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Crassula Ovata ‘Crosby’s Dwarf’ Care and Propagation

Crassula Ovata ‘Crosby’s Dwarf’, also known as ‘Crosby’s Compact, Crosby’s Red, and Red Dwarf Jade Plant’ is a cultivated variety of Crassula ovata ‘Jade Plant’. The leaves and branches are smaller than a Crassula ovata plant which gives it the appearance of a miniature jade or a dwarf jade. It also grows much slower and stays compact and small.

The leaves are emerald green in color that turns to different shades of red when exposed to more sunlight. The more sun exposure, the deeper the red color becomes. It can grow up to about 3 ft. (91cm.) tall.

Due to the similarities in common names and also appearance, this plant can often be confused with Portulacaria Afra ‘Dwarf Jade or Elephant Bush’ plant although the latter has no relation to Crassula ovata plants.

Crassula Ovata ‘Crosby’s Dwarf’ Care and Propagation

Is Crassula ovata ‘Crosby’s dwarf’ an indoor or outdoor plant?

Crassula ovata ‘Crosby’s dwarf’  can be grown either indoors or outdoors. The key is in how you care for the plant. Usually, all you need is adequate lighting, a well-draining soil, and refrain from overwatering and the plant should do well because of its easy going nature. I keep my plants outdoors but some people grow theirs indoors with no problem.

Crassula ovata ‘Crosby’s dwarf’ hardiness: USDA hardiness zones 9-11

Indoor Lighting Requirements

If kept indoors, make sure the plant is receiving adequate light. Find the brightest spot in your home. Try an east facing window. South and west facing windows will also work. Generally speaking, the plant needs approximately 5-6 hours of sunlight a day to thrive. You’ll know if they are getting enough light when they start stretching and the leaves will appear lighter or paler. This process is called etiolation and the plant produces weak growth. If you find your Crassula ovata ‘Crosby’s Dwarf’ stretching, you need to move it to a brighter location. You may need to move the plant around a few times to find the most ideal spot.

A solution to poor lighting is using grow lights. If you’ve tried everything else but your plant is still not receiving enough sunlight indoors, you may consider investing in a grow light especially if you live in an area with long, dark winters. Here are some of my grow light recommendations. Crassula ovata ‘Crosby’s Dwarf’ will maintain an emerald green color when kept in partial shade and will turn red starting on the edges of the leaves the more sun exposure it receives. For more on indoor lighting for succulents, check out my post on “Proper Lighting for Succulents Indoors” where I go into further details on this topic.

Outdoor Sunlight Requirements

Crassula Ovata ‘Crosby’s Dwarf’ prefers plenty of bright sunlight but will tolerate different sunlight conditions from partial shade to full sun. Before placing the plant in full sun or when increasing the amount of sunlight, do so slowly to acclimate the plant to the more intense heat to prevent sunburn or sun damage. Morning sun is less intense than the afternoon sun and won’t burn the plant as much.  Once acclimated to full sun, it should be able to withstand the more intense afternoon heat. Crassula ovata ‘Crosby’s Dwarf’ will turn a nice shade of red the more sunlight it receives.

Crassula Ovata ‘Crosby’s Dwarf’ can still suffer from sunburn even when acclimated to full sun during a heatwave or when the temperature gets intensely hot in the summer months. Protect the plant from the intense heat by placing it in the shade or under taller plants or furniture for protection.  Sun shades are a lifesaver for my plants during the summer months here in sunny California where the sun can scorch the plants. Here are some of my sunshade recommendations. For more information on this topic, visit my post “How Much Sunlight Do Succulents Need Outdoors?”

Crassula Ovata 'Crosby's Dwarf' with reddish leaves

Crassula Ovata ‘Crosby’s Dwarf’ aka ‘Crosby’s Red’ or ‘Red Dwarf Jade’ with red leaves from full sun and being outdoors all year round. 

Soil Requirements

Crassula ovata ‘Crosby’s Dwarf’ plants prefer a well-draining potting mix. They do not like to sit in wet soil for too long. If the soil stays constantly wet, the plant becomes susceptible to fungus, diseases and root rot. What I normally do is I use cactus mix and combine it with perlite to about a 2:1 solution. If you live in a humid climate I suggest mixing cactus mix and perlite in equal parts perlite (1:1 solution).

