G. bellum is native to Mexico Northeast, Mexico Northwest. In its habitat the plant grows in mountains regions or in cliffs but usually in the shadow.
G. bellum is a beautiful plant belonging to the Crassulaceae botanical family. The succulent has a large and dense rosette of leaves. The plant branches at the base and grows in cluster. Leaves are triangular, glabrous, flat, fleshy, pale grey with reddish edge. Blooming occurs in late spring and in early summer and blossom are born near the top of the rosette by long stalks woody stalks. Flowering lasts a few weeks and the inflorescence is branched at the base. Flowers are star-shaped with 5 petals bright pink to orange; at the center of the flower there are red stamens tipped with white anthers. With age the plant can reach 10 cm in diameter.
This is a rare plant, easy to cultivate. The best sun-exposure is shade light, and the plant does not like temperatures below 8 °C so it needs to be placed indoors. The soil should be mixed with pumice, clay and loam to allow the drainage and prevent the root rot, the plant is prone to it indeed. Remember to use perforating pot to drain excess water. Watering can be done regularly from March to November: during the vegetative period you can water the plant (every 7 days), checking that the soil is completely dry before watering again; in winter you should stop the watering to allow to the plant to enter dormancy. If you want a faster and lush growth you can fertilize the plant once a month during the growing season with the specifics fertilizers for cacti; stop fertilizing throughout the winter. If the pot starts to be too small for the plant you can repot the plant in a pot 2 cm wider. Repotting should be done early in the growing season with fresh new potting soil.
Propagation can be done by seed or by cutting. By seed is very simple to propagate the plant, it is enough to sow the seed in a sandy loam soil and keep it with high level of humidity; temperatures of germination are between 20 and 28 °C. By cutting you can use stem cuttings during the spring. Cut a segment and then let it dry; after a few days the cut surface will dry and a callus will form, then place the cutting in a mixture of sand, soil and pumice. To increase success of propagation you can cut two or more segments at the same time. For cuttings is recommended temperatures around 20 °C.
The plants of the genus Graptopetalum in English are also called “Leatherpetal”, that means leather petals: they have flowers with particularly thick and sturdy petals, although small and grouped in inflorescences. This species was discovered by Alfred Lau in 1972. It was found in a mountainous area, at an altitude of 4,800′, on the border of Chihuahua and Sonora, Mexico.
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