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What is Pachyphytum?

By C.B. Fox
Updated May 21, 2024
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Pachyphytum is a genus of succulent plants that are endemic to various regions in Mexico. Their leaves are extremely thick and come in a variety of colors, many in shades of muted green. The plants can be grown from seeds, but in nurseries and gardens, they are usually grown by planting leaf cuttings directly into the soil. Plants in this genus are relatively hardy and common in gardens.

There are about a dozen different varieties of this genus of succulent. All of them have thick leaves, though in some species the leaves are pointed at the ends, while in others, the ends are rounded. As succulents, the plants have an extraordinary ability to hold water, which is why their leaves are so fat. Pachyphytum plants do not generally grow to be very tall or very large.

Pale grayish green is the most common color for Pachyphytum. Some varieties come in shades of pink, blue or red as well. A fuzzy material which makes them appear soft, covers some species. Pachyphytum plants produce small flowers, often in shades of white or pink, which turn into seed pods once pollinated.

One common variety of the Pachyphytum is known as the moonstone. These plants have large, ovular leaves and grow to a height of 10 inches (25 cm). The leaves of the moonstone are pale green with pink tips. Another common Pachyphytum is the jewel leaf plant, sometimes called lavender pebbles. The leaves of this species of Pachyphytum change from silver to mauve in the winter and are covered with a fuzzy white powder.

Most Pachyphytum plants are hearty and easy to grow. They tolerate cold very well, easily surviving in temperatures as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit (-7 degrees Celsius). Though they do not do well in extended periods of extreme heat, they can tolerate it for short periods of time, especially when placed in the shade. The plants do best in partial sun, placed where they can receive direct sunlight during the coldest part of the day and shade when it is hotter.

A healthy Pachyphytum requires soil that drains well. A mixture of soil and sand is a good medium for growing this genus of plant because waterlogged roots can rot the plant. It is not necessary to water a Pachyphytum plant often because they are able to retain water for a long period of time.

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