Pachyphytum is an elegant miniature succulent native to Mexico. Its teardrop-shaped fleshy leaves look like pebbles scattered on the ground or slightly flattened grapes, painted in faded, muted tones. Because of its appearance, the plant was called “moonstone”. The pachyphytum flower is represented by not too numerous varieties, but even on the basis of this species diversity, an interesting plant collection can be made, and it will not be boring, especially during the flowering of this amazing succulent.
General description of the genus with photo
Pachyphytum is a genus of succulent plants from the Tolstyankov family. A common feature of all its basic varieties are thick, very juicy leaves of small size and rounded shape. It can vary in different species from almost round ovoid to flat or faceted. Their color varies between light gray, gray-blue, pale green and soft purple. From above, the leaves are covered with a light wax coating, which further muffles their basic color.
In size, pachyphytum is a fairly compact plant, its shoots rarely reach 30 cm, for the most part they are much shorter, have short internodes. The formation of new leaves occurs in a spiral, and due to their very dense arrangement, outwardly they give the impression of a whorled type of arrangement. The exception is pachyphytum longifolia.
During the budding period, bare and unexpectedly long peduncles are thrown out of the apical sinuses, on which small-flowered spike-shaped inflorescences are formed. Flowers 5-petalled, bell-shaped, drooping. Their color can be white, pale yellow, pink-red. The flowers are framed by the same fleshy as the leaves, sepals with a waxy surface coating. After flowering, small-sized pods are formed in which seeds ripen.
The name of the species and their photos
The genus pachyphytum has about a dozen varieties, many of which are endemic to different regions of Mexico. Consider the most decorative species suitable for indoor cultivation.
It is this species, for its specific appearance, that has received the name “moonstone”. It has a developed, but very thin root system and above-ground shoots, reaching 20 cm in length. Their width is usually no more than 1 cm. Gradually falling leaves leave noticeable scars in the lower part of the growing shoots. The color of the leaves is gray-bluish, “lunar”, their shape resembles a chicken egg turned upside down with a sharp end down, but smaller in size. The maximum leaf length in an adult specimen is 5 cm. Flowering usually occurs in the second half of summer, but depends on conditions. Peduncles up to 20 cm high bear spike-shaped inflorescences of pale green buds with light pinkish specks with white-blue sepals.
A variety widely demanded in indoor floriculture. Shoots can exceed 30 cm in length with a width of about 2 cm. Compared to the previous species, the leaves have a flattened, non-circular shape, but fall off in the same way as the stem grows. The color of the foliage is dominated by a white-green hue, more saturated than that of the egg-bearing species. When kept in the open sun, the leaves acquire a pink-lilac tint. Flowering lasts from August to November. Peduncles can be carried to a height of up to 40 cm, flowers of a reddish tone.
This variety is less similar to pebbles than others, representing upright single rarely leafy shoots. It has a fairly large distance between alternate leaves on short straight stems. The leaves are elongated, strongly flattened, up to 7 cm long. Their color is light green with a slight purple tint. Bell-shaped flowers bloom on a tall straight peduncle, have a dark pink soft color.
A miniature variety, which can be called the most spectacular in its appearance. The stems are short, up to 10 cm, the leaves are obovate, but not round, but consisting of many flat faces, pointed at the ends. Their length is about 4 cm. The general color of the foliage is muted green, with pale gray chaotic stains, which creates the effect of a marble pattern. Unlike previous species, only the lowest parts of the shoots become bare over time, which is almost imperceptible due to the dense arrangement of leaves with small internodes. Sufficiently fleshy peduncles begin to grow in spring, they are carried high up, sometimes reaching 40 cm. They can produce up to 10 flowers of an unexpectedly bright orange-red color for this succulent with bluish tips of the petals. The color of the sepals can be green or pinkish.
Both a knowledgeable and experienced grower and any beginner can successfully care for pachyphytum – like all succulents, it requires minimal care.
