Crassula ovata 'Gandalf'

Crassula ovata Gandalf (Hybrid Jade Plant)

The Crassula ovata ‘Gandalf’ is a relatively new  Jade Plant variety. In fact, it is a hybrid of Crassula ovata ‘Gollum’ and the small form known as Crassula ovata ‘Minor’. Plants are compact and somewhat dwarf, compared to the typical form. 

Bright green leaves are smaller and broader than Gollum Jade. However, they have the same tubular, spoon-shaped leaves. Gorgeous, scarlet red margins appear with maturity and full sun exposure. 

This is a small, slow-growing, low maintenance plant that is perfect for novice gardeners. In fact, it is ideal for rock gardens, containers and will also be quite happy on a well-lit window sill.

Water

“Soak and drain” method

Light

Filtered / Partial Sun, Bright Indoor Light

USDA Zone

9a-11

Temperature

Minimum 30°F (−1.1°C) to 50°F (10°C)

Soil

Well-draining soil, use a container with good drainage

Fertilizer

Fertilize monthly during the growing season with a liquid fertilizer

Size

Up to 3 feet (90 cm) tall and 2 feet (60 cm) wide

Scientific Name

Crassula Ovata ‘Gandalf’ 

Common Names

Gandalf Jade, Crassula Gandalf, Gandalf Jade Plant

Pronunciation

KRASS-yoo-luh oh-VAH-tuh

Pests

Mealybugs, aphids

Flower

Clusters of small, star-like, white or pinkish-white flowers, with pink stamens bloom in winter

Toxicity

Generally toxic to dogs and cats

Gandalf Jade plant is a fairly slow growing succulent. Definitely slower than the common Crassula Ovata Jade Plant. Growing up to 2 feet (60 cm) tall and around 2 feet (60 cm) wide at maturity. 

Succulents, including Crassula, store water in the plump leaves to survive drought. Gandalf Jade Plants do not have very high watering needs. Therefore, replicate their natural habitat by giving your plant a deep watering. Then, let the soil dry out completely before watering again.

Crassula Gandalf plants need very little water during the winter. Remember, as with most succulents, less is more! If in doubt, be sure to use a moisture meter. Indeed inexpensive and really helped me when I was new to succulents. 

Watering with distilled or filtered water may be a good idea if you see brown or white tips on the ends of the leaves. Depending on your tap water, it may have high salt content. Also, be sure to avoid getting the leaves wet. Not only can this cause sunburn in hot direct sun. But, it can also cause leaves to rot in humid conditions.

Crassula ovata Gandalf has moderate light needs. Plants will do well in bright indoor light, partial/filtered sun, or partial shade. Also, Crassula Gandalf tolerates some full sun once acclimated.

Gandalf Jade can tolerate some partial shade. However, you will see the best growth and coloration in bright sun.

Crassula ovata 'Gandalf'
Crassula ovata 'Gandalf'

Crassula Gandalf plants are not cold hardy. Although, they do well in the ground or in a pot outside in warmer climates. Definitely move your Crassula Ovata ‘Gandalf’ inside when temperatures fall below 20°F (-6.6°C). Allow indoor Gandalf Jade Plants to get 4-5 hours of indirect sunlight in order to flourish.

Well-draining soil is essential for keeping Crassulas happy. If your succulent is left sitting in water, it’s susceptible to rot and fungal diseases. Add pumice or perlite to the soil to help increase extra drainage and be sure to pick a pot with a drainage hole. 

I also like adding coarse sand with perlite to commercial potting soil for a 2:1:1 ratio. Even when I use a commercial cactus soil mix I still add perlite for increased drainage.

Repotting Crassula Gandalf

Jade plants can thrive in pots. In fact, they do not need much room to grow full and healthy. However, if you want to keep your plant on the small side, then keeping it in a smaller pot is a good way of controlling its growth. Definitely choose a pot with good drainage.

Crassula ovata Gandalf plants will eventually become root-bound. Although, it doesn’t affect the overall health of the plant. Plants should be repotted every few years to avoid compacted soil and encourage new growth. Older Gandalf’s can be repotted every 4-5 years. Here are a few tips for potting jade plants.

