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Fall decor with ghostly plants

It’s a no-brainer that I love plants. That’s why I enjoy dressing up any holiday with plants that fit the season. These “ghostly plants” with their ghoulishly good looks are especially fitting for Halloween. In fact when it comes to trick or treat, this group of succulents and cacti definitely fall into the “treat” category.

Succulents and cacti can survive the harshest of conditions, with many designed to live in desert climates and parched soils. While there are infinite varieties that come in all shapes, sizes and colors, most share similar needs for well-drained soil and bright light. Plus they require minimal care. Though many tolerate moderate moisture, the stems and leaves will shrivel up if you water too much. But that just might work if you’re going for a look that’s a bit more mummified.

I picked up quite a selection of these plants at my local Kmart, opting for ghostly shapes, odd features and eerie tones of gray. For example, I found a succulent known as Cobweb Houseleek (Sempervivum arachnoideum) that features gray-green rosettes of multiple leaves joined by cobweb-like hairs. And if you go online you can find several sources for a succulent called “Ghost Plant” (Graptopetalum paraguayense).

There are many ways you can use the smaller succulent and cacti species in your garden or landscape. I like to use them in mass plantings, as edging plants, or in the front of a border. This groups also excels in rock gardens or trailing over a stone wall. But I especially enjoy growing them in containers.

Some of these drought-tolerant plants are quite hardy, whereas others are not and therefore perform best as indoor plants in areas where winters are cold. But even if your climate prevents you from growing them outdoors year-round, you can always grow them in pots kept outdoors during the warmer months, then bring them inside as houseplants during winter. Any bright or sunny window will do, but the brighter the better–especially if you live in the northern part of the country where light levels are typically low in winter.

Whether grown indoors or out, well-drained soil is crucial. These plants will rot if the soil is kept too wet or doesn’t drain well. Be sure to use a potting mix or potting soil designed for cacti and succulents if you plan to grow your plants in containers.

As a group these plants are typically drought tolerant. As such, water only when the soil is dry. One way to gauge that, especially in container plantings, is with the finger test. Simply stick your finger in the top 1/2 inch of soil for potted plants, or the top 1 inch of soil if grown in the ground. If the soil is dry, then go ahead and water.

One more thing. When it comes to dressing up Halloween, these ghostly plants can take center stage in many ways. For example, Kmart has lighted tombstones both in store and online that you can use at the head of a bed by the front door, with potted ghostly plants sunk into the soil.

Or instead of the tombstone, partially sink Kmart’s life-size realistic skeleton and ghostly plants in the soil.

As for me, I especially enjoy featuring these ghostly plants as a centerpiece at the table surrounded by various miniature pumpkins, winter squash and autumnal leaves. Trick or treat? You decide!

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kris wetherbee


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  1. Loved your idea about decorating with succulents. I picked up one of the lighted tombstones you mentioned and it looks fantastic!

  2. These are great Kris!

    I love how you had put these all together, I would have never thought to include plants for decorating, especially Halloween!

    Gives me a few ideas for decorating during Thanksgiving for I have a couple of cacti plants that I can use!

    Love it!

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