Pachyphytum compactum, commonly known as 'Little Jewel' is a type of succulent that is able to color change throughout the year, ranging from blues to greens and reds to purples.
It is native to Mexico, first described by the 19th century American botanist Joseph Nelson Rose. They specifically originate from the Hidalgo and Queretaro regions, where they grow along rocky slopes and outcrops.
The 'Jewel' name comes from the fact that its foliage resembles angular facets like those seen on a cut gemstone. The leaves form in this way due to the plant's compact nature, meaning that the pressure of neighboring leaves influences the shape of other leaves.
Do you have a spot with almost too much sunlight where nothing thrives? Try placing this cutie there, it sure is a tough one!
Pachyphytum is Greek for 'thick leaves'. As such, like other succulents, Little Jewels are able to store water in their fleshy leaves. This allows them to withstand periods of no watering, i.e. they're drought-resistant, making them a hardy plant that can tolerate a bit of neglect. So, if you're a new plant owner or you're often away from home, these are a great choice as they'll do just fine if you miss a watering every now and then. In fact, it's much easier to kill a Little Jewel by overwatering than underwatering, so if you're ever unsure then it's better to hold off on giving more water.
Their native environment makes them well-adapted to hot, dry conditions, so they are suited to normal / dry indoor humidity levels and enjoy the warmth of most homes. If you keep yours outdoors, make sure to bring it in well before the winter cold sets in, as Little Jewels are not frost-tolerant and can quickly die if they get too cold.
Whether yours is indoors or outdoors, try to make sure it gets as much light as possible. Little Jewels enjoy full sun, although if it gets particularly hot during the day where you live, you may need to provide it with some shelter during the hottest hours to stop it from overheating. More light = better colors in your Little Jewel's foliage.
Like some other succulent types, Little Jewel is covered in a powdery wax coating that is known as 'farina'. This helps to protect the foliage from getting burnt by the sun's harsh rays - just like how humans use sunblock!
As the name compactum suggests, these succulents are very small. They won't grow any bigger than an absolute maximum of 6 inches (15 cm).