How to Grow Gorgeous Ghost Plants: Planting, Care, and Growing Tips

Succulents have soared in popularity in recent years, and it’s no surprise. These easy-to-care-for plants can thrive even with neglect. Pink succulents, in particular, have gained traction as striking indoor plants for their unique color. Among these pinkish-hued succulents, the ghost plant stands out as a beloved favorite among gardeners.

What Makes Ghost Plants Special?

Ghost plants, also known as Grapetolpetalum paraguayense, can display beautiful pinkish-yellow tones under optimal lighting conditions. These succulents prefer full to partial sunlight and develop vibrant pink foliage in dry and hot environments. Cooler temperatures and more shade result in a soothing blueish-gray color. Their adaptability, striking color scheme, and overall popularity make ghost plants a top choice for indoor gardens. Are you considering adding one to your home? Read on to discover how to successfully plant, grow, and care for ghost plants in your own space!

Unveiling the Ghost Plant

The ghost plant, scientifically known as Grapetolpetalum paraguayense, is a medium-sized flowering succulent. Its rosettes can reach up to 4 inches in width, 12 inches in height, and trail up to 36 inches, depending on the specific variety. What makes ghost plants particularly appealing is their forgiving nature when it comes to adapting to different environmental conditions. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced plant enthusiast, these succulents are perfect for both indoor and outdoor cultivation.

Belonging to the Crassulaceae family, which also includes popular plants like jade plants, kalanchoe, and sedum, ghost plants feature rosettes of thick, fleshy leaves in shades of grayish blue or reddish yellow. Occasionally, they produce scapes adorned with white to yellow star-shaped flowers. These unique features make ghost plants a stunning addition to any desert plant collection.

Mother of Pearl Plant With Thick Leaves

Origin and Native Habitat

Ghost plants originate from central and eastern Mexico, where they thrive under bright sunlight and warm temperatures. However, these adaptable succulents can easily acclimate to lower light levels and cooler temperatures, depending on the season. Their ability to adjust to changing conditions makes them excellent candidates for indoor cultivation.

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Graptopetalum paraguayense grows in its native area of Mexico

Selecting the Perfect Ghost Plant

Choosing a healthy plant is crucial to ensure a successful gardening experience. Whether you’re purchasing from a garden center or receiving starts from a friend or neighbor, these tips will help you make the right selection:

Choose a Reputable Garden Center

While the plants at your local grocery store floral department may be tempting, it’s best to invest in plants from a reputable garden center or nursery. These plants are typically better cared for and have higher chances of thriving. Be aware that ghost plants are sometimes confused with the Graptosedum ‘Ghosty’ plant, so double-check the label.

Check for Symptoms of Overwatering

Inspect the leaves of potential ghost plants. Are they firm and fleshy, or do they feel soft and squishy? Soft and squishy leaves are a sign of overwatering, indicating potential rot. Additionally, check the soil and pot for signs of excessive moisture, such as a foul smell or standing water. Avoid plants that show these symptoms, as they may be difficult to revive.

Look for Insect Pests

It’s important to ensure your new plant is free of pests. Examine the leaves and stems for signs of mealybugs, scale insects, spider mite webbing, or aphids. If you spot any of these pests, it’s best to choose a different plant. Pests can quickly spread to your other houseplants, causing damage and frustration. To be safe, isolate your new ghost plant from your existing plants for a week or two before integrating them.

Mastering the Art of Ghost Plant Care and Growing

Growing ghost plants successfully requires attention to various factors, including light, water, soil, temperature, and fertilization. By understanding their needs, you can ensure that your ghost plant thrives in your care.

Light: An Essential Ingredient

Ghost plants are native to deserts, so they crave intense sunlight to exhibit their dramatic reddish-yellow hues. To achieve these vibrant colors, they require a minimum of 6 hours of full sun daily. Ample sunlight also helps them maintain a compact and sturdy growth habit. However, their adaptability allows them to thrive in lower light conditions, leading to a unique light blue or gray tone. Keep this in mind when deciding where to place your ghost plant.

