This graptopetalum pentandrum, also known as the ghost orchid or the ghost succulent, is a plant that can be found in Mexico and parts of Central America. It has been widely used in folk medicine for centuries; it is said to increase libido and sexual performance in men and women alike. The graptopetalums are usually green plants with white flowers but they also come in yellow-brown colors.
I’m sure you know that graptopetalum pentandrum is an orchid, but did you also know that graptopetalum pentandrum is part of the graptoveria family? Orchids in this group are usually known for their thick leaves and small flowers. You may not be surprised to find out how long graptopetalum pentandrum has been around; it has been found in North America since 1853!
Origin and description
The plant originates from the Eastern Sierra Madre Occidental region of Mexico, where it grows in wet cliff faces and rocks. It is a perennial plant that starts blooming in late spring or early summer and can continue to flower until fall. It grows from 15 cm up to 20 cm tall, with thin stems often lying on the ground. The leaves are shaped like maple leaves, they start out as an emerald green color but turn a bright, metallic yellow as the plant begins to bloom.
The flower is not very remarkable and it can be easily missed: they are star-shaped with five lavender petals and ten protruding stamens that look like antennae. The flowers droop downwards from their curling stems due to heavy pollen production. They have an unpleasant scent that can attract flies as pollinators.
Graptopetalum pentandrum propagation
Propagation can be done by seed or stem cuttings. The seeds are enclosed in a papery envelope that must be removed before planting them. They should be planted on well-draining soil and watered frequently until they germinate.
Stem cuttings are best harvested at the end of summer when the plant starts to die. The cuttings should be relatively new and healthy, with a length of at least 15 cm. They should then be allowed to dry out for one or two days before planting them in well-draining soil. As they continue to grow, the plants will form an extensive root system that can help protect against erosion and harsh winds due to their strong, downward-facing flowers.
It is recommended by some sources that this plant should be grown in part shade, with lots of water. It cannot survive temperatures below 0°C and it needs to have a lot of oxygen around the roots so it can grow well on rocks or walls. The leaves are very sensitive to cold airflow, which makes them curl completely up when exposed to wind and low outdoor temperatures.
This plant does not need fertilizing, but if it is provided with some nutrients, the blooming time will be extended by a few weeks. It can also be propagated from seed or cuttings while in bloom to preserve its flowers for an even longer period of time.
Graptopetalum pentandrum care
Graptopetalum pentandrum is easy to care for. They appreciate cooler growing conditions. They like to be kept in an area where temperatures stay around 65 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 55 degrees at night. While they don’t mind bright light, it is important not to allow them to dry out between watering or their leaves will fade away quickly.
Graptopetalum pentandrum is a low-maintenance plant. It tolerates most lighting conditions, including direct sunlight and fluorescent light. They can even grow outdoors in full sun or partial shade as long as the soil remains dry to minimize evaporation.
Graptopetalum pentandrum also thrives in medium light. If the plant is kept too dark, it may stretch out and fail to bloom.
Graptopetalum pentandrum grows well in a cactus mix, or it can be grown exclusively in pumice. If you are growing the plant for its flowers, consider adding limestone to your potting mix at one-eighth of the total volume. This will increase calcium uptake and benefit blossom quality.
Graptopetalum pentandrum has high drought tolerance. If the plant is grown in the cactus mix, it will need water only once every two weeks during spring and summer. When growing outdoors, watering twice per month should be sufficient to keep the plant thriving year-round.
If you are growing the plant indoors, water every one to two weeks. When watering, apply enough liquid so that about half of the soil mix is thoroughly moistened. Allow the top centimeter or so to dry out before watering again.
Graptopetalum pentandrum can be fertilized every other month. Use a balanced cactus fertilizer and apply it at one-quarter the recommended strength, or follow the instructions on your particular product packaging for correct dosage information.
If you are growing graptopetalum pentandrum in pumice, then once every three months should be sufficient. If you are growing the plant in cactus mix, the plant will benefit from diluted foliar feeding every two weeks using a water-soluble 20-20-20 NPK fertilizer.
