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When it starts to put on its flower show, Crassula perfoliata var. minor should be everyone’s Plant of the Month. It is possibly one of the many crassulas that have gone in and out of fashion, but its beauty should not be underestimated.

It starts with an inflorescence full of tiny green buds, with just the hint of red at the tips. At this stage they look like miniature freesias.

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Fig. 1 Crassula perfoliata var. minor buds

Just about a week later they start to open, and it is nothing but pure joy to watch the petals uncurl. I was very excited to be up close to the petals with my digital microscope (which is unusual, as it is normally the foliage of Crassula that I am really interested in), but these flowers changed my mind.

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Fig. 2   Crassula perfoliata var. minor flowers

R. rosea is native to Brazil, where it grows epiphytically on moss on tree trunks in cloud forests. In cultivation it can be grown in moss, or in an open organic mixture of eg chopped coir and finely chopped bark. It prefers some shade, and in common with many other epiphytes, it does not like being overwatered.

Another week on, and the plant is in full flower. At this stage, when the petals have peeled right back, it is nice to get up even closer to look right inside the flower:

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Fig. 3   Close-up of the flower

Most Crassula are formed with five petals, five stigmas – full of pollen, and five styles ready to receive that pollen, and that is the case here. 

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Fig. 4   Crassula perfoliata var. minor 

Like most Crassula it is easy to keep in cultivation. I use one part ericaceous compost to two parts horticultural grit, and then top-dress with horticultural grit and keep it in the greenhouse. During the spring and summer months it can enjoy both the light and heat of the day and the cool of the evening in the greenhouse. Current climatic changes mean that it can also enjoy the outdoor sun during the summer months, as a table decoration or in a mixed pot of similar sized crassula. In the winter, it goes back into the greenhouse, where temperatures are kept above 5°C.

Amanda Whittaker

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