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A Calendar of Succulents – A Brush With The Head of Medusa

A plant that I’ve been using a lot in my arrangements this year has caught the eye of many of my customers. It looks like a cutting from the head of Medusa – a writhing mass of snakes’ heads coiling from a pot! The plant is Crassula rupestris subspecies marnieriana var. Contorta and is one of my new favourite plants.

The crassula that most people are familiar with is Crassula ovata, the ubiquitous money plant. However, this fascinating group has a lot of more interesting plants to explore: it is a genus of truly architectural-like plants with the fused leaves of many species affecting a columnar form, giving an appearance of beads strung along a wire.

Crassula rupestris (like many in this genus) hails from Cape Province in Southern Africa, where it grows high up on rocky ledges and forms dense clumps. At this time of year, each twisting stem is topped by a little top-knot of creamy white flowers that makes the plant even more endearing. The chunky leaves are green with red margins and stems and make a really interesting contrast to other succulents in a container. It is a very easy plant to grow for those new to succulents, and thrives on a sunny windowsill requiring only a little water to get it through the winter months. I will come back to other members of this group later in the year…