Miniature Pine Tree
Synonyms of Crassula tetragona (11) (Updated on 1-19-21): Crassula acutifolia var. debsifolia (Harv.) Schönland, Crassula bibracteata Eckl. & Zeyh., Crassula caffra L., Crassula decussata Salisb., Crassula densifolia Harv., Crassula fruticulosa L., Crassula macowanii Scott Elliot, Crassula radicans Harv., Creusa tetragona (L.) P.V.Heath, Sedum caffrum (L.) Kuntze, Sedum tetragonum (L.) Kuntze
Crassula tetragona L. is the correct and accepted scientific name for the Miniature Pine Tree. It was named and described as such by Carl von Linnaeus in the first volume of the first edition of Species Plantarum in 1753.
Accepted intraspecific names (5) (Updated on 1-19-21): Crassula tetragona subsp. acutifolia (Lam.) Toelken, Crassula tetragona subsp. connivens (Schönl.) Toelken, Crassula tetragona subsp. lignescens Toelken, Crassula tetragona subsp. robusta (Toelken) Toelken, Crassula tetragona subsp. rudis (Schönland & Baker f.) Toelken
Plants of the World Online by Kew lists 205 species in the Crassula genus (as of 1-19-21 when I am updating this page. It is a member of the plant family Crassulaceae with 36 genera. Those numbers could change as updates are made.
I acquired my first cutting of Crassula tetragona in 2012 and brought it with me when I moved back to Missouri in 2013. For some reason, it didn’t make it. I was glad to see a few at Wagler’s Greenhouse in September of 2018 so I brought one home with me.
THERE ARE SEVERAL LINKS AND GROWING RECOMMENDATIONS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE FOR FURTHER READING.
I brought the potted plants inside on October 10 (2018) because the weather forecast said there was a chance of frost. The Crassula tetragona is 11 1/4″ tall.
The Crassula tetragona was doing great in one of the bedrooms in a south-facing window. Then my son moved in with me and took over that bedroom. I did go in and check on the plants occasionally and they always seemed to be doing OK. Then, when it came time to move them back outside for the summer, I noticed the Crassula tetragona had lost a lot of leaves. Then some of the top stem broke off, maybe from the wind and the railing on the deck. Anyway, I put the pieces that broke off in the pot. The plant is doing fine but not as attractive as before. I moved it to another part of the back deck. I will add photos soon no matter what it looks like.
The Crassula tetragona has changed quite a lot since I brought it home from Wagler’s Greenhouse last September. For one, it has grown from 11 1/4″ tall to 16 1/2″ tall. It lost A LOT of leaves while it was inside last winter making me wonder if it needs a little more water than other Crassula during the winter. In their native South African habitat, this species grows in both areas with summer rainfall and areas with winter rainfall. Crassula species are considered summer dormant (winter-growing) but that doesn’t mean they need regular watering in the winter when inside. I put the Crassula tetragona on the back porch for the summer with the cactus and it did very well. It was first on the north side of the porch, but as the cats jumped from the raining to the table they kept knocking off the tops of the stems. So, I moved it to the potting table on the south side of the porch.
Even though the leaves are now concentrated to the top of the plant, I think it looks pretty neat.
Every time I found a broken stem I put them in the pot. Soon there will be a forest in the pot.
According to information online, the Crassula tetragona is reliably cold hardy down to 28° F or even colder for short periods. They are also popular as bonsai candidates.
I decided to put this plant on the kitchen windowsill (east-facing window) to keep an eye on it during the winter.
Well, the other Crassula tetragona died over the winter so I went out to see if Wagler’s has any that were ready to bring home. She has a HUGE plant and luckily she had a smaller one she said I could take. The stem was somewhat crooked but I brought it home anyway. It measured 7 3/4″ tall x 3 1/4″ wide.
The leaves have a whitish look but I am hoping it is from their foliar fertilizer and not some kind of issue… Time will tell. It had a lot of leaves but I am sure most will fall off in time.
The Crassula tetragona has done very well since I brought it home in March and has grown to 9 3/4″ tall. I guess the whiteness on the leaves was from fertilizer because it is not there now. I still haven’t had time to straighten it up. I just have to rearrange it in the pot a little…
Origin: Cape Provinces in South Africa
Zones: USDA Zones 10a-11 (30-40° F)
Size: 6-12” tall
*Light: Sun to part shade
***Soil: Very well-draining. Good quality potting soil amended with pumice (50/50) or additional perlite and chicken grit (2-1-1).
***Water: Regular watering during the growing period but barely in the winter.
*During the summer, I keep most of my cactus and the Crassula tetragona on the back deck where they receive full sun. During the winter most cactus aren’t picky about the light because they are basically dormant. For several winters, mine were in front of the east-facing sliding door in the dining room so they didn’t get much light but they did great. I built a new shelf for the bedroom so now they are in front of a west-facing window. Most of the succulents are on a shelf in a south-facing window in a cool bedroom but a few are in my bedroom.
**When it comes to potting soil, finding the “sweet spot” is not exactly that easy when materials are limited. Cactus and succulent enthusiasts (and experts) do not recommend using peat-based commercial mixes but what choice is there for most of us. They say to use a loam-based mix… Hmmm… Our soil is loam, so do I just use dirt? Well, no because “dirt” is heavy and you need a “light” material. There is A LOT of cactus and succulent recipes online and some get pretty elaborate. Many say to use sand as an ingredient, but if you do that, it needs to be very coarse, like builders sand, because “ordinary” sand, like for sandboxes, is too fine and it clogs up the air space between the coarser ingredients. For MANY years I used 2 parts Miracle Grow or Schultz Potting amended with an additional 1 part of perlite and 1 part chicken grit. Schultz doesn’t seem to have as many large pieces of bark. Cactus and succulent enthusiasts recommended using pumice instead of perlite and grit so I checked it out… The “guy” at General Pumice (online) recommended using a 50/50 mix of potting soil and pumice. General Pumice has 3 different sizes to choose from depending on the size of the pot. SO, in 2018 I bought a bag of 1/8″ and mixed it 50/50 with Miracle Grow Potting Soil. I liked it pretty well. Then in 2020, since most of the cactus were in larger pots, I ordered the 1/4″ size. Pumice has a lot of benefits over perlite and has nutrients that are added to the soil when watering. Pumice is also heavier so it stays mixed in the soil instead of “floating” to the top. Still, there is the issue of the mix getting very hard once you stop watering the plants during the winter when you stop watering. I think this is because of the peat in the potting soil… SO, instead of re-potting the cactus and succulents in the spring, I started doing it during the fall and winter so their soil would be loose. Since you don’t water as frequently during the winter if at all, the timed-release fertilizer does not activate. I have not tried coir, but I am looking into it…
You have to sort of mimic the soil where species grow in their native habitat. For that, you almost have to go see for yourself… Typically, they grow in fairly rocky soil.
***I water my cactus and succulents on a regular basis during the summer but barely ever in the winter (maybe a little in January) until close to time to take them back outside.
When you bring your new plants home from the store, you need to check their roots and the soil to see if they are wet. If so, you may want to re-pot it right away. It is advisable to re-pot them in a better potting soil more suitable for cactus and succulents.
I hope you enjoyed this page and maybe found it useful. If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions, I would like to hear from you. Please click on “like” if you visited this page. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. 🙂 You can check out the links below for further reading. The links take you directly to the genus and species of this plant.