Pachyphytum compactum (pak-ee-FY-tum kom-PAK-tum) is a perennial succulent plant from the family Crassulaceae.
The genus Pachyphytum, literally means “thick leaves” in Greek. The hardy succulent is native to Mexico, specifically the states of Queretaro and Hidalgo.
Pachyphytum compactum features short stems and tightly branched leaves forming a closely-set rosette near the top.
This succulent grows in both height and length, giving it a nice round look.
The fleshy leaves of Pachyphytum compactum display a distinct jewel pattern and feature a variety of colors, due to which the succulent is called “little jewel” by some.
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Pachyphytum Compactum Care
Size and Growth
Pachyphytum compactum has stout stems that grow under 1’ foot in height and length, usually less than 6” inches long.
The stems hold rosettes with as many as 20 to 60 tightly-set leaves at the stem tip.
The round, fleshy and tubular leaves are pointed at the tip and have markings like straight, angular lines on the insides, which give them a distinct rectangular look.
Foliage & Flowering
The leaves of the Pachyphytum compactum succulent are grape-shaped with powdery coating called “farina.”
The plump leaves have a green or grey-green base with lots of orange, violet, red, and pink accents forming a rosette.
Compactum may bear a few small and bell-shaped flowers in the summer and spring.
The flowers are held on an almost 1’ foot tall spiky raceme and usually, have a pale yellow or greenish-white center.
The rest of the flower ranges from pinkish-orange to dark red, with pale orange sepals with blue-green tips.
The flowers of Pachyphytum compactum have no distinctive scent.
Light & Temperature
Since the Pachyphytum compactum is a succulent, it thrives in a dry climate, high heat, and bright full sun exposure.
If placed in full sun, its leaves show off a variety of fairly dark colors. However, it tolerates partial shade fairly well.
Pachyphytum plants enjoy daytime temperatures of 68° – 80° degrees Fahrenheit and nights of 50° – 70° degrees Fahrenheit.
It does not tolerate cold temperatures and will die in temperatures below 20° degrees Fahrenheit.
If grown indoors during the winter, give the plant as much light as possible.
Watering & Feeding
Compactum is a desert plant with low water needs. The plant needs occasional watering from fall to spring. Drain any excess water.
The Pachyphytum compactum succulent requires a well-drained potting soil mix. Excess moisture can lead to root rot.
Allow compactum to dry out before watering again.
Winter is the Pachyphytum plant’s active growth season, and the plant requires more water during this growing season.
If you are not sure when to water P. compactum, watch the lower-most leaves for any indications of drying.
The leaves appear slightly wilted and less fleshy when the plant needs water.
Pachyphytum compactum plants can easily survive being under-watered. However, over-watering can kill them.
Plant Pachyphytum in a standard cactus soil or a mix of sand and humus. From spring to fall, feed half-diluted specialty cactus fertilizer every month.
Soil & Transplanting
As with most members of the genus Pachyphytum, plants can tolerate and even thrive in poor soil conditions, as long as the soil drains well.
Repotted plants need no fertilizer for six to eight weeks.
Transplant these succulent plants from late winter to early spring.
Keep the pot size the same or one size up from the old container as Pachyphytum grows less than a foot tall.
Plus, larger containers will retain excess water. These soil conditions are damaging to the plant.
While transplanting, handle the succulent with care, as its leaves can easily fall off the stem.
Grooming and Maintenance
The succulent Pachyphytum does not require much care other than removing dead leaves.
Too much attention can actually kill these plants.
Avoid touching the healthy leaves with bare hands as body and skin oil will leave marks on the powdery surface.
When grown outdoors in a wet environment, place the plant in well-draining sandy soil.
Propagating Succulent Pachyphytum
Pachyphytum propagates easily from leaf cuttings.
- Take a young leaf from the center of the rosette.
- Allow the leaf to dry out in the air for a few days so the wound heals
- Dip the leaf-cutting in a rooting hormone.
- Place the leaf with its cut-side down into a slightly damp succulent, cactus mix soil or slightly moist sand.
- A new rosette will soon begin growing from the base of the leaf.
- As soon as the succulent grows enough roots, remove the original leaf cutting and repot the rosette into its own pot.
Pachyphytum ‘Little Jewel’ Pests or Diseases
Pachyphytum succulent plants are quite hardy.
However, they are sensitive to human touch as human skin oils can damage their fluorescent coloration or farina.
Succulent pachyphytums are susceptible to mealybug infestation.
If your succulent’s growth seemed to have slowed down or stopped during the winter or spring, remove the plant from the pot and examine the junctions of its leaf and stems and the roots.
If you see a white, fuzzy substance, it is a sure sign of a mealybug infestation.
To fix the problem, remove the plant from its pot and wash the plant roots gently.
Use a cotton swab to gently dab rubbing alcohol on the roots.
Remove the damaged roots with sterile scissors or knife and let the succulent dry completely before repotting it.
If your succulent looks unhealthy without cause, one of the most common reasons is root rot due to excess watering.
If the soil is too damp, replace it immediately rather than wait for the soil to dry out.
Suggested Pachyphytum Succulent Uses
The leaves of Pachyphytum are prized for their marbled, jewel-like appearance and are irresistible to collectors.
They are often grown indoors in mixed succulent container gardens or as additions to window gardens.