Graptopetalum macdougallii, or MacDougall’s Ghost Plant, is an easy-to-grow succulent that’s an excellent choice for beginner gardeners looking to add something new to their collection of plants. It gets its name from the way the leaves curl up when they dry out, giving them a ghostly appearance – but only during the cooler months when it’s not actively growing.
It has narrow green leaves with white markings along its edges and veins that grow upward from a central stalk. This succulent plant requires little care and thrives in dry, warm conditions.
The low-maintenance characteristics of graptopetalum make it an excellent choice for beginners or the more experienced gardener with little time to devote to the hobby. Plus, you can even grow a ghost plant indoors if you lack adequate outdoor space to accommodate it.
Graptopetalum macdougalli offers lots of great care and growing tips for novice gardener. This beautiful houseplant has thin gray-green leaves that have variously been described as shaped like ghosts or hands, which makes it a unique addition to your home’s décor.
Origin and distribution
This is a succulent that is native to Mexico. It is a member of the Crassulaceae family and is closely related to the Echeveria genus. The leaves are green and have a powdery coating that helps protect them from the hot sun. The flowers are pink and bloom in the summer.
Graptopetalum macdougallii is a low-maintenance plant that is easy to care for. It does well with bright, indirect light, so placing it near a window or outside on your porch should work just fine.
If you want to bring it inside during the winter months, give it plenty of water and place it near a sunny window so it can still get enough light.
Graptopetalum macdougallii propagation
To propagate, or create new plants from an existing one, graptopetalums can be divided, into stem cuttings, or leaf cuttings. The division is the most common method and can be done by removing offsets, or small plantlets, from the base of the main plant.
These offsets can then be replanted in their own pot. Stem cuttings can also be taken from 6-8 inch sections of a mature plant. The cut end should be placed in moist soil and kept under shade until it forms roots.
Leaf cuttings are easy to take: just take off a leaf at its base where it attaches to the stem and place it on top of moist soil. Graptopetalums can flower anytime during the year but only for a short period so if you have time, you may want to keep them indoors over winter to make sure they produce blooms before they die back.
Graptopetalum macdougallii care
This plant can be found in the wild in rocky, open areas. Once established, it is drought tolerant. Graptopetalum macdougallii is a low-maintenance plant that can tolerate some neglect. It is a good choice for rock gardens or as a groundcover.
This plant requires bright light, but not direct sunlight. The leaves will start to fade if the light is too low. Graptopetalum macdougallii grows best in a south- or west-facing window. If you can’t provide bright light, you can grow this plant under fluorescent lights.
A well-draining potting mix is essential for Graptopetalum macdougallii. This succulent does not like to sit in wet soil, so be sure to use a mix that will dry out quickly. A cactus or succulent potting mix will work well.
You can also add some perlite or pumice to the mix to help with drainage. If you are planting these in large pots, place them on a layer of gravel at the bottom of the pot.
This plant is drought tolerant, however, it will produce more flowers if given regular water. During the hot summer months, water every 7-10 days. Cut back on watering during the winter months.
Allow the soil to dry out slightly between watering. Avoid getting water on the stem as this can cause stem rot.
The Graptopetalum macdougallii has a low root system and does not like to be transplanted so take care when you are planting them in containers or gardens so that they do not become pot-bound and unhappy. A happy Graptopetalum MacDougallii will reward you with tons of white blooms!
Fertilizing your Graptopetalum macdougallii is important to maintain its health and encourage growth. The best time to fertilize is in the spring and summer when the plant is actively growing.
Use a balanced fertilizer that contains both nitrogen and phosphorus. Apply the fertilizer according to the package directions, being careful not to overfertilize, which can damage the plant. To avoid fungal infections, wait until after you have finished fertilizing before watering again.
The ideal temperature for Graptopetalum macdougallii is between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature gets too hot, the leaves will start to turn brown and if it gets too cold, the leaves will turn black. If you live in a colder climate and you are trying to grow
Graptopetalum macdougallii outside, place it near a warm window in your home or greenhouse.
A humidity tray is a great way to increase the humidity around your Graptopetalum macdougallii. To make a humidity tray, simply fill a shallow dish with gravel and water.
Place the dish on a pebble mat or heatproof surface to protect your furniture, and set your plant on top. The water will evaporate and increase the humidity around the plant. You can also mist your plant regularly to increase the humidity.
The ideal humidity range is 60-80%. If you live in an area where the relative humidity is below 50%, you should consider buying a humidifier.
You can prune Graptopetalum macdougallii at any time of year to control its size and shape. However, if you prune it too heavily, it may not flower as well the following season.
To avoid this, only remove a few leaves at a time. If you want to encourage more compact growth, pinch back the tips of the stems. Cuttings are taken in early spring by rooting cuttings in water or by layering. Layering is achieved by bending a branch down to touch the ground and covering it with soil.
New roots will form along the buried stem and when these roots have grown sufficiently strong, they will be able to support themselves, thus creating new plants for propagation purposes.
When to repot
Repotting is typically done every two to three years, or when the plant becomes pot-bound. To tell if your plant needs to be repotted, carefully remove it from its pot and check the roots. If the roots are tightly compacted and circling the pot, it’s time for a new home.
Gently loosen the roots and replant them in a pot that is only one size larger. Be sure to use well-draining cactus or succulent soil mix and water thoroughly after replanting.
This is the time of year when your Graptopetalum macdougallii will start to go dormant. The leaves will begin to fall off and the plant will start to shrink in size. This is normal and nothing to worry about. Your plant will need less water during this time and should be kept in a cool, dark place.
If you live in an area with harsh winters, it’s best to keep your plant indoors during this time. While they can tolerate light frosts and cold temperatures (down to 10°F), they are not winter-hardy enough for areas that experience snow or ice.
When you bring your plant back out into the light, give it some water so that the soil is wet again before placing it back in its container or garden space. Fertilize your plant at this time as well. Keep watering regularly until new growth begins.
Graptopetalum macdougallii flower & fragrance
The Graptopetalum macdougallii, or MacDougall’s Ghost Plant, is a perennial succulent with beautiful, bell-shaped flowers. The flowers are white with purple streaks and have a faint, sweet fragrance. They bloom in the summer and fall.
The growth rate of Graptopetalum macdougallii is rather slow. In ideal conditions, it can take up to two years for the plant to reach its full potential size.
Graptopetalum macdougallii is not considered to be a particularly toxic plant. However, as with all plants, it is best to keep it out of reach of children and pets who may be tempted to nibble on its leaves.
The sap of the plant can cause irritation if it comes into contact with the skin, so it is also best to handle it with gloves.
USDA hardiness zones
Graptopetalum macdougallii thrives best in USDA hardiness zones 9-11. Growers are advised to allow the plant to dry out before watering. In late winter, graptopetalum will need to be lifted from the ground and stored somewhere cool, such as in a garage or cellar.
They should not be allowed to freeze and should be watered sparingly for the first few weeks after re-potting.
Pests and diseases
These plants are relatively easy to grow and are not susceptible to many pests or diseases. However, mealybugs can be a problem, particularly if the plants are grown indoors. Aphids, spider mites, and whiteflies may also attack the leaves.
These pests can be controlled with insecticidal soap or horticultural oil. Root rot can be a problem if the plant is grown in poorly-drained soil. Other than that, Graptopetalum care is low maintenance. For best results when growing these plants outside, keep them in well-drained soil that receives plenty of sun.