In this post, we’re going to be talking about Graptopetalum Paraguayense, also known as the “Ghost Plant” or “Mother of Pearl” plant. We will look at the unique characteristics and growth habit, and also share some care tips when it comes to this exceptional and visually stunning succulent.
This member of the Crassulaceae family is native to Mexico. First described by T.B. Shepherd in 1912, initially as Echeveria Weinbergii, it’s now recognized as a Graptopetalum. Found in cultivation in Tamaulipas, Mexico, it’s not a wild species. It features thin-stemmed flower stalks with marked white flowers, typical of the Graptopetalum genus.
This succulent boasts wide rosettes with grayish-green leaves, changing color in different lighting. Individual leaves are thick and succulent with open flat surfaces and small pointy tips. The nickname “ghost plant” or “ghosty” comes from the light white dusting of Farina on Paraguayense’s leaves, which acts like a sunscreen for plants to protect against sunburn.
This is also called the porcelain plant because the thick, beautiful leaves drop off when they’re full of water, and those leaves will propagate easily.
The ghost plant has a spreading growth habit, growing upright before trailing down as it matures which makes it a superb ground cover and rockery plant. The rosettes grow to about 5 inches wide and the rosette stems slowly elongate and grow along the ground.
All of them are characterized by being creeping plants that invade a large part of the surface, grow quite easily, and have quite thick leaves. Despite this, they love water, and from my point of view, they channel it to grow and grow, because they are quite fast.
People use Graptopetalums like Paraguayense as hanging plants, creating stunning displays. It can also be used to cover small areas of ground to create beautiful swatches of color.
The Paraguayense usually blooms in late winter and spring. The star-shaped flowers come up on tall, slender stalks above the foliage. They usually have 5 to 7 white or yellowish petals with a bright yellow or orange center.
It’s these flowers that give the plant its name, which comes from Greek words: ‘graptos’ meaning “marked” or “inscribed,” and ‘petalon’ which means “petals.” It refers to the markings on the flower petals of many species in this genus.
While they may not be the most prominent feature of the plant, they do possess some decorative appeal. However, if you prefer, you have the option to remove it and leave only the central rosette, according to your taste.
Ghost Plant (Graptopetalum Paraguayense) care
Graptopetalum Paraguayense is one of the easiest succulents you will find in terms of care because it also grows very quickly and spreads very easily. Let’s take a closer look at its requirements regarding, potting mix, sun exposure, watering, propagation tips, and problem-solving.
Graptopetalum Paraguayense is best grown in a sunny spot with at least 5 hours of direct sun followed by bright shade. It can tolerate shade or semi-shade for some hours; however, if you leave it for too long without direct sun exposure, the plant will become leggy, or in other words, elongate.
This is a result of the plant looking for the sun’s rays. Additionally, the color will fade into a plain green, and growth will not be as compact.
In my experience, this plant will not grow well indoors and is very likely to eventually die unless it’s grown on a very sunny windowsill. Paraguayense will grow well in the garden as well as in pots. If grown in small pots, make sure to repot every year or two.
The ghost plant is very drought-tolerant and will survive not being watered for extended periods. It is also quite tolerant of rain, excess water, and humidity as long as it is planted in a well-draining potting mix and the pot has drainage holes.
During dry spells or if you’ve grown it undercover, allow the potting mix to dry out between waterings. Carefully manage watering by checking the bottom leaves’ firmness, and ensuring the soil is dry before adding water. Being a big-leaf succulent, overwatering can lead to leaf drop and rot.
Temperature and Humidity
Graptopetalum Paraguayense tolerates temperatures between 40 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit quite well. What doesn’t go too well for it is frost. For this reason, keep your succulents next to a wall that protects them, and cover them during the winter with a special blanket for little plants that you can buy at any nursery.
Contrary to what the majority of websites say about Paraguayense and its tolerance to frost, Paraguayense’s leaves are way too fleshy to be okay with frost. Also, if during winter nights the temperatures drop excessively, it is best to put it indoors to protect it.
Graptopetalum Paraguayense doesn’t have strict requirements for the substrate. A mix of 7 parts inorganic to 3 parts organic material is suitable, but some growers prefer pure organic material. In tropical climates, regulate watering, as this succulent is hardy but benefits from well-draining soil. The recommended mix is 7 parts pumice to 3 parts coco peat or a combination of coco coir, carbonaceous hull, or vermiculite.
Additionally, consider the planting location, whether it’s in a pot or the ground, and the sun exposure it will get. Based on these factors, like other succulents, opt for a substrate with varying drainage.
For instance, if it will be exposed to rain all year round, choose a highly draining substrate to prevent water accumulation in the roots. Conversely, if it’s sheltered, you can use a slightly denser substrate without worrying about your Paraguayense perishing. As mentioned earlier, it isn’t picky about the soil type, and the better you care for it, the more splendid and flourishing it will become.
