Graptopetalum is a small genus of the family Crassulaceae. They are perennial succulent plants and native to Mexico and Arizona. Their leaves vary in color from silver-grey to pink to waxy green and are often speckled. They all have thick leaves forming rosettes with star-shaped flowers from white to pink on long stems. All require lots of sunlight to look their best. They are similar looking to Echeverias, although they are generally considered closer to Sedums.
The rules for Graptopetalum care are similar to those for most succulents. Container-bound plants thrive in a mixture of peat, sand, or other grit, topsoil, and a little bit of compost. Full sun is the best situation, but they will also grow in partial sun with slightly rangy results.
Graptopetalums need excellent drainage and moderate water. You can check your plant for watering readiness by sticking your finger in the soil. If it is dry several inches down or the fleshy leaves are looking shriveled, you should water. Overwatering is a cause of root rots, and the plant can get several pest infestations.
The Graptopetalums are generally easy to propagate, by seeds, leaf cuttings or offsets. Any rosette that breaks off has the potential to root and start a new plant. Even a leaf that drops off will root below the parent plant and produce a new rosette quickly. The new plant feeds off the leaf until it shrivels up and falls off. By then, the new little ghost plant has rooted and sprouted new leaves.
Graptopetalums are succulents that prefer cooler temperatures for actively growing. Their primary growth occurs during fall and spring while slowing considerably during winter. They require gritty porous soil with excellent drainage. Water regularly from spring to fall, letting the soil dry out between waterings. Minimal water is required over winter. Fertilize once during the growing season with a balanced fertilizer diluted to ¼ strength. All do best in the sun or part sun.
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Graptolpetalum paraguayense is an attractive succulent that is best grown outdoors to allow the plant to achieve its “ghostly” appearance.
Ghost Plant grows rapidly and can trail up to 3-feet (91cm) of space which is why it is popularly used as ground cover.
This succulent has been known to survive freezing temperatures but nevertheless is not cold-hardy. Ghost Plant is best suited in Zone 9a temperatures or a minimum of 20° F (-6° C).
If you reside in a region that drops below 20° F (-6° C), it would be best to grow the plant indoors. Keep in mind that this fast-growing plant grows even faster indoors.
Graptopetalum paraguayense enjoys the sun and thrives in full to partial exposure. This succulent has chameleon-like properties and will adapt to the environment’s conditions.
There are varieties that have grown well in areas with partial shade. The differentiating factor is the color: Ghost Plant in shaded areas develops bluish-gray color.
If grown outdoors, plant Graptopetalum paraguayense in an area in the garden which gets 6 hours of morning sunlight.
Ghost Plant that will be grown indoors should be placed near a window that receives full to partial sun.
Graptopetalum paraguayense exhibits similar watering needs of a succulent that comes from the Crassulaceae family. It will require more water in the summer season and less during the winter periods of October to March.
Before giving Ghost Plant water, make sure the soil is dry to the touch. Typical of succulents, Graptopetalum paraguayense will suffer from root rot if given too much water.
When choosing a pot, get one that offers good drainage. Graptopetalum paraguayense has shallow roots which means it will not require constant repotting. Once the succulent has outgrown its pot, transfer it carefully by grasping at the base of the crown and not by its leaves.
You can use a light potting or cactus mix for its soil. The important thing is that the soil should be gritty, porous, and has good drainage. You can prepare a soil mix made of potting soil with equal parts loam and gravel such as pumice or lava grit.
Feed Ghost Plant with a commercial fertilizer that is manufactured for succulents and dilute it to ¼ of its strength by adding water. Fertilizer should only be given once a month during the spring months.
Ghost plants need plenty of sunlight. Although they can tolerate anywhere from full to partial sun, they much prefer the former than the latter.
This is why they’re best suited in your garden where there are long hours of bright, indirect sunlight. You can likewise position them near trees where they can receive dappled light.
Indoors, their need for lots of light can be a problem. The key is to watch to see if they start to become leggy. That’s a sure sign that they’re not receiving as much sunlight as they need.
By stretching towards the light source, they’re telling you to move them towards it.
As such, a south-facing window is ideal. Although, you can likewise place them facing east or west. With the latter, you want to avoid direct sunlight.
One of the most unique things about ghost plants is their ability to change colors depending on how much light they get.
In shadier conditions, their leaves will turn blue gray in color. In full sun, you’ll see more of a pinkish yellow color. And, under intense heat, they’ll turn grayish with hints of pink.
This is why the same variety can look very different depending on where they’re placed.
Like other succulents, ghost plants enjoy warm weather. They thrive in USDA plant hardiness zones 7 to 11.
And, although they’re not hardy to cold weather, they will tolerate temperatures as low as 20 degrees.
But, to get the best out of them, you want to keep them somewhere that’s toasty.
Ghost plants don’t need a lot of water. And, they do best with soil that drains well. That said, if they’re situated where they receive full sun, they will need weekly watering during the summertime.
Similarly, if there’s little rain where you live, you’ll need to water them occasionally.
As houseplants, you only need to provide moisture once every two weeks.
Make sure to water the soil and not over the plant. Like echeverias, water can easily get trapped in their rosettes. When this happens the moisture can stagnate there.
The best way to check whether they need water is to insert your finger into the soil. If the top few inches are dry, it’s time to water.
The plant itself will also give you some hints. One sure sign is when its leaves become shriveled. Although, this happens when it’s already getting somewhat dehydrated.
That said, overwatering is still the biggest no-no when it comes to ghost plants. It not only puts them at risk of root rot but also pests and diseases.
When it comes to soil, the most important thing ghost plants need is good drainage. So, if you grow them outdoors, you’ll need to monitor how much rain your area receives.
The more rainfall there is, the better draining soil you’ll need.
That’s because they’re used to and enjoy sandy soil, which is gritty, light, and quick draining. Although, you can likewise use a light potting mix or one that’s made for cacti and succulents.
If your garden is predominantly clay soil, the best way to go is to use raised beds. This allows you to add in the soil you need for your plants.
Alternatively, you can likewise grow them in containers.
Like other succulents, ghost plants are used to soil that’s low in nutrients. As such, it’s important not to overdo the fertilizer. Otherwise, you run the risk of “burning” the leaves.
That said, providing them with fertilizer during early spring helps keep them healthy. Then, scale back to once a month during winter.
How often you prune your ghost plant will depend on how you want to shape and make it look. They grow from the center of the rosette.
And, over time, they produce new rosette pups. This happens on thick stems that become leggy.
If you like how they look, you can leave them as is.
But, if you prefer a more compact look, you can prune the longer offshoots.
The good news is that you can replant these pups to grow new plants.
Ghost plants are easy to propagate. You can do so by trimming back its pups and replanting them. Similarly, you can also grow them from leaves and cuttings.
In fact, any rosette that falls off has the potential to root and grow into a new plant.
Ghost plants don’t need to be repotted regularly. They only time you need to do so is when they outgrow their current container.
Since they have shallow root systems, you don’t need to get a pot that’s too deep. But, you do want stable one.
Also, you want to take extra care when removing the plant from its containers. Its leaves are delicate whose powdery coating can easily be damaged.
As such, it’s better to hold the plant at the base of its crown rather than by its leaves.
Succulents are a diverse form of plants that includes cacti and other moisture-storing specimens. Graptopetalum ghost plant develops a rosette shape on stems which may trail or hang. As with most plants in this group, water needs are little and exposure is important. Ghost flower plant care hinges on providing a natural environment that mimics the succulent’s native habitat. Tips on how to grow a Graptopetalum will ensure your ghost plant is healthy and enjoyable for many years.