The Adromischus cristatus, Crinkle-Leaf Plant, or Key Lime Pie is a popular plant for nurseries because of its green and purple flowers, its triangular pale green leaves, its long stems, and its slow growth cycle so that pruning isn’t as much of an issue.
It’s a low-growing type of plant with small blooms and leaves. It owes its popularity from its hardiness. As long as you take proper care of it, it should last you for many years to come.
The Crinkle-Leaf Plant grow up to 5 centimeters or 2 inches long and has up to 2.5 centimeters or 1 inch wide leaves that are covered in tiny cilia or hairs. This succulent with branches has an undulating margin at its tip.
The Key Lime Pie also features tubular, green-tipped flowers with reddish-white coloring that can blossom on up to a 20-centimeter or 8-inch stem (lengthwise). It also can be toxic to both animals and humans.
#1. When to plant?
Plant your Key Lime Pie when it’s not cold or not winter, so between Spring to Fall. Of course, it depends on the climate zone you’re in.
If the winters in your area are mild and doesn’t grow colder than 20° F or -6.7° C, then you can plant it in your outside planter’s box all-year round. When planting between December and February, make sure the temperature is 50° F or 10° C.
#2. Where to plant?
If there are frosty winters where you live then it’s best to plant the Crinkle-Leaf Plant in a pot that’s placed indoors. This plant is not cold hardy at all.
When planting the Key Lime Pie in your garden, plant it where it can get 6 hours of sunlight daily. Place it in your window bay or anywhere with loads of sunlight if planting indoors.
#3. How to plant
You can plant the Crinkle-Leaf Plant by leaf, stem, or seeds. A single leaf is enough to get a pot or garden full of the succulent. Just place it against the side of the container in order to have the set to touch the compost.
As for seeds, make sure the temperature of the surroundings is warmer before planting the seed. Sow seed in soil that’s easy to drain. Don’t press the seeds—just sow them then lightly cover them with a thin layer of sand.
Use gritty, free-draining compost or pre-mixed cactus soil (sand mixed with soil) as the planting or transplanting soil for this plant. Its compactness enables it to grow easily without much maintenance or pruning on your part. It doesn’t require high humidity to survive and can thrive even in relatively dry settings.
#2. Light & Temperature
It propagates well in any place where there’s full to partial sunlight. Make sure it gets sunlight even when indoors. The recommended temperature for this succulent is 50° F or 10° C.
It works well in room temperature as well as slightly colder temperatures as long as there’s no frost. Its USDA hardiness zones are 9b to 10b. In other words, it can survive temperatures from 25 °F to 40 °F or from −3.9 °C to 4.4 °C.
#3. Water & Humidity
Use the “soak and dry” method when it comes to watering this plant. Only water the plant when the soil is dry. Over-watering the plant will result in rotting or root rot to happen. During winter, water sparingly.
During spring and summer, use diluted liquid fertilizer. Don’t feed this succulent any fertilizer during winter. Just let it thrive on its own during autumn as well, using all the fertilizer you’ve fed it in the previous two seasons.
This is a species that grows effectively by stem cutting and planting, leaf planting, or by seeds. Some variants drop their leaves quite easily, but it’s a challenge to grow a large specimen from these leaves.
When planting by seeds, do so in warm temperatures or using a seed warmer and grow light. Germination happens several weeks longer than the stem cutting method, but this depends on where you live.
For the most part, there’s no need for pruning and grooming for this specific succulent. It’s practically bred like a Bonsai Tree with its smallness sans the constant pruning with your pruning shears. It can only grow 5 centimeters or 2 inches long and up to 2.5 centimeters or 1 inch wide.
Growing Problems & Diseases
Root rot is a real problem for this succulent. This happens when you over-water it or water it too much. You should wait for the soil to drain of water completely and dry before watering this plant again.
The most common pests for the Key Lime Pie are mealybugs and vine weevils. Use systemic insecticide to save the plant from being eaten to death by these insects. You can also use rubbing alcohol and rub a cotton swab on the plant to discourage the bugs from eating it.
#1. Where did the Crinkle-Leaf Plant come from?
The Crinkle-Leaf Plant is native to the Eastern Cape of South Africa. This explains why like many other South African succulents out there, the Adromischus cristatus is weak against frost and over-watering but strong against the summer and loads of sunlight. It can survive with occasional watering since it’s used to the heat but not so much against the extreme coldness of a snowy winter.
#2. What are the names that Crinkle-Leaf Plant known for?
Aside from being known as the Crinkle-Leaf Plant or its scientific name of Adromischus cristatus, it’s also called the Key Lime Pie and Cotyledon Cristata. This is because its leaves have a pale green and crinkly appearance, not unlike the ridges on the edge of the dessert key lime pie.
#3. How do you make the Crinkle-Leaf Plant blossom with flowers?
Springtime is when the plant has its blooms. However, it can be tricky to do the right balancing act of temperature conditions, soil, and sunlight to induce flowers to form. It’s a late bloomer that gets flowers whenever it receives more warmth during the wintertime. Its flowers are tube-shaped and small with no fragrance. They’re also colored white with hints of red.