The Ghost Plant, scientific name Graptopetalum paraguayense, is a succulent perennial plant. It is native to central and eastern Mexico. It was incorrectly assumed to originate from Paraguay earlier on; however, later studies proved this was not the case (paraguayense = Paraguay). The “ghost” in the name is a nod to its grey-green leaves that often whiten with age.
Its leaves range from grey-green to light blue to a faded pink. Interestingly enough, this entire spectrum of colors is often known to occur in a singular specimen. The leaves spiral around the stem, starkly similar to the Echeveria species. So much so that, at first glance, it is often confused as an Echeveria plant. In contrast, the leaves in the rosette tend to fall off quite easily when disturbed, unlike Echeveria.
The plant exhibits a trailing habit and produces star-shaped white flowers with a smattering of red on its stems. Indoors, there is no set time for the flowers to appear. So if you ever wanted spontaneity from your plants, this is it.
Ghost Plant Main Characteristics
|Common Name||Ghost Plant, Mother of Pearl Plant|
|Botanical Name||Graptopetalum paraguayense|
|Synonyms||Byrnesia weinbergii, Cotyledon paraguayensis, Echeveria weinbergii, Sedum weinbergii|
|USDA Hardiness Zones||9a to 11b|
|Mature Size||Height: around 12 inches, Spread: 3 feet|
|Propagation methods||by cuttings, by offsets|
|Sun||Full sun or light shade|
Ghost Plant Care
The Ghost Plant is a popular choice for gardens and indoor plants, as it is easy to care for and can tolerate periods of neglect. It tends to grow in spring and autumn, and that’s when it wants the most attention. Treat it as you would any other succulent.
Light and Location
The Ghost Plant can tolerate a wide range of conditions. They can grow in light shade with a few hours of sun every morning. And they thrive in full sun with lots of direct sunlight. If given time to acclimate, they can adapt to most lighting conditions. Coincidentally, plants grown in the shade tend to be more bluish-white, whereas those grown in full sun tend to have a more pinkish hue.
These succulents are unsuited for hanging baskets despite their trailing habit, as their leaves are too easily disturbed. However, they can serve as a suitable groundcover if there isn’t much foot traffic or a part of rocky gardens. Indoors, potted plants placed on windowsills work best.
As with all succulents, it’s important not to overwater. Determine if your plant needs water by sticking your finger in the soil up to the second knuckle. Completely dry soil is a clear indication it’s time to water. If it’s still moist, wait a few more days and check again.
When watering, use room temperature water and let the excess drain out of the pot. Do not allow your plant to sit in water for extended periods, as this will lead to root rot.
The rosettes tend to collect water if poured down from the top. Indoors, you don’t want water stagnating in these cavities, so water at the soil level.
The Ghost Plant can tolerate a wide range of temperatures. They are comfortable anywhere from 50°F to 85°F. If exposed to cold temperatures, the plant can survive as long as it offers some protection.
The Ghost Plant grows best in sandy, well-drained soil with a little bit of organic matter. You can use a succulent commercial mix or make your own by mixing 1 part potting soil with 1 part perlite or sand.
When choosing a pot, make sure it has drainage holes to allow excess water to escape. An unglazed clay pot or a plastic container will work well. If you’re growing your plant indoors, make sure the pot is not too big as the Ghost Plant doesn’t like all that unnecessary space.
This plant tolerates average humidity but prefers low humidity conditions. If you live in high humidity, make sure there is good airflow around your plant to prevent rot.
Succulents thrive in low nutrients soils and don’t require fertilizer to thrive. But if you want, you can fertilize your plant once a month in the spring and summer with a succulent fertilizer or a balanced (10-10-10) fertilizer diluted by half. Do not fertilize in autumn and winter as the plant is dormant during these months.
The best way to propagate the Ghost Plant is by offsets or leaf cuttings.
To propagate by offsets:
- Wait until the plant has produced offsets (little replica rosettes identical to the parent rosette that form along the length of the stem).
- Pick an offset that is at least a fourth of the size of the parent rosette. Offsets that are too small have little chance to root.
- Use a shear to separate the offset from the parent plant. Make the cut on the stem instead of the offset and take a small piece of the stem along with it.
- Allow the cutting to callus over for a couple of days.
- Plant the offset in a fresh pot of cactus/succulent mix and water deeply.
- After a couple of weeks, the offset will become established in its new home.
Any leaf that falls off the parent plant has the potential to form its own plant. So even if you do nothing and leave the succulent to its own devices, chances are a new plant will form eventually from a fallen off leaf. The only difference between propagating by leaf division and offsets is that offsets mature quicker. That is the only reason why they’re recommended. You can achieve the same results, albeit slower, with leaves, and the process is the same as well.
Potting and Repotting
The Ghost Plant is a relatively slow grower and can stay in the same pot for years. It’s only when the plant has outgrown its container that it needs to be repotted.
When repotting, make sure to use a pot that is only one size larger than the previous one. If you go up too many sizes, the plant will have too much space and won’t do well. Clay pots work best as they help promote airflow, which is important for succulents. It’s best to repot in the spring or summer when the plant is actively growing.
- Water the plant a few days before repotting to make the process easier.
- Grasp the base of the crown and gently tug at it until the plant comes out.
- If the roots are tightly bound, carefully tease them apart with your fingers.
- Place the plant in its new pot and backfill with a fresh cactus mix.
- Water deeply and allow the plant to dry out completely before watering again.
The Ghost Plant is non-toxic to animals and humans.
Common Pests and Diseases
The Ghost Plant is relatively resistant to pests and diseases but can be susceptible to mealy bugs, aphids, and scale. Treat it with an organic insecticide or neem oil if your plant is infested.
Too much water can lead to root rot which can kill the plant. Make sure the pot has drainage holes and that you’re not overwatering. Allow the soil to dry out completely before watering again.
Shriveled up Leaves
Despite what you might hear, you can’t just forget about a succulent after planting. Tolerance of neglect only holds up to a point. If the plant hasn’t been watered in ages, it will begin to show signs of stress, usually with the shriveling of the leaves. Begin watering the plant according to its care requirements immediately, and it should recover.
Leaves dropping is often a sign of root rot. If this has just begun happening, immediately reduce watering drastically. But if this has been going on for some time, check for rot. Then, remove any affected roots and replant in a fresh pot.
Ghost Plant: How to Grow and Care for Your New Houseplant (Video)
How Big Does A Ghost Plant Get?
The Ghost Plant is a relatively small succulent and only gets to be about 10 inches (25 cm) tall. It can, however, spread out to be about 2 feet (60 cm) wide. Prune away any unneeded growth to retain a small footprint.
Why Is It Called Ghost Plant?
It is called a “Ghost” plant because of the color of its leaves. With maturity, the leaves tend to turn grey-white. Rosettes of these pearly white leaves earn this plant its famous moniker.