Graptopetalum Paraguayense (Ghost Plant) – Care Guide

Mature Graptopetalum paraguayense in bloom

Graptopetalum Paraguayense, also known as the Ghost Plant or Mother of Pearl Plant, is a species native to the northwest Mexico, mainly Tamaulipas, and the southern part of the United States in the state of Texas.

It is known for its good resistance to cold and for growing quite well compared to other similar succulents. It can be found relatively easily in nurseries and is therefore one of the most common succulents among succulent enthusiasts.

In this guide you will learn all the information you need to know about the characteristics, care and propagation of this ghost plant.

Table

Main characteristics

  • Light: semi-shade to full sun
  • Height: grows up to 15-30 cm tall and 20-50 cm wide
  • Soil: fast draining
  • Watering: normal to low due to its thick leaves
  • Minimum temperature: -6°C
  • Propagation: by seeds, offsets, and leaf or stem cuttings
  • Origin: Mexico (Northeast) and United States (Texas)
  • Common names: ghost plant, and mother of pearl plant
  • Price: $4-12 USD

Graptopetalum Paraguayense is part of the Crassulaceae family. It grows in a rosette shape with thick and fleshy leaves that resemble echeverias.

If grown mostly in semi-shade, the also called ghost plant grows with leaves of green shades. When grown in direct sun, it achieves shades from grayish green to gray with some parts with pink tones.

It is a large succulent compared to most, as its rosette can grow up to 15-30 cm tall and 20-50 cm wide.

During spring and summer, it produces white star-shaped flowers, with some reddish parts and yellow shades in the center.

Graptopetalum Paraguayense multicolor in the garden
Photo by @suculentasalenteju

As a curious fact, the Graptopetalum Paraguayense along with the Sedum Stahlii are the succulents that were used in the hybridization process to create the Graptosedum Bronze, one of the best succulents for beginners.

Graptopetalum Paraguayense Care

Light

Like most succulents with similar colors, Graptopetalum Paraguayense needs at least 4 to 8 hours of direct sun a day.

Although, if you are in a place where the temperature does not exceed 38-40°C, it can be left in full sun all day without major problems. If you live in a place where the temperature exceeds this range, it is recommended to place it in a place that provides shade during the intense midday sun.

But always remember that if the nursery where you bought it they had it protected from the sun under a shade net or something similar, it is important that you do not expose it to this amount of sunlight when you put it in your home. You must allow it to acclimate gradually, little by little, until it gets used to it.

Once it is adapted to being in direct sun for a few hours, you can expose it to the normal number of hours.

Watering

As for watering, Cotyledon Tomentosa, like most succulents with thick leaves, stores a significant amount of water in its leaves and stems.

This is why you must be very careful with the watering of this succulent to prevent it from rotting. Only water it when the soil is completely dry and avoid watering if the soil is still wet, as it can harm the plant and lead to rotting.

If you want to intensify its green tones, you can slightly reduce its water intake without allowing it to become dehydrated. For example, if you normally water it every 9 days, you can wait a couple of days between each watering, and this will intensify its color. This technique is called "stressing" the plant.

Note: When the leaves are soft or very wrinkled, it means the plant lacks water. On the other hand, if they are soft and more translucent, it is a sign of over-watering.

Ghost plant in orange pot
Photo by @apartamentosuculento

Soil

Graptopetalum Paraguayense is a succulent that thrives in soil that allows rapid drainage to prevent waterlogging.

The substrate, in addition to soil, should include a mixture of more porous materials such as pumice, gravel or red tezontle. This will prevent the pot from retaining too much water and the plant from rotting.

Note: When changing the substrate or transplanting Graptopetalum Paraguayense, do it with great care because the leaves of this succulent are very fragile and can sometimes fall off just by touching them a little.
Transplanting a mature ghost plant requires a significant amount of effort to support it and move it, so it is likely that several leaves will fall off in the process.

Temperature

The ideal temperature for healthy growth and flowering of Graptopetalum Paraguayense is between 16 °C and 27 °C. However, it can thrive in higher and lower temperatures.

This particular plant is very resistant to low temperatures, so you can grow it without problems even in moderately cold places.

It can withstand temperatures close to -6 °C for a few days without major problems. There are even records of ghost plants that supported up to -12 °C but not for an extended period (no more than 1 or 2 days).

If exposed to these low temperatures for a longer period, it is most likely to die quickly.

Graptopetalum Paraguayense propagation

Graptopetalum Paraguayense can be propagated by seeds, shoots, leaves and stem cuttings. The most common and effective options are propagation by cuttings and shoots, while the latter is a natural process and cannot be controlled beyond taking good care of your plant.

It is also common to do so with its leaves, since the ghost plant reproduces well through this method, only that growth is slower.

There are even people that choose to use seed propagation, but this method is not commonly used as it is it is more complicated and time consuming than the previous ones.

The advantage of seed propagation is that it can be done en masse since you are not limited to cuttings or shoots that your succulent can generate.

Below, I explain how to reproduce this succulent by each method:

Leaf propagation

Graptopetalum Paraguayense can be effectively propagated from leaves, although it is a slower process compared to stem cuttings and offshoots methods.

