshy stems, which are reminiscent of moss.
Crassula muscosa, or “watch chain,” is also known as Princess Pine because of its delicate interlocking leaves that look like jeweler’s links to attach a pocket watch to the vest. The plant is also called Clubmoss Crassula, Zipper Plant, and Rattail Crassula.
Cultivation and History of Crassula Muscosa
Though widespread in South Africa, Crassula muscosa can be found in diverse habitats, from sunny coastal areas to the cooler winter rainfall regions of the western cape to the less-watered eastern and northern coasts. It grows best in well-drained rocky quartz fields and is generally hardy to around 20 degrees Fahrenheit. However, it seems to resent being cold and wet simultaneously.
Watch chain grows up to 30 cm tall and has a spreading habit, with stems that branch out at the top and have tightly overlapping, stacked leaves that hide them entirely. As they grow, they begin to trail due to their weight. Crassula muscosa is an attractive plant that provides a beautiful texture to your garden. The small, pale yellowish-green flowers appear in spring, followed by the leaves that grow tightly along their stems from summer until fall.
The Crassula muscosa is a hardy plant that thrives in various climates and conditions. It can be quickly grown under rockery or in pots as long as it has access to water. The leaves are usually dark green, but yellowish-green forms are also possible, depending on the variety. This species is very tolerant of extreme weather conditions and often withstands frosts or heat waves without dying.
Propagation Crassula Muscosa
Caring for Watch Chain Succulents is easy, and so is propagating them. Like other succulents, you can reproduce these plants through stem cutting. Though you can also propagate them using their leaves, the method is usually more time-consuming than when you propagate from stem cuttings.
To propagate using stem cuttings, you begin by cutting down a 2cm stem from the Crassula Watch Chain. 2cm is the ideal cutting size when you intend to grow a new Crassula plant.
After removing the stem from the matured Crassula plant, you leave it to dry for a day so that the cut you made heals. Then, you place the branch in a well-draining potting mix. You must water it every few days and keep it away from direct sunlight.
You should notice how the stem has grown its new root system within two weeks. After the root system has been fully established, you can cut back on the water to once a week. First, however, you want to ensure you increase the sunlight the growing Crassula plant gets daily.
How to Grow Crassula Muscosa
Growing Crassula muscosa is not so different from growing other succulents. You can always do it even if you are entirely new to gardening. However, like other succulents, Crassula Muscosa plants require well-drained soil. This is due to their high susceptibility to rot. Therefore, it is best to grow them on water-permeable soils.
You also want to remember the optimal temperature at which this plant thrives. An average summer temperature of up to 21 degrees Celsius is optimal for the growth of Crassula Muscosa plants. However, the lowest tolerable temperature the plant can endure is 6 degrees celsius. Therefore, it would be best if you planted your Crassula in a pot that can be brought indoors during the winter. Doing this will help you to safeguard your plant from freezing temperatures.
Although it may flower in the Spring, Summer, or Fall, the watch chain is a Winter flowering succulent; the miniature flowers start white and then turn brown as they age. They are tiny! If you do not look carefully, you may not notice them because they are so small. The strange scent of the blooms is often noted before they are seen—they smell musty and soapy with a hint of laundry detergent! This unusual scent can be compared to nothing else.
Crassula muscosa is a spreading, growing succulent plant that grows fast during its growing period. As the plant grows, stem segments drop off and root where they land. You may often see these segments in nearby plant pots or in your yard and garden.
If you want your Crassula plant to be happy, put it in a bigger pot in the Spring and Summer or early Fall. Plant it into well-draining cactus and succulent soil. It would be best to wait for some time before watering to allow roots to settle into the soil, and then water only when needed.
Pruning and Maintenance
Crassula species are low-maintenance plants and are ideal for people who neglect their plants. They can be tricky to kill, but they can easily propagate from cuttings, even if only a leaf falls from the plant. However, don’t completely neglect your Crassula plant—it still needs water.
The Watch chain Crassula plant can endure excessive pruning. But if you want to promote branching in this plant, it would be best if you pruned the tips occasionally.
