Crassula Falcata “propeller plant” Growth, Care, & Propagation – FAQs

Crassula falcata or perfoliata which is known by its most common names “the propeller plant”, and airplane plant has gray-green leaves shaped like propellers.

It is one of the most exotic succulents, and it always provides a nice contrast when planted with other succulents.

crassula perfoliata is easy to propagate (due to its large leaves) and is one of the few succulents that grow fantastically well indoor.

 

COMMON NAMES
  • Propeller plant
  • Airplane plant
  • Red crassula
  • Scarlet paintbrush
SYNONYMS
  • Larochea falcata
  • Crassula falx
  • Crassula johannis-winkleri
  • Rochea falcata
  • Crassula falcata
  • Crassula perfoliata var. miniata
  • The Crassula obliqua
SCINETIFIC NAMES
  • Crassula perfoliata var. minor (haw.) G.D. Rowley

 

 The scientific classification 

  • Family: crassulaceae
  • Sub-family: crassuloideae
  • Genus: crassula

You can get complete scientific classification from this page.

Description of the crassula falcata “Propeller Plant”

Crassula falcata “the propeller plant” has flat and fleshy, gray greenish leaves that are horizontally stretched (they look just like a propeller).

The plant is interesting on its own, but when the clusters of breathtaking red flowers emerge, it beautiful magnifies on a whole different level.

Let’s break down its description piece by piece:

Size (height and width) of crassula falcata “propeller plant”

  • A healthy plant can grow up to (23-25 cm) tall, and (29-30.5cm) wide.
  • A healthy produces clusters of upright and semi-upright stems that can grow up to 25cm, but most of the plants you will encounter are 12 to 24 inches.

The stem of Crassula falcata:

  • Its stem is usually unbranched.

Roots of propeller plant:

  • They are fibrous (dense).

Leaves of crassula falcata:

  • The leaves of an aeroplane plant are twisted and curved (shaped like a propeller). The meaning of the word “falcata” is “shaped like a sickle” alludes to uniquely shaped leaves.
  • Individual leaves measure to about 4-5 inches in length and 1-1.5 inches across.
  • The whole plant has dull grey-green contrast, giving the leaves and stems a unique pattern, waxy appearance.

Flowers of Crassula falcata:

  • Magnificent clusters of little orange-red bright flowers. They are massed together in dense clusters that rise above the foliage in mid-summer.
  • When fully bloomed, flowers can last for an entire month. They open very slowly in the beginning.
  • Another name of the airplane plant is “scarlet paintbrush” because of the color of its beautiful flowers.
  • The flowers smell like sweet cinnamon and it is very pleasant.

Blooming season:

  • From its development in June, flowers are in the perfect shape in august.
  • Sometimes they bloom twice a year.

Hardiness zone for crassula falcata (propeller plant):

  • USDA hardiness zones from 9b-11b: from -2.3 C (25 F) to +10 C (50 F).
Note: The propeller plant is not cold hardy at all. Indoor conditions are preferable throughout the winter if plenty of sunlight is available (or artificial lighting).
 Propeller plant’s origin 
  • It is native to South Africa, from the Cape of Good Hope.

Read our latest article on a beautiful and exotic indoor plant known as  Crassula Capitella (crassula campfire)

How to plant a Crassula perfoliata var. minor:

If you have just bought a new propeller plant, and you want to plant it in a new container/pot (preferable because it is not cold hardy, that is why you must switch if location between indoor and outdoor to protect it from the cold) or ground, follow these 5 steps:

How to plant a propeller plant

 STEP 01  :Select a container/pot of your choice

Final selection is important because it is not good to switch succulents from one pot to another in a short time.

After selecting container/pot, make a hole that must be 1.5 to 2 inches wider than the root ball of your red succulent.

 STEP 02 : Fill the container with the potting mix

Fill your container/pot 1/3 full of potting mix. You can use your desired potting mix. I will cover the potting mixture (soil) topic in this blog post in a detailed way.

The potting mixture will provide good draining to avoid the root rot, and the minerals within are beneficial for succulents,

 STEP 03  :Plant your succulent in the pot

Place your propeller in a way that the top of the root ball is about an inch below the container rim. It will leave some space for watering.

 STEP 04  :Fill the entire container/pot with potting soil

Fill the entire container/pot with potting mix/soil. Use rocks or sticks to provide some support to stems.

It won’t fall, but sometimes we have seen red crassula grow sideways. They can fall sideways by the weight of the leaves and stems as well.

