How to Grow and Care for Ghost Echeveria (Echeveria lilacina)

Close up photo of a ghost Echeveria succulent (Echeveria lilacina) in a pink pot against a marble background.

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Native to Mexico, the ghost echeveria (Echeveria lilacina) is characterized by pale, silvery-grey fleshy leaves and is notably one of the most stunning varieties of Echeveria. Its leaves grow in a pretty rosette shape and the plant has an upward growth habit. In colder months, the leaves of the ghost echeveria take on a more lilac hue, while under heat stress the leaves turn a slightly pink color. In the late winter to early spring, mature ghost echeveria sport coral lantern-shaped blooms on long red stems which contrast beautifully against the frosty leaves. 

  Botanical Name Echeveria lilacina 
Common Name  Ghost echeveria 
Plant Type  Succulent 
Mature Size  8-10 in. tall, 12 in. wide 
Sun Exposure  Full, partial 
Soil Type  Sandy, well-draining
Soil pH  Acidic 
Bloom Time  Winter, spring 
Flower Color  Pink 
Hardiness Zones  10a, 10b, 11a, 11b 
Native Area  North America 
Toxicity  Non-toxic

Ghost Echeveria  Care

This slow-growing, attractive succulent is low-maintenance and easy to grow both indoors and outdoors. In ideal conditions, the ghost echeveria can grow up to 8-10 inches tall and 12 inches wide. It requires typical succulent care: bright light, minimal water, and adequate drainage and it will thrive. For the most part, the ghost echeveria appreciates a little neglect, so if you are looking for a plant that you can set and forget, the ghost echeveria is for you.

Light

Echeveria require bright, sunny locations in order to thrive. If you are growing ghost echeveria as a houseplant, it will need to be put in a location that receives at least 5-6 hours of direct sunlight every day. If you don’t have a spot in your home that gets this much sunlight, you may need to provide your ghost echeveria with a grow light so that it does not become leggy and lose its attractive shape. 

When grown outdoors, the ghost echeveria can survive in a wider range of lighting conditions depending on the climate. In hot, sunny climates this succulent can be placed in a location that receives some shade throughout the day to protect its delicate leaves from the intense midday rays. However, in milder climates, it should be planted in a location that receives direct sun for the majority of the day.

Soil

Like many other succulents, ghost echeveria requires well-draining soil to ensure that the roots do not become waterlogged. Echeveria are highly sensitive to overwatering and using the proper soil is one of the best ways to prevent overwatering and root rot. These succulents can also tolerate rocky mediums and poor quality soils. Choose a sandy, well-draining mix that is low in organic mediums such as humus, peat moss, or coco coir. Cactus and succulent mixes are great pre-made options that are formulated to meet the needs of succulents like echeveria. 

Water

These succulents have low water needs and are considered drought-tolerant. Their water consumption will change throughout the year depending on the growing season, but in general the soil should be allowed to dry out completely between waterings. It is always best to under-water a ghost echeveria than to over-water it, so when in doubt wait another few days before watering again. If you are growing your ghost echeveria outdoors, it is unlikely that it will require additional watering outside of the regular rainfall. 

Temperature and Humidity

Ghost echeveria are desert-dwelling plants that appreciate hot, dry climates. They are hardy in USDA zones 10a through 11b, and are not frost-tolerant succulents. They can be grown outdoors year-round within their hardiness zones, but they also do well indoors as a houseplant. Just avoid placing them in overly humid locations of the home, such as a bathroom or laundry room. 

Fertilizer

Ghost echeveria are low-feeders and do not require regular fertilizing. Too much fertilizater or soil that is too nutrient-rich can actually harm these succulents and result in fertilizer burn or leggy growth. If desired, a ghost echeveria can be fertilized once yearly in the early spring with a low-strength, balanced fertilizer or a fertilizer designed for cacti and succulents. Just ensure that you water the succulent before applying the fertilizer to the soil.

Are Ghost Echeveria Toxic?

Ghost echeveria are non-toxic to pets and humans. In fact, Echeveria succulents are sometimes even used as non-edible toppings or decorations on wedding cakes, proving just how safe they are. Nevertheless, they are not technically considered edible and it is generally advised that you don’t consume them.

Ghost Echeveria Varieties

There are several hybrids of the ghost echeveria which include:

  • Echeveria ‘Lilac Dream’
  • Echeveria ‘Lola’
  • Echeveria ‘Moondust’
  • Echeveria ‘Orion’

Propagating Ghost Echeveria 

This echeveria can be propagated through dividing offsets and leaf cuttings. However, the ghost echeveria rarely grows offsets so it is usually easier to propagate by leaves. Gently twist off a leaf from the main stem, ensuring that the base of the leaf stays intact and "pops" off the stem. Place the newly separated leaf on top of dry soil and place it in a location that receives bright, indirect light. Do not water the new leaf until small pink roots have begun to sprout from the end, at which point you can begin to water lightly every couple of weeks. 

After a month or so, you should notice small ghost echeveria rosettes forming at the end of the leaves where the roots initially sprouted. Wait until the old leaf has fully shriveled up before separating it from your new succulent and repotting the plant. Leaf propagation is not always successful and you may have leaves that shrivel up and never grow roots, so it is a good idea to start multiple propagations at once to increase your chances of a successful one.

Potting and Repotting Ghost Echeveria

Ghost echeveria are slow-growing succulents that do well when rootbound and do not require frequent repotting. Repot this succulent only once it has completely outgrown its old container, for example, if roots are growing out the bottom of the pot. Choose a new pot that is a couple of inches wider than the old container and has adequate drainage. Then, gently remove the ghost echeveria from its old pot and gently loosen the soil from around the roots before transplanting the succulent to the new pot with fresh soil. Water thoroughly. 

Common Pests and Diseases

Ghost echeveria are relatively pest-free succulents, although they can be occasionally bothered by a few common pests such as mealybugs or aphids. If you notice an infestation of either of these pests, promptly treat the ghost echeveria with an insecticide or a natural remedy such as neem oil to help get rid of the bugs.