Some people like to use sandy soil for added drainage. You can achieve this by mixing coarse sand, cactus mix and perlite together (1:1:1 solution). You don’t need to do exact measurements. I usually just eyeball it. The purpose of adding these materials to the potting mix is to increase drainage and aeration, which is better for succulents. You can find these materials easily in garden centers or online. Here are my soil and soil amendment recommendations. For more on this topic, click on my post  “Best Soil and Fertilizers for Succulents” for more details on how to make your own succulent potting mix.

Watering Requirements

Proper watering techniques go hand in hand with the right potting mix. Succulents do not like to sit in wet soil for too long. It is important to have the right potting mix and watering techniques for the plant to thrive. There really isn’t the right formula on how to water a Crassula Ovata ‘Crosby’s Dwarf’. Watering largely depends on the climate you live in. I live in a very dry climate and for reference, I water my Crassula Ovata ‘Crosby’s Dwarf’ every 7-10 days during the summer months, sometimes more during a heatwave. I cut back on watering when the weather cools down during spring and fall seasons to every 14 days. During winter I refrain from watering altogether because this is when we get a large amount of rain in my area. I rely solely on rainwater. During drought I water every 3-4 weeks in winter.

Keep in mind that I keep all of my succulents outdoors and it is very dry where I am. If you keep your plants indoors or if you live in a humid climate, you do not need to water as much. As a general rule of thumb, water only when the top inch of the soil feels dry. Wait for the soil to dry out in between waterings.

Crassula Ovata ‘Crosby’s Dwarf’ are very forgiving plants. Since they store water in their leaves and trunks, they can go for a long time without water, especially mature plants. You may have heard this a lot–it is better to under water than over water succulents. I forget to water my plants a lot and when  I start to notice their leaves shriveling, meaning their water reserves are running low. I just give them a good drink of water and they perk right back up.

There are tools you can use such as hygrometers to help you measure the moisture level of the soil. These tools can help you gauge the watering needs of your plant. Here are some of my recommendations for moisture meters and hygrometers. For more on this topic, check out my post “How and When to Water Succulents and Cacti” for more information.

Propagating Crassula Ovata ‘Crosby’s Dwarf’

Crassula Ovata ‘Crosby’s Dwarf’ is very easy to propagate, as long as you are willing to wait and be patient. Since Crassula ovata ‘Crosby’s Dwarf’ is a slow-growing plant, it takes extra long for new plants to grow and develop from propagation. Leaf cuttings take an even longer time than stem cuttings so expect to wait a long time for new plants to develop from leaf cuttings. But if you have the time and patience, you will be rewarded with new plants.  

The easiest way to propagate these plants is by using leaf and stem cuttings. My preferred route is through stem cuttings because it takes shorter and the success rate is very high. Leaf propagation takes longer and the success rate is not as high as with stem cuttings.

How to Propagate a Crassula Ovata ‘Crosby’s Dwarf’ plant:

  • Obtain a few stem cuttings or leaf cuttings and let them dry for a day or so.
  • (Optional) Dip the cut end in rooting hormone. I usually skip this part but some people prefer using a rooting hormone to speed up the propagation process.
  • Once the cut has healed and dried, stick the cuttings in a well-draining potting mix. If using leaves, you can either stick them in soil or lay them flat on the soil.
  • Keep away from direct sunlight. Water the soil every few days or when it feels dry.
  • After about two weeks or so, you will notice new roots growing.
  • After about four to six weeks, the stem cuttings should be fully rooted and you will soon notice new growth developing from the top. When using leaf cuttings, you will see roots growing out of the base and then a new baby plant will emerge. Keep away from direct sunlight.

Keep watering every few days or when the soil feels dry. Increase the amount of sunlight as the plant matures. Cut back on watering once the cuttings are fully rooted or the baby plants are more mature.

Crassula ovata 'Crosby's Dwarf' leaf propagation

Crassula Ovata ‘Crosby’s Dwarf’ baby plant growing from leaf propagation. Since these plants are slow growing, leaf propagation takes an even longer time. These baby plants grew from leaves that fell in the soil. 

Crassula Ovata 'Crosby's Dwarf' stem propagation

Crassula Ovata ‘Crosby’s Dwarf’ grown from stem propagation. Since these plants are slow growing, these stems have grown very little and have stayed in the same pot over the years.

