Graptopetalum mirinae is a succulent native to Baja California and parts of Central America, like Mexico and others. Growing Graptopetalum mirinae isn’t complicated, but there are some things you should know about its care and propagation to be sure you’re doing everything correctly, so your plant lives as long as possible and stays healthy throughout its life cycle.
An epiphytic succulent native to Mexico, Graptopetalum mirinae looks like an agave but it belongs to the Crassulaceae family, which includes many popular houseplants such as jade plants and Christmas cactus. With its glossy green leaves and pinkish-white flowers, Graptopetalum mirinae is an attractive plant that thrives in bright light and cool temperatures.
While this plant may be tempting to add to your collection, it’s important to make sure that you give it the right care before you take it home.
Origin and distribution
Graptopetalum mirinae is native to northern Mexico. It is a common species in central and western Mexico, where it grows at elevations up to 2000 m (6500 ft.). It is also known from a few localities in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Coahuila, and Nuevo Leon. The plant has been widely cultivated for many years. In cultivation, it ranges from purple to red color forms; both flower types appear on one plant.
Some plants produce flowers with dark pink centers surrounded by white petals. Others have white centers surrounded by dark pink petals. The flowers are about 1/2 inch wide, with 5-7 petals each about 1/4 inch long. They are produced mainly during the spring and summer months but may continue into fall if night temperatures remain warm enough through September or October. Flowers are followed by round fruits that turn black when ripe, splitting open to reveal shiny black seeds.
Graptopetalum mirinae propagation
One way to grow graptopetalum mirinae is from stem cuttings. Take 2-inch long stem tip cuttings in early spring or late summer. Place them in a glass of water, just like African violets. Use a rooting hormone (easy to find at your local garden center) when taking your cuttings, but only if you’re trying to root in water, otherwise it may slow down new root growth.
Once roots have formed, pot up your cutting into its own small container with 1/2 inch of perlite for drainage. A planting medium can be used instead of perlite as well. Water as needed to keep the soil slightly moist until roots are established. Once rooted, transplant into a larger container with a well-draining potting mix that has been amended with organic matter such as composted bark or leaf mold.
Keep the soil lightly moist throughout the summer months; water less during winter months when plants go dormant. Feed every two weeks with a balanced liquid fertilizer, diluted by half. You can also propagate graptopetalums by dividing existing clumps.
It’s best to divide your Graptopetalum mirinae in early spring before new growth begins. Break apart clumps using your hands or a trowel and replant them into containers filled with a mixture of equal parts loam, peat moss, and sand. Graptopetalum mirinae will grow best in bright light or filtered sun outdoors; they do not tolerate full sun well.
Graptopetalum mirinae care information
Graptopetalum mirinae requires minimal care, but they can die without it. If you’re trying to propagate your plant, it’s best to start with a healthy one. While they will grow well in partial shade, they need plenty of direct sunlight to thrive. You’ll also want to make sure your plant is well-drained; these plants prefer soil that has some clay in it, their roots should never be allowed to sit in water.
Graptopetalum mirinae do best in full sun, although they will take some partial shade. They are used to getting a lot of direct sunlight, but too much sun can burn their leaves. If you live in an area with hot summers or if your plant is not acclimated to full sun, consider providing it with partial shade for at least part of the day.
Graptopetalum mirinae plants are easy to grow in pots. Using a soilless, fast-draining potting mix such as cactus soil or gravel is best. They don’t need particularly rich soil to thrive, but they do require excellent drainage, otherwise, they will succumb to root rot.
In addition to providing good drainage, a porous potting mix (one that allows water to drain freely) helps maintain adequate moisture levels in your plant’s roots.
If you plan on repotting your graptopetalum into a larger container once it outgrows its current one, be sure that you choose one with at least one drainage hole at its base.
A succulent plant such as graptopetalum mirinae needs to be kept in well-drained soil. Be sure to check for soil moisture regularly, especially during periods of active growth. Unlike other plants, which typically need to be watered less in winter, graptopetalums should be watered at least once a week.
Overwatering is just as harmful to them as underwatering, so it’s important not to overwater your plant or allow its roots to sit in water. When watering your plant, take care not to get any water on its leaves; excess water can cause rot and lead to unsightly leaf drops.
It is important to use a slow-release fertilizer on your graptopetalum mirinae, as they are heavy feeders. A good organic choice would be a fish emulsion or worm castings, though you could also use commercial fertilizers that include some form of organic in their name.
Fertilize during spring and summer with a balanced fertilizer, such as 10-10-10. During fall and winter, switch to an all-organic formula like 5-5-5 or 8-3-9. Graptopetalums are sensitive to chemicals in many fertilizers; if you notice yellowing leaves after applying fertilizer, it’s best to discontinue using it all together until you can find an organic alternative.