  • First, repot Jade Plants in summer when the soil is dry.
  • Next, start by gently brushing the soil off the roots.
  • Then, inspect the roots for rot or other problems that may be lurking underground.
  • Finally, place your Gandalf in fresh well-draining soil.
  • Hold off on watering for a few days. This allows the roots to get comfortable in its new soil. Also, to heal from any damage during the transfer.
Crassula ovata 'Gandalf'
Crassula ovata 'Gandalf'

Using fertilizer isn’t a priority with this plant. However, if you want to give it a try, do so during its growing season. In fact, Crassula ovata ‘Gandalf’ can grow all year round, and actively grows in cooler months. Keep in mind it will need plenty of light to minimize stretching. A liquid balanced cactus or succulent fertilizer, that is low-nitrogen is best.

Crassulas are generally toxic to dogs and cats. Please keep away from small children just to be sure. Additionally, visit the ASPCSA’s list of toxic and non-toxic plants for more info.

The Crassula Gandalf naturally propagates via offsets. If you want to speed up the propagation process, this can be done by leaf and stem cuttings. Once you have the process down, you can easily multiply your Crassula collection.

Crassula ovata Gandalf Propagation – Leaf cuttings

Leaf cuttings are taken by carefully removing the leaf off the stem. Gently twist the leaf to ensure you remove the entire leaf. Don’t leave any parts behind. This will increase the chances of successful propagation.

After removing the leaf, let it dry out for a few days so that the ends can callous over. Keep in mind, Gandalf is one of the harder succulents to propagate via leaves. But, it is definitely possible.

An option is to dip the leaf in a rooting hormone. I usually skip this step but some people prefer using rooting hormones to speed up the process and increase success rates. Once dry, set it on top of well-draining soil and mist it with water. Keep the soil damp until new roots have grown in. As the leaves begin to take root, return to a regular watering schedule.

Crassula Gandalf Stem cuttings 

Follow almost the same process as the leaf cuttings. First, take sharp, clean shears or scissors and cut 2-3 inch (5-7cm) long stem cuttings. This may be super scary at first. But, eventually you will be happy with the results.

Next, allow the Gandalf cuttings to dry for three to five days (depending on your climate) before planting in soil or propagating in water. Water propagation is one of my favorite methods and you can read more here.

Then, place your Crassula Gandalf cutting in well-draining soil. Make sure the stem is upright. Eventually, you can test the cutting to see if it has roots. Do so by giving your cutting a gentle tug. If there is resistance, it has established some roots. 

The base should eventually produce new babies. Finally, follow the above suggested watering instructions for your stem and leaf cuttings.

Crassula ovata 'Gandalf'
Crassula ovata 'Gandalf'

Crassula ovata ‘Gandalf’ is an evergreen succulent. Additionally, its tubular green tips turn burgundy when mature and when grown in full sun. In late fall to early winter, look for white to light pink, star-shaped blooms with pink stamens. 

Jade plant flowers emit a sweet smell attracting bees, flies, wasps and butterflies. Indeed the main pollinators of this plant.

Gandalf Jade will only bloom under ideal conditions. To get your Gandalf plant to flower, it needs a cold period before dormancy. Also, allow your Crassula to stay outdoors on an enclosed patio or porch for a few weeks. Specifically, shorter and colder days will urge the plant to bloom.

Crassula ovata 'Gandalf'
Crassula ovata 'Gandalf'

Crassula ovata Gandalf plants are perfect for beginner Bonsai enthusiasts. Additionally, its trunk is thick, but branches are fine. Because the Gandalf Jade tree is a succulent, it retains water in its trunk and branches. 

This water retention can help it naturally bend. Also, they respond really well to pruning. In fact, you should trim the Gandalf Jade Bonsai regularly to maintain and refine the shape of a tree. Also, to encourage more dense foliage and to evenly distribute growth.

How to Bonsai a Jade Plant

Use bonsai shears to prune branches and shoots that have outgrown your desired canopy shape. Trees will concentrate the most growth on the top and outer parts of the stems. Don’t be afraid to trim regularly. 

I think the bigger the tree, the more impressive looking they are. Indoor Gandalf Jade Bonsai can be pruned year-round.

Not too many issues affect Gandalf Jade Plants. They are typically low-maintenance and easy to care for. Below are the most common problems affecting Crassulas.

