Graptopetalum saxifragoides is a species of succulent plant that is native to the states of Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. These plants are often found in rocky areas with sparse vegetation, or on slopes where they grow among grasses and shrubs. The graptopetalums have white flowers which come out at night for pollination by moths. It’s easy to see why graptopetalum saxifragoides make such an interesting plant!
This graptopetalum saxifragoides is a flowering plant, it was first discovered by botanist George Englemann in 1833. This plant can be found growing as high as six feet tall on steep hillsides with little soil near streams or springs.
Graptopetalum saxifragoides is a hardy succulent that can be grown in USDA zones 8-10.
Origin and description
The Graptopetalums are native to the deserts of Southern California, usually growing in deep shade or rocky outcrops with little to no water. They have round petals arranged around the base of the plant and grow up to six inches tall. This species was discovered by botanist George Englemann in 1833.
These plants are often found in rocky areas with sparse vegetation or on slopes where they grow among grasses and shrubs. The graptopetalums have white flowers which come out at night for pollination by moths.
Graptopetalum saxifragoides propagation
Propagation can be done both by seeds and cuttings. The process of propagation is similar to that of any other succulent plant, but one must bear in mind the characteristics of this species when taking a cutting from it. There are two ways you can propagate graptopetalum saxifragoides:
・ By seeds. Seeds should be sown on a well-drained mixture of coarse sand and potting soil, taking care not to cover them with more than their own thickness as they need light in order to germinate successfully. The pots where the seeds are placed must then be kept at room temperature until it is time for planting them in the garden.
・ By cuttings. The best time for taking a cutting from graptopetalum saxifragoides is during spring, before it starts blooming or when its new growths start to appear. Take a stem with at least two joints and remove all leaves except those on top of the plant, then plant in a good potting mix and wait for it to germinate before you begin watering.
Graptopetalum saxifragoides care
Graptopetalum saxifragoides care is easy and typically consists of a basic succulent plant schedule. Sunlight exposure should be controlled to prevent burning, but adequate sunlight is required for the plant’s blooming process. Graptopetalum saxifragioides can survive in many different types of soil as long as drainage is adequate.
Graptopetalum saxifragoides does best when given plenty of direct light. In the winter, it can tolerate a little bit less to no sunlight at all. If you do place your plant under lower levels of lighting, make sure that summer temperatures are not too hot.
The plant prefers soil that is gritty and well-draining. The more coarse the better, as this will allow for a greater intake of moisture without it being retained by the potting mix. A traditional loam-based mixture works perfectly fine but keep an eye on watering frequency, if you decide to go with something coarser or sandier in texture.
This plant is relatively drought tolerant but does need to be watered on occasion. If you are in a dry climate with low humidity, make sure that the soil mixture allows for good drainage and provides some extra puddling when necessary.
If it starts to lose its leaves or looks droopy, then water more often until things perk back up again. If it is kept in wet soil conditions, the leaves will begin to rot and this plant won’t be able to recover.
Make sure that you don’t overwater or underwater either, as both can cause root damage or disease over time if your succulent isn’t getting the right amount of moisture at all times.
The best way to figure out if a succulent needs water is by touching the soil. If it feels dry, then give it some water and wait until things are moist again before watering more thoroughly.
If you allow your potting mix to completely dry up between each watering, this will stunt the growth of the plant and leave it prone to disease and rot as well.
The soil should never be allowed to become soggy, as this will cause the roots of your plant to start rotting and eventually kill it off completely.
If you are growing Graptopetalum saxifragoides in a hanging pot or planter with drainage holes, then make sure that it is always sitting in water or that excess water can be drained out of it after you have watered.
This plant will do best if you give it a little bit of fertilizer each time that you water. You can use any type of succulent or cactus-specific food and apply at half the recommended dosage when your Graptopetalum saxifragoides is actively growing, during the spring and summer seasons.
There are special fertilizers for flowering plants and also ones that are designed specifically for succulents.
If you want to go the organic route, then some people have had success with regular applications of worm castings or compost tea on their Graptopetalum saxifragoides .
You can always just stick with a traditional cactus food as well, but don’t go overboard on it. Too much fertilizer will burn out the roots of your plant and cause all sorts of problems for its health over time.
Graptopetalum saxifragoides can survive in a wide variety of climates and don’t need to live under any special conditions. It will do fine inside your house or outside as long as it is given some sunlight each day. If you keep yours indoors, then provide it with lots of bright indirect light year-round.
If you are planning on growing one in a greenhouse or inside your home, make sure that it is not exposed to any frost and keep away from drafty windowsills as well.
You can also grow this plant outside during the spring and summer seasons but don’t try and force it into dormancy if winter comes around before the weather cools down.
