The graptopetalum filiferum, also referred to as echeveria graptopetalum filiferum, echeveria filiferum, or graptoveria filiferum, makes an excellent houseplant and can grow to be quite large, especially in its native habitat in Mexico, Central America, and South America. But it can also be propagated and grown as a small succulent that you can enjoy on your desk or windowsill.
Using the right graptopetalum filiferum care practices will help your plant grow into an attractive and hardy indoor houseplant.
A low-maintenance succulent perfect for indoor container gardens, graptopetalum filiferum is also known as ghost plant or ghost baby and offers many of the same care benefits of other low-light loving plants.
Because it’s so common, there are several varieties of Graptopetalum filiferum, so if you’re looking to propagate this type of succulent from cuttings, take some time to learn about your specific variety to ensure success with propagation.
No matter how you decide to grow it, here are some tips and information about graptopetalum filiferum care that will make it last longer, look better, and stay healthier.
Origin and distribution
The ghost plant, Graptopetalum filiferum, is native to Mexico. It’s a succulent that requires little water and no direct sunlight. The plant can tolerate temperatures down to 20 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 6 Celsius). Mature plants grow up to 8 inches tall (20 centimeters) and sport fuzzy-looking leaves.
This species was first described in 1825 by German botanist Carl Sigismund Kunth. The name Graptopetalum comes from grapto, meaning to scratch, and petalon, which means leaf blade. Filiferum refers to its threadlike leave tips.
Because of its hardiness, Graptopetalum filiferum has become popular as an indoor potted plant for colder climates. It’s also grown outdoors in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9 through 11 as an ornamental ground cover or container specimen. In these areas, it can be grown year-round outside if protected from frost.
Graptopetalum filiferum care information
Graptopetalums are often grown as houseplants, with bright indirect light, high humidity, and even watering providing excellent conditions for their survival. High temperatures can cause leaf drops, so it’s a good idea to grow them so they won’t be exposed to hot drafts or direct sunlight. Watering should be done thoroughly but infrequently, keeping in mind that overwatering can cause root rot, which will kill your plant.
You can place graptopetalums outdoors during warm summer months in partial shade or filtered sun. However, they grow best in bright light and need full sun to thrive indoors. Avoid direct sunlight, as it will scorch foliage. For outdoor plants, provide partial shade or filtered sun during the summer and fall months. New leafy growth generally appears in springtime. During winter, graptopetalums enjoy being placed in a sunny window with an east- or west-facing exposure.
Graptopetalums are not heavy feeders, but you should use a well-draining potting mix for best results. A good general potting mix is one that’s composed of 50 percent medium bark, 30 percent coarse perlite or pumice, and 20 percent sphagnum peat moss.
Avoid brands that contain chemical fertilizer ingredients. You can purchase pre-mixed potting soil at most garden centers. Choose a container with drainage holes in its bottom to prevent water from pooling and causing root rot, which is common in graptopetalums.
Water your Graptopetalum filiferum regularly, but do not over-water. It is best to avoid wetting its leaves. If you have a dish garden or planter that drains easily, keep it filled with water at all times for best results. Be sure to use distilled water and allow standing water to evaporate before adding more. Allow your soil to dry slightly between watering during hot spells in summer and when dormant in winter.
Graptopetalums need regular feeding to keep them healthy. Use a water-soluble fertilizer in spring and summer. Apply at half strength once a month or use a slow-release fertilizer that will last for several months. Slow-release fertilizers are especially good for container plants since you won’t have to deal with leaching and salts burning your plant’s roots.
In fall, stop fertilizing altogether and let your graptopetalum rest through winter. In early spring, resume normal feeding schedule. Be careful not to overfeed; too much fertilizer can kill your plant!
Graptopetalums are xerophytes and thrive best when kept in an environment with a stable temperature between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. While some graptopetalums can tolerate cooler temperatures, these plants do best when kept in warmer conditions.
If you live in a particularly cold climate or one that experiences extreme seasonal changes, it’s best to keep your plant indoors year-round. If you choose to grow your graptopetalum outdoors during warmer months, be sure to bring it inside before frost hits.
