The Crassula marginalis rubra variegata, also known as the Calico Kitten, is a charming, easy-to-care-for succulent with heart-shaped leaves in various shades of green, pink, and cream. Its trailing growth pattern makes it perfect for hanging baskets or as a cascading feature in your plant collection. In this post, I’ll share essential care tips and propagation techniques to help your Calico Kitten thrive.
How to Care for Crassula marginalis rubra variegata (Calico Kitten)
Calico Kitten thrives in bright, indirect light, which encourages its variegated coloration to stand out. East or west-facing windows provide the ideal exposure, ensuring the plant gets at least 6 hours of light daily. If you can’t provide sufficient natural light, consider using full-spectrum LED grow lights to supplement, which will mimic sunlight and help maintain the plant’s vibrant appearance.
While the Calico Kitten loves light, it is sensitive to harsh, direct sunlight, particularly during the midday heat. Too much direct sunlight can cause its leaves to scorch, bleach, or develop unsightly sunburn spots. If your plant is exposed to intense sunlight, consider using a sheer curtain to filter the light or move the plant further away from the window.
Calico Kitten needs bright, indirect light to maintain vibrant coloration. Avoid harsh sunlight to prevent leaf scorching. Supplement with LED grow lights if natural light is insufficient.
Watering Crassula marginalis rubra variegata (Calico Kitten)
The Calico Kitten’s watering needs depend on factors like temperature, humidity, and light exposure. To avoid overwatering, use the “soak and dry” method, in which you thoroughly drench the soil and then wait for it to dry before watering again. You can use a moisture meter or your finger to gauge the soil’s moisture level.
During the warmer, more active growth months, you might need to water the plant every 7-10 days, while in colder months, watering may be reduced to once every 2-3 weeks. Ensure the pot has drainage holes to prevent water from pooling at the bottom, as this can cause root rot. Empty the saucer under the pot after watering to minimize the risk of overwatering.
Use the “soak and dry” method, watering every 7-10 days during active growth and every 2-3 weeks during colder months. Ensure proper drainage to avoid root rot.
The key to a thriving Calico Kitten is well-draining soil that allows for adequate aeration around the roots. A commercial cactus or succulent mix will typically contain the necessary ingredients, such as peat, sand, perlite, and coco coir, to promote healthy root growth and prevent rot.
However, if you’d like to create your own soil mix, blend equal parts potting soil, coarse sand, and perlite or pumice. You can also add a bit of organic matter, such as compost or aged manure, to provide nutrients and improve soil structure. This custom mix will ensure that your Calico Kitten has the optimal balance of drainage and nutrients to grow strong and vibrant.
Provide well-draining soil, using a commercial cactus or succulent mix, or make your own by combining potting soil, coarse sand, and perlite or pumice.
Temperature and Humidity
The ideal temperature range for the Calico Kitten is between 65-75°F (18-24°C) during the day, with a slight drop to around 55-60°F (13-16°C) at night. The plant can tolerate brief exposure to temperatures as low as 50°F (10°C), but it’s crucial to protect it from frost and freezing conditions, which can cause irreparable damage.
Humidity-wise, the Calico Kitten is adaptable and can tolerate a range of indoor conditions. However, it is essential to avoid excessive moisture in the plant’s environment, as it can lead to issues like fungal growth, root rot, and pest infestations. Ensure your plant has proper air circulation and avoid overcrowding your plant collection to prevent excess humidity from becoming a problem.
Calico Kitten prefers temperatures between 65-75°F (18-24°C) and tolerates various humidity levels. Avoid excessive moisture and maintain good air circulation to prevent issues.
How to Propagate Crassula marginalis rubra variegata (Calico Kitten)
Propagating the Calico Kitten through leaf cuttings is a simple yet effective method. Select a healthy, mature leaf from the parent plant, ideally one that is plump and free of damage. Carefully twist the leaf off the stem, ensuring a clean break. Lay the detached leaf on a dry surface in a well-ventilated area, allowing it to callous for 1-2 days.
Once the cut end has calloused, place the leaf on top of well-draining soil in a shallow pot or tray. Avoid burying the leaf, as it may cause rot. To maintain moisture, mist the soil lightly every few days, but avoid drenching the soil. In approximately 2-4 weeks, you’ll observe roots and new growth sprouting from the base of the leaf. Once the new plantlet is well-established, transplant it into its own pot.
Propagate by gently twisting a healthy leaf off, allowing it to callous, and placing it on well-draining soil. Mist soil lightly, and new growth should appear in 2-4 weeks.
Stem cutting propagation is another successful method for multiplying your Calico Kitten. Choose a healthy stem with multiple leaves, preferably one that is not too woody. Using a sterilized pair of scissors or pruning shears, cut a 2-4 inch segment from the stem. Remove any leaves from the lower portion of the cutting, ensuring at least one inch of the stem is bare.
Let the cutting dry and callous for 2-3 days, protecting it from direct sunlight during this period. After the cut end has calloused, plant it in well-draining soil, burying the bare stem segment. Water sparingly for the first few weeks, until you notice new growth, at which point you can gradually increase the watering frequency to match the parent plant’s schedule.
Cut a healthy 2-4 inch stem segment, allow it to callous, and plant in well-draining soil. Water sparingly until new growth appears, then increase watering frequency.
Fertilizing Your Crassula marginalis rubra variegata (Calico Kitten)
Fertilizing the Calico Kitten is essential for promoting healthy growth, but moderation is key. During the growing season (spring and summer), apply a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer, such as a 10-10-10 formula, diluted to half the recommended strength. Fertilize the plant once every 4-6 weeks, taking care not to over-fertilize, as this can cause weak, leggy growth and diminish the plant’s vibrant colors.
Cease fertilization during the plant’s dormant period in fall and winter to avoid stressing the plant. Resume fertilization in the spring when new growth emerges.
Apply a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer diluted to half strength every 4-6 weeks during the growing season. Avoid over-fertilizing to prevent weak growth and color loss.
Common Pests and Diseases
While the Calico Kitten is generally pest and disease-resistant, it can still fall prey to certain pests and diseases. Common pests include mealybugs, spider mites, and aphids. To treat infestations, use a natural insecticidal soap or neem oil, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Regularly inspect your plant and isolate it from others if you notice any signs of infestation.
Fungal diseases, such as root rot and leaf spot, can also affect the Calico Kitten. Prevent these issues by adhering to proper watering practices, using well-draining soil, and ensuring adequate air circulation around the plant. If you observe signs of fungal disease, remove the affected plant parts and treat the plant with a fungicide as needed.
Treat pests like mealybugs and spider mites with insecticidal soap or neem oil. Prevent fungal diseases by using proper watering practices, well-draining soil, and good air circulation.
Where to Buy
Buy Calico Kitten from Mountain Crest Gardens