Succulent Fever: Propeller Plant

propeller plant  Crassula falcata

With flat and fleshy, bluish/silver/green leaves that reach out horizontally as if the plant may take flight, Propeller Plant (Crassula perfoliata var. falcata) is an aptly named South African succulent that I think you’ll love. For those who are curious, according to “Stearn’s Dictionary of Plant Names for Gardeners,” the Latin “falcata” or “falcate” means sickle-shaped and indeed they do resemble a series of sickles stacked up a stem. How’s that for a little Botanical Latin learning on a Thursday afternoon?

The bad news first: this plant is not hardy in my cold climate. Not by a long shot. This means that I am relegated to growing it in a pot and shifting it between the indoors and out depending on the season. I find it to be a slow grower. I’ve had this one for a few years now and its progress has been nearly unnoticeable. Were it a faster grower I would consider placing it into the ground for a short stint because its sculptural form and exceptional colour offers so many planting and pairing possibilities.

The good news is that it propagates fairly easily from leaf cuttings. Simply break one off and place it on top of the soil. If you’re in a warm zone (around zone 9-10), you will have no trouble growing the plant outside in the ground as long as the soil is dry and exceptionally gritty/well-draining. You may even find yourself graced with blooms of scarlet red flowers. I am told they smell of cinnamon. If you have grown one to bloom, please let me know if this is true.

Growing: I keep mine in a terra cotta pot using standard cactus soil with a bit of extra grit added. I find it does well in a slightly sheltered area with partial sun, but takes on that distinctive bright silver colour when moved to a sunnier spot. Remember that when shifting between indoors to out you should start it off in a shady spot and slowly move it to the sun so that it has a chance to adapt.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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