Do not feed your plant during winter time when it is dormant or if there is no new growth.
Graptopetalum pentandrum grows well with a minimum temperature of 15°C and a maximum temperature of 25°C. It can tolerate brief dips below freezing, but otherwise, it is not cold-hardy.
The ideal range for graptopetalum pentandrum is between 12°C and 20°C.
Graptopetalum pentandrum does not require high humidity. It will grow well with a relative humidity of around 50%.
Pruning is not required for graptopetalum pentandrum. If you wish to prune the plant, do so after it has finished blooming in late autumn or wintertime.
You can remove dead leaves and stems at any time of year without causing harm to the plant.
When to repot
Graptopetalum pentandrum should be repotted every other year in order to refresh the potting soil and provide a clean container for optimal health.
The best time of year to transplant this plant is during autumn or early springtime before new growth begins. Repot using pumice mixed with organic soil or cactus mix.
If you are growing graptopetalum pentandrum in a hanging pot, it may outgrow its container within three to four years and need transplanting into a larger one. Ensure that there is adequate drainage at the bottom of the new potted plant before replanting it outdoors or indoors as needed.
Do not use fertilizer when transplanting as it may burn the roots and cause damage.
Graptopetalum pentandrum is not dormant and can survive year-round outdoors in mild climates or if protected from frost during wintertime.
If you live in a region with mild winters, graptopetalum pentandrum can remain outdoors all year round as long as it is protected from winter frost. If you plan on overwintering your plant indoors, or if temperatures in your area drop below freezing, keep it in a cool room with bright light.
If you plan to overwinter your plant indoors, move it to a cold greenhouse before the first frost and bring it back inside when new growth begins in early springtime. If you live where winters are harsh or plants may freeze outdoors, protect your plant with a sheet when the temperature drops below freezing.
Flowers & Fragrance
Graptopetalum pentandrum produces white flowers with pink to deep red markings. The blooms are about one inch in diameter and have purple stamens inside, which you can see if you peep into the center of each flower through a magnifying glass.
The plant’s blooms are star-shaped with five petals that are about one inch in diameter and come in shades of white, pinkish-white, and yellow. The flowers have a sweet fragrance that is very noticeable when they bloom at night.
The blooms can be up to two inches across with five petals each which range from cream-colored to pale purple or even bronze. They usually start out yellow and fade to white as they age.
The blooms have a sweet fragrance that is at their strongest when the flowers open in late springtime or early summer.
The plant’s star-shaped, fragrant blooms are about one inch across with five creamy petals that range from light pink to brownish-purple depending on their maturity, with dark purple stamens in the center.
Graptopetalum pentandrum is a fast-growing succulent that will likely outgrow its container within three to four years if not transplanted into an appropriately larger pot.
The plant can grow up to 18 inches tall and 12 inches wide, but it tends to stay short with only a few upright stems when grown indoors in a container.
Graptopetalum pentandrum is not toxic to pets and humans.
It should be noted that graptopetalum pentandrum is poisonous when ingested, so it must be kept away from pets and children.
Graptopetalum pentandrum has been found to have a high concentration of oxalate crystals in its leaves which can cause irritation if consumed.
The plant itself isn’t toxic but ingesting the leaves may cause mild discomfort such as upset stomach or vomiting to some people who are sensitive to the compounds present.
This means it is best not to allow pets and small children near this plant as they may be tempted to chew on its leaves.
USDA Hardiness Zones
Graptopetalum pentandrum may be hardy in USDA zone 11.
Pests and diseases
Graptopetalum pentandrum is susceptible to mealybugs, scale insects, spider mites, and aphids. It may also be affected by fungal diseases if the plant’s leaves are kept constantly damp or its soil becomes waterlogged.
In conclusion, graptopetalum pentandrum is a slow-growing succulent with star-shaped, fragrant blooms that are about one inch across.
The plant’s growth rate is slow and the only pest found to affect it was mealybugs. It may be susceptible to diseases if its leaves become wet or waterlogged soil conditions exist for long periods of time so it should not be kept constantly wet.