The best time to prune your Crassula plant is during spring every year. This is because pruning prevents the stems of Crassula plants from uncontrolled growth. When you prune, you help stop the branches from dropping off their weight as they mature. You can always re-start the plant as cuttings if the stems start to look brown, indicating dryness.
Cultivars to Select
Crassula muscosa has wide varieties, but all have the same essential characteristics. Some varieties are tall, while others are short and squat. The most common types have green leaves with purple or white stripes on the side and either a pinky or light-green flower at the end of their stems. The best way to choose a suitable cultivar is by looking at the color and shape of the leaves.
Crassulas are happiest in sunny spots, but they can find partial shade tolerable. Please don’t place your plant near a direct window, or it will burn up. If you want to make your Crassula bloom, keep it out of the sun for a few months, and then let it bask in the light again.
You should keep your Crassula in full sun and partial shade in the evening. Watch chains typically need about 4 to 6 hours of light per day to avoid drying. However, you should note that if your Crassula plant starts stretching out, it is not getting enough light.
Crassula plants require very well-draining soil, so the soil can drain quickly and not stay too wet for long. A good quality commercial cactus and succulent soil can be used. You can make your own using three parts loam, one part grit (or perlite), and one-part horticultural sand.
To grow a Crassula plant:
1. Choose a well-draining pot and grow it in partial or complete sunlight.
2. Choose a clay pot 4 inches or larger, preferably with holes drilled in the bottom to allow drainage. If you move your Watch Chain succulent plant, move it during the warmer seasons so that the soil doesn’t dry out while you repot it.
3. Shake off old soil before planting the roots in new soil; discard any dry or damaged roots.
Crassula Muscosa likes to grow in warm and rocky places and does not need much water, especially during winter. The best time to water Watch chain succulents is whenever you feel the soil is dry. To know if your Crassula plants need watering, you should apply the two-inch rule. In order to do this, you must place your finger into the soil 2 inches deep. If the soil feels wet, there is no need to water the plant. However, if the soil feels dry, you should add more water.
It is better to underwater Crassula plants instead of overwatering them. This is because overwatering can easily lead to root rot and other issues. If you overwater your plant by mistake, don’t allow it to sit in water. Instead, leave it for a few minutes until your plan takes in as much water as it requires, then tips off the excess water.
There are no specific schedules for watering your Crassula plants. Instead, climate, soil, humidity, and environment determine how frequently you should water your Watch Chain Succulent plants.
For example, during the cold season, you might want to water your Crassula plant once every 10-14 days. However, you might want to notch this up during the summer by watering your Crassula Muscosa as often as every 7-10 days.
Temperature and Humidity
In Spring and Summer, 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit / 21-24 degrees Celsius is the ideal temperature for growing most Crassula plants. However, these succulents can endure higher temperatures as long as plenty of ventilation is provided—open windows if growing on windowsills indoors on sweltering summer days or install a circulating fan in hot greenhouses.
During winter, most succulents will have difficulty keeping up with the chill. However, a 41 Fahrenheit / 5 Celsius temperature is tolerable for these plants in winter.
Crassula plants don’t like high humidity. This can encourage fungus and rot, so you must always provide plenty of ventilation in scorching weather and keep the soil evenly moist throughout the year. A good range for these plants is 50% to 75%. But if you keep the soil dry during winter.
Just because you don’t have to fertilize Crassula muscosa doesn’t mean it won’t grow healthier and bloom sooner if you give it more nutrients. When a Crassula plant blooms, its energy requirements increase manifold. It’s important then to provide the right balance of nutrients during the flowering season so your Watch chain plant can get all it needs to reach its full potential.
It would be best if you fertilized this succulent while it is undergoing active growth. And this is usually during the summer and spring months. Ensure you use a fertilizer mix for cacti and succulents to achieve the best results.
Common Pests & Plant Diseases
Crassula muscosa succulents are particularly susceptible to infestation by tiny green insects called aphids, which suck plant sap and leave behind honeydew, a sticky substance that attracts ants. Aphids can also cause brown patches on leaf surfaces if they’re not controlled. Mealybugs are tiny white insects with a fluffy coat of wax; they attach themselves to leaves, stems, and flowers and feed on sap.
