How to Grow and Care for a Watch Chain (Crassula muscosa)

How to Grow and Care for a Watch Chain (Crassula muscosa)

Crassula muscosa is an interesting succulent plant that grows up to 12 inches (30 cm) tall by a little wider with a spreading habit of branching stems having tightly, overlapping, stacked, narrow, light green leaves. These leaves completely hide the stems, which start off erect but then trail over from the weight of all of the leaves. The small, pale yellowish-green, musty-smelling flowers appear along with the leaves tight along the stems in spring to mid-summer or other times after rains or irrigation. It is a great plant for adding a unique texture to a mixed planting or as a small scale ground cover in a well-drained mound or rock garden.

The most common of the common names for this plant is Watch Chain for its delicate interlocking leaves that are much like the tight jewelers' links that were used to attach a pocket watch to the vest. It is also called Princess Pine, Clubmoss Crassula, Zipper Plant, and Rattail Crassula. The specific epithet "muscosa" is Latin for "mossy", in reference to this plant's moss-like looks. It has also been called Crassula lycopodioides which is in reference to the plant being like Lycopodium, a genus of clubmoss.

Watch Chain comes from diverse habitats and is widespread in South Africa from the winter rainfall area of the Western Cape to the summer rainfall areas of the Eastern Cape and north into Namibia and Lesotho though often growing only in well-drained rocky quartz fields. It is hardy to around 20 °F (−6.7 °C) but seems to resent being cold and wet at the same time.

Growing Conditions and General Care

Plant in well-drained soil in full sun to light shade or indoors. If planting indoors, place in a room that gets a lot of sunlight, such as near a southern-facing window. The best color maintained with a little shade even on the coast.

Watch Chain has typical watering needs for a succulent. It's best to use the "soak and dry" method and allow the soil to dry out completely between waterings.

Since Watch Chain is not cold hardy, it should be brought indoors when the temperature falls below 20°F (-6.7°C).

During the growing season, the plants should be fed with a controlled-release fertilizer. They can be fed weekly with a weak liquid solution.

While in summer it needs a lot more water and it should be not exposed to full sun, as it only values brightness but would suffer under excessive sunlight. When these conditions are not met the plant begins to dry and stiffen, generally starting from the base of the stem up to the tips.


Watch Chain should be repotted during the warm season. It should be made sure that the soil is dry while repotting the plant. Any old soil must be shaken off the roots before planting the plant in a new pot. Any dry or damaged roots should also be discarded in the process.


Watch Chain is an invasive species and easily propagated from stem cuttings. If the environment maintains a stable temperature of 68 to 70 °F (20 to 21 °C), with adequate humidity and brightness, the cutting will, therefore, root and grow rapidly.

Pests and Diseases

Watch Chain is quite vulnerable to some typical diseases like mealybug invasions and fungal diseases. Overwatering may cause the roots to rot.


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Crassula Muscosa Plant Care

Size and Growth

The watch chain plant doesn’t grow very tall. It grows to about 12″ inches tall with a width of 8″ inches. The appearance of the plant’s light green leaves is reliant on the light conditions it is growing in.

When placed in a south-facing window, the leaves will grow close, tight and compact leaves. While plants growing in areas with less light will be more soft and open.

Flowering and Fragrance

The watch chain crassula is a small shrub with slim zipper-like stems. It has compact, tree-like branching and the leaves are placed in tiny rows opposite to each other.

The plant generally does not have any recognizable scent.

There are many variations to the typical species. Some look like a cockscomb while others have a red or brownish-yellow tint.

It also comes with silver stripes and grows out like a corkscrew. However, the main variety, with its simple and beautiful of greenish-white flowers, remains the most attractive.

When growing well indoors, it is unlikely to bloom.

However, in certain conditions, small, pale yellowish-green, musty smelling flowers may appear along with the leaves on the stems during spring to mid-summer. It usually happens after a bout of rains or irrigation.

Light and Temperature

Like most types of succulents, the zipper plant enjoys the sunlight. However, it is still able to flourish in darker areas if it is kept in a cool room.

It is hardy to around 20° degrees Fahrenheit but it doesn’t bode well when it’s cold and wet at the same time.

On the other hand, it should not be kept at temperatures higher than 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Watering and Feeding

Crassula watch chain plants are good at tolerating droughts but they thrive best when they are watered regularly during the summer and about once a week, or even less, in winter. However, like with all succulents, you should be careful not to overwater them or the roots will rot.

These plants should be fed monthly during the summer with a controlled release fertilizer. They can be fed weekly as well, with a weak liquid solution.

Soil and Transplanting

Plant Zipper plants in well-drained soil and grow the plant in partial or full sunlight. When choosing a pot, make sure that it’s not too large.

An ideal option is a 4″ inch clay pot. Use a cactus mix or a mixture of half potting soil and half perlite or pumice.

If you’re going to relocate your zipper plant, relocate during the warmer seasons. Make sure the soil is dry while repotting the plant.

Remove any old soil by shaking off the roots before planting them in a new pot. Discard any dry or damaged roots.

Grooming and Maintenance

Zipper plants can deal with excessive pruning. However, in order to promote branching, it is advisable to pick out the tips only occasionally.

In Conclusion

Crassula succulents are, undoubtedly, among the most appreciated houseplants around the world. From their pleasant and easy-to-grow nature to their various sizes, shapes, and colors, these plants hold a special place in every gardener’s heart.

Crassula Watch Chain plants stand out because they have a unique appearance. They are easy to grow and care for, so they make a great addition to any succulent collection be it of a novice gardener or of an experienced one.

Now that you know how to grow and care for Crassula Muscosa succulents, all you have to do is add one to your collection. If there’s a small corner in your home or office that needs an adorable plant, bring this tiny and cute succulent in.

Are you growing Crassula Watch Chain succulents? Share your experience in the comments!

Growing Crassula Muscosa: Tips On Watch Chain Plant Care

The Crassula muscosa [pronounced KRASS-oo-la muss-KOH-suh] the watch chain succulent plant is native to South Africa and Namibia.

The watch chain belongs to the Crassulaceae family (succulent jade plants). The name was formally known as Crassula lycopodioides.

The new name, “muscosa”, means ‘moss like’, referring to the look of the plant.

The Crassula muscosa plant is known by several common names:

  • Crassula princess pine
  • Zipper Plant
  • Lizard’s tail succulent
  • Clubmoss Crassula
  • Rattail Crassula

The succulent princess pine plant is grown for use as a houseplant and groomed to suit the space it is growing in without affecting its growth.

It’s easy care always looks neat. It makes a great addition to indoor spaces without looking too wild.