Common Problems with Crassula Ovata ‘Crosby’s Dwarf’

Leaves Dropping

The most common reason for dropped leaves is watering issues. Underwatering and overwatering can both cause leaves to drop. During a drought or when underwatered, the plant will drop leaves to conserve its water storage. It is a survival mechanism. Along with dropped leaves, the leaves would also have a shriveled and flat appearance. When touched, the leaves will feel flat and deflated as it continues to lose its water supply. You do not have to overcompensate by watering excessively. Simply give it a good drink and it should perk up almost immediately within a day or two. Wait about a week and see if the top inch of the soil feels dry before watering again.

The leaves can also fall when a plant is overwatered. But instead of a flat, shriveled appearance, the leaves will be soft and mushy. An overwatered plant will usually drop its leaves at the slightest touch. The leaves can also take on a lighter, more translucent color. These are signs that you are overwatering your plant. Cut back on watering and allow the plant to dry out. You may also need to move the plant to a brighter location to help it dry out faster.

For more details and suggestions regarding this topic, check out my post “How to Tell If Your Succulent Is Over or Underwatered” for more useful tips.

Leaves Turning Yellow

The most common reason for yellow leaves is cultural problems. The plant may be sitting in the wrong soil and is showing signs of stress. The most common reason is the soil may not be draining fast enough and is too wet for the plant. If you suspect this to be the case, remove the plant from its current soil and repot in a more suitable potting mix that drains well.

Leaves can also turn yellow from lack of nutrients. If your plant is in a container that has not been re-potted in a while (more than 2 years or so), the plant may be depleted of nutrients. Succulents, in general, are not heavy feeders. But nutrients in the soil do run out and after years of watering and having the water drain out of the pot, the nutrients will need to be replenished. You can either choose to re-pot at this point or feed with fertilizer.

Use a balanced houseplant fertilizer or one that is specifically designed for succulents and cacti. When feeding, dilute the fertilizer recommended in the package to half. Fertilizing once a month during the active growing season (springtime to early fall) should be sufficient. Here are some of my fertilizer recommendations. I have written some useful information on soil and fertilizers for succulents. Check out my post on “Best Soil and Fertilizers for Succulents“ to get some helpful tips and a load of information on these topics.

Crassula Ovata 'Crosby's Dwarf' with red leaves

Crassula Ovata ‘Crosby’s Dwarf’ with red leaves from full sun

How To Get Crassula ovata ‘Crosby’s dwarf’ to Bloom

Crassula ovata ‘Crosby’s Dwarf’ produces white or pink star-shaped flowers that grow in clusters. The blooms are very similar to Crassula Ovata’s ‘Jade Plant’ blooms. While getting your plant to bloom is not a priority, it is definitely a treat to see happy flowers blooming from it. There is no exact science on how to get them to bloom. Generally, if you keep your plant healthy and happy by providing proper care and nutrients as mentioned above, the plant will naturally bloom when it’s ready. Not all plants are ready to bloom and some may not bloom at all.

To encourage blooms, the plants need to be kept in an environment that mimics their natural habitat. This can be achieved by keeping them cool and dry in the winter months. You need to decrease watering the plant to a minimum and only water when the soil is dry but not bone dry. Keep the temperatures cool during the winter months, somewhere between 35-44⁰F (1.5-7⁰C).

While fertilizing is not necessary, giving your plants the nutrients they need will help ensure proper growth and encourage blooms. It takes a lot of energy for plants to produce flowers, and feeding them extra nutrients will help supplement their needs during the flowering season. Fertilizers are better applied at a quarter or half strength, about every two weeks during the active growing season. Refrain from fertilizing towards the end of the fall season and during winter months.

A balanced blend of fertilizer diluted to half strength is suitable and commonly used. Fertilizer blends specially formulated for cacti and succulents are also suitable. Here are some of my fertilizer recommendations. For more on this topic, please click on “How to Get Succulents and Cacti to Bloom”.

Crassula Ovata ‘Crosby’s Dwarf’ plants are just as easy and perhaps lower maintenance than Crassula Ovata ‘Jade Plants’ because they are slow growing and require less space and maintenance. They are great starter plants that will last you for years and years to come. I’ve been growing mine (in the same pot) for years and it practically takes care of itself.

You may also find this related article on “Jade Plant ‘Crassula Ovata’ Care, Types and Propagation” useful. 

Where can you find Crassula Ovata ‘Crosby’s Dwarf’ plants? Check out my resource page for recommendations on where to purchase these and other succulents online.

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Crassula Ovata 'Crosby's Dwarf' with red leaves