Skip to Content

Calico Kitten Succulent Care

Learn about calico kitten succulent care and how to help this delicate plant thrive!

Calico kitten succulent care

I got this adorable little calico kitten succulent several years ago and have really enjoyed having it as part of my collection—despite not really being a big succulent fan. I ordered mine online, and when I saw one locally at a garden center, I knew I had to write about it!

calico kitten succulent

Calico kitten succulent care overview

  • Calico kitten succulents are part of the crassula genus.
  • Known for their variegated leaves in shades of green, pink, and purple.
  • Prefers bright light; place in a spot that gets bright afternoon and evening sun.
  • Rotate periodically to ensure even growth.
  • Let the soil dry out before watering again; avoid overwatering.
  • Plant in a well-draining succulent or cactus mix to facilitate drainage and help with aeration.
  • Can go dormant in cooler temperatures; tolerates light frost but not extended cold.
  • Propagate through stem cuttings leaves, with stem cuttings being the quicker method.

What is a calico kitten succulent?

Calico kitten succulents—otherwise known by their less cute but more scientifically accurate name crassula pellucida variegata or crassula marginalis rubra variegata—are cute, easy succulents. They are part of the crassula genus, which I talked a bit about in my article on the easiest succulents for beginners and how to fix a stretched out succulent.

Many of the crassula succulent varieties grow straight up or out, giving the plant’s leaves a “stacked” look. The calico kitten succulent, however, has delicate little leaves with stems that trail as the plant matures.

It hails from South Africa and is technically more of a spreading succulent, like a lot of the stonecrop ground cover plants in the succulent family. However, this spreading tendency leads to it spilling over the sides of pots when grown in containers.

Every type of calico kitten succulent I’ve seen has been variegated—and perhaps that’s where it gets its name since calico cats have many colors. Calico kitten succulents have leaves that range the entire spectrum of green colors with dashes of pink and purple. The plant produces small star-shaped white flowers.

large trailing calico kitten succulent

How much light does it need?

Like many other succulents, calico kitten plants will be happiest in a spot with bright light. I have my plant in a windowsill that gets bright afternoon and evening sun. Since the main light source is to one side, I rotate the pot every few weeks to ensure even growth.

Generally anywhere indoors that gets about a half day of bright or bright, indirect light will be best. If your plant is growing very slowly, getting leggy (meaning there is more room between legs and a thinner stem), or just generally looks unhappy, it might need more light. These are not low light plants.

If you notice the leaves becoming pale or developing brown spots or signs of burning, it may be an indication that the light is too intense. Especially if some leaves touch window panes and those window panes get very hot in the summer. Adjust as necessary.

Calico kitten succulent plants are flexible with lighting outdoors. They can tolerate partial shade. However, if you’re moving your plant to an area with any amount of full sun, do so in stages so you don’t burn the plants.

calico kitten succulent on a windowsill

How often should I water it?

Succulents have evolved to store water in their leaves since they are from climates prone to drought. This plant is no exception. That’s why an essential part of calico kitten succulent care is ensuring you don’t overwater it. This will lead to root rot, a common killer of houseplants and especially succulents.

I generally water my indoor succulents once every week and a half or so in the late spring, summer, and early fall, depending on how sunny the days have been. Our central air conditioning makes the air indoors really dry, and a lot of sun coming through the window can help dry the soil out quickly.

In the winter, I water my succulents roughly once a month or whenever they look like they need it. Even indoors, their growth will likely slow down without the addition of a grow light.

Always check your plant’s soil to determine if it needs water. If the top several inches of soil are dry, it’s likely time to give it a good drink. When you water it, do so throughly in the sink or in a dish. Soak the soil and let all of the excess water flow from the pot’s drainage holes.

calico kitten succulent

What is the best soil?

Plant your calico kitten succulent in any well-draining succulent soil to discourage it from ever sitting in water. (Check out my simple recipe for succulent soil you can make at home.) This type of soil allows water to flow through quickly, preventing the roots from sitting in water and potentially rotting.

Additionally, incorporating a bit of organic matter like compost can provide some nutrients to support healthy growth. I generally don’t fertilize my succulents, so giving them a bit of a nutrient boost through some plant food or worm castings is usually helpful.

windowsill with plants

Temperature & humidity needs

These plants do well in a variety of household temperatures, but they will go dormant in the cooler winter months. Unless you’re one of the lucky ones who lives somewhere with a year-round growing season, it’s best to plant your succulents in pots that you can move indoors for the winter. They can tolerate a light frost but probably won’t be too happy about it.

As with many other succulents, crassula varieties in general do quite well in dry air. This makes them excellent choices for our homes, where the air is usually on the drier side.

calico kitten succulent

Propagating calico kitten succulents

I’ll provide a quick overview here, but if you really want to dig into this topic, check out my tutorial on propagating succulents from leaves and cuttings. Calico kitten succulents can be propagated both ways. As with other succulents, propagating from a stem cutting is fastest and easiest.

Succulents are extremely prolific growers in the right conditions, often shooting out rogue roots from bare areas on their stems. If you have a cutting that already has some of these roots sprouting, that’s a great sign that your propagation will be a success. Simply cut off a piece of your plant and let the cut end harden over. Just a few days should be fine.

Next, plant the stem end of the cutting in succulent soil. Keep the soil relatively moist—a bit more moist than you would a regular plant. This extra moisture helps to encourage root development. You’ll soon notice that when you give the cutting a gentle pull, it won’t budge—that means it’s rooting. Begin watering normally once you see new leaf growth. 

To propagate a calico kitten succulent from a leaf, pull a few whole leaves off of a stem. Lay the leaves over a well-draining succulent soil and let the cut ends dry. Keep the soil slightly damp. You can mist it every few days to ensure the cuttings don’t shrivel up and die. You’ll notice new roots sprout from the cut end, and eventually a new baby plant.

calico kitten succulent

Diagnosing issues you may encounter

These are fairly low-maintenance plants with very few issues. If a calico kitten plant is developing leathery brown areas on the leaves and it’s getting a lot of light, it’s almost certainly sunburn. Unfortunately the damage to these leaves is done when they are burned, but you can cut them off without hurting the plant.

But what about leaves that are brown but not tough and leathery? Instead they are gross and mushy? Almost certainly overwatering. Your succulent will show you very clearly when it is unhappy with you as a result of overwatering. The plant might rebound if you stop watering and let the soil dry completely.

Calico kitten succulents can also develop mealybug or aphid infestations, like a lot of houseplants. The bugs often crawl around on areas you can’t see them, like under leaves. You can use an insecticide spray designed for houseplants on your infected plant, or make a mixture of rubbing alcohol and water to spray on it.

In conclusion…

Calico kitten succulents are a charming and relatively low-maintenance addition to any plant collection. With their colorful, variegated leaves and ability to thrive in bright light, they are perfect for adding a splash of color to sunny windowsills. 

Do you have any tips or experiences with calico kitten succulents you’d like to share? Drop a comment below—happy planting!

Pin my tips!

beautiful plant with text that says all about growing calico kitten succulents

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    This blog's content is for entertainment purposes only and is not professional advice. By reading this blog and attempting to re-create any content shared on it, you assume all responsibility. Read my full Terms of Use here.