Succulent Spoon Jade CRASSULA PORTULACEA: Drought Tolerant Plants for Dry Gardens or Blooming Houseplants

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by: Laura Zinkan

  • Succulents are great choices for dry gardens. These plants are easy to grow in hot dry areas and also make great houseplants. Their care is similar to cactus (without the thorns). One of my favorite succulents is named Crassula Portulacea, commonly called Horseshoe or Spoon Jade. Recently they've been called Gollum Fingers or Hobbit Plant because their dark green leaves look like fingers with reddish tips. These plants can take full sun to light shade. They are happy indoors or outdoors.

    Water wise succulent plants like heat and sun whether you grow them indoors or in the yard. They are just as easy to care for as their cousin, crassula ovata. Both plants can take up to 6 hours of sun a day. If they develop yellow or brown spots on the leaves, it is either stress or sunburn. If they are in a pot, try moving it to an area with less sun. If they're outdoors, try giving them a nice soak and they should perk up. Grown in pots they will remain small and are often used for bonsai. They will grow slowly and can be trimmed into the shape of trees. In the ground they will eventually reach a height of 4 to 5 feet tall. Older plants take on an otherworldly, gnarled look. Visit my website to see photos.

    I love succulents because they are easy to grow and care free. They are great if you don't have time to fuss over a plant. Crassula happily oblige and even produce blooms in later winter. This increases their value as a landscape plant in my book as winter blooming plants are uncommon. They produce flower clusters that look like tiny bouquets of daisies. Bloom color can range from light to dark pink, some have a salmon or coral tint. The plant I started as a small cutting two years ago is blooming for the first time this year. Established plants should bloom reliably each year.

    They are called succulent plants because they store their water in their trunks and leaves. This allows them to get by with little water. All that stored water can make them susceptible to rot if they sit in a pool of wet dirt. Let the soil dry out between watering to keep them happy. Crassula are best grown in USDA Zones 9b - 11. Every year, mine are able to take a light frost for a few hours. But I'd give them overhead protection in winter if you are in a cold area.

    Xeriscaping with drought tolerant cactus and succulents has become popular out here in the southwest where we sometimes have water rationing and shortages. I've got a little corner of the garden which I'd like to look like an underwater grotto. That's a tall order here in Los Angeles we don't get a lot of rain, so I'm planting it with succulents. I think Neptune would be proud. These succulents add a dramatic touch and look like some sort of sea plant or coral to me. Crassula are and easy and reliable addition to any water wise garden.

    About the author:
    Laura Zinkan is a busy single mom with a very small yard in southern California so she expects a lot out of her plants. Laura cultivates a gardening website at where you can read more gardening tips and lore about succulents and native plants, see photos and art, even download plant wallpapers. Laura also tends a site called where you can share her vision of Los Angeles and California with photos and essays.

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