 STEP 05  :Give water if necessary

Ask the previous owner of the plant about the recent watering, if it needs water, then gently give it a good drink at the base of the roots.

Place a dish under the pot to restrain the drained water.

How to grow and care a crassula falcata “propeller plant”

  • Growing conditions: Nearly all the succulents have similar growing conditions, but there are some exceptions with some deviations like propeller plant.
  • The growth and maintenance techniques and methods are almost the same as other crassula’s, but it is not cold hardy, not by a long shot.
  • It means you are assigned to grow them in a pot and shift them between indoors and outdoors depending on the temperature and humidity.
  • It is a bit slow grower; you need to have a little patience if you want this exotic plant in your home.
  • Take care of following requirements for propeller plant’s growth

If you want to know how to care a crassula succulent in general, read our this jade plant article.

Requirements to grow a Crassula perfoliata var. minor “airplane plant”

  • Sunlight requirement
  • Water requirement
  • Fertilization
  • Frost control
  • Propagation
  • Toxicity

Sunlight requirement for propeller plant

Proper light is crucial for a succulent to bloom, and when we are dealing with this one, extra care and setting is necessary since we know it is not cold hardy at all.

Indoor conditions are ideal for this plant. It is intended for growing outdoors in USDA hardiness zones 9-11, but freezing temperatures are not good at all.

Let’s discuss indoor and outdoor sunlight requirements separately:

 Indoor light requirement 
  • First, find a south-facing window. If your home doesn’t have the luxury of a south-facing window, then any other direction will do just fine.
  • 4-6 hours of indirect sunlight is a standard, but similar hours of direct sunlight are also fine because it thrives under sunny spots, but be careful, prolonged exposure under direct light will scorch its leaves (it the sunlight too intense).
  • If your home or office is not blessed with enough sunlight is fine, artificial lighting will do just fine.
  • Desk lamp with “LED” bulbs of high wattage will nourish your plant if there is no sunlight.
  • Partial shade is fine but avoids full shade unless it is necessary.
  • Crassula perfoliata var. minor will take a distinctive bright silver color when moved to a sunnier spot.
 Outdoor sunlight requirements 
  • I have already mentioned above that Scarlet paintbrush is not cold hardy, not at all, but a place and right climate can mature it to the next level.
  • If you are growing it in the ground, then find a corner or place where 4-7 hours of indirect sunlight reaches the plant.
  • Direct sunlight is also fine for this plant, but outside weather and overall conditions are a bit harsher than indoor, that is why cutting back a few hours of direct light isn’t going to hurt if your plant is in a pot/container outdoor.
  • Many experts say that “succulents are not indoor plants”, but crassula falcata like every other succulent is not American native, it is South African native, So, we should follow the expert guidelines to ensure healthy growth.

We have compared Indoor light vs Outdoor light requirement in our featured article as well.

Water requirements for a crassula falcata “propeller plant”

Watering is the most important aspect of growth and care of any succulents.

Your plant will thrive when normally watered, it will suffer when underwatered (severally), and will catch a rot when overwatered.

Extra care needs to be taken when you are dealing with a succulent.

It is ok not to water frequently because the airplane plant like other succulents is drought tolerant, but it is also prone to root rot when overwatered.

Let’s discuss this topic in detail:

How and when to water a Crassula perfoliata var. minor “scarlet paintbrush”

Supply water at the base of the roots, don’t splash water on the leaves or here and there. Don’t cause water pooling. Let the soil absorb the water slowly and gradually.

  • You should make a schedule of watering during the growing season (summer and spring) and dormant season (winter and fall).
  • If you have grown your propeller from a cutting, then you should know about its watering schedule, but if you have purchased it, then ask the owner about its recent drink. We don’t want to overwater it.
  • If he/she hasn’t told you about the recent drink, check the soil by placing your two fingers 2-inch deep into the soil. It the soil is dry, water it, and if it is wet, then don’t.
  • The airplane plant has the same watering needs as most succulents.
  • Watering once or twice every month in the growing season should be enough to cover its needs.
  • You can increase the watering if you are living in a hot and dry climate. Then 3-4 times a month won’t hurt it, but don’t rush anything if you are not sure.
  • Cut back the water a little if you are living in a humid area, because there is already moisture available in the atmosphere, and your red crassula can absorb it.
  • Most succulents dislike humidity, and they store everything in their trunk, so withholding in such a situation is a wise decision.
  • If you are growing your propeller plant outside in a pot or ground, you can increase 10-12% water each month, because it is facing harsher weather than indoor.
  • during the growing season, watering should be regular but controlled.
  • Gradually reduce the water in autumn, and winter to make sure roots don’t rot, and your plant will adapt the conditions.
PRO TIP: how to check if a succulent needs water or not?

