Ghost Plant

Ghost plant (Graptopetalum paraguayense) is a cold-hardy succulent with pale gray or whitish leaves on sprawling stems. Its versatile growth will help it stand out in your landscape as an unusual groundcover, cascading down a container, or even as a houseplant.

Ghost plant cascading down a pedestalCharacteristics

A powdery coating called pruinose covers this plant's leaves, giving them their ghostly look. This coating is delicate and can be damaged by handling. Fleshy, pointed leaves grow along brittle, trailing stems and form rosettes ranging in color from pale blue gray (in bright shade) to yellow pink (in full hot sun). In mid-spring, star-shaped white flowers marked with red rise up on flower stalks.

Native to Mexico, this low-growing succulent can get between 6 inches and 1 foot tall and grows in clumps that are 14 to 20 inches wide, making it useful as a groundcover in areas with no foot traffic. But its sprawling nature also allows it to drape over containers or walls.

The hardy ghost plant can be grown throughout the state, handling temperatures as low as 10° Fahrenheit.

Planting and Care

Because of Florida's humid, wet climate, these plants must be planted in soil with good drainage. For this reason, succulents like ghost plant are often planted in containers, both inside and outdoors, or in rock gardens.

When planting your ghost plant in a container, make sure you choose a well-drained potting media and a container with drainage holes. Try mixing ghost plant with other forms of succulents for an intersting yet low-maintenance planting.

Or you can incorporate your ghost plant into a rock garden. You can create a rock garden by piling large rocks like limestone as the base and filling in gaps with smaller stones, gravel, and pockets of soil for planting.  

Ghost plant thrives in sunlight, so choose a location where it will receive full or half-day sun.  When grown as a houseplant, keep it near a south, east, or west window.

Some people prefer to keep their ghost plant trimmed to create a fuller shape. For a different look, you can allow it to get a little "leggy"—this allows the twisting stems to gently climb out of the pot, cascading down. Be sure to allow the soil to almost completely dry between waterings.

Like most succulents, ghost plant is very drought-tolerant; if your plant begins losing an excessive number of leaves, you may be overwatering. But leaves will drop naturally; this is how the plant spreads. Ghost plant self-propagates as leaves break off the plant and fall to the soil below. If you want to try propagating ghost plant yourself, give a fallen leaf some time to form a callous over the break-off point before planting it. This makes ghost plant one of the easiest succulents to propagate, making it a great pass-along plant for friends and relatives.

For more information on growing ghost plant or other succulents contact your local county Extension office.

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