You’ve seen these succulents everywhere. Their captivating rosettes have been a constant in garden stores for years. Graptosedum is a classic that’s fun and easy to grow.
Yes, the name sounds like grapes, but this succulent actually resembles Echeveria. Graptosedum’s compact leaves spiral around the stem and create rosettes at the top. It comes in a wide array of hues from purple to orange to white. This succulent is sure to add color to your garden.
Good Products for Graptosedum Care:
Quick Care Guide
|Common Name(s)||California Sunset succulent, |
Alpenglow succulent, Vera Higgins
|Height & Spread||6-12″ tall and 6-9″ wide|
|Light||Full to partial sun|
|Water||“Soak and dry” method|
|Fertilizer||Balanced, 1/4 strength, liquid |
|Pests & Diseases||Mealybugs, aphids, rot|
All About Graptosedum
Graptosedums are sprawling plants. Because of this, they’re great as groundcovers or in hanging baskets. You’ll see the most growth during spring and fall. In the spring, you may be rewarded with white flowers – a sign that your Graptosedum is healthy.
Because sunlight is so essential for this plant, you’ll get the best results growing outside. Zones 9-11 can sustain Graptosedum yearlong. In other areas, plant your succulent in a container that can be brought indoors when it’s cold out. Avoid leaving your Graptosedum in temperatures below 30° F.
Graptosedum is a hybrid of two genera: Graptopetalum and Sedum. You may see it written as xGraptosedum. Although this genus has many varieties, the care is universal.
Types of Graptosedum
There are numerous varieties of Graptosedum. They’re often confused with each other, so let’s pick apart the most common ones.
Graptosedum ‘Vera Higgins’, ‘Alpenglow’
This variety is well-known for its deep burgundy color. The color comes from exposure to cool temperatures, so the succulent is green at first. Although the burgundy is beautiful, don’t be tempted to lower the temperature too much. ‘Alpenglow’ is only cold hardy to about 25° F.
Graptosedum ‘Bronze’, ‘Coffee’
‘Bronze’ is often grouped with the ‘Vera Higgins’ variety. The only major difference is in color. ‘Alpenglow’ is burgundy while ‘Bronze’ is, you guessed it, bronze. This variety can handle a minimum temperature of 15° F. Because of this, it can often survive outdoors in zone 8b.
Unlike other varieties, the leaves of ‘Bronze’ grow abundantly below the rosettes. The cylindrical shape this makes gives the succulent a fuller appearance.
This ghost of a succulent is just what you’d expect. The leaves are pale with hints of blue, gray, and pink. It’s very similar to the Graptopetalum Ghost Plant. The two are differentiated by flower color: Ghost Plant has yellow and ‘Ghosty’ has white.
Graptosedum ‘California Sunset’, ‘Peach Blossom’
One of the most dazzling succulents, ‘California Sunset’ is a myriad of orange and pink. The leaves actually start out gray and then change color as they mature. A fully-grown rosette will resemble a vibrant sunset in color.
Graptosedum ‘Francesco Baldi’
This is a sprawling succulent with long, hanging stems and rosettes close to the ground. Its leaves are blue-gray, but turn pink in the sun. During the winter, they may even become purplish-brown.
‘Francesco Baldi’ has a common cultivar called Graptosedum ‘Francesco Baldi’ f. cristata. Don’t let the long name bore you though – this succulent is pretty cool. The rosettes grow on top of a crest, which is a thick, cactus-like stem. This succulent is sure to catch attention.
Graptosedum ‘Darley Sunshine’
This dainty Graptosedum has thick, long leaves with pink tips. It produces lots of offsets, which are great for propagation.
Graptosedums are fairly low-maintenance. With these guidelines, all gardeners can have success with them.
Light & Temperature
Graptosedums love sunlight! They need 6 hours of full to partial sun a day. Depending on the variety, you may see their colors deepen with the light.
Keep in mind that too much of a good thing is detrimental to plants. Graptosedums can get sunburned. To avoid this, keep your succulent out of direct heat and let it adjust to new locations.
Morning sunlight is ideal for Graptosedums because it’s bright but not too direct. Plant your succulent where it can get light in the morning and partial shade in the afternoon.
Water & Humidity
As a typical succulent, the ‘soak and dry’ method is perfect for this desert plant. Water your Graptosedum consistently during the growing season and cut back in the winter.
When watering, completely soak the soil. This will allow your Graptosedum to store what it needs for the next drought. Mimic this drought by letting the soil dry out completely before watering again. You might even leave the soil dry for a day or two.
