The Crassula Muscosa, or the “Watch Chain” succulent is one of the best beginner succulents for newbie gardeners or those who want some greenery to add life to their room. It is easy to manage and care for, great for adding that extra color pop to your living space as well as freshening up the air in your home.
You would expect that with this succulent being so easy to take care that there would be plenty of information on how to care for it, but after researching it, we were surprised that there is not that much information on how to care for this beautiful plant, the Crassula Muscosa.
So, we have created a detailed list that has the best information on how to grow and take care of your Watch Chain like a Pro, so that you can enjoy your time gardening and grow your succulent with confidence.
What Is A Crassula Muscosa?
The Crassula Muscosa, also known as the Crassula lycopodioides or Crassula pseudolycopodioides, is a succulent of the Crassulaceae family native to South Africa and Namibia. This plant is best known for its easy care and its common use as a houseplant worldwide.
The Crassula Muscosa comes in the form of a bush (that can grow up to a maximum height of 15 – 20 cm or roughly 6 to 8 inches) made up of small square shaped leaves, packed tightly around a thin stem. The large bundle of leaves tend to share their living space with greenish-yellow flowers.
This plant is seasonal, going dormant during late summer and blooming small whitish, yellow, greenish, musty smelling, star-shaped flowers all along the leaf-covered stems in the spring to mid-summer.
What Are The Common Names Of The Crassula Muscosa?
Although there may be many common names of the Crassula Muscosa in other countries, we will only be going over the most used common names in the United States.
The most used common names are “Rattail crassula”, “Watch Chain”, “Lizard’s tail” and “zipper plant”.
Before we begin deciphering the meanings of the common names, we need to first understand the etymology of the name of the succulent.
Crassula, the genus, means “thick” or “fat” referring to the genus’s fresh, plump appearance and nature. The species’ name, Muscosa, comes from the Latin word “muscosus”, meaning “mossy”.
However, in our opinion the plant does not resemble any type of moss that we have ever seen.
The synonym of the species’ name , lycopodioides, refers to the clubmoss Lycopodium, which comes from the Greek words “Λύκος” (pronounced as líkos), meaning wolf, “πόδι” (pronounced as pódi) meaning foot, and οειδής (pronounced as oeides) meaning -oid, or similar to.
Now, to the common names and their meanings.
Rattail crassula and Lizard’s tail refers to the plant’s long appearance.
Watch chain refers to the plant’s interlocking leaves similar to the look of a skilled jewelers’ tight chains such as what was used for pocket watches.
And zipper plant derives from the plant’s tight connected leaves like a zipper, similar to the Watch chain common name.
History Of The Crassula Muscosa
Although there is no full or descriptive history, we will briefly talk about the plant’s origins and native habitat.
The Crassula Muscosa originated from South Africa within the Cape Provinces, the Free State and Northern Provinces, and Namibia. This plant grows in environments that have moderate humidity, well-drained composted soil and sand as a mixture but won’t grow in only sand.
How To Take Care Of Your Crassula Muscosa
The Crassula Muscosa, like many other succulents, prefers well-drained soil in a pot that provides good drainage. For this plant, use a cactus-mix or a homemade well-draining mix of equal parts half potting soil and half perlite or other minerals that water can pass through easily.
If you choose to fertilize your plant, feed it weekly during its growing period with a water-soluble fertilizer. It is suggested to not use fertilizer on your succulent in any seasons other than the summer months because your succulent will become overfed and overwatered, this will result in rot and possible death for your plant.
Although the plant is drought tolerant, you shouldn’t ignore watering it completely. Water it regularly during the summer months and water it once a week during the winter.
Still, bear in mind that you should not give your plant too much water. Let your succulent absorb all the water first and when the soil feels dry, water it again using the soak and dry method.
‘The Soak And Dry Method’ – This is a very simple and easy way of watering your plants are succulent or cacti in nature. Here’s how it works…
You water the succulent all the way around it on the soil only. Do not pour the water over the top of the succulent as they have a tendency to pool that water and then rot from it.
Water until the soil around the succulent it soaked. Yes, fully wet.
It must be in both a well-draining pot and soil, that allows the water to drain and escape.
You then simply water the succulent when you find that the soil is bone dry, hence the name ‘soak and dry’.
You can keep your Crassula Muscosa in full sun, outside or inside, or partial shade and cool rooms since this succulent can thrive in both.
This succulent does best in temperatures above 60° F (15.5° C). Balance between 60° F to 78° F for the ideal temperatures and avoid keeping it in temperatures below 20° F or in an environment where the conditions are cold and wet.
What Type Of Soil Is Best For The Crassula Muscosa?
The best type of soil for the Crassula Muscosa is one that provides proper drainage. Succulents do not thrive well in thick watery soil; it will cause stem rot and possible death. Use a cactus soil mix or a homemade mixture of half potting soil and half perlite or other minerals that provides proper drainage.
You may also use a mixture of 50% good quality sand in leu of the perlite. If you do this, you may wish to consider putting a thin layer of pebbles or small stones as the first layer that you put the potting mixture on top of.
