Native to Mexico, the ghost echeveria (Echeveria lilacina) is characterized by pale, silvery-gray fleshy leaves and is notably one of the most stunning varieties of Echeveria. Its leaves grow in a pretty rosette-like pattern and the plant has an upward growth habit.
In colder months, the leaves take on a more lilac hue, and while under heat stress the leaves turn a slightly pinkish color. In the late winter to early spring, mature ghost echeveria produce pale pink or coral lantern-shaped blooms on long red stems that contrast beautifully against its frosty leaves.
|Botanical Name||Echeveria lilacina|
|Common Name||Ghost echeveria, Mexican hens and chicks|
|Mature Size||6 inches tall, 7 inches wide|
|Sun Exposure||Full to partial sun|
|Soil Type||Sandy, well-draining|
|Bloom Time||Winter, spring|
|Flower Color||Pale pink or coral|
|Hardiness Zones||9b to 11b|
|Native Area||North America|
Ghost Echeveria Care
This slow-growing, low-maintenance attractive succulent is easy to grow both indoors and outdoors. In ideal conditions, the ghost echeveria can grow up to six inches tall and 7 inches in diameter. To thrive, it requires typical succulent care: bright light, minimal water, and adequate drainage. For the most part, the ghost echeveria appreciates a little neglect, so if you are seeking a plant that you can set and forget, the ghost echeveria is for you.
Echeverias require bright, sunny locations in order to thrive. If you are growing ghost echeveria as a houseplant, place it in a location that receives at least five to six hours of direct sunlight every day. If you don’t have a spot in your home that receives this much sunlight, you might need to provide a grow light so that the plant 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.
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 and poor quality soil.
Choose a sandy, well-draining mix that is low in organic components 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.
The ghost echeveria does not require much water and is 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 supplemental water other than rainfall.
Temperature and Humidity
Ghost echeveria are desert-dwelling plants that appreciate hot, dry climates. They are hardy in USDA zones 9b through 11b, and are not frost-tolerant. 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, kitchen, or laundry room.
Ghost echeveria are light-feeders and do not require regular fertilizing. Too much fertilizer 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. Ensure that you water the succulent before applying the fertilizer.
Ghost Echeveria Varieties
Several popular hybrids of the ghost echeveria include:
- Echeveria ‘Lilac Dream’ has symmetrical rosettes of spoon-shaped leaves. Leaf color varies from bluish-grey to silver-gray, and its blooms are reddish orange.
- Echeveria ‘Lola’ forms rosettes of pale gray-blue leaves with a hint of pinkish-violet. Blooms are yellow or coral pink born on short stems in spring.
- Echeveria ‘Moondust’ is slow growing and matures at six inches in diameter. Its pale leaves are covered with a waxy substance that rubs off when touched.
- Echeveria ‘Orion’ rosettes grow up to eight inches tall and six inches in diameter with grey-green leaves with reddish margins.
Propagating Ghost Echeveria
Ghost echeveria can be propagated by dividing offsets and leaf cuttings. However, the ghost echeveria rarely grows offsets so it is usually easier to propagate by leaf cuttings, as follows:
- 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 before separating it from your new succulent and repotting the plant.
Leaf propagation is not always successful and you might 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 success.
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 when it has completely outgrown its container, for example, if roots are growing out of the bottom.
Choose a new container that is an inch or two wider than the old container and has adequate drainage. Then, gently remove the ghost echeveria from its current container and gently loosen the soil from around the roots. Place the plant into fresh soil in the new container, and 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, use an insecticidal soap or a natural remedy such as neem oil to treat the infestation.