Crassula exilis ssp. cooperi, commonly known as Tiger Jade, is a low-growing succulent with a dense, rosette-like growth pattern. Native to South Africa, this plant is known for its small, fleshy leaves adorned with red margins, which give it a distinctive appearance. In this post, we’ll dive deep into the care and propagation of this beautiful succulent, helping you ensure its healthy growth and vibrant beauty.
How to Care for Crassula exilis ssp. cooperi
Tiger Jade, like most Crassula species, is sensitive to variations in light exposure. Inadequate lighting can lead to leggy growth, poor coloration, or slow growth. When exposed to ideal light conditions, the leaves of Crassula exilis develop a vivid red margin, enhancing its unique appearance.
If you’re growing Tiger Jade indoors, consider placing it on a windowsill where it can receive ample sunlight without being directly exposed. A sheer curtain can help diffuse the light, preventing sunburn on the leaves. If your plant starts showing signs of stretching or etiolation, move it to a brighter location or supplement with a grow light. Tiger Jade can also be grown outdoors in USDA zones 9-11, where it should be positioned in a shaded area that still receives a few hours of morning or late afternoon sun.
Tiger Jade requires bright, indirect light for optimal growth and vivid leaf coloration. Shield it from direct sunlight to prevent scorching, and use sheer curtains or grow lights as needed.
Watering Crassula exilis
When watering your Tiger Jade, use the “soak and dry” method. Thoroughly drench the soil until water drains from the bottom of the pot, then wait until the soil is completely dry before watering again. This technique ensures the roots receive sufficient moisture without being oversaturated. Overwatering can lead to root rot and fungal infections, so monitor the soil moisture closely.
In addition to adjusting the watering frequency seasonally, be aware of other factors that can affect moisture retention. Smaller pots, for instance, dry out faster than larger ones. Similarly, increased sunlight, higher temperatures, or airflow from air conditioning/heating systems can also influence drying times. Adjust your watering schedule accordingly to maintain optimal soil moisture.
Employ the “soak and dry” method for watering, adjusting frequency based on season, pot size, and environmental factors. Overwatering can cause root rot and fungal infections.
A well-draining soil mix is crucial to Tiger Jade’s health, as it prevents water from accumulating around the roots. A commercial cactus or succulent mix is a convenient option, but you can also create a custom blend. Combine equal parts potting soil, perlite, and coarse sand, then add a small amount of peat moss or coconut coir for moisture retention. For an even more effective draining mix, consider incorporating materials such as pumice or crushed lava rock.
When repotting your Crassula exilis, choose a pot with drainage holes to prevent standing water. Opt for a shallow, wide container that accommodates the plant’s shallow root system and encourages even moisture distribution throughout the soil.
Tiger Jade needs well-draining soil, such as a cactus or succulent mix or a custom blend with potting soil, perlite, and coarse sand. Choose a shallow pot with drainage holes for repotting.
Temperature and Humidity
Tiger Jade thrives in temperatures between 60-80°F (15-26°C). Avoid exposing the plant to sudden temperature fluctuations, as this can cause stress and potentially lead to leaf drop. In winter, move your Crassula exilis away from drafty windows or heating vents to maintain a stable temperature. When exposed to colder temperatures (below 50°F or 10°C) for extended periods, the plant can suffer from frost damage or even die.
Regarding humidity, Tiger Jade prefers moderate levels (40-60%). It can adapt to lower humidity levels, but maintaining the ideal range is beneficial for optimal growth. If you live in a dry environment, consider placing a humidity tray with pebbles and water under the plant or using a humidifier to increase ambient moisture.
Ideal temperatures range from 60-80°F (15-26°C). Avoid sudden fluctuations and frost exposure. Maintain moderate humidity (40-60%) for optimal growth, using humidity trays or humidifiers as necessary.
How to Propagate Crassula exilis
When propagating through leaf cuttings, select a healthy, mature leaf from the lower part of the plant. Twisting gently at the base, remove it cleanly without damaging the stem. Let the leaf dry in a shaded area for 3-5 days or until the cut end develops a callous. Place the calloused end on a well-draining soil mix, avoiding direct contact with moist soil. Lightly mist the soil every 2-3 days, and within 2-4 weeks, roots and new growth should emerge.
Select a healthy leaf, allow it to callous, place on well-draining soil, mist regularly, and expect new growth within 2-4 weeks.
For stem cuttings, choose a healthy, mature stem with at least 3-4 pairs of leaves. Cut the stem at a 45-degree angle using a sterilized knife or pruning shears. Allow the cutting to dry for 3-5 days in a shaded area until a callous forms. Insert the calloused end into a well-draining soil mix and water sparingly every 7-10 days until the cutting establishes roots, usually within 4-6 weeks.
Cut a healthy stem, let it callous, insert into well-draining soil, water sparingly, and roots should establish within 4-6 weeks.
Fertilizing Your Crassula exilis
When fertilizing Tiger Jade, use a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer (e.g., 20-20-20) diluted to half strength. For an organic alternative, consider using worm castings or a seaweed-based fertilizer. Over-fertilizing can cause leggy growth or burnt foliage, so always err on the side of caution when applying nutrients. Cease fertilizing in the dormant months (fall and winter) to avoid encouraging weak, leggy growth.
Common Pests and Diseases
Crassula exilis can fall victim to pests such as mealybugs, spider mites, and aphids. Mealybugs appear as cottony masses on leaves and stems, while spider mites cause speckled, discolored foliage. Aphids leave behind a sticky residue called honeydew, which can promote mold growth. To control these pests, remove them manually, use a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol, or treat the plant with insecticidal soap or neem oil. Maintain proper airflow and avoid overcrowding to prevent pest infestations.
Overwatering can lead to root rot and fungal diseases, which manifest as blackened, mushy roots or yellowing leaves. If you suspect root rot, remove the affected parts and repot the plant in fresh, well-draining soil. Prevent fungal issues by adhering to proper watering practices and ensuring adequate airflow around the plant.
Watch for mealybugs, spider mites, and aphids. Control pests using manual removal, rubbing alcohol, or insecticidal soap. Prevent overwatering to avoid root rot and fungal diseases.
Where to Buy
You can buy Tiger Jade from Mountain Crest Gardens