Why Is My Calico Kitten Plant Dying? 5 Top Reasons And Fixes

Why is my Calico Kitten plant dying? Why are the stems turning brown or the leaves dropping? The top 5 reasons why your Calico Kitten succulent might be dying are.

  1. Incorrect Watering
  2. Unsuitable Light Levels
  3. Wrong Soil or Old Soil
  4. Pest Infestation
  5. Fertilizing Incorrectly

Despite being a relatively low-maintenance, drought-tolerant plant, Calico Kitten plants can become unhealthy and look like they are dying if you make a few common mistakes with their care.

If this is you and your Calico Kitten plant is looking sick, don’t worry, you are not alone. We’ve been there too!

If your Calico Kitten is not looking as healthy as it should, this guide will help you identify common culprits and provide you with steps to take to ensure a healthier life for your beloved Calico Kitten plant.

calico kitten plant dying brown stems
Calico Kitten Succulent with brown stems

What Does A Healthy Calico Kitten Plant Look Like?

The scientific name for the Calico Kitten succulent is Crassula Pellucida and the variegated type is known as Crassula Pellucida Variegata or Crassula Marginalis Rubra Variegata.

A Calico Kitten plant is a relatively small succulent, typically growing to a height of 4 – 6 inches (10 – 15cm).

The plant forms a dense mat or leaves and stems and grows low and wide rather than tall.

It has small, heart-shaped fleshy leaves variegated in shades of green in the center and cream and pink towards the edges. The leaves turn a deeper pink or red in bright light.

Crassula pellucida has thin branches that trail along the ground. The stems are usually reddish-brown or light green.

It sprawls as it grows and is perfect as a trailing plant in a hanging basket or as ground cover.

Top 5 Reasons Why Calico Kitten Plant Is Dying

Here are the top 5 reasons why your Calico Kitten succulent might be dying.

  1. Incorrect Watering
  2. Unsuitable Light Levels
  3. Wrong Soil or Old Soil
  4. Pest Infestation
  5. Fertilizing Incorrectly

Read on to see our tried and tested solutions for each.

1. Incorrect Watering

If you have overwatered your plant, your Calico Kitten may have brown, mushy leaves or a stem that is turning brown and spongy. The best thing to do in this case is to repot the plant in a dry, well-draining succulent potting mix.

If you notice root rot while repotting, remove any rotten roots at the same time.

Only water your plant whenever the soil feels completely dry to the touch, and ensure the plant is in a pot with drainage holes so excess water can flow out of the pot.

Calico Kitten plants are very sensitive to over-watering, resulting in root rot. If in doubt, err on the side of less frequent watering. Root rot is more difficult for your plant to recover from than underwatering. 

If you have underwatered your Calico Kitten, your plant may have shriveled, dry leaves. To remedy this, water the plant thoroughly by soaking the entire pot in water for a few minutes. Remove the pot from the water and allow it to drain thoroughly. Water your plant whenever the soil feels completely dry. In summer, this may be once a week and longer in cooler seasons.

Our two guides on watering succulents provide more information and will help you get your watering for your Calico Kitten just right.

>> How To Water Indoor Succulents – A Complete Guide

>> How To Tell When Your Succulent Has Become Over Or Under Watered

2. Unsuitable Light Levels For Calico Kitten

To grow and flourish, Calico Kitten plants require bright, indirect sunlight. Place them close to a window that gets plenty of light if you’re growing them indoors, but keep them out of direct sunlight if possible. Too much direct sunlight can result in sunburned leaves. Calico Kitten plants can tolerate some direct sunlight but they need to be gradually acclimated to it.

If planting outdoors, place it in an area with bright light that does not get direct sunlight.

You can also supplement your plant’s natural light with artificial lighting. Fluorescent lights are a good option for Calico Kitten plants. Place the grow light about 12 inches from the plant and leave it on for 12-14 hours per day.

3. Wrong Soil or Old Soil

Like most succulents, Calico Kitten plants require well-draining soil to prevent root rot. Use a cactus potting mix blended with perlite for better drainage. You can even add coarse sand to your potting mix in a 2:1 ratio to further aid the drainage ability of the soil.

For more details, see our guide to the best soil for succulents.

4. Pests

Calico Kitten plants are prone to mealybug and aphid infestations.

These sap-sucking insects cause yellowing and curling leaves. Mealybugs leave a white, powdery residue and aphids can look like little black dots on leaves and stems.

Any aphid or mealybug infestation should be treated with a spray insecticide.

5. Fertilizing Incorrectly

Succulents cope well in nutrient-poor soil. Levels of nutrients that are too high can cause root burn and damage your plant.

Therefore, you need to be careful if you give fertilizer to your Calico Kitten. Too much could be potentially harmful.

Use a succulent-specific fertilizer and dilute as recommended on the packaging.

Use sparingly and only fertilize your Calico Kitten plant during its growing seasons of spring and fall. Do not fertilize in summer or winter during the plant’s rest and dormant phases.

Full Care Guide For Calico Kitten Plants

For a comprehensive guide to looking after your Calico Kitten plant, check out our Everything You Need to Know About Caring For Your Calico Kitten Plant article.

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