The Calico Kitten plant is a pretty succulent with fleshy, variegated (multi-colored) leaves that are green and cream in color, with additional hues of pink or purple if growing in brighter light.
The leaves are arranged in a rosette pattern and grow up to 1 inch in length. The plant can grow up to 6 inches in height and spread up to 12 inches. Its leaves will cascade, making it well suited to a hanging basket. It has small, star-shaped white flowers in late spring.
Native to South Africa, the Crassula Pellucida ‘Variegata’ is also known as Crassula Marginalis Rubra ‘Variegata’. Its common name Calico Kitten comes from the variegation on its leaves that is likened to the colorful fur of a calico cat (although we can’t see it ourselves!)
The plant is a member of the Crassulaceae family and grows best in well-drained soil in full sun to partial shade.
It’s a relatively low-maintenance, drought-tolerant plant that doesn’t require much watering.
This charming succulent makes an excellent houseplant or container garden plant. It can also be used in succulent gardens, rock gardens, or as a groundcover.
If you’re looking for an easy-maintenance, unique and eye-catching plant, Calico Kitten is a great choice.
Calico Kitten Plant Light Requirements
Calico Kitten does best in bright, indirect sunlight. They can get scorched in hot, direct sun but will tolerate direct sun if they are gradually acclimatised to it. If your Calico Kitten is indoors, be sure to rotate your plant every week or so to ensure that all sides get an equal amount of light.
If you notice that your plant is starting to stretch or look leggy (etiolated), it is probably not getting enough light. Move it to a brighter location.
You can also supplement your plant’s natural light with artificial lighting. Fluorescent lights are a good option for a Calico Kitten. Place the light about 12 inches from the plant and leave it on for 12-14 hours each day.
Calico Kitten Plant Watering
When watering your Calico Kitten, be sure to give it enough water so the soil is moist but not soggy. Allow the soil to dry out between waterings.
You can check the moisture level by sticking your finger into the soil. If it feels dry, it’s time to water. If it feels wet or soggy, you’re giving it too much water.
Calico Kitten plants need to be watered about once a week, though this may vary depending on the climate and weather conditions.
You may need to water your plant more often during hot, dry summer days.
If you’re not sure how often to water your Calico kitten plant, it’s best to err on the side of too little water rather than too much.
Over-watering is one of the most common mistakes made when caring for these plants. Too much water can cause the roots to rot.
These plants are very resilient and can withstand periods of drought better than periods of excessive moisture.
One final note on watering: be sure to use room temperature water when watering your Calico Kitten plant. Cold water can shock the roots and damage the plant.
Calico Kitten Temperature Needs
Calico Kitten plants are fairly hardy and can withstand the occasional frost and low temperature. They can also withstand high temperatures but may need watering more often.
Calico Kitten plants do not like draughts, so ensure your plant is not placed near an open window or door or underneath an air-conditioning unit.
Best Soil for Calico Kitten Plant
Like most succulents, Calico Kitten needs well-draining soil. Calico Kitten’s roots are quite sensitive and prone to root rot when waterlogged. You can use a cactus potting mix blended with perlite for better drainage or sandy soil. Sandy soil can be achieved by combining cactus or potting soil with coarse sand with a 2:1 ratio.
Fertilize your Calico Kitten plant every few weeks during its growing season of mid-spring to mid-fall with a balanced fertilizer. Look for a water-soluble, low-nitrogen fertilizer and dilute to half-strength. This will help the plant produce more flowers. Once it has stopped blooming, stop the fertilizer until next spring.
Do not fertilize during the winter.
Pruning is important to keep your Calico Kitten healthy and looking its best. Deadhead old flowers to encourage more blooms and trim back any leggy or overgrown stems.
Is Calico Kitten Plant Toxic?
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), Crassula marginalis rubra variegata (Calico Kitten plant) is considered toxic to both cats and dogs. The plant contains toxic compounds that can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy if ingested.
Therefore, it is recommended to keep this plant away from pets and small children who may be tempted to eat it. If you suspect your pet has ingested this plant, contact your veterinarian immediately for advice.
