Wondering how hard calico kitten succulent care is? Like most succulents, it’s not that hard at all! Learn how to help this cute little succulent, otherwise known as crassula pellucida variegata or crassula marginalis rubra variegata, thrive.
Calico Kitten Succulent Care
I haven’t usually written about really specific plants for my plant care posts, instead usually focusing on a broader type like “snake plants” or “succulents.” But I got this adorable little calico kitten succulent a few months ago that I just had to write about. Especially after I saw one in Lowe’s a few weeks ago.
Calico kitten succulents are cute, easy little succulents that are part of the crassula genus—otherwise known as their less cute but more scientifically accurate names crassula pellucida variegata or crassula marginalis rubra variegata. I talked about the crassula genus a bit in my post on the easiest succulents for beginners and how to fix a stretched out succulent.
What is a calico kitten succulent?
Many of the crassula succulent varieties grow straight up or out, giving the plant’s leaves a “stacked” look. The crassula genus also holds jade plants (crassula ovata), which have thick, rounded leaves. The calico kitten succulent, however, has delicate little leaves with trailing stems.
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, purple, and white. The plant produces small star-shaped white flowers, but mine has not flowered.
How much light does a calico kitten succulent need?
Like most other indoor succulent, 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. (This is a best practice with all plants!)
Generally anywhere indoors that gets about a half day of bright 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. If the leaves are showing signs of burning, it might be getting too much direct light. Especially if some leaves touch window panes and those window panes get very hot in the summer.
Calico kitten succulent plants are also flexible with lighting outdoors. They can tolerate partial shade, even. However, if you’re moving your plant to an area with a lot of full sign, do so in stages so you don’t burn the plants. For example, give it an hour here and there of full sun, working your way up to an entire day.
Watering a calico kitten succulent
Most succulents have evolved to store water in their leaves since they are from areas of the world 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 soul out quickly. In the winter, I water my succulents roughly once a month or whenever they look like they need it.
If I can’t remember the last time I watered any plant, I just stick my finger into the soil to see if it’s wet. If the top few inches are dry, I give it a bit of water. Make sure you’re especially careful not to overwater if you have your calico kitten succulent in a pot without a drainage hole. (I actually drilled a hole in the pot mine is in—see my post about how to drill a drainage hole in a ceramic pot!)
I don’t have a calico kitten succulent outdoors, but I generally water my succulents every few days outdoors during the summer. Usually I can just let the rain take care of watering them for me since we get frequent summer rain showers here in Maryland.
Soil and temperature needs
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.) No need to pack the soil down too tight. Just firm enough to keep your plant secure as it grows into its post and further develops its root system.
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 will tolerate a light frost, but they won’t be happy with you.
Propagating calico kitten succulents
I’ll provide a quick overview here, but if you really want to dig into this topic, check out my post 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.
Issues caring for calico kitten succulents
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. Below are a few photos of a sunburned succulent. Unfortunately the damage to these leaves is done when they are burned, but you can cut them off without hurting the plant. Succulents will bounce back!
Leaves that are brown but not tough and leathery…and instead 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.
Make sure you are using a well-draining succulent soil and a pot with a drainage hole. (If your pot doesn’t have a drainage hole, check out my tips about how to plant succulents in pots without drainage holes.)
Calico kitten succulents can develop mealybug or aphid infestations, like a lot of houseplants. The bugs are attracted to the calico kitten’s sap and are tiny, often crawling around on areas you can’t see them (deep into bunches or leaves or 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.