Crested Succulent Plants: Guide to Growing & Caring for Them

Crested Cactus

How to Take Care of a Crested Succulent

Succulents are prone to display a form of growth known as ‘crested’ or ‘cristate.’ This is a deviation from the normal growth pattern of the plant. When a typical succulent sustains damage to its single growing point, it creates multiple growing points.

The growth from each of these growing points vies with each other to gain supremacy and, in the process, pushes against each other, forming a fan-shaped stem that is flat, tightly knit, and grows upright.

The leaves or rosettes grow along the ridge of the fan-shaped stem. Sometimes, these will also have a normal offset growing alongside the mutated version. Crested succulents are normal plants with a genetic alteration, much like variegated succulents. 

The crested succulents also referred to as monstrose succulents, have a beauty of their own and are much valued by succulent enthusiasts. However, these plants are considered somewhat rare, and having one in your garden is unique

Crested Succulent

Although the terms crested and monstrose denote the unusual growth of succulents, there is a difference in the plants. Monstrose succulents tend to be wider and flatter, and the plants’ growth is symmetrical. This is because the apical meristem was divided at the growing point.

The growth seems organized to an extent—the growth springs along the meristem in monstrose succulents as multiple tissue mutations. The result is random growth of the succulent that is asymmetrical and chaotic. There is no precision in the growth pattern, causing the succulent to develop strange, uneven, and twisted shapes. The cresting of a succulent can happen at any stage of the plant’s growth. On the other hand, monstrose succulent development only occurs in young plants

What Caused Monstrose Succulents to be Crested.

A succulent plant can become crested due to many different reasons. A bug may have attacked the growing point of the succulent stem. It may even be an injury to the plant that starts the process. Cresting occurs when the plant is stressed. The weather can also trigger it.

Temperature changes, insect attacks, and disease-related injuries are all temperature changes. Nutritional deficiencies, and chemical trauma from pesticides, insecticides, and fertilizers, are also known to cause genetic mutations to the DNA of succulents resulting in crested formations. The scorching effect of the sun’s rays can also do this.  

Crested succulents grow leaves along the ridge of the fan-shaped base. The difference is noticeable in that the plant will not grow single rosettes. Instead, leaves will grow in a tight formation, creating unique twisted shapes and formations. 

Occasionally, monstrose succulents will revert to normal growth. This is known as defasciation. If you want the plant to keep its crested look, remove the new normal plant. The normal plant will compete with the crested version and may even cause the whole plant to lose its crested look. 

What Makes Crested Succulents So Popular?

Crested succulents are popular for their variety of colors and textures. They can be used in many different ways such as on a desk, in a garden, or in your home.

Crested succulents are one of the most popular plants to grow indoors because they are low-maintenance and have beautiful colors. They can be used as an accent piece to any room or office space and also help with seasonal affective disorder.

Propagation of Monstrose Succulents

Cresting and monstrose succulents become that way due to a genetic problem in the young plant. Thus, there is no guarantee that the trait will be passed on to new offsets. You can take a monstrose succulents that is ready to be repotted. Then shake off excess soil and dry leaves so the plant base is visible. You will see the best places to cut and separate the sections from the original plant. 

If any sections seem soft and mushy, these should be cut off to prevent the spread of root rot. The cut has to be done using a clean-cutting tool. Monstrose succulents can have their sectioned-off parts dried for two weeks for the wounds to scab. Then they are ready to be put in the soil. 

Crested Succulent Leaves

Grafting is another method of propagating crested succulents. A portion of the plant is grafted onto the base of a new plant. Nutrients will be supplied to the plant by the roots of the new plant supporting the crested graft.

How to Grow and care for Monstrose Succulents.

Monstrose succulents care is the same as a normal succulent, but it has to be done with a little more care as they can be more sensitive. You must be vigilant about the plant as rot and disease can easily set in. The addition of fertilizer is done only when it is necessary. The plant needs lots of bright direct sunlight and well-draining soil. Crested or monstrose succulents can remain in the same pot for years. Try not to disturb the plant as it does not like to be moved.

Pruning and Maintenance.

Monstrose succulents need to be carefully groomed in the same manner as normal succulents. It is vital to remove dead leaves and keep the soil dry. Leaving dead leaves around is the main reason for fungal diseases. You have to be mindful of the fact that crested succulents can grow to be bigger than their original counterparts. The best containers to grow these plants are unglazed terracotta pots that drain excess water and allow the soil to breathe. 

Light Requirement.

Full, direct bright sunlight is a must for Monstrose succulents, much like you would provide for a typical plant.

Soil Requirements.

Choose a well-draining potting mix that is suited for succulents. When you see the cresting of the succulent, be mindful to keep the position of the plant high in the pot to eliminate chances of root rot. This has to be done with the least amount of disturbance to the plant, as it is susceptible to change. 


The watering needs of crested succulents are even less than their typical counterparts. The least possible amount of water is best for these plants that are more sensitive to change. Even slight overwatering can damage the roots and cause root rot. 