Graptopetalums are warm-weather succulents, and prefer to live in high-humidity areas. Place your Graptopetalum plants on a tray with pebbles and water at room temperature. The water will evaporate from underneath and make a warm, moist environment for your plant. If you don’t have an extra tray, you can also place them on top of wet paper towels until they dry out.
The ideal humidity range is between 50% and 70%. If your Graptopetalums are kept below 50%, they will begin to lose their leaves. If you keep them above 70%, they will have a hard time transpiring water, which can cause rot. Be sure to check your plants regularly, and try to maintain a steady humidity level.
If you live in an arid area, it’s best to place your Graptopetalums outside during the summer months when temperatures aren’t too hot or cold.
Pinching off tips can encourage a plant to grow more branches. You can also use pruning shears to trim back long stems and make your plant appear bushier and fuller. This process is known as stooling, but it also refers to cutting back all of a particular stem.
Pruning may encourage new growth, so be careful not to overdo it and damage your plant! A good rule of thumb is to only remove up to one-third of any stem at once. The exception would be if you’re trying to thin out a particularly thick plant; in that case, you can remove up to half at once (but no more).
When to repot
This plant has a tendency to overgrow, so it needs to be repotted every two or three years, depending on its size. Repotting into a new container that’s only slightly larger than its current one will help maintain even growth.
Make sure to use a well-draining soil with 50 percent potting mix and 50 percent peat moss for adequate drainage when repotting. It also requires moderate light and high humidity levels, making it ideal for growing indoors in a terrarium or similar enclosure. It can also be grown outdoors in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9 through 11 if provided protection from frost.
Like many desert plants, graptopetalums go dormant during their coldest months. It’s not known exactly how long they last in dormancy, some stay dormant for as little as three months while others can last up to a year. If your plant goes dormant, there’s no need to worry; just store it in a plastic bag in a cool area and wait for it to grow again in the springtime.
The best way to tell if your plant is ready to come out of dormancy is by looking at its leaves; if they are shriveled or dry, then it’s time to bring them back indoors. To do so, simply remove any dead leaves and place them in an east-facing window with indirect sunlight. Keep watering only when you see new growth (which will be very slow). Once new growth appears, move your plant into direct sunlight until all danger of frost has passed.
Graptopetalum filiferum flower & fragrance
The flowers of graptopetalums are spectacularly colorful and beautiful, but with a tendency to be lightly fragrant, they have become popular as potted plants. The most common color is white, but they also come in shades of red, orange, and yellow. These are annual plants that grow 2 to 4 feet tall.
These plants grow slowly, often taking over a year to reach maturity. You can speed up growth by cutting them back to one or two pairs of leaves per stem and trimming off any side shoots or extra foliage you find. Since these are succulents, they will benefit from regular watering and don’t need to be overwatered. Once mature, they will only need occasional watering in times of extreme drought.
Graptopetalum filiferum plants are toxic, so you shouldn’t consume them or leave them within reach of pets and children. Keep any Graptopetalums out of reach of animals.
USDA hardiness zones
Graptopetalum filiferum thrives in USDA hardiness zones 8 through 11. You can grow it outdoors year-round in these areas, but you’ll need to protect it from frost when temperatures dip below freezing.
For optimal growth, keep your graptopetalum indoors during winter and provide it with bright light and plenty of humidity. This plant also requires a well-draining soil that’s high in organic matter, so mix equal parts sand and peat moss into your potting soil before planting.
Pests and diseases
Graptopetalum filiferum is sometimes susceptible to mealybugs and spider mites, so be on the watch for these. It’s also vulnerable to stem rot. If you can quarantine new plants for a few weeks to a month before introducing them into your collection, you’ll lessen your risk of these problems.
The other big thing you need to do is provide an environment with proper drainage and ample airflow, especially if you live in a place where air conditioning isn’t common or isn’t always available. Graptopetalums are native to Mexico, which has warm days but cool nights.
To mimic that natural environment, keep your plant away from heat sources like windows or vents and make sure it gets plenty of fresh air at all times.
A new plant is a great gift for any time of year. If you’re looking to give someone a new addition to their garden, consider gifting them graptopetalum filiferum. It’s a beautiful succulent that only needs minimal care to thrive and impress. The name might be long, but it grows easily in most conditions. With proper light, temperature, and nutrient requirements met, your recipient will have years of enjoyment with these plants!