Monday, October 31, 2011

Ghost plant redux

Happy Halloween, everybody!

I was trying to think of a gardening- or plant-related topic that goes with Halloween. Then, as I stepped out the front door and saw the bowl of Graptopetalum paraguyense, I had it: ghost plant! That’s a pretty fitting plant to write about on Halloween.

I bought this particular specimen in late January, plopped it into a shallow bowl and set it by the front door where it gets bright light but very little direct sun. It has thrived in this sheltered location, and its leaves are light turquoise and pale purple hues (very hard to render accurately in digital images).

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While the bowl is to the side of the walkway, people—and especially our dog—sometime bump into the ghost plant. Its leaves fall off at the slightest touch, so this isn’t really the best spot for it. For months I’ve been thinking of moving it; however, since I do enjoy looking at it every time I come through the front door, it’s still in the same place.

Graptopetalum paraguyense is a prolific grower so any leaves that break off are soon replaced. Just take a look at the yellow areas in the next two photos. Miniature plants are forming right next to the break point.

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In addition, each leaf that breaks off has the potential to become a new plant. The two in the next photo had landed to the side of the pot and I didn’t notice them until this morning. Not only are there baby ghost plants forming, there are also adventitious roots ready to go to work.

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This morning I collected a handful of leaves showing signs of new growth as well as two larger pieces that had recently been knocked off by our dog.

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I filled small containers ranging from 2” to 3” inches in size with my succulent mix and simply placed the leaves on top. The broken off pieces I stuck vertically into the soil. With winter approaching, it will take a few months before significant new growth will occur but there should be some root growth even now.

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This is the second time I’m propagating Graptopetalum paraguyense this way. In this post from March I expressed uncertainty as to what would happen with the leaf cutting. Take a look at the next photo to see the result: a bunch of new ghost plants!

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As you can see, these offsets have a slight different color. They were kept in darker conditions than the specimen by the front door so the predominant hue is a very pal sea green. It’s actually quite attractive in its own right. This goes to show that some—actually quite a few—succulents do very well with much less light than many people think.

These plants were perfect until just a few days ago when some critter took small chunks out of some leaves. The taste must not have been that great, otherwise there would have been more damage.

2 comments:

  1. Very pretty! It still seems a strange concept to me that there are succulents that don't like full sun. They don't all like blazing sun and blistering heat though.

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  2. Alan, a lot of succulents come from dry higher-altitude regions where the summer temps are much lower than here. I've found, for example, that most echeverias, especially ones with thinner leaves, look terrible when grown in the full sun. Many agaves and aloes look better when grown in at least partial shade.

    On the coast or in the PNW you can grow succulents in full sun, but here we have to be more careful.

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