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Watering: The Golden Balance

Ghost plants have shallow root systems that naturally stay near the soil surface. In their natural habitat, this allows them to quickly absorb rainwater during sporadic desert rainfall. When watering your ghost plant, ensure thorough irrigation so that water reaches the entire soil profile. However, avoid overwatering, as it can lead to root rot. Always check the soil moisture before watering and adjust accordingly.

Soil: The Foundation of Success

Selecting the right potting mix is crucial for the well-being of your ghost plant. Opt for a commercially available desert potting mix, as it provides the necessary balance of organic components (such as peat moss or compost) and inorganic ingredients (such as perlite or pumice). These ingredients promote proper water retention, create essential pore space for oxygen availability, and help maintain pH levels. Furthermore, choose an unglazed clay pot with proper drainage holes to prevent waterlogging and facilitate air circulation around the roots.

Temperature: Finding the Sweet Spot

Ghost plants favor warm temperatures, ideally around 75°F or higher. However, they can withstand temperatures as low as 20°F. Their ability to adapt to temperature fluctuations makes them versatile houseplants. While you don’t need to adjust your home’s thermostat to extreme temperatures for your ghost plants, be mindful of providing them with a comfortable environment.

Fertilization: The Right Nutrients

Ghost plants require minimal fertilization. If you initially planted them in high-quality cactus potting mix, the organic components in the soil will provide adequate nutrition as they break down. However, if your plant needs an extra boost, opt for commercially available cactus and succulent fertilizers. Follow the label instructions carefully to avoid over-fertilization, which can harm the plant.

Maintenance: Keeping Your Ghost Plant Happy

Maintaining a ghost plant is generally low maintenance. Regularly check the soil moisture, ensure sufficient lighting, and select an appropriately sized pot relative to the plant’s size. Additionally, occasional activities such as pruning and repotting are essential for long-term plant health.

Pruning: Shaping for Success

Pruning your ghost plant helps maintain its size and shape. If your plant becomes leggy due to insufficient light, you can trim it back. Late winter or early spring is an ideal time for pruning, as the plant prepares for new growth. Remember not to remove more than one-third of the top growth to avoid stressing the plant.

Repotting: The Right Space Matters

Ghost plants do not require frequent repotting. However, every few years, you may need to transfer your plant to a larger pot as it outgrows its current one. When repotting, ensure the new pot has proper drainage holes and use a well-draining potting mix. This allows for optimal root health and prevents waterlogging.

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Propagation: Expanding Your Ghost Plant Family

Ghost plants can be easily propagated vegetatively, meaning you can start new plants from leaves, stems, or offsets of older plants. Here are three common propagation methods:

Leaf Cuttings: A Simple Starting Point

Take a leaf from your ghost plant and insert it into soil. Over time, new plants will sprout from the base of the leaf, eventually growing into independent plants. Allow the new growth to mature before transplanting it to its own pot.

Stem Cuttings: Growing New Shoots

For stem cuttings, remove a 3-4″ long callused stem with leaves and insert it into moist cactus media. Ensure that the stem stands upright and is securely packed. Once roots have formed, you can transplant the new plant into its own pot.

Off Shoots: Nurturing New Beginnings

Ghost plants often produce “pups” or offshoots at the base of the mother plant. These small plants are genetically identical to the parent plant and can be separated and planted independently. Gently remove the pup from the mother plant, let it callus for a few days, and then firmly press it into a pot with damp cactus mix. Carefully monitor the soil moisture as the pup establishes its own root system.

Pests: A Common Challenge

While ghost plants are generally resilient, they may encounter pests such as mealybugs, spider mites, or aphids. To combat these issues, apply insecticidal soap or neem oil. Alternatively, you can use a cotton swab dipped in a diluted rubbing alcohol solution to dislodge pests. Regularly inspect your plants for signs of infestation to prevent these pests from attacking other plants.

Black Aphids crawling on a Succulent Leaf

Conclusion

Mastering the art of growing ghost plants is not only rewarding but also quite simple. By providing the right balance of light, water, soil, temperature, and nutrients, you can ensure their thriving success. Whether you’re a seasoned plant enthusiast or a beginner, ghost plants are an excellent addition to any indoor or outdoor garden. Their unique coloration and adaptability make them fascinating and beautiful specimens to behold.

For more information and to purchase ghost plants, visit the Ames Farm Center. Happy gardening!