This can help again with more rapid drainage so that you don’t even experience a short period of over watering each time that you water using the soak and dry method.
How Often Should I Water My Crassula Muscosa?
You should water your Crassula Muscosa regularly during the summer months and once a week or less in the winter months. Even though the plant is dormant during late summer, the sun and heat will dry up the water and your plant will dry out and possibly die. Keep an eye on hotter days and water your succulent carefully.
Although your plant is dormant in the winter, it is still important to water it. Just water it a bit more gently than you would during the summer as you would with other succulents year-round. As with most succulents, if not all, keep the golden watering rule in mind and water your succulent only when the soil feels dry.
How Much Sunlight Should I Expose My Crassula Muscosa To?
The Crassula Muscosa loves full and direct sunlight, however it can also thrive in cool shade. Do whatever is convenient to you, place your succulent in full sun or partial cool shade.
This is a very hardy plant that can take most extremes, that is until you reach around freezing. Ath this point as with most any succulents it’s likely a good idea to keep them somewhere a little warmer that doesn’t freeze.
What Fertilizer Is The Best For My Crassula Muscosa?
The best fertilizer for the Crassula Muscosa is a water-soluble fertilizer.
Fertilize your succulent only in the summer months because the Crassula Muscosa will become overfed and overwatered in its winter dormant cycle, and this may consequently result in stem or root rot and the possible death of your plant.
What Temperatures Are Ideal For The Crassula Muscosa?
The temperatures that are ideal for the Crassula Muscosa are anything between 60° F to 78° F. Avoid temperatures below 20° F or where conditions get cold and wet.
Most people that have been growing them for a while prefer not to take their chances and tend to bring them indoors when the temperatures hit freezing.
Though there is evidence that this succulent can withstand lite freezing and come back from it, we would have to agree with them that there is no reason to chance it. If it’s going to freeze, just bring them indoors.
Is The Crassula Muscosa Seasonal?
Yes, the Crassula Muscosa is seasonal. In the late summer months, the succulent goes dormant and requires that you simply pay attention in the winter months so that it doesn’t freeze and gets its regular watering as we discussed above in the watering section.
And in the spring and early summer, the plant blooms greenish-yellow flowers along the intertwined leaves. It has been noted that the blooms have also been found to appear in rainy seasons when the plant senses a growth opportunity from the large amount of available water.
Is The Crassula Muscosa Poisonous To Cats And Dogs?
The Crassulaceae family is known to have some species that are toxic to humans and pets. It may or may not be labeled when you buy it, so check online for the right information on your particular plant.
Since some species of the Crassula Muscosa are toxic to humans and pets if ingested, it’s best to keep your succulent from far reaches of toddlers, cats and dogs.
Is The Crassula Muscosa Edible?
The Crassula Muscosa is part of the Crassulaceae family, a plant family that has mostly toxic species that are poisonous when ingested. The succulent is not edible and is advised to keep away from toddlers and pets that could possibly ingest it.
Why is My Crassula Muscosa Dying?
Your Crassula Muscosa is most likely dying from overwatering. From giving your succulents too much water, it will rot and die. Remember to use the golden watering rule when watering your succulents, water only when the soil feels dry.
Why Is My Crassula Muscosa Losing Leaves?
There are two reasons on why your Crassula Muscosa is losing leaves: watering habits – too wet/ too dry or mealybugs.
It’s common if your succulent hasn’t been properly watered that the leaves will fall off, the same for overwatering. Use the golden rule when watering your succulents, keep your plants dry between waterings.
The other reason is from mealybugs. These pesky pests are known for attacking the Crassula genus, the best remedy for getting rid of mealybugs is by dabbing your succulent with rubbing alcohol and simply repeat until there are no more bugs.
How To Propagate My Crassula Muscosa?
The best ways to propagate your Crassula Muscosa is by stem cuttings or leaves.
Propagation from stem cutting is considered easier and faster than propagation from leaves. The ideal cutting size to grow a new Crassula plant is 2 cm down from the plant. Let the fresh cutting callous over the next day and plant it in a pot of well-drained soil.
To propagate from leaves you have to cut a long string of the leaves, since they are small and hard to plant. By using a full string of leaves, you’ll have a better chance of getting a sprout or growth from this sort of propagation.
Let the leave callous over the next day and plant them on the top of well-drain soil while misting them.
Remember; you can use the leaf method, but the cutting method has a better chance of success and is far easier to boot.
What Are The Most Common Crassula Muscosa Pests And Diseases?
The most common pests and diseases of the Crassula Muscosa are mealybugs and rot.
Like all succulents, they are vulnerable to rot if overwatered and stay in standing water. Use the golden rule of watering as a guide to how often you should water succulent, keep your plant dry between waterings.
Mealybugs can be detected on your succulent by a white powdery substance under leaves. To get rid of them, you can use rubbing alcohol and dab it on the plant with a cotton ball and just continue to do so until there are no more bugs.