There are many options for a safe and nontoxic houseplant for your cats and dogs.
Calico Kitten Plant Dying
If you have a Calico Kitten that is looking less than healthy, these are the top things to check:
Watering – is the soil too wet or too dry? If the soil is too dry, you may see dry, shriveled leaves on your plant. Water the plant thoroughly and then wait to see if it recovers. If the soil is too wet, you may have brown, mushy leaves. Repot the plant in a dryer, well-draining potting mix and take the opportunity to remove any mushy roots during repotting.
Light – to grow and flourish, Calico Kitten plants require lots of sunlight. If you’re growing them indoors, place them close to a window that gets plenty of sunlight. Too much direct sunlight may result in sunburned leaves that turn brown and crispy.
Pests – aphids and mealybugs love Calico Kitten plants. Treat any pest infestation with a spray insecticide.
For more information, consult our Why is My Calico Kitten Plant Dying? article.
Why Is My Calico Kitten Plant Green?
Crassula marginalis rubra variegata has variegated leaves that are pink, cream, and green in color. The specific coloration of the leaves can vary depending on several factors, including the amount of light, water, and nutrients the plant receives.
If your Calico Kitten plant is primarily green and not showing much pink or cream coloration, it is likely that the plant is not receiving enough sunlight. These plants require bright, indirect light to develop their characteristic pink and cream hues. Without enough light, the plant may produce more chlorophyll to compensate, resulting in a greener appearance.
To encourage the development of pink and cream coloration in your Calico Kitten plant, move it to a brighter location with indirect sunlight. You can also consider supplementing its light with a grow light if necessary. Additionally, make sure the plant is receiving appropriate amounts of water and fertilizer to support its growth and coloration.
When Should I Repot My Calico Kitten?
There’s no set answer to this question, as it really depends on the individual plant and its specific needs. However, as a general rule of thumb, you should repot your Calico Kitten plant every one to two years.
This will ensure that it has enough room to grow and that the potting mix stays fresh and doesn’t become compacted.
If you notice that your Calico Kitten is starting to look pot-bound (its roots are growing out of the drainage holes, for example), then it’s time for a new pot.
Be sure to choose one that is only slightly larger than the current one and always use a high-quality potting mix that is well-draining.
When repotting, be very careful not to damage the roots of your plant. Gently loosen the root ball and then place it in the new pot, making sure that the roots are evenly spread out. Water well and then allow the plant to drain before putting it back in its usual spot.
Propagating a Calico Kitten
A Calico Kitten plant is relatively easy to propagate through stem or leaf cuttings.
- Choose a healthy, mature stem from the parent plant. Select a stem that is at least a few inches long and has several sets of leaves.
- Use a clean, sharp pair of scissors or pruning shears to make a clean cut just below a node (the point where a leaf attaches to the stem).
- Allow the cutting to dry and callus over for 1-2 days. This will help prevent rotting when the cutting is planted.
- Once the cutting has callused, plant it in a pot filled with well-draining soil. You can use a mixture of potting soil and sand or perlite to ensure good drainage.
- Water the cutting lightly and place it in a bright, indirect location. Avoid direct sunlight, as this can burn the delicate new growth.
- Keep the soil lightly moist but not waterlogged, and mist the cutting occasionally to provide some humidity.
- After a few weeks, the cutting should develop roots and new growth. Once the new plant is established, you can treat it like a mature Calico Kitten plant.
If propagating from a leaf, choose a plump, healthy leaf and gently twist it to separate it from the stem. Dip the cut end in rooting hormone and then follow from Step 3 above.
Propagation can also be done by dividing the parent plant, separating offsets or pups from the base of the plant and repotting them in their own containers.
The Calico Kitten plan is pretty, colorful plant that is easy to care for. It prefers bright, indirect light and well-draining soil.
It works well indoors in a pot, outdoors in a rock garden or in a hanging basket where its beautiful foliage is on full display.
With just a little care and attention, your Calico Kitten plant will thrive and bring you enjoyment for many years.
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