It will likely drop its leaves and enter a period of hibernation if it is exposed to cold temperatures for too long, but this doesn’t mean that it is dead or dying. It can recover on its own when spring comes around again.
Graptopetalum saxifragoides require low humidity levels, so you can grow it indoors as a houseplant. If your home is too dry, the ghost plant will begin to drop leaves. And ideal humidity range is 40% or higher.
You should never prune the leaves of a ghost plant. The ghost plant is also known as “mother-in-law’s tongue” because it can quickly grow tall and lanky, which makes you think your mother-in-law has returned from the grave to haunt you.
However, if you need to keep it shorter than its natural height, you should prune it back in the spring.
When to repot
Graptopetalum saxifragoides can be repotted in spring, but you should wait a few months before repotting it. The best time to re-pot the ghost plant is at the end of autumn or early winter. You will need a pot with drainage holes because this houseplant loves well-draining soil.
The following conditions should be met:
- A pot that is half its original diameter, where the ghost plant can settle in comfortably without being too cramped or having a lot of excess soil around it.
- Soil with excellent drainage to avoid root rot and unhealthy plants. Graptopetalum saxifragoides do not like sitting in water.
- A pot that is between eight and ten centimeters deep, filled with a well-draining soil mix (equal parts of peat moss, perlite, or sand). You can also use a general-purpose cactus mix if it’s available where you live. The key to success lies in the proper drainage provided by your soil mixture.
- A place that is bright and not too sunny, because the ghost plant prefers light shade to full sun all day long. However, you should avoid placing it in an extremely shady spot or next to a cold window because this houseplant does not like cool conditions (temperatures below 18 degrees Celsius).
During fall and winter, this plant may enter dormancy. During this period, reduce watering to every other month; allow the soil to become nearly dry between waterings. The leaf edges may be lost during dormancy, but the center of the rosette will remain green throughout the year.
Flowers & Fragrance
After the plant comes out of dormancy, flowers appear. The flowers are pink and white and open at the beginning of spring. The blossoms can last three months or more and may be followed by small edible fruits that resemble tiny watermelons (these fruits become red as they ripen). They do not have much taste so you probably won’t want to eat them, but the birds might enjoy them.
Graptopetalum saxifragoides grow slowly and will stay small (about 6 inches high) indefinitely. If you want to make it grow more quickly, place the pot in full sunlight and water weekly or twice a week during spring and summer; cut back on watering in fall and winter. Because this plant is succulent, over-watering can cause root rot and should be avoided.
This plant is not known to be toxic or to cause any adverse reactions.
The sap of the plant is irritating to the skin and may cause contact dermatitis in susceptible individuals.
The toxicity of graptopetalum rosettes has not been studied, but ingestion of large quantities of succulent parts of this plant could be harmful or fatal if consumed by humans or animals.
USDA Hardiness Zones
This plant comes from the mountains of central Mexico, so it is frost-tender. It can be grown outdoors in USDA Hardiness Zones 9 – 11.
Pests and diseases
The plant is susceptible to mealybugs and occasionally scales. It can be rot prone when over-watered, especially during the winter. It can tolerate extremely bright situations but prefers a little shading.
Is it poisonous?
No, Graptopetalum is non-toxic to cats and dogs.
Where does this plant come from?
It comes from Mexico, where it grows in a dry, subtropical climate. It can be found growing at elevations of 2400 – 3300 meters above sea level.
How big will it get?
The plant is usually small and slow-growing. It can reach heights of 15 inches (38 cm) tall, with 5 inch (12.5 cm) leaves that form rosettes. It grows very slowly and blooms rarely, but when it does bloom, the flowers grow to be about 2 inches (5 cm) wide and last for one day.
How much does it like water?
It needs to be watered very sparingly and prefers a dry location. A thin leaf of mulch is recommended to keep the soil moist longer. It can rot if over-watered, especially during winter dormancy.
What kind of soil and pot should I use?
Graptopetalums prefer a limestone-based mix, such as 2 parts sand: 1 part clay: 1 part humus. They need to be in small pots with drainage holes because they root very easily and frequently become top-heavy. Plant the rosettes so that the crown is just below the surface of the soil. If planted too deep, the crown can rot and die.
How much sunlight does it need?
Graptopetalum saxifragoides need lots of sun and tolerate very bright situations. It will develop a red color with enough sun and shine. They don’t like very cold climates: they do well in sunny windows during winter dormancy (which is when they need the most water), and should be kept in a warm location to promote flowering.
Graptopetalum saxifragoides make excellent houseplants and low-maintenance additions to any windowsill. They can be excellent outdoor plants in warmer climates and bright exposures, but they need good drainage and protection from the cold.