Crassula Tetragona “Miniature Pine Tree”: A Care Guide

Crassula Tetragona

The Crassula Tetragona, sometimes called miniature pine tree, has vertical upright branches, with little beautiful green leaves. It can grow a up to 4 feet high when mature.

The plant has blooms with white flowers in late spring or early summer.

The plant is a favorite of ours. Some people say it looks like a miniature Joshua tree. 

Especially as it gets older, it gets a little bit a trunk on it and then the branches start growing out.

The Crassula Tetragona comes from Africa, and it is closely related to the Jade plant. This is a really easy plant to grow, perfect as a houseplant on a sunny window sill. 

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Or you can take it outside during the summer time and bring it inside during times when the temperatures will freeze.

It’s a great starter plant if you are not a succulent enthusiast. Because it’s easy to grow and you have to start somewhere! 

This is also fun for kids to grow. Experienced gardeners can grow as bonsai plants. We also suggest growing in a pretty ornamental pot.

USDA Hardiness Zones: 9-11

Foliage Color(s): Green

Exposure: Part Sun to Sun

Height: 2-4 Feet

Spread: 1-2 Feet

Soil Type: Porous, Rocky, Sandy

Habit: Upright

Watering: Dry, Moderate

Drought Tolerant: Yes

Uses: Indoor/Outdoor

Other Uses: Rock Garden

Type: Succulent/Annual

Scientific Name: Crassula tetragona

Common Name: Crassula Mini Pine Tree

Other Name(s): Miniature Pine Tree

Caring for the Crassula Tetragona “Miniature pines tree”

Crassula Tetragona

Temperature

Full sun to partial shade. Most Crassula Tetragona need some shade in the hottest part of summer, but require bright light to attain their most vibrant color.

A site with morning sun and afternoon shade would be perfect.

Crassula Tetragona can be sensitive to temperature. Too hot and they will go dormant and drop their lower leaves.

Too cold and they will simply pout, not doing much of anything. Other than that, they laugh off both neglect and abuse.

Stacking Crassulas send out suckers, which is really only a problem when grown in the ground. However, they are slow growers and can be controlled with a little effort.

When plants start to get straggly or leggy, don’t be afraid to cut them back.

Watering

Succulents are hardy little plants because they don’t need much water to thrive. 

Native to arid climates, they hold extra water in their fleshy leaves and don’t need a lot of help from you and a watering can.

But just how often should you water this resilient plant? Once a week? Twice a week? Once a month?

The most important rule for watering succulents is this: Only water when the soil in the succulents’ growing container is bone dry. We repeat, let the soil dry out completely between waterings.

 If the soil isn’t crumbly, dry dirt, don’t water it. See, most houseplants want their soil moist at all times. Not your succulent. Keep its dirt moist all the time and its roots will rot. Rotted roots = dead succulent.

Season

Most Crassula Tetragona grow like crazy in the spring and summer, so you’ll need to water them a lot more often during their active growing season. 

They pull water out of the soil at a remarkable rate as they make new stems, leaves, roots and blooms. 

You may water them three times a week, depending on conditions like light and temperature. In the winter, succulents go dormant. 

Growing stops, so you’ll only need to water them once or twice for the entire season. 

One of the easiest ways to kill a succulent is to give it too much water in the winter, so back away from your watering can from November to March.

Let your succulent sleep in peaceful aridity.

Container Size

Larger containers need to be watered less often because they have more soil that holds moisture longer. 

Small, shallow containers will need to be watered more frequently because the soil dries out faster.

Humidity

Plants in high humidity and cooler temperatures will need less frequent watering than plants in hot, dry climates because they’ll maintain moisture for a longer period of time. 

Are your succulents on a patio in full sun in Phoenix? Plan on watering daily. Are they in part sun on a deck in San Francisco? You only may need to water once every week or two.

How to water 

Imitate desert rain for your succulent by drenching it when you water it. Pour water on it slowly and don’t stop until water runs out of the drain hole in the bottom. 

Crassula Tetragona do better with periodic long, deep drinks that soak its soil to the bottom of the pot than regular but timid waterings that wet the top inch or two of the soil in the container.

So when your succulents’ soil is bone dry, drench that baby. Let the soil dry out completely, then drench again. Dry out. Drench. Dry out. Drench. Follow that pattern and you’ll have perfectly watered succulents.

Soil

f you are looking for a tried-and-true, no-fail, best soil for succulents, there is one thing to know up front: No two longtime growers of succulents use the same succulent potting soil. 

It’s like trying to get great cooks to agree on the best homemade biscuit recipe; even though they use the same basic ingredients, each has a slightly different twist that they swear by. And most of them work just fine.

Think where succulents and cacti are native, generally arid places with little seasonal rainfall. Crassula Tetragona have adapted to getting by with little water at a time. 

Their roots are very efficient at absorbing water quickly, and their stems and leaves are able to store this water for weeks or months at a time.

Think dry deserts, barren mountainsides with scarcely anything but cracks filled with weather-worn grit, and bare branches of trees at the edges of jungles.

In most places, soil for Crassula Tetragona has to be made a little different from garden soil, or they will simply rot. 