Temperature and Humidity.

Monstrose succulents can withstand high temperatures, as seen in their natural habitats. Plants should, however, be protected from scorching. Although typical plants can withstand light frost, taking a chance with a crested succulent is not advisable.

It is best to place the plant somewhere to protect it from frost. monstrose succulents should be allowed to grow naturally without much change or interference. 

Crested Cactus

Fertilizers and Feeding.

Fertilizers for monstrose succulents are not needed. Having said that, if you feel the plant requires nutrients, sparingly apply a diluted fertilizer. Allowing the plant to develop on its own, at its own pace, is the best for monstrose succulents.  

When Should You Repot a Crested Plant? Time-Sensitive Tips to Remember

Cresteds are one of the most popular types of succulents available. These plants are very easy to care for, but they require special attention when it comes to repotting.

You should never repot a crested plant during the winter months or if it is going into dormancy. You should also avoid repotting them in the summer months, as the sometimes-intense heat can cause damage to their roots and leaves.

Crested Succulent blooming

Managing Pests and Diseases.

Pests and diseases that afflict normal succulents also affect crested succulents. The main pests are spider mites. These can be physically removed, and the plant treated with rubbing alcohol. The best way to manage diseases and insects is to keep an eye out for any changes in the plant and treat the problem immediately before it spreads or threatens the plant itself. 

Insecticide oils available commercially can control mealy bugs and other insects drawn to succulents. However, a thorough examination of the plant is needed as they have many places to hide.

Best Uses.

The unusual chaotic-looking growth of monstrose succulents is what endears them to their owners. The plant’s odd shapes and twisted forms add color and beauty to your garden. 

Crested Succulent - Potted


Coming across a monstrose succulents in your garden or buying one from a nursery is how most gardeners will acquire one of these fascinating succulent specimens. However, once you have one, it should be taken care of and allowed to develop independently. The unexpected growth pattern of the plant will be a joy to behold. As the plant matures, it will also give more plants by division of the main stem.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do monstrose succulents need sun or shade?

They require direct bright sunlight as normal succulents do. Therefore, ensure proper sunlight, as this will be a factor in the plant’s growth and survival. 

What are monstrose succulents good for?

They are good for adding unusual shapes and colors to your garden. The interesting shapes and growth of the plant can be enjoyed as new formations appear in these rare plants.

How do you take care of a Crested succulent?

These plant variety are taken care of in the same way a typical plant of the same species is treated. However, handling this plant is more delicate than a typical succulent requires time and patience. The less handling, the better. This is equally true of watering and adding fertilizer to the plant. 

Is a monstrose succulents an indoor or outdoor plant? 

They grow both indoors and outdoors. Some varieties can grow to be 2-3 feet in height and therefore is better suited for the outdoors. Plants can be grown in pots indoors without a problem as long as you ensure sufficient sunlight. 

How do you tell if a succulent is crested?

The difference in the plant is evident as you look at the succulent. The succulent stem will form a fan-shaped flat base with leaves growing along the top ridge of the fan. Cresting occurs as the plant develops. Instead of producing more branches and stems, the succulent creates a wide flat surface. 

Do Crested succulents grow slower? 

Initially, these plants may seem to grow faster. This is to be expected as there are multiple growth points. Then the plant will settle down to a steady pace at which it will keep growing

When should I prune my monstrose succulents? 

The best time to prune any succulent, including a Crested one, is at the beginning of the growing season in the spring. First, the plant has to be cleaned of all dead leaves and then pruned as needed. This will ensure better growth and protect the succulent from pests and diseases. 

Are Crested succulents rare? 

Crested succulents occur less frequently in general; therefore, they are considered rare. However, they are unique due to their unusual appearance and thus more valuable to collectors. 

What is a cristate succulent?

Cristate succulent refers to a Crested succulent. 

Where in the pot do you plant a Crested succulent?

These plants are planted closer to the top of the pot and not embedded deeply. This prevents the new plants from getting root rot or other diseases. Another reason is the aesthetics of the plant. The fan shape at the base of the plant should be visible above the soil. 

What type of pot is best for Monstrose succulents? 

The best type of pot for your plant or even normal succulents is an unglazed terracotta pot. This is because the unglazed pot allows air circulation within the pot while draining excess water from the bottom. Most succulents are potted in glazed decorative pots that help to enhance the look of the succulent. In this case, extra care should be taken when watering.

How big are the leaves of a Crested succulent?

The leaves of a Monstrose succulents are smaller than those of a typical succulent plant. Different Monstrose succulents’ plants may have varying-sized leaves that grow along the ridge of the base fan. 

How tall do monstrose succulents grow? 

A typical succulent 2 inches in height can reach up to about 8 inches when crested. The diameter of the plant is also slightly bigger than a typical plant. 

Are monstrose succulents worth more? 

Monstrose succulents are unique and unusual. Therefore, they are less common than their regular counterparts. However, due to the distinct shape and look of the Monstrose succulents, they are considered to be more in demand and thus fetch a higher price.

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