Tips for Growing Tiny Succulents on Your Table - Making You an Instant Green Thumb

Tips for Growing Tiny Succulents on Your Table-Making You an Instant Green Thumb

The weather turns cool in autumn, which is the perfect time to enjoy succulents. Crassulaceae succulents, also known as Graptopetalum, consists of about 15 species. The genus name, Graptopetalum, deriving etymologically from Greek roots, graptos (i.e., marks and pictures) and petalon (i.e., petals), depicts the unique stripes on the petals of this species. This genus, native to Central and South America, grows and distributes on plateaus at 2,400 meters above sea level. It is a perennial herbaceous plant with tufted phyllodes or rosettes. These succulents, varying in forms, are adorable and easy to grow. Succulents have become popular ornamental plants because of their horticultural therapeutic characteristics.

Taiwan Seed Improvement and Propagation Station (TSIPS)  pointed out that,this genus has been domesticated for years to adapt to the climate of Taiwan. Generally, the cultivation can go through summer under shade protection and management, and the watering number is less than that of ordinary ornamental plants, with autumn and winter being suitable growth periods. For example, the stem of the ghost plant is robust. The mature plant's stem is slightly lignified and shrubby, while that of the hyper-mature plant is creeping. The leaf is spatulate, succulent, and smooth. The common leaf colors are generally green, grayish-green, pink, or waxy white and powdery (Fig. 1). Most of the Graptopetalum petals have special stripes (Fig. 2), which is a feature of its species. 

TSIPS said light management is the first priority in the cultivation and maintenance of Graptopetalum. Sufficient light conditions are needed for the plant to grow well during cultivation, and lack of light easily results in excessive growth. This genus requires not much water, and its cultivation medium can also be used to spread lay the largest stone in the bottom layer, with the middle being a mixed medium and the top layer suitable for small particle media, such as fine pearl stone, to facilitate drainage and air permeability. The watering time should be based on the principle that the flowerpot medium is dried and then fully wetted. This genus is quite drought-resistant and does not need to be watered frequently to avoid rotten roots and leaves. 

The propagation of Graptopetalum is mainly by plant cutting. Not only top bud and tender stem cutting, but also leaf-petiole cutting is available for most species. Species that are not easy propagatiom by cutting may resort to carcass cutting.

Diseases of Graptopetalum often occurs in bad growing seasons, such as during high temperatures and high humidity in summer. At this time, properly spraying fungicide may reduce the source of infection in the cultivation environment and strengthen ventilation and shading to avoid bacterial diseases. As for insect pests, scale insects, mealybugs, and tobacco cutworms are more common. Snails and birds can also harm plants, which can be controlled by potions, such as mineral oil and neem oil. It is not difficult for beginners to grow succulents.

As long as the maintenance and management mentioned above are followed, everyone can become an instant succulent green finger. In addition, in order to protect the intellectual property rights of breeders and promote the development of the industry,  TSIPS is currently proceeding with the collection of representative succulent plant species such as Graptopetalum and establish test verification method and variety trait table. Besides, TSIPS ’s succulent plant green house is available for school and farmer group to visits. Currently, it provides more than 20 sessions of about 400 people to visit each year. It is a high-quality environmental education field. Those who interest in succulents are welcome to make an appointment to visit.

 Figure 1.The leaves of succulents are rich in color and waxy white powdery
Figure 1.The leaves of succulents are rich in color and waxy white powdery

Figure 2. One of the characteristic of the Graptopetalum is special stripes on petals.
Figure 2. One of the characteristic of the Graptopetalum is special stripes on petals.