Graptopetalum Paraguayense leaf propagation
Photo by @stayrooteddesigns

Here is a step-by-step explanation of how to propagate this ghost plant from leaves:

  1. Detach the leaf: You must carefully remove the leaf, making sure to completely remove it from its base and leaving no fragments on the stem. It is best to use a lower leaf. Try to do it as if you were turning it - from left to right and vice versa - the margin of error is much lower than when you simply pull it with force and in one direction.
  2. Place it in a pot or container: Place the leaf in a pot or container that has been previously disinfected with alcohol. The substrate should be at least 4 centimeters deep. When you put the leaf, place it upside down to allow the roots to grow, they can penetrate under the substrate and avoid direct sunlight. Another option is to slightly bury the leaf in the substrate. If you do it this way, you would avoid covering the roots in step 4.
  3. Put the pot in a place with indirect light: Although in its normal state this succulent does not have problems with direct sunlight, when you are propagating it from leaves, it is not recommended to expose it, especially in the early stages of its growth.
  4. Cover the roots and water the substrate: When the roots begin to grow, they must be covered with substrate and given normal care: good lighting and watering every time the substrate is dry.
  5. If you propagated several, transplant to individual pots: Over time, the plant will grow more until it has a stem and the mother leaf will wither and drop away naturally. Once it has shed, if you propagated it with other leaves, it will be time to transplant it to a small individual pot for it to continue its growth with more space. If you propagated it alone, simply remove the mother leaf to avoid pests and continue giving it normal care recommended for this succulent.

Note: In case you made the wrong cut, and a portion of the leaf remains on the stem, the reproduction will not work. Therefore, you will have to cut another leaf to propagate and dispose of the one you cut wrongly.

Offshoots or pups propagation

When given the proper care and conditions, Graptopetalum Paraguayense occasionally produces shoots. These are small fully formed plants that grow at the base of the main plant or mother plant.

To propagate the ghost plant by offshoots, follow these steps:

  1. Choose the shoots: Try to choose the most mature shoots, even if they already have some roots on the stem. These shoots are easier to detach and will grow faster.
  2. Remove the shoots: Carefully remove them from the mother plant using disinfected scissors or cutters. Some shoots may come off just by gently twisting them. In any case, always be careful not to damage the roots.
  3. Plant the shoots: Plant them in a small pot with common succulent soil, one pot for each sprout. For your soil mix, remember to follow the recommendations mentioned above.
  4. Water the substrate: You should water the substrate generously and wait until it is completely dry to water again. Some people recommend watering with a spray bottle during the first 2 or 3 weeks, especially for the shoots that do not have roots.

The ideal time to transplant offshoots is during spring, as it is the season when they grow and reproduce the fastest. However, transplanting can also be done in other seasons, but growth may be slower.

This method, being small fully formed shoots, is very effective and enables the plant to quickly adapt to its new environment.

Stem cuttings propagation

This method is the most effective for propagating Graptopetalum Paraguayense, excluding shoots propagation, which is a natural process, and we cannot do much to control it.

Stem cuttings, being pairs of leaves along with their stem, usually grow roots in a short period of time.

Offshoots propagation of the ghost plant
Photo by @meu_mundo_jardim

Follow these steps to propagate the black rose succulent by stem cuttings:

  1. Choose the cutting: When selecting a cutting to propagate, it is advisable to choose one that is not too small, it is best to select a well-formed and mature cutting, this will promote easier and faster root development.
  2. Separate the cutting: Once chosen, separate the cutting very carefully using a knife, scissors or cutter previously sterilized with alcohol. It is important to ensure that the cut made on the cutting is as straight as possible, this facilitates the wound healing process and helps the cutting to generate roots faster once planted in the soil.
  3. Remove leaves from the stem’s base: Alternatively, once you cut the cutting, remove the lower leaves to leave the base of the stem free to facilitate root generation, with 1 or 2 cm will be enough.
  4. Let the wound dry: As the wound remains moist, it is advisable to let the cutting dry for 1 or 2 days until its callus forms. To promote healing, you can leave it in a well-ventilated area, away from direct sunlight and in a vertical position, such as hanging or propped up.
  5. Place the cutting into a pot: Once the cutting has healed, place it into a pot filled with soil. Wait 5-7 days before watering to allow the cutting to develop stronger and healthier roots while continuing to heal.

After the first watering, continue to care for the plant as previously mentioned.

What are your thoughts on Graptopetalum Paraguayense?

As you could see, Graptopetalum Paraguayense is a beautiful succulent with leaves of uncommon shades that gave it its nickname of ghost plant.

Additionally, it withstands cold very well, something not so easy to find in this type of plants. Which makes it an excellent option for those people who live in places with this type of climate and who normally cannot grow succulents.

If you liked this article, consider sharing it with other succulent enthusiasts on your social networks. We will be thrilled if it reaches a wider audience and provides more people with valuable insights on the cultivation and propagation of Graptopetalum Paraguayense, the ghost plant.

All the best taking care of your plants!

Sources and cover image:

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Luis Camacho

I'm passionate about traveling, trekking and gardening. In this blog i want to share everything I learn throughout my journey and help you get the best of your plants.

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