Ghost plant leaves fall off as a response to a lack of direct sun or drop off to self propagate from the fallen leaf to set root and produce another ghost plant. Ghost plant leaves can also fall off due to stress caused by over watering and slow draining soils
Ghost plants (Graptopetalum paraguayense) without enough light grow a long stem from which the lower leaves drop off whilst the rosette remains attached looking for more direct light.
Keep reading to learn why you ghost plant is losing leaves and how to solve the problem…
Not Enough Light Causes Ghost Plants Lower Leaves to Fall off
The most common reason for a ghost plant to lose its lower leaves is because it is not getting enough direct light.
Ghost plants are succulents that have specifically adapted to growing in fairly harsh conditions with full sun, warm temperatures and sandy or stony soils.
The stem of the ghost plant can grow tall (or perhaps long as it can trail down from pots) in response to not enough light (etiolate).
The longer tall stems grow in the brightest direction towards as much light as it can which results in a long gangling stem with sparse leaves.
The attractive rosette usually stays intact, however the lower leaves along the stem tend to drop off which leaves a long stem without foliage.
These leaves are shed as the ghost plant is trying to conserve resources by preserving the rosette and losing the leaves lower down the stem that receive less light.
This does not necessarily mean that your plant is dying but just under additional stress because of a lack of direct light.
To get a ghost plant to grow compact it should be in full sun. This means locating the succulent in a sunny south facing window or outdoors.
Indirect bright light is typically not enough for succulents such as the ghost plant to stay in a nice compact shape.
If your ghost plant has lost all its lower leaves leaving just a long stem and a rosette then the ghost plant can still be revived.
The best option is to propagate the ghost plant from a leaf of the rosette to generate a new plant without having a long unsightly stem or cut the rosette off with a sterile pair of pruners which can then propagate in a pot and remain more compact (assuming its in full sun).
Ghost plants are incredibly easy to propagate with a very high rate of success and it is very satisfying to watch them grow so if your have long bare stems then give it a go and you can have many more ghost plants!
Watch this helpful YouTube video which explains exactly how to propagate and prune ghost plants that have grown with long stems and less leaves so that they are revived:
Ghost Plants Grow Quickly Causing Leaves to Drop off
As succulents go, the ghost plant is particularly quick grower. In fact the individual ghost plant can be as much as 3 feet long from base to rosette.
As stated ghost plants grow leggy and lose their leaves in a response to a lack of direct sun but even with direct sun they typically grow faster then other succulents leading to a leggy appearance over time. This can also result in leaf loss.
In which case the same advice applies as when ghost plants grow tall and lose their lower leaves because of a lack of sun, in that some routine maintenance should be expected with this plant.
So every now and then snip your ghost plant back and propagate the rosette to keep it proportionate and tidy as it grows over time.
Ghost plants readily propagate and you can quickly restore your potted arrangement to suit your requirements.
Ghost plants Naturally Lose Leaves to Self Propagate
Ghost plants are particualrly noted in the succlent world for the readiness to produce new plants by dropping some of their leaves.
Therefore there are times where ghost plants do drop their leaves naturally without any stress caused by a lack of sun, quick growth or over watering.
Leaves that are dropped on the soil callus over their wounds (to conserve moisture) and if left to their own devices, produce roots and start an entirely new plant.
The reason they do this is because this is one of the mechanisms that they use in their native habitat to produce more plants.
If your ghost plant leaves are in a pot with exposed soil (and enough space to grow) the ghost plant leaf that has dropped can grow roots and you have a pot of mini ghost plants before you know it.
You can leave these plants to grow into full sized ghost plants or transplant to another pot.
Whilst a lot of succulents drop their leaves specifically for self propagation this affect is particularly pronounced and successful for ghost plants
Over watering or Slow Draining Soils can Cause Ghost Plant to Lose Leaves
The ghost plant is native to high altitude dry deserts in Mexico where they grow in gravely, sandy or stony soil with relatively little rainfall or sources of moisture.
Ghost plants have specifically adapted to living in this environment and actually require these harsh conditions to thrive.
Over watering or slow draining soils are contrary to their preferred conditions.
The stress causes by too much moisture contribute to leaves falling off and in severe cases causes stem and root rot that can kill your ghost plant
Ghost plants are native to particularly hot and dry areas of Mexico where it is advantageous for the plant to stay dormant in Summer to conserve resources in the hostile, hot weather and grow more in the Winter when the temperature is milder.
This seasonal cycle means that ghost plants in particular are prone to stress from over watering even more so in Summer which can contribute to leaves dropping and a decline in the health of the plant.
Over watered ghost plant leaves can feel soft, turn yellow and drop off depending on the severity of the stress caused by excess moisture around the roots.
With proper watering schedule and well draining soil your ghost plant has few requirements and should be healthy enough to not drop its leaves through stress.
- Ghost plants lose there leaves in order to self propagate or as a reaction to not enough direct sunlight.
- Over watering and slow draining soils stress the ghost plant which thrive dryer conditions causing some of the leaves to drop.
- Ghost plants grow quicker then most succulents which can cause long stems with few leaves.
- Propagate ghost plants with cuttings and from leaves to revive a sparse ghost plant.