Well-draining soil is crucial for Graptosedum. If left sitting in water, the succulent will become mushy and rot. Choose a pre-made succulent soil or mix your own. The ratio of soil to perlite or sand should be at least 1:1.
If you notice the soil isn’t draining well, mix in more perlite or sand as soon as possible.
Applying fertilizer during the growing season will give your Graptosedum a boost. You can do so at the beginning of spring and fall, or throughout the growing season. Apply fertilizer weekly at the most.
Succulents prefer either balanced or low-nitrogen fertilizer. For easy application, choose a liquid one that’s diluted to ¼ strength; most specialty succulent fertilizers are like this.
If you’re growing Graptosedum in a container, it may need to be repotted as it grows. Remember, it’s normal for Graptosedum to hang over the edge of the container. You’ll need to watch the roots to tell if the plant has enough space.
When repotting, use new, dry soil. Once the succulent is settled, don’t water it for about a week. If the roots were damaged while repotting, they could rot in the water. Waiting gives them time to heal.
Graptosedum can be easily propagated by stem and leaf cuttings. To take leaf cuttings, just pull or twist them off the stem. Be gentle though! If part of the leaf is left behind, it may not grow. For stem cuttings, cut about an inch below the rosette. Remove any leaves from the bottom of the cutting.
Let your cuttings dry out for a few days. You’ll see the cut end ‘scab over’. Once dry, place them on well-draining soil (stem cuttings can be inserted in the soil). Keep the soil and cutting moist. The cutting will send out roots and leaf cuttings will grow new rosettes. Once your new plant is established, resume its normal watering schedule.
Graptosedum also produces offsets (long stems that grow outwards). These can be propagated just like stem cuttings. If left alone, they might root by themselves.
A hugely common problem with succulents is etiolation. This is when the stems stretch out in search of sunlight. Luckily, it’s easily fixed in Graptosedums. Pruning back a stretched stem will allow new rosettes to grow from the stump. This will help the plant grow more compact (provided you give it more sun!).
Prune your Graptosedum with clean clippers. Cut the stem close to the soil and keep the area dry. Instead of throwing away the cutting, we encourage you to try out propagation!
Graptosedums have no more problems than most other succulents. If you prevent and watch for the following, your succulent should stay healthy and happy.
As mentioned, etiolation is a frequent problem in succulents. Prevent it by giving your Graptosedum plenty of sunlight. If your plant is already stretched, prune back the stems so they can regrow close to the ground. Move your Graptosedum to a new location so it won’t stretch again.
Succulent enthusiasts often notice that the leaves are falling off their plant. It’s natural for old leaves towards the bottom to drop. If the fallen leaves are newer ones from the top though, your succulent is probably overwatered. You’ll need to let the soil dry out more between waterings. Also, observe the soil when you water it and note how fast it drains. Adjust the sandiness as needed.
When underwatered, Graptosedum’s leaves may become discolored and wrinkly. Usually, if you just give it a good soak, the plant will be fine.
Both pests can be removed by spritzing the succulent with insecticidal soap. For a small number of mealybugs, just dab each insect with a q-tip soaked in rubbing alcohol.
Deter mealybugs and aphids by planting with worm castings. An enzyme in worm castings called chitinase breaks down the exoskeleton of insects. It also benefits succulents in other ways. It improves soil aeration and tilth, increases moisture retention, and provides some disease-fighting assistance. If you use worm castings in your potting mix, be sure to mix in a little extra perlite to offset the extra moisture the castings will provide.
The most common affliction for Graptosedums – and most succulents – is rot. This happens when the plant is constantly moist and begins to decay. Rot is usually in the roots but can occur in any part of the succulent. It may lead to bacterial infections.
Prevent rot by keeping your Graptosedum dry. When watering, try not to splash any water on the plant itself. Most importantly, use sandy soil that won’t retain water.
If your Graptosedum has started to rot, save it by cutting off the affected sections with a sterile knife. Let the wounds dry out for a few days before replanting in new, dry soil. If your succulent is too rotted to save, clip off any healthy leaves or stems for propagation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Is Graptosedum toxic to pets?
A. No, Graptosedum is safe for pets and humans.
Q. What’s the difference between Graptosedum and Echeveria?
A. Graptosedum has thick leaves that are usually tinged with shades of red. Echeveria has thin, spoon-shaped leaves that are often pointy on the ends.