Habitat: Mexico and Arizona
Cultivation: The Graptopetalum usually tolerate temperature higher than 5/8° C, with the exception of a variety,
G. paraguayense, which resists up to -5°C and because of that it is cultivated outdoors in northern Italy. The watering should completely be suspended in winter.
Curiosity: 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.
The plants of the genre Graptopetalum are Crassulaceae from Central America, they are characterized by rosettes with thick, fleshy and aqueous leaves. Even the stems are quite thick and succulent, but the most obvious part of the plant are definitely the rosettes. Leaves may take more or less dark colors ranging in shades of green or silver-gray, they are rather large and end with a tip. The flowers are usually white, with small reddish spots, composed of five petals united only at the base; in some species they have a bright pink color (g. bellum). They grow on a stem that starts from the center of a leave rosette, usually in small umbrellas that can support 3, 4 or more flowers. Aesthetically they remind the Echeveria but they differ from it because of their small dimensions (depending on the species they can grow from 5 to 40 cm maximum) and for the conformation of the flower.
Variety and Types
The species of Graptopetalum are about 19, although those in Italy are few. The most common in Italy is definitely the G. paraguayense, it easily resists even at low temperatures and it has got light silver leaves. We have listed below the main species or the most common on the market; we remind you that you will find several of them in our online shop, in the section dedicated to Graptopetalum.
- Graptopetalum amethystinum
- G. bartramii
- G. bellum
- G. filiferum
- G. fruticosum
- G. glassii
- G. grande
- G. macdougallii
- G. marginatum
- G. mendozae
- G. occidentale
- G. pachyphyllum
- G. paraguayense
- G. pentandrum
- G. pusillum
- G. rusbyi
- G. saxifragoides
- G. superbum
TIPS FOR GROWING
The pretty rosettes of Graptopetalum are easy to grow even in our climate: in general, they have in fact a good cold tolerance and fit well even in northern Italy, especially the aforementioned G. paraguayense.
Here are our tips for growing:
- Exposure must be very bright. Many varieties want full sun, some instead are at risk of unsightly sunburn (eg. G. bellum) and for them it is more preferable to avoid direct sunlight.
- The minimum temperature, that the Graptopetalum can tolerate, varies, in general, on 5/8 ° C, the exception is G. paraguayense that resists up to -5 ° C if its ground is completely dry.
- Like all succulents, the watering should be suspended completely in winter. In spring and in summer it is good to water plenty, to support the growth of the plant, with the only care to check that the ground is completely dry between the watering.
- The soil should be light and well-drained, but on average richer in nutrients than other succulents: We recommend to mix a standard soil for cacti with peat.
- Fertilize during the growing season once every 15-20 days using a specific fertilizer for succulent.
- The plant has a rather rapid growth and therefore may need frequent repotting. Consider that it extends more in width than in height, so it will need large vessels and shallow.
The Graptopetalum easily reproduce by division of clumps (the rosettes of leaves) or by cuttings. Among the possible cuttings, the ones of stem are more difficult to take root while the leaf cuttings are generally easy to grow. The operation of dividing the clumps or burying the cuttings should be done preferably in spring.