Graptopetalum mirinae are considered cool-houseplants in nature, so they prefer relatively lower temperatures. Place your plant near a north-facing window (if sunlight isn’t direct, set up grow lights), or else place it in a room that stays at 60°F to 65°F year-round. At night, temperatures can drop down into the 50s. Don’t worry about your plant getting too cold; most varieties can handle colder nights than you might think!
Graptopetalums are tropical/subtropical plants. As such, they need high humidity levels to maintain health. To increase humidity, place pots on trays filled with gravel or sand and run a humidifier nearby.
The ideal humidity range is 40-60%. If you don’t have a humidifier, you can use room spray or keep your windows open during periods of high humidity. Another way to increase humidity levels is to place pots in shallow trays filled with gravel or sand.
To reduce plant size, take a pair of clean cutters (such as pruning shears) and trim off any growth that’s longer than 2 inches from your plant. It is also important to never remove more than one-third of a plant’s total length at one time; doing so can cause serious harm to your plant.
If you need to perform extensive pruning on your plant, it’s best to do it over several weeks or months. Finally, be sure not to water for 24 hours after you have trimmed your plant; watering too soon can lead to root rot.
When to repot
Graptopetalum mirinae are typically repotted in spring or early summer. If you live in a warm, frost-free area, late winter is also appropriate. In cooler climates, you can keep your plant going strong by growing it as an annual. Choose a pot that is slightly larger than its current one. For example, if your graptopetalum is currently in a six-inch pot, repot it into an eight-inch pot.
This will give it plenty of room to grow while still allowing for some root growth before being planted outside again next year. When choosing a new pot, look for something with drainage holes at the bottom. Clay pots work well because they retain moisture longer than plastic pots do.
Graptopetalum mirinae should be kept completely dry when they are not actively growing. During dormancy, it is best to provide low humidity, but never allow them to dry out. Keep them in a cool, bright location (about 45°F / 7°C). They can be watered very lightly every month or two. Even during dormancy, some leaf drop is expected. Leaves that have dropped from your plant are still alive; don’t throw them away! Instead, hold onto them until new growth appears in spring.
These leaves will fall off naturally as new growth emerges from their base. If you want to propagate your graptopetalum, simply re-root these leaves while they are still attached to their stems by placing them into moist potting soil with a few toothpicks holding each leaf upright above the soil line.
Graptopetalum mirinae flower & fragrance
Like all graptopetalums, Graptopetalum mirinae is a succulent plant with thick fleshy leaves. What sets it apart is its gorgeous purple-and-yellow flowers, each one roughly 1 inch in diameter, that open sequentially along with a spike that can reach heights of 10 feet or more. Flower spikes on Graptopetalum mirinae generally last up to five months in summer, but sometimes they keep on going into fall as well.
Like many succulents, graptopetalum mirinae grows slowly. Give your plants plenty of sunlight and good drainage, then wait a few years to see new growth emerge. You’ll have time to learn everything you can about these interesting plants, as well as choose which ones you want to take part of your collection.
Because they grow so slowly, graptopetalums are an excellent choice for people who are just starting out with growing succulents or for those who want to add some variety to their collections without investing too much time or money. It’s also a great plant for kids, it will help them develop patience while giving them an opportunity to participate in gardening activities that are both fun and educational.
Don’t mistake graptopetalum mirinae for a cactus plant, as these exotic-looking plants are quite toxic. It is not recommended to include them in your houseplant collection, as they may pose health risks if ingested. Additionally, some people are allergic to latex sap produced by these plants (hypersensitivity pneumonitis). If you suspect your allergy may be triggered by Graptopetalums, consult with a doctor immediately.
USDA hardiness zones
Graptopetalum mirinae thrives best in USDA hardiness zones 8 through 11. If you live outside these areas, you can still grow it as a houseplant if you provide it with adequate light. However, if your graptopetalum doesn’t receive enough light, its leaves will begin to yellow and fall off. You can also propagate your plant by taking cuttings or dividing it into smaller plants.
Pests and diseases
Graptopetalum mirinae are especially vulnerable to spider mites. These tiny pests are difficult to see without a magnifying glass, but their effect on your plant is easy to spot. Spider mites spin silk webbing around your graptopetalum’s stems and leaves, giving them a white or yellow tint, while also leaving them scarred with red dots. It only takes one mite to start an infestation; be sure to check your plant often for any signs of these enemies.
If you do find that you have a problem with spider mites, spray your plant with water to dislodge them from their webs. Then apply insecticidal soap directly onto each affected area—you can buy it at most garden centers. Repeat every three days until all signs of infestation have disappeared.
This succulent is highly adaptable to a variety of environments, including indoor situations. However, it grows best in direct sunlight. If you’re growing it indoors, provide plenty of light. Graptopetalums are low-maintenance plants that aren’t particularly fussy about soil composition or irrigation frequency.
They do, however, require some extra attention during their dormancy period (usually from fall through spring). During these months, water your plant less frequently than usual and don’t fertilize it at all. When watering your plant during dormancy, use lukewarm water only; cold water can cause injury to roots.