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Ghost Plant – Graptopetalum paraguayense

Ghost plant, Graptopetalum paraguayense, is a remarkably easy plant to grow. It is happiest in containers left undisturbed. Because it is brittle, do not plant it where it will be bumped or jostled.

Perfectly happy outside of its native Mexico, ghost plant can be grown in sun or shade. Sun is preferred. Cold hardiness is excellent, to 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Desert plants face not only blazing heat but extreme fluctuations to cold. I remember motorcycling through Arizona and New Mexico and reaching my destination at night shaking so badly from the cold that I could barely hold the handlebars.

Ghost plant
Ghost plant – Graptopetalum paraguayense.

Ghost plant is brittle by nature

The foliage is subtle, with colors ranging from white to grey to soft lavender. The more direct sun you have, the whiter or more yellow the foliage. Partial shade leans towards a bluish tinge, as shown in the photographs above.

As expected from a succulent drainage should be excellent. The recommended way to cultivate it is in containers, especially terra-cotta. Planting in containers will show ghost plant at its best, will ensure good drainage, and perhaps most importantly will help with ghost plant’s one drawback: the species is fragile.

Casually bump into Graptopetalum and inevitably a few leaves or perhaps a stem will break off. Not to worry, as ghost plant makes up for its fragile tendency by being extremely easy to root; leaves can simply be inserted 1/4 of the way into the soil and new plants result.

Graptopetalum naturally self-propagates when leaves fall and subsequently root themselves in the surrounding soil.

Graptopetalum paraguayense is friendly to the forgetful gardener

If you are the type to water irregularly or not at all, then it is a superb addition to the garden. It would be the rare gardener whoever had to supplement natural rainfall with watering. There are some plants that thrive on benign neglect, and ghost plant leads the class in this respect. If you start to lose leaves your first instinct should be over-watering. My plant sits happily in the garden and I have not watered it in years.

Ensure it gets at least a few hours of sun, make sure the dog doesn’t bump into it, and you are set.

The leaves are a dusky grey because they are covered with pruinose. This dusty coating is found in both plants and animals. Damselflies and true dragonflies are examples of insects whose wings have prumescence.

Debra Lee Baldwin has excellent photographs of ghost plants of various ages and coloration.

ghost plant - Graptopetalum paraguayense
Ghost plant (Graptopetalum paraguayense) is superb in containers.

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