Overwatering Gandalf Jade Plants

Be wary of overwatering your Crassula Gandalf, which is the number one killer of succulents. Overwatering kills succulents much faster than underwatering. Symptoms of overwatering include yellow, mushy leaves that easily fall off. 

Remedy this issue by removing your succulent from the overwatered soil and place it in fresh well-draining soil. Hold off on watering for a week or so. As mentioned earlier, use a moisture meter to take out the guesswork. 

Underwatering Crassula Gandalf 

Although overwatering is the most common, underwatering is also harmful to Gandalf Jade Plants. However, it is much easier to fix. Give your succulent a good drink and it will usually perk up.

When it is underwatered, jade leaves will shrivel up and look wilted. Additionally, they can also send out air roots in search of moisture. Read more about air roots here.

Gandalf Etiolation

Succulents often grow etiolated or stretched out. Indeed common, but easily preventable. When your plant isn’t getting enough sunlight, it “stretches” towards the sun. If you don’t keep your crassula in a bright location, it will grow stretched and less attractive.

However, once stretched out, it will not return to its original shape. Propagate the stem as mentioned above to give it a second chance. Also, increasing your collection size.

Gandalf Jade Diseases 

Make sure you never let your Gandalf sit in water long-term. Specifically because this can cause root rot and other fungal diseases. Root rot is caused by consistent moisture and can lead to bacterial infections. However, it is easy to prevent. Therefore, avoid overwatering and always use well-draining soil.

Root rot is best caught early. So, routinely check for rot on your Gandalf Jade. Rotted sections will be brown or black and mushy. Yuck! Specifically, the rot typically starts in the roots and spreads up the stem.

If you find an infected part, you’ll have to remove it. Otherwise it can spread. First, cut away the rotted section. Next, leave your Gandalf out to callous over for a few days. Then, repot in fresh well-draining soil. Finally, keep an eye on watering.

Crassula Ovata Gandalf Sunburn

Brown spots may appear on your Gandalf Jade. These are most likely from sunburn. Definitely move your plant out of direct heat to prevent further damage. Learn how to save your sunburned succulents in our blog post here.

The Genus name “Crassula” comes from the Latin word crassus. Meaning thick for its thick leaves. Its specific epithet “ovata” derives from the Latin word “ovatus”. Which means “egg-shaped”, referring to the shape of the leaves. Finally, “Gandalf” comes from JRR Tolkien’s character Gandalf.

Crassula ovata 'Gandalf'
Crassula ovata 'Gandalf'

These succulents generally do not require a lot of maintenance. The bottom leaves will brown and die off as the Gandalf Jade grows. However, this is completely normal. Definitely remove old leaves to keep the plant happy and healthy. Also, so that they do not attract pests like evil mealybugs! 

Gandalf Jade Mealybugs 

Mealybugs are the biggest pest threat to Gandalf Jade plants. They love to hide in tiny crevices. So, be sure to inspect your plants regularly. Look for a white cottony web or disfigured leaves. Definitely eradicate them immediately.

These small white scale insects drink the sap out of plants. Additionally, they secrete honeydew that attracts ants. A Q-tip dipped in alcohol or a spray from an organic pest killing soap will do the trick. 

Spider mites on your Crassula Gandalf 

Spider mites are tiny red or brown spiders that burrow into your plant’s soil. First white spots may appear on your Gandalf Jade leaves. However, as the problem progresses, spider webbing can appear on the leaves and stem of your jade plant. In fact, this is when you will most likely notice them. 

Definitely remedy the problem with a 50/50 mixture of rubbing alcohol and water ASAP. Spray your Gandalf leaves every week for several weeks. Indeed, ensuring that the spider mites and their eggs die. If not addressed, spider mites could kill your Jade plant.

Aphids and Scale on your Gandalf Jade

In addition to mealybugs and spider mites, scale or aphids can also infest your Gandalf Jade. Aphids are less common but still a potential threat to Crassulas Ovata Gandalf. Similar to mealybugs, they suck out the sap. In fact, if left untreated, they will eventually kill your Gandalf Jade.

Protect your Crassula by applying diatomaceous earth to the soil and neem oil to the succulent. Use an insecticidal soap to control existing infestations. Learn more about mealybug and other pest eradication in my blog post her

Compliment your Crassula Gandalf Jade with these varieties:

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