Succulent soil has to be able to support the plants physically, hold a little moisture and nutrients, yet drain perfectly so excess water, especially in rainy areas won’t cause plants to rot.

What you may use in the garden for hardy landscape succulents will likely vary a lot from what you use in containers. 

And experts often mix slightly different succulent potting mix to better suit different types of plants (cold-tolerant Alpine, tree-dwelling epiphyte, or true desert), tolerate local weather conditions, their desire to water (or not), and even container size.

Here are some basics, and a few suggestions for getting started on coming up with your own:

Ingredients

For the best potting soil for succulents, start with a basic cactus and succulent soil mix, or even an African violet mix, available at most garden centers. 

Then add some extra ingredients to find the one that will make watering easier, improve the drainage, and hold up a long time without compacting.

The main ingredient of any potting mix for Crassula Tetragona will be organic matter. Peat moss, the main ingredient in most potting soils, is hard to wet and then dries out quickly. 

By adding a little finely ground bark, water will penetrate more quickly. For homemade mixes, a great substitute for peat moss is coir, which is fibrous shredded coconut husks and is very slow to decompose. Unlike peat, coir is easy to wet when it dries out. 

Compost can be used as well, though it decomposes very quickly.

The other main ingredient is an inorganic substance that allows water to soak into and then drain out of soil quickly, keeping the mix crumbly and airy. 

There are several good choices, all better than coarse sand, including perlite, crushed granite, pumice, chicken grit, calcined clay used to improve aeration and compaction in turf fields, or non-soluble cat litter. 

Any of these will dramatically increase drainage and won’t break down as the organic material slowly decomposes.

The Mix

Start with half organic potting soil and half inorganic fluffy material. Add less of the drainage ingredient for small succulents such as Aloe, Crassula, Sansevieria, Sedum and Sempervivum; add a little more for agaves, yuccas and true cacti like Opuntia.

After mixing your ingredients together, wet some of it thoroughly, then squeeze it into a ball in your hand. 

If it compacts and sticks together, it won’t drain as well as your plants need, so add a bit more of the inorganic drainage material, testing again until the wet mix crumbles easily when you stop squeezing it.

Again, no two gardeners will have the same mix, and yours will probably change over time. But you certainly won’t go wrong with this basic approach.

Mature Plant Size

The size will vary with species and variety, from shrubs several feet tall to tiny specimens of a couple of inches. 

Of course, growing conditions will also play a large factor in how large they grow, as well as how quickly. 

Since they do not need pruning or shaping, Crassula plants will continue to grow.

Are They Indoor or Outdoor Plants?

Crassula Tetragona

Crassula Tetragona is one of those plants that can grow happily both indoors and outdoors. Whether indoors or outdoors, provide the right potting mix (a well draining one) to give them the best chance at survival.

Provide as much light as possible if kept indoors. Typically speaking, they need approximately 4-6 hours of light per day to thrive. Choose an east facing window if possible.

A south or west facing window will also work. You may need to move the plant around a few times in order to find the perfect spot. You may notice the plant stretching towards the light.

Crassula Tetragona can tolerate a wide range of lighting conditions and will do well under partial shade to full sun. They will be happiest when provided plenty of bright, filtered sunlight. You need to acclimate the plant to full sun initially, especially baby plants. Mild sunburn may be expected under extreme heat conditions.

Before moving the plant outdoors or increasing the amount of sunlight it receives, it is better to acclimate the plant to prevent sunburn.

Hardiness Zones

Most Crassula Tetragona species are only reliably hardy in USDA Zones 9 through 10, but elsewhere you could bring them indoors for the winter. They won’t get as large as plants grown outdoors, but they make great houseplants.

Design Tips

The smaller perfect container plants—low maintenance, evergreen and eye-catching. If you have the climate, the plants look terrific.

Jade plants in their natural element will be one of the easiest plants to maintain in your garden. Their dark, glossy green color is a great foil for almost any flower color.

Varieties to Grow

There are so many to choose from, you may become a collector. Here are a few that might catch your eye.

  • Crassula “Morgan’s beauty: Thick silver leaves dusted in white, with pretty pink late spring flowers. Grows about 8 inches wide.
  • Crassula erosula “campfire: Long branching leaves turn blazing red in winter. A clump former that grows about 1 ft tall and spreads 3 ft wide.
  • Crassula pellucida “: A flowing mass of heart-shaped leaves variegated pink, green, and creamy yellow. Nice in a hanging pot.
  • Crassula perforata: Known as the stacked Crassula, their leaves rotate around a central stem, giving them their common name, ‘String of Buttons’.

Frost Tolerance

This succulent can tolerate mild frost and freezing temperatures as long as they are not for long periods of time.

If you live in USDA hardiness zones 9-11, you can leave the plant outdoors all year long and they can even be planted in ground.

If you have extreme winter conditions in your area, the best way to grow these plants are in containers.

That way you can bring them indoors during winter or when there is forecast of frost or snow.

Depending on how long temps stay below freezing (32 degrees F), “frost tender” succulents may show varying degrees of damage.

When moisture in the cells of a vulnerable plant freezes, it expands, bursts cell walls, and turns leaves to mush. In a “light frost,” leaf tips alone may show damage (“frost burn”).