The best way to know how to water a succulent is soak and dry method, or 2-inch finger rule. In the 2-inch finger rule, place your two fingers 2-inch deep into the potting soil. If the soil is wet, don’t water your plant, and if it is dry, now you can water it.

Overwatering and underwatering a “propeller plant”- problems and solutions

Overwatering
Underwatering
Overwatering is the primary reason for root rot as we know succulents are prone to it.

Don’t let your propeller plant swim in the water, it’s leaves and trunk will absorb more water, they might get mushier and soft on touch (leaves especially), and there is a possibility plant may fall over due to the extra weight of water absorbed by the plant.
If you have not watered your crassula falcata “red crassula” for months, then it is problematic, but not to the extent of overwatering because succulents are drought tolerant.

I have mentioned above that some of the leaves may fall over due to overwatering but underwatering can also be the reason for that.
Leaves dropping
Leave turning yellow
You have checked the sunlight hours, fertilization, and you haven’t used any support like rocks or sticks to hold it, but it was doing fine without it, if your crassula is falling sideways despite all that, then overwatering is the reason for it.

Some leaves may fall (leaves dropping) due to the excess water absorbed in them

Especially in the winter, if you are overwatering your propeller crassula, you are shortening its life.
If you have checked sunny hours, you have fertilized your plant, the soil is good as well, but some of the leaves still turning yellow, then underwatering could be the reason.
SolutionSolution
In such a case, cut back all the water, move your plant to a sunny spot, give it some direct sunlight, and increase the regular sunny hours.

Carry on this practice for about a week, meanwhile, check the appearance of the leaves. They shouldn’t be wrinkled, and they must not feel soft and mushier in touch.

Check the soil for the signs of wetness. If the soil is still wet, continue this practice for a couple of more days until your plant looks healthy again.

Don’t water it for a couple of weeks, use more sun. move it inside during the night.

As with all succulents, overwatering is sure to be dangerous, so err on the side of too dry then overwatering.

Don’t let your plant sit in water, use a saucer or dish underneath the pot to pour off excess water after a few minutes.

If your crassula is not getting enough water, you need to give it a good drink, don’t make it swim, let the soil absorb the water.

Water your propeller 3 times a month if it is facing such issues.

First, give it a good drink, and bring it indoors.

Water at the base of the roots, spray some on the leaves as well.
Note: If we compare the effects of underwatering and overwatering, overwatering has more severe effects because succulents are already drought tolerant. The store water in the trunk and leaves, they can feed off from that.

Fertilization requirements of “propeller plant”

  • Many people believe succulents don’t need fertilization at all. You may have read it on multiple websites that they can live without fertilization.
  • let’s suppose, you have a succulent, and you are taking care of it like you supposed to.
  • You are watering it on time, you are giving it plenty of suns, and you are using a very good potting mixture to ensure healthy growth.
  • Despite that, your plant is dropping leaves or some of the leaves are turning yellow.

Why is that?

Nutrients within soil might have drained away from the pothole with time, have you ever thought about that?

All those watering sessions wash away nutrients from the potting mixture, that is why fertilization is essential.

Best way to counter that is to change the potting soil from time to time, or mixture feed with the potting soil to recover the depleted nutrients.

  • If you don’t, then your Scarlet paintbrush may drop leaves, or some may turn yellow, and it may not grow well. They also need food like us.

 How to fertilize an airplane plant? 

Use especially designed succulent and cacti mix fertilizer. Fertilize your plant one or two times in the growing season.

Dilute the strength of the fertilizer to half, ½ teaspoon per gallon of water for outdoor, and 1/8 teaspoon per gallon of water for indoor.

Mix it with the soil very carefully, do not splash the fertilizing liquid on to the leaves, and do not harm the roots.

Check out this forum. Many problems relating to succulents have been discussed there.

Crassula falcata Frost control

I have mentioned multiple times in this blog post that crassula falcata “airplane plane” is not cold hardy, and if your area is exposed to freezing temperatures in the winter, consider moving your plant inside.

If you don’t, the overall appearance of your plant may be shriveled, wrinkled, it will be flat on touch, and it might get rot.