The best time to fertilize these succulents is during their growth period, from spring to mid-summer. Use a specific fertilizer for succulents mixed in the irrigation water (according to the doses indicated by the producer).
When they are very small offspring, I usually fertilize them with worm fertilizer. This provides them with all the necessary nutrients for the plant to develop correctly and much faster than if you don’t add anything.
Fertilizing during winter does not make sense, as the plant is not very active. I am not a fan of fertilizing my succulents regularly. What I do is put worm hummus or any other natural fertilizer mixed with the substrate, so that the plant takes the nutrients it needs at all times.
Pests and diseases
Although Graptopetalum Paraguayense is a hardy plant, it does attract pretty much all the succulent pests. While the pests can do damage, this plant usually recovers quite fast.
Aphids usually appear with the flowers and can then migrate down to the rosettes. If the infestation on the flowers is bad, simply cut them off or treat them with pyrethrum spray.
Mealybugs tend to hide between the leaves and also attack the roots; watch out for their cottony sacks and any distorted growth, as they will wreak havoc on your plants.
Slugs, snails, caterpillars, and grasshoppers also have the succulent on their menu; the damage will usually look something like this.
Minor problems like edema might also occur in humid conditions, but it’s mostly an aesthetic concern.
How to propagate Graptopetalum Paraguayense
I think there is no other succulent faster than Graptopetalum in terms of propagation. Any cutting, leaf, or shoot that you separate from the mother plant will grow at an incredible speed. Seed propagation is also possible, but in my opinion, a bit pointless as it takes a long time to see results.
It makes more sense to propagate leaves if you want loads. For best results, all propagation should be done in spring and summer during the hottest months.
To propagate Graptopetalum Paraguayense, shield cuttings, and leaf babies from intense afternoon sun to prevent burning. Place them under 30% shade cloth, which deflects harmful UV rays while ensuring ample light.
Allow cuttings to air-dry for 24 hours after making the cut to seal wounds and avoid disease or fungus. Use a succulent potting mix for planting, though Paraguayense is resilient and can thrive in various soils.
Plant cuttings directly in the garden or create a full pot by placing multiple cuttings together. Dig a small hole in the middle for the stalk. Water when the potting mix becomes dry after planting to aid root establishment and prevent drying out.
From just one leaf, multiple heads can sprout, transforming into robust and stunning plants in a few months. In addition, it grows very quickly, and it is not like other succulents where you have to wait a long time for the plant to reach a certain size.
Repotting and Transplanting
The best time to transplant the Graptopetalum paraguayense is when you see that the roots emerge from the bottom of the pot. Although you can do it at any time of year, it is always recommended to wait, and do it in a season when it is hot. Like any other succulent, it is very sensitive to breakage, and humidity and that could lead to rotting of the plant.
Is Graptopetalum Paraguayense toxic?
Fortunately, this plant is safe to have around dogs, cats, other pets, livestock, and kids. Apparently, its leaves are consumed in some countries, and sold in grocery stores, but I’d suggest doing some additional research before you tuck in.
Overall, Graptopetalum Paraguayense is a resilient, beautiful succulent suitable for any collection. If you have anything to add or if you have a question, you can leave a comment below.
How Big Does Graptopetalum Paraguayense Get?
In good growing conditions, the florets of Graptopetalum Paraguayense can grow up to 5 inches or even wider. The entire plant can spread, reaching a wingspan of 3 feet.
Is Ghost Plant Edible?
In some countries, Graptopetalum Paraguayense leaves are consumed and sold in grocery stores, resembling vegetables. They can be eaten both raw and cooked. However, caution is advised, as leaves from plants treated with insecticides can be poisonous. Even without insecticides, consuming large amounts of the leaves may pose a risk. Therefore, trying only a small quantity is recommended.
Is Ghost Plant Good for Home?
Due to its striking appearance and ease of care, Graptopetalum Paraguayense is an ideal hanging succulent for balconies or terraces.
Why Is Graptopetalum Called Ghost Plant?
The nickname “ghost plant” comes from the Farina on Paraguayense’s leaves, which acts like a sunscreen, protecting the plant against sunburn. It is also called Mother of Pearl because of its bluish-gray color.
What Are the Different Types of Graptopetalum?
Besides Graptopetalum Paraguayense, other types include:
- Graptopetalum Amethystinum
- Graptopetalum Superbum
- Graptopetalum Pentandrum
- Graptopetalum Bellum
- Graptopetalum Murasaki
- Graptopetalum Mendozae
- Graptopetalum Purple Delight
Where Did Graptopetalum Paraguayense Come From?
Graptopetalum Paraguayense, also known as the ghost plant, ghosty, mother of pearl, is a succulent native to Mexico.