In a “hard frost,” temps stay below freezing for hours, which can collapse entire plants. Succulents typically don’t regenerate from roots.

Pests and Problems

Keep an eye out for the usual succulent pests: aphids, mealy bugs, and spider mites. The biggest problem is root rot and sparse watering will help avoid that.

Blooms

This succulent produces white or yellow flowers that grow from the tips of the plant in spring and early summer. 

To encourage blooms, make sure they are receiving adequate lighting. Along with proper lighting, make sure the plant is kept happy and receiving the proper care as mentioned above.

Its flowers grow in groups, have a star shape made up of five petals and are creamy white.

Propagation

I find  is very easy to propagate this succulent.

My preferred and only route in propagating is by stem cuttings. Propagate from leaves is doable, it just takes more time and patience. 

If you want to try to give leaf propagation a try, make sure to use the whole leaf including the base to ensure success. Rooting a leaf cutting is similar to stem cutting, it just takes longer.

Cuttings

Many types of succulents, including Agave, Yucca, Sansevieria, Haworthia, Aloe, Echeveria and Sempervivum, grow in rosettes and are very easy to divide into new plants by cutting off small offsets growing from their base or from short rhizomes. 

But growing succulents from cuttings is a fast way to get lots of popular long-stemmed and branched succulents including Aeonium, Crassula, Euphorbia, Hoya, Kalanchoe, Sedum and Senecio.

Growing succulents from stem cuttings is easy. Simply snip off tops or ends of mature stems; the bare stems left on original plants will quickly sprout new stems. Allow the cut ends to dry and heal over a few days.

When planting succulent cuttings, either wait a few days to insert into new soil or before watering those you plant immediately. 

How to plant succulent cuttings without them is rotting is a big problem, but can be avoided by inserting them into a well-drained rooting mix. 

Any commercial cactus mix or good potting soil can be made better drained by adding coarse sand or perlite; generally a one-to-one ratio of potting soil and drainage material good to start with.

From Leaves

Many new plants can be grown very quickly from leaves of Crassula, tetragona, Opuntia, Graptopetalum, Sedum and Sansevieria. Some exotic kinds of Kalanchoe are called mother of thousands because their long, succulent leaves often have small entire plants already growing on the tips.

Simply break off plump, mature leaves and insert them a little, stem-tip down, into well-drained potting soil. Keep moist, not wet, and within weeks each will sprout new plants.

How to Transplant the crassula tetragona “miniature pine trees’

Most succulents have very shallow, fibrous roots, making them easy to dig carefully and replant. 

And there is no hurry – when transplanting succulents it is a good idea to allow a day or more before replanting to allow roots to heal over a bit before being watered.

Plant new succulents into sunny beds or pots with a well-drained soil, amended ahead of time with a little organic matter such as compost or potting soil, plus a generous amount of coarse drainage material such as sharp sand, pumice, grit or the expanded clay used for improving aeration in sports fields. 

All are available at garden centers or farm supply stores.

As you dig garden succulents, brush excess soil from roots; potted succulents should have potting soil and roots loosened gently. 

Plant at the same depth they were originally grown, tamping new soil around them for support.

Cover soil with gravel or grit, and allow plants to settle in for a day or two before watering, so broken roots can heal. Never keep succulents wet.

Conclusion 

Succulent plants have become so popular because they offer low maintenance and diverse shapes and textures, both in the garden and indoors. 

Crassula is a diverse and extensive genus of succulent plants, with about 350 species. 

Probably the most well-known is the Jade plant (Crassula ovata). Many of us know it as a houseplant, but in warm climates, it grows into a shrub.

Many other Crassula species are much smaller, including some miniatures and creeping ground covers. 

They are all quite fascinating, the types of plants you see occasionally and wonder “What is that?”

With the resurgence of succulent container gardening, these smaller Crassula species are becoming more readily available and their easy growing habit makes them worth getting to know.

The main species are: Crassula ovata, Crassula t, Crassula arborescens, Crassula lactea, Crassula multicava, Crassula corymbulosa, Crassula perforata, Crassula capitella, Crassula falcata, Crassula hottentot (C. marnieriana), Crassula conjuncta, Crassula lycopod.

The characteristic pointed, cylindrical leaves with a vivid green color are reminiscent of those of pine trees, hence its common name of Miniature Pine. White flowers appear in clusters that turn orange as they wilt. They bloom in spring.

They are usually used for cultivation in pots, as they can become invasive on land.

It is an easy to grow plant that needs exposures in full sun or partial shade. It is resistant to drought and is able to tolerate short and not very intense frosts.

It is not a demanding plant with the soil and it is enough for it to be a little fertile but very well drained.

Water moderately, allowing the soil to dry well, and hardly water in winter.

It does not need pruning but it is convenient to eliminate the withered flowers and the damaged stems.

Simply fertilize once a year in the spring with some compost or organic fertilizer.

It is a plant resistant to pests and garden diseases but it fears excess watering.

They multiply from seeds sown in spring or, better still, by cuttings of stems or leaves at the same time.

Hope this article was helpful.