The two-spotted mite and the red spider mite cause damage by secreting a waxy material called cotton that covers their bodies clog their feeding tubes, and sucks out nutrients from within plants. If you let pests roam freely, they will likely thrive at higher temperatures during spring and summer.
Turning yellow and getting withered is a natural phenomenon for old leaves of the Crassula Muscosa plant and should not be a reason for you to worry. However, it is abnormal for new buds to turn yellow and wither. This indicates that your Crassula plants might be lacking some mineral fertilizer or suffering from sunburn.
Another common problem for the Crassula plant is that the leaves wrinkle. This is usually a result of a water shortage. If your watch chain succulents do not get sufficient water, you will notice wrinkles on their leaves or that the leaves become shriveled. Whenever you see this, it should serve as a reminder for you to water your Crassula plant.
It is also possible that your Watch chain plant has a very high stem with few leaves. This occurs when your plant gets inadequate sunlight. Insufficient light can make the plant to be prone to injury. To resolve this, you should place your succulent in a well-lit area, improving the condition with time.
Managing Pests and Diseases.
In hot and humid weather, succulent plants can be infected by black rot and other fungi. Therefore, one month before summer, the garden should be sterilized with carbendazim mixed with water in the proportion of 1:1000 and sprayed evenly on the ground parts of the plant, such as leaves and stems.
Infected Crassula plants can be treated by root filling. They can be submerged in sterilization liquid, which will seep into their roots, or you can apply carbendazim to the soil once every two weeks, but don’t forget to cover the roots with extra liquid if it’s not raining. Succulents planted in the garden should get some irrigation too.
Generally, it is best to apply insecticide in the evening in ventilated environments. It should be used once every two weeks. Suppose there is no apparent pest recurrence after the first application. In that case, it is unnecessary to keep applying the insecticide frequently. However, if pests tactfully hide in the soil, don’t be panicked—you can change the soil. When changing soil, you must carefully separate the root system and remove all of the pests’ remains before replacing it with new soil containing enough insecticide through holes at the bottom of the flowerpot.
Watch chains are easy to grow and maintain, as they are compact and self-supporting, making them a good choice for balconies or indoors. The kids will love it; if you have plants around the house but are trying to get them interested in gardening, this will be a great way to do it. It can even be trimmed and tamed to fit into the same area without discharging its energy by growing too tall.
The Crassula Watch Chain plants are small and pretty, making them gorgeous home and office decorations. Moreover, thanks to their tiny size, they can be placed in small spots—even on your desk or a tight shelf. They’re also great for rocky displays or dry, open-air terrariums.
Crassula succulents are, without a doubt, one of the most beloved houseplants around the world. From their pleasing nature to their various varieties and colors, these plants hold a special place in every gardener’s heart. Crassula Watch Chain plants stand out because they have a unique appearance: they’re easy to grow and care for—so they make a great addition to any succulent collection, whether a novice or experienced one.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you take care of a watch chain plant?
Watch Chain is best kept indoors in winter when the temperature falls below 20 °F (-6.7 °C). It should be fed a controlled-release fertilizer during the growing season and allowed to dry out completely between waterings.
How much light does a watch chain succulent need?
If you grow this succulent outside, ensure it gets at least six hours of morning sunlight daily. If you’re growing it as an indoor houseplant, try getting it in an area with lots of light.
How big does a watch chain succulent get?
Crassula muscosa is a succulent that can reach up to 12 inches tall, with branching stems and tightly overlapping, stacked leaves. The leaves completely hide the stems.
Is the watch chain succulent toxic?
Unfortunately, succulents like watch chains are toxic to pets and should be kept out of reach of small children.
When should you repot a watch chain?
You should repot a plant when the soil has dried out in the warm season. Please ensure the soil is dried before repotting the plant and shake off any old soil before planting it in a new pot. Discard any damaged or dead roots in this process as well.