The things you must do if your propeller plant is exposed to frost

  • Move it inside immediately, place it in a warm and fuzzy room.
  • Place it under a desk lamp or any other artificial lighting having “LED” bulbs of high wattage for 7-8 hours.
  • Don’t water it for a couple of weeks, wait until the excess moisture evaporates from the plant.
  • Slowly acclimate your red crassula to the outside conditions. A couple of hours outdoor are enough at this point.
  • Don’t leave it outside in the cold night again.
  • If you cannot move it indoor, or you do not have enough space, then use frost protection clothes.
Note: During the transitioning from inside to outside, some leaves may fall, or some may turn yellowish, it is completely normal, don’t worry in that case. Some good sunny hours will do the make it fine again.

How to propagate a crassula falcata “propeller plant”

One of the dearest and important things for any succulent collector or lover is propagation.

People just love to propagate their beautiful parent succulents into tiny babies. The propagation of the red crassula is a bit delicate.

Spring to early summer is recommended months for propagating a Scarlet paintbrush.

Once cuttings grown succulents are established, growth can be extremely fast, so that a fully-grown plant may bloom in the upcoming year.

 Tools and things needed for propagation 
  • Sterilized utility knife, scissors or clippers
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Rooting hormone
  • Perlite
  • A transparent plastic bags.
  • Two pots (a small one and a permanent one)

There is a total of four types of propagation methods

  • Offset propagation
  • Leaf propagation
  • Stem propagation
  • From seed

The above three are differentiated from each other by levels of difficulty.

Let us talk about all of them:

 Offset propagation of Crassula perfoliata var. minor  

  • Crassula falcata will self-propagate, growing offsets.
  • You will find offsets at the base of the plant, close to the soil. You may have to search for a while to find one.
  • They look like small flowers when they are still an infant. Use a sharp clipper or sterilized knife to cut it from the main stem.
  • Oftentimes, the basal offsets will already have tiny roots when cuttings are taken. These little offsets will establish faster than the unrooted cuttings.
  • Cut it completely, with its stem, don’t leaves anything behind.
 Leaf propagation of Crassula perfoliata var. minor  
  • Leaf propagation is also a possible option, but more difficult.
  • For this propagation, gently twist a healthy-looking leaf form the stem.
  • Or, you can use either a knife or clippers (both sterilized) to ensure a clean cut.
  • Make sure it is a clean-cut or pull, no part of the stem should be left behind on the stem.
 Stem propagation of crassula falcata “propeller plant” 
  • It is a more conventional type of propagation.
  • Use a sterile knife or sharp scissors and cut a stem from the base of the plant.
  • Falcata is a compact crassula, be more careful, ensure a safe cut.
  • It is also a more difficult method as compare to “offset propagation” because crassula falcata is self-propagating.
 Sowing from seeds 

Sowing from seeds is possible, but it takes a long time to establish.

Sow seeds in the early spring in the same soil that is recommended for transplanting.

After that 

  • The cutting needs to form a callus over the cut area so place them in any room free from direct sunlight and keep them warm and dry for about 4-6 days.
  • Indoor lighting is fine, just be careful from the direct sunlight and water at this point.
  • Potting its cuttings can be a little difficult because it has almost no roots. The potting mix is not that much support as well.
  • Craft stick or something similar must be used to help prop the cuttings.
  • Check the falcata cuttings regularly to see any sign of paleness or dryness which we don’t want.
  • Get a small plastic or ceramic pot, wash it properly with soapy water and let it dry out completely.
  • Make your potting mix by adding 80% coarse substance like crushed lava rock or perlite, and 20% potting soil
  • Dip your cutting in the rooting hormone before planting or placing them on the potting picture.
  • Fill out the pot with the potting mix, make it tight because succulents like it crowded.
  • Insert the callused end of the cut (offset, stem or leaf), and pack the soil around it to hold it upright (stem and offsets). You can just place the callused ends of the leaves on the potting mix, sprinkle some soil over it).
  • Sprinkle a 1/8-inch layer of gravel over the top.
NOTE: All three cuttings (offsets, leave, and stems) can be placed in one pot or container, or you can use separate ones for each.
 After waiting 2-3 weeks 
  • After patiently waiting for 2-3, you have regularly monitored your baby propeller plant.
  • Now it is ready to drink some water. Follow the same guidelines of watering as you do with its parent, but don’t overdo it, and don splash the water here and there.
  • At this point, direct sunlight is still prohibited. A couple of hours of indirect sunlight or home lighting (artificial lighting) will do the job.
 Wait for another 3-4 weeks 
  • During this time, you have followed the watering guidelines, and you have monitored your crassula falcata’s growth, now it is ready to see the sunlight.
  • 4-6 hours of indirect, and 1-2 hours direct sunlight will do the job.
  • To root successfully, the propeller cuttings require a lot of bright indirect sunlight, and temperature no lower than 62-degree Fahrenheit.
  • If you are comfortable with sunlight, and your home is not receiving enough of it, artificial lighting is also fine, but try to find some sunny hours here and there.
  • Use the transparent plastic bag to create a dome around the propeller plant cuttings.
  • Dome will create high humidity levels inside which is healthy for the fast-growing baby crassula falcata.
  • If you are living in a humid area, then there is no need for artificial humidity, nature will do it for you.
  • Use sticks to keep it intact otherwise, it will fall on the cuttings.
  • Keep the watering levels on a schedule before, during, and after the plastic dome method.
  • Before repotting the newly grown propeller plants, gently tug the cuttings and check if the roots are attached to the soil or not.
  • If the roots are healthy and attached to the soil, remove the babies.
  • Use a conventional pot or a container like you do for a parent.
  • Repot the babies, use the same potting mix as you do for the parents.
  • Use the same watering, sunny hours, and fertilization schedule.