As a rule, in nature, this flower grows in open areas, therefore it loves the sun and should be grown in fairly bright light. Partial shading is acceptable during the day, an excellent solution, for example, would be placement on the western or southeastern windowsill. If the plant lacks light, the color of its dim leaves will become even paler. In addition, they will become smaller and the plant may stop blooming.
In very bright light, pachyphytum can change its color, acquiring a pink tint.
The plant is undemanding in this regard and easily tolerates both elevated temperatures and cold snaps. Optimal indicators lie within + 20 … + 27. In the dry regions of Mexico, where succulents grow in abundance, there is a significant difference between night and day, as well as winter and summer temperatures. It is undesirable to keep in rooms in which it is hot for a long time. In this case, it is recommended to take the flower out into the fresh air or arrange cool ventilation.
In winter, pachyphytum plunges into a mild dormant period. At this time, he needs to provide a cooler content, optimally in the region of + 14 … + 16C. However, the temperature should not fall below + 10C, since it is critical for this plant.
“Moonstone” calmly endures long dry periods due to the moisture reserves in its fleshy leaves. Moreover, waterlogging is much more detrimental to it, so watering must be done competently and with great care. A signal that the plant should be watered is the drying of the soil by 1/3 of the height of the flower pot. Oversaturation with moisture can quickly start putrefactive processes in the roots and aerial parts.
Pachyphytum is a resident of dry deserts, so it absolutely does not need additional measures to humidify the air. Moreover, moist air is contraindicated for him, especially at low temperatures.
“Moonstone” is categorically not recommended to spray or give him a shower. In addition to excessive saturation with moisture, which can provoke decay, this is fraught with damage to the wax coating on the leaves, which greatly spoils its decorative effect.
Ground mix requirements
The soil for planting should have a slightly acidic or neutral reaction to acidity, be loose, light and depleted. It is best to use ready-mix soil from manufacturers recommended for growing cacti and succulents. It is recommended to add a little river sand and very fine gravel to it – about 1/3 of the total amount of the substrate.
The plant is naturally adapted to life on depleted soils, so it does not need intensive feeding. It is permissible to apply fertilizers 3-4 times per season with a low content of the nitrogen component in them. It is best to use a ready-made mineral composition adapted for feeding succulents and cacti.
Reproduction of pachyphytum
Both methods of propagation are available – by seeds and vegetatively. The second is used more often and is the simplest and fastest.
Reproduction by seeds
The method requires time and effort, it is used only in the absence of vegetative planting material. Seeds must be exceptionally fresh, as they lose their viability very quickly. Sowing is carried out in a loose earth mixture consisting of sand mixed with leafy soil, which is poured into a flat wide box. The seeding depth is about 0.5 cm. The soil should be moderately moist. The box covered with a transparent film is placed in a place that is bright, but not open to the sun, so that less condensation forms on the inside of the film. The optimum temperature for this time is + 22C. The greenhouse should be opened daily for half an hour, and after the first shoots, the shelter must be removed completely.
Picking for this crop is not carried out, the grown seedlings are transplanted immediately to a permanent place in small pots or in one wide low container.
As cuttings, lateral processes of shoots 5-7 cm long are used. They need to be cut with a sharp blade, after which they need to dry the cut in the air for several days. After the cut is tightened and dried, the cutting is very shallow, literally with the very tip of the stem, stuck into the soil, composed of peat and sand. To prevent it from falling, it may be necessary to provide support. You need to moisten the stalk regularly, but very moderately and carefully. This can be done with a spray bottle, but the water should not fall on the leaves. A transplant to a permanent place in a soil mixture intended for adult specimens can be done when new leaves and shoots begin to grow.
During the rooting of the cutting, it is strictly forbidden to cover the container with a film due to the danger of the rapid development of rot.
Pachyphytum can also be rooted not as a whole cutting, but as a separate leaf. The principle of planting is similar to propagation by cuttings.