Pachyphytum oviferum or the moonstone succulent is a striking plant which has unique and attractive foliage, all the while being a plant which is perfect for beginners, or those who travel a lot.
If you’ve never seen a moonstone plant before, you might be surprised that it is a plant at all. Like Lithops succulents, the moonstone succulent looks like trailing stones rather than a living plant.
While hailing from Mexico, it’s admired and grown throughout the world for its thick, pale leaves which resemble pale stones, hence the common name, moonstone.
Fancy growing your own? Here’s everything you need to know about this fabulous plant.
At a Glance: What You Should Know About the Moonstone Plant
The moonstone succulent comes from the Crassula plant family, which means it is a relative of other succulents you’re probably familiar with, such as the money tree, Crassula ovata.
This plant is instantly recognizable for its egg-shaped, succulent leaves in silvery green, the texture of which is powdery, like some Echeverias.
It also flowers, like many succulents. If conditions are right, it will produce a flower spike which towers above the 10cm plant, producing pendant flowers in shades of crimson with yellow hearts.
These flowers appear in the later weeks of winter or the first few weeks in spring.
If you want to grow a moonstone plant, you’ll need to give it plenty of room to spread, as it grows wider than taller, producing plantlets which will clump closely together.
You can grow them both indoors and outdoors. If you live somewhere cold, consider only growing them indoors, or growing them in a container which you can take inside before the weather gets too cold.
The moonstone plant will not tolerate temperatures below freezing.
Can You Grow Moonstones if You Have Pets or Children?
Yes. Pachyphytum oviferum is considered non-toxic, so it’s safe to have around pets or children. The unusual appearance of the plant may be its downfall, however, attracting curiosity like a magnet.
To be safe, keep it out of reach. This will ensure that only minimal damage occurs to the plant, and it will also avoid any upset stomachs.
How to Grow a Moonstone Succulent
Sunlight and Position
You can grow a moonstone succulent outside as part of a rockery or other freely-draining soil, preferably in a container if you need to move it indoors during winter.
It’s also perfect for adding some unusual plant life into your home. Wherever you choose to put it, it needs to be in a sunny position, where it can soak up the sun’s rays for at least 6 hours.
You need to place your moonstone succulent somewhere where there’s a good amount of air circulation, but away from any drafts.
During the hot days of summer, it will need some protection when the sun is at its highest and most fierce, otherwise the leaves will scorch.
Make sure the soil can drain freely, as the moonstone plant is very prone to root rot.
When to Water a Moonstone Plant
As with a lot of succulent plants, the moonstone plant only requires watering occasionally. If you’ve got it in a container, this is easier to judge.
Always check the soil before you water a succulent. Put your finger into the soil. If it feels damp, wait until it feels completely dry, and then water.
As a general rule, if the soil still feels damp around 4 inches into the pot, wait until it’s completely dry at this level.
You can also tell by the leaves. If they look perfectly healthy and feel firm to the touch, there’s no need to water the plant yet.
Once the leaves start wrinkling and become softer, you should water it straight away.
How to Propagate a Moonstone Succulent
The easiest way to make a new plant from a moonstone succulent is through leaf cuttings.
Remove a couple of the lower leaves from the plant, making sure that they come away clean. Put them in a shallow tray, and leave them to callus over for a day or two.
Take them out of the tray, and fill it with succulent compost. Put the leaves on top, and mist the soil lightly. Put the tray somewhere bright and airy, and you should see new growth within a month or so.
How to Tell if Your Moonstone Succulent Has Gone Dormant
Moonstone succulents go dormant when temperatures rise, unlike many succulent plants, which go dormant when the weather gets cooler and the days get darker.
You’ll notice that your plant will put out less growth than usual, if it grows at all. Reduce the watering during this stage to allow the plant to rest.
Pests and Diseases to Be Aware of
The moonstone plant, in general, is a hardy and robust plant that’s not usually prone to problems.
That doesn’t mean that the plant is completely immune, however, and there are some things you should watch out for to extend the life of your plant.
Root rot is the biggest killer of succulents. If you’re unsure when to water, keep the plant on the dry side, as it’s much more tolerant of drought than overwatering.
In terms of pests, aphids and mealybugs are the biggest killers. Luckily, they both leave recognizable signs. You can use a mixture of dish soap and water to get rid of them, or you can use neem oil.
If you do see signs of pests, the earlier you treat the plant, the better the plant will recover.
Moonstone Succulent Varieties to Try Growing Yourself
Pachyphytum oviferum is wonderful in its own right with its gorgeous blue-green leaves, but there are other colors to go for, too.
You can get a variegated cultivar, called Pachyphytum oviferum f. variegatum, which still has the silvery bluish tinge, but it also features streaks of bright yellow.
You may need to protect this variety from direct sunlight, but it will need a brighter position, as it will be able to convert less sunlight into energy because of the reduced chlorophyll present in the leaves.
Pachyphytum oviferum ‘Pink Panther’ still features silvery leaves, but this time in shades of pale green and pinkish purple.
This isn’t the only other color available, however. You can get Pachyphytum oviferum in a range of pastel shades, including yellow, copper, blue, purple, and gray.
Some colors may be more vivid than others in different temperatures and light levels, so keep this in mind when you’re looking for a different color.
You may have to change the growing conditions to achieve the color you want.
Under the same genus, Pachyphytum bracteosum or Pachyphytum ‘Silver Bracts’ is a more bulbous form of a moonstone succulent, the silvery leaves adopting a pinkish hue in brighter light.
A cross between Echeveria and Pachyphytum, Pachyveria ‘Powder Puff’ has the pointed leaves of an echeveria, but with the powdery leaves and branching habit of a pachyphytum.
The foliage on this hybrid is more blue in bright light or colder temperatures, and it produces bright purple flowers, too. It readily produces offsets, making it a vigorous succulent that should be a must-have on any list.