“Congratulations, you have successfully grown a new propeller plant from the cuttings”.

Toxicity levels of crassula falcata “propeller plant”

As a succulent lover, you want a peaceful time without any fuss, right? You don’t want your plants to harm others (pets or kids) or the other way around.

But your pet or kid could take a bite out of your succulent.

Then you will ask yourself, “does that succulent have any harmful components? Is it poisonous?

Well, the answer depends on the specie of succulents, but this crassula falcata “propeller plant” is non-toxic to humans and animals.

However, special care should be taken if you are growing an airplane plant near children or pets.

All succulents might not be poisonous to humans or pets, but we have seen some mild effects once they are ingested.

Those mild effects might be:

To pets

  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Hiding
  • Depression
  • Aggression
  • Slow muscle function

To humans

  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain

Though it is not necessary that you might get symptoms, however, avoid ingestion if you are not confirmed.

Toxicity differs from succulent to succulent,  read our crassula ovata article to know more about it.

Frequently Asked Question (FAQs)

how do you care for crassula falcata “propeller plant?
  • Crassula falcata watering should be regular throughout the summer.
  • Slowly reduce watering till dormant season.
  • Allow soil to completely dry out before the next watering session.
  • 6-8 hours of indirect sunlight should do the job but avoid direct scorching light.
  • Artificial lighting is also fine if you are not receiving sunlight in your home.
  • Use diluted fertilizer once in every 1-2 months during the growing season
  • Place it indoors during freezing temperatures.
how many types of crassula falcata “propeller plant” propagation?

crassula falcata has four types of propagation. Offset, leaves, stem, and seed propagation:

  • Offset propagation: Crassula falcata will self-propagate, growing offsets.
  • Leaf propagation: gently twist a healthy-looking leaf form the stem, or, you can use either a knife or clippers (both sterilized) to ensure a clean cut.
  • Stem cutting: Use a sterile knife or sharp scissors and cut a stem from the base of the plant.
  • Seed propagation: Sow seeds in the early spring in the same soil that is recommended for transplanting.
How often do you water a crassula falcata?
  • Watering once or twice every month in the growing season should be enough to cover its needs.
  • You can increase the watering if you are living in a hot and dry climate. Then 3-4 times a month, and more if your crassula is growing outside.
  • After the blooming season, once or twice a fortnight.
  • Cut back watering sessions in winter. Once a month should be enough (if it requires).
how do you repot a crassula falcata?
  • At the beginning of the active growth period, repotting is recommended.
  • Before repotting the propeller plant, gently tug the cuttings and check if the roots are attached to the soil or not.
  • If the roots are healthy and attached to the soil, remove the plants from the old pot.
  • Use a conventional pot or a container.
  • Repot the crassula falcata, use the same potting mix as you normally do.
  • The soil must be dry at first.
  • Use the same watering, sunny hours, and fertilization schedule.
how do you propagate a propeller plant?
  • Use a sterile knife or sharp scissors and cut a stem from the base of the plant, or gently twist a healthy leaf with its stem for leaf propagation.
  • Falcata is a compact crassula, be more careful, ensure a safe cut.
  • It is also a more difficult method as compare to “offset propagation” because crassula falcata is self-propagating.
  • Let the cuttings callus over for 4-6 days.
  • Pot the cuttings, keep them indoors and start watering after 2-3 weeks.
  • Wait for another 2-3 weeks, now it is ready to see the sunlight.

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