Watch Chain Succulent

Written by Mike Edmisten
Updated: December 31, 2022
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The watch chain succulent is rapidly gaining popularity due to its unique appearance and ease of care.

Native to South Africa, Namibia, and Lesotho, the watch chain can grow around 12 inches tall. When grown in a container or hanging basket, its trailing foliage spills out. These cascading stems can grow up to a foot long.

The tightly arranged leaves resemble the links of a watch chain, hence the common name.

The leaves of the watch chain succulent resemble a jeweler's chain.

The leaves of the watch chain succulent resemble a jeweler’s chain.

©iStock.com/simonmayer

Crassula muscosa, the watch chain’s botanical name, comes from the Latin word muscosus, meaning “mossy” or “moss-like.” It refers to the plant’s mossy appearance, similar to clubmoss.

This ornamental herbaceous succulent is a splendid houseplant. It can also be grown outdoors in warmer climates.

Like most succulents, minimal care is needed for the watch chain to thrive. Here’s what you need to know about the wonderful watch chain.

Watch Chain Succulent Facts
Botanical nameCrassula muscosa
Common NamesWatch chain, rattail crassula, clubmoss crassula, lizard’s tail, zipper plant, princess pine
SunlightIndirect
SoilSandy, well-draining
WaterWeekly
Indoors or OutdoorsIndoors in a sunny window. Outdoors in Zones 9a-10b.

Sunlight

The watch chain needs about six hours of sunlight a day. Morning or evening sun is preferred. Direct afternoon sun can scorch the plant in warmer climates.

Soil Type

As with most succulents, choosing the right soil for your watch chain is all about drainage. If the soil drains well, your plant will grow well.

A succulent or cactus soil mix is perfect for these plants. You can also create your own mix using three parts loam, one part perlite or pumice, and one part sharp sand.

The watch chain succulent grows in rocky or sandy soil.

The watch chain succulent grows in rocky or sandy soil.

©iStock.com/simonmayer

Water

The water requirements for a watch chain are similar to that of most succulents. The soak-and-dry method is recommended. Soak the soil thoroughly, then refrain from watering again until the soil completely dries out. If the soil isn’t dry, it’s not time to water.

For outdoor watch chains, more frequent watering may be required during the summer months. But even then, make sure the soil is dry before watering.

You may also choose to fertilize the plant during the spring and summer. If so, use a succulent or cactus fertilizer mix.

Placement

There are a few things to consider when deciding where to place your watch chain.

Plants in the genus crassula contain saponins, which serve as a natural fungicide and insecticide. But saponins are also toxic for pets, so make sure your furry friends stay far away.

When growing indoors, access to a bright, sunny window is best. This succulent needs a good 4-6 hours of sunlight each day.

Watch chain succulents need access to lots of sunlight.

Watch chain succulents need access to lots of sunlight.

©iStock.com/simonmayer

It’s also worth noting that watch chains often will not bloom indoors, but that might be for the best. The scent of its miniature blooms has been described as varying from soapy to musty. You’ll probably be happy for this succulent to refrain from blooming in your house.

When placing the plant outdoors, look for a spot that drains well and has access to morning or evening sunlight, but also some midday shade, especially in warmer climates.

And speaking of climates, keep in mind that the watch chain is not a cold-hardy succulent. Temperatures below 20°F will kill the plant. If you reside in a cold-weather area, it’s best to plant watch chains in containers that can be moved inside during colder months.

Propagation

Watch chains are easily propagated. In fact, they spread so easily that they can become invasive in some outdoor environments.

You can propagate this succulent through either leaf or stem cuttings.

For leaf-cutting propagation, gently twist and pull the leaf off the stem. You can also use a clean knife or shears. 

When removing the leaf, make sure to take the entire leaf off the mother plant. Once removed, set the leaf aside for 3-4 days so it will callus. 

Once the leaf has callused over, plant it in the same type of soil used for the mother plant.

For stem cuttings, use a knife or shears to remove a stem from the mother plant. Just like leaf cuttings, allow the stem cutting to callus for a few days. Once callused, plant the cutting in the same well-draining soil used for the mother plant.

Common problems

Root rot from overwatering is the single most common problem with watch chains. This can be avoided by making sure the soil is completely dry before adding water, and also by making sure that container plants have adequate drain holes.

Potential insect pests are the same as you would expect for most succulents, with mealybugs and thrips being among the most common. Neem oil is a great defense against these pests. Treat the plant once a week for a month or until there is no sign of remaining pests.

Watch chain succulents are great potted plants.

Watch chain succulents are great potted plants.

©iStock.com/simonmayer

The watch chain succulent’s unique appearance and minimal care needs might just make it the perfect next addition to your home or garden. Maybe it’s “time” to give it a try (shameless watch pun).

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The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/Bill the Nino


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About the Author

Mike is a writer at A-Z Animals where his primary focus is on geography, agriculture, and marine life. A graduate of Cincinnati Christian University and a resident of Cincinnati, OH, Mike is deeply passionate about the natural world. In his free time, he, his wife, and their two sons love the outdoors, especially camping and exploring US National Parks.

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