A popular choice for home gardeners, succulents are prized for their diverse, varying pigments, exotic appearance, and their ease of care. The Moonstone Succulent, scientific name Pachyphytum Oviferum, also known as the “Sugaralomond Plant,” is no exception.
Easily identified by their round, silvery, egg-shaped leaves that vary in color from peach, pink, pale green to blue-ish purple. Or by their stems that grow up to eight inches long, with flowers that have red-orange petals, Moonstones are eye-catching and aesthetically pleasing.
Requiring infrequent watering, minimal pruning and minimal space, a Moonstone Succulent would make a wonderful addition to your indoor or outdoor garden.
While they are known not to require much maintenance, there are certain growing conditions, soil preferences and lighting conditions that help Moonstone Succulents thrive. This article outlines how to care for your Moonstone Succulent and the conditions in which they will flourish and grow!
Succulents are plants that store water in their thick, rubbery leaves, stems, and / or roots. They are adapted to do this because they are native to hot, dry, arid areas where rainfall can be scarce for long periods of time, and storing water and nutrients enables them to survive. Interestingly, they will actually appear swollen when storing water.
This is an advantage for you as a gardener if you’re busy, or have other plants that require more consistent attention, as Moonstones need time for their soil to dry out between waterings, and do best when left to use all of the water you have already given them.
It is important to make sure you do not overwater Moonstones because when their roots sit in water for too long, they are likely to develop root rot and die. Make sure the soil has dried completely before watering. Touching the topsoil can let you know if it’s had adequate time to dry. Make sure it is dry a couple of inches down into the soil before you supply your Moonstone with another drink.
Another way to tell whether or not your succulent needs to be watered is by checking its leaves. If its leaves feel firm, it means it doesn’t need to be watered yet. If they’re soft, deflated, or shriveled it means it’s watering time.
When watering your Moonstone, avoid allowing the water to touch its leaves and do so deep into the soil. This will help prevent your succulent’s leaves from being damaged, or beginning to rot and will help allow excess water to run out of the drainage hole.
Another thing to keep in mind when it comes to watering your Moonstone is that it will need to be watered more frequently in the winter, as that is its growing season. This is something that is more specific to the Moonstone, and is not true of all succulents.
Temperature & Light
Moonstones can be grown indoors or outdoors, but there are certain temperatures, lighting and environmental conditions that these plants prefer.
Whether inside or outside, they thrive when placed in a sunny spot. If you hope to keep your Moonstone inside, be sure to place it near a sunny window, or under a grow light. If adding one to your outdoor garden, choose a place that gets full sun year-round. But, if the location where you live experiences intensely hot summers, place your Moonstone in a spot that receives shade in the afternoon to help protect it from too much extreme sun exposure. While your Moonstones leaves are coated in a powdery layer of farina for sun protection, there is no need to over expose them and risk damage.
Ideally, Moonstones prefer warmer temperatures (65-80°F) and low humidity, which makes them perfectly suited for a sunny spot in your home. However, Moonstones cannot survive in temperatures below 20°F. If you choose to add a Moonstone to your outdoor garden and you live in an area where winters have temperatures at or below freezing, you need to cover it with a sheet or blanket, or move it inside to protect it from these low temperatures.
When succulents experience a shock, such as an extreme temperature change, or a lack of or excess of sunlight, they may “blush” or turn a different color. Their leaves may also become more oblong or change shape as they grow towards the sun. If you are hoping to maintain the same shape and color of your Moonston’s leaves they had when you procured them, you will want to turn them as they adjust towards the sunlight and to protect them from experiencing a shock.
The soil you use to re-pot your Moonstone, or to plant it outside, is one of the most important aspects of your plant’s care. While they may be slow-growing and require minimal care elsewhere, Moonstones are specific with requirements when it comes to selecting a soil. The key is for you to purchase or create a soil that is loose, gritty, well draining, and provides proficient aeration. Aeration allows air, water and nutrients to penetrate your Moonstone’s roots. Again, if water is trapped within sticky, compact soil and the roots remain moist for too long, they run the risk of developing root rot or a fungal disease, which can lead to your plant’s death.
If you are looking to purchase a pre-made potting soil, use a well draining cactus and succulent soil with 50% to 70% mineral grit such as coarse sand, pumice, or perlite. The purpose of pumice or perlite is to aid in aeration and drainage. If you want to create your own, you have more than one option when it comes to materials you can mix. A mixture that has shown to yield excellent results is sand, perlite / pumice, and regular potting soil. A great mixing ratio of these three ingredients is two parts sand, two parts gardening soil and one-part perlite or pumice. This translates to three cups of sand, three cups of soil and one and a half cups of perlite or pumice. Another mixture you can make is one of compost and sand.
Be sure to use an appropriate soil mixture when re-potting your Moonstone after purchase, if it outgrows its container, or if you are planting it outside. If planting outside, mix equal parts of compost with sand or pumice, and fill in the area where you plan to plant it to a depth of 10-12 inches. If you are repotting your plant, it is also advisable that you do so during winter and that you replant the stem to the same depth that it was planted in in its previous container.
Planting in Pots
One of the most appealing aspects of growing Moonstones is that they require minimal space and can easily thrive when planted in a pot. This can be done because they will stay relatively compact, though they can spread to 12 inches wide. One of the advantages to planting them in a pot is that they can be moved inside and outside easily, and that they can be moved around inside to anywhere they can receive adequate sunlight or be under a grow light.
When planting your Moonstone in a pot, make sure your pot has drainage holes and that the plant itself sits above the pot’s rim. If your Moonstone is too far below the rim, water can pool, and rot your leaves. Which, as you can imagine, would not be great for the health of your Moonstone. It’s okay to plant more than one succulent in the same pot, but planting them extremely close together can make watering your plants difficult. Leaving a small amount of space between them encourages your plants to grow larger, and makes watering the plants a bit easier. However, when there’s too much space between them, the plants tend to stay the same size and dedicate more of their energy to growing their roots. If you plan to place more than one plant in the same pot, I encourage you to try to put a small amount of space between each plant.
While Moonstone Succulents may have a unique, exotic appearance, they are a plant that is ideal for both inexperienced and seasoned gardeners. Not requiring anything over the top or overly complicated, these plants thrive when provided plenty of sunshine, deep, infrequent waterings, and loose, gritty soil. They also grow well indoors, outdoors, in small pots, and with or without another succulent. So they are relatively easy to fit within many gardening set-ups, and locations.
Not only are they a hearty plant that is straightforward to care for, but they are well known to help brighten rooms and moods, to improve mental clarity, and to provide oxygen and air purification. They are even easy to propagate, or you can grow an entire new plant from your existing Moonstone without hurting it.
So if you are considering adding a new succulent to your garden or are looking for a great gift for a new or seasoned plant enthusiast, don’t hesitate to consider a Moonstone Succulent. They would be a beautiful, minimal maintenance addition to many outdoor gardens and most indoor growing areas.