The ghost plant is mysterious and sophisticated at the same time, and its fascinating appearance alone invites you to look at it and be amazed. It only gets spooky for small insects, which are attracted by the yellow eye and the scent of the plant and held inside. But in contrast to the carnivorous plant, the insects are released into the wild again after the pollination work is done. Otherwise, the ghost plant, also known as the pipe flower, is a very frugal plant that beautifies living rooms, terraces and balconies in a unique way. Due to its rapid branching and very robust tendril formation, it creates an incomparable living space ambience, whereby the shoots and tendrils can be shortened at any time as required.
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Appearance and inflorescences
The ghost plant is at home in the Brazilian jungle, where it offers animals an ideal climbing opportunity. Their robust tendrils can withstand a lot and can also be admired in many living rooms in our native regions. Each part of the plant has a specific purpose. The ghost plant has a very distinctive appearance, which is reflected in the arrangement of the leaves and flowers. It has bracts and the flowers are in several inflorescences together. The existing three sepals are fused into a tube, which is hairy on the inside. The variety of colors of the sepals can change from green to red, brown or even purple.
ZThe fascinating thing is that each ovary chamber can have up to 50 ovules. The plant is pollinated by insects, which are magically attracted by the strong odor of the flower. However, this distinctive odor usually only occurs at night and can only be experienced by humans through direct nose contact. The insects are held in place by the inner hairs of the flower tube and cannot leave the flower until the pistil is covered with pollen. The shoots of the plant are very flexible and delicate. The ghost plant begins its growth in spring and only really comes into its own in summer due to its blooming splendor. Due to its long tendrils, the ghost plant always finds exactly the place it needs for its growth.
Suitable locations and substrate
In its homeland, the South American jungle, the plant gets relatively little sun, which is why it is not spoiled in this regard. It doesn’t like direct sunlight outdoors, but it feels comfortable in the middle of a light to partially shaded and, above all, warm location.
- The ghost plant is potted in pots.
- In spring and summer, light to partially shaded, warm places are suitable.
- Protection from wind should definitely be given.
- For the winter, the plant may like it light, but also cooler.
- The room temperature in winter quarters should be 10 to 15 degrees Celsius.
- For potting, a humus-rich substrate should be used, which can also be enriched with perlites.
- Under no circumstances should pure compost be used, as the plant cannot tolerate the high density of nutrients.
The right care – the be-all and end-all
In order for the ghost plant to live up to its name as a climbing genius and to spread its slender tentacles, it also needs the right care. Watering with low-lime water or captured rainwater ensures rapid growth. In the warm summer months, the plant should always be kept moist without overwatering the soil. It also needs some water in its wintering quarters and care should be taken to ensure that the soil never dries out completely. In order to compensate for the dry ambient air, it is advisable to spray the leaves.
Heart-shaped, green leaves and countless purple-like flowers in summer are the hallmarks of the ghost plant. So that you can enjoy the up to eight centimeters large flowers for a long time, you should fertilize sufficiently every 14 days, especially in the growth phase in spring and summer. This not only promotes the growth of the plant, but also its health.
In spring at the latest or when the ghost plant finds its way into the wintering quarters, the tendrils should be shortened to about 30 cm. The shortening means that the plant has strength again in summer for the new flowers and they can be admired in their beauty. Those who do not attach importance to the decimation of the tendrils or who do not want to influence the beautification of the apartment with countless shoots, however, have to reckon with less abundance of flowers. To correct the shape of the ghost plant, you can attach trellises, which also provide support for the heavy shoots.
Repot the ghost plant
When the ghost plant has reached a considerable size, you can offer it more development in the root area and repot it. To do this, you simply take a larger planter and fill it with potting soil, which is mixed with either Seramis or Perlite in a favorable mixing ratio. The ghost plant tolerates repotting relatively well and it also reacts calmly to the isolation of the root ball. After repotting, it is important to treat the plant with sufficient fertilizer and to give it moisture. Since it reproduces very quickly, the repotted plants will quickly get used to the new conditions and show off their full bloom and foliage.
Different types of propagation
The small sac in the lower area of the flower is typical of the ghost plant. In order to develop seeds for reproduction, the insects are lured into the opened eye by the scent of the plant. There the pollen is whirled up and the pistil is pollinated. If you want to dare to grow with seeds, you should always use fresh seeds and you have to work with suitable potting soil and a sowing container. To do this, the thin seed platelets are poured about half a centimeter deep into the moistened special soil. The sowing vessel should be kept warm and evenly moist. Under no circumstances should waterlogging occur, as otherwise there is a risk of rotting. When the first small seedlings are visible, they must be supported with spikes or other climbing aids.
Propagation by cuttings
The ghost plant can not only be propagated by seeds, but also by cuttings. To do this, you can put small cuttings in a suitable pot with potting soil, preferably in spring. After a while, the plant will begin to take root and can then be further cultivated. However, it takes some time for the cuttings to take root and you should be patient for about 3 months. As the ghost plant is very fast-growing, it can reach an incredible size of up to 6 meters after just one year.
Diseases and pests
Even if the ghost plant is considered to be a rather robust and resilient plant, there are some factors that promote or can cause disease. If the leaves fall off in winter it is a normal process and nothing to worry about. The leaves then grow back again in spring and summer and the flowers unfold again after a short time. However, brown leaf margins, which can occur at any time of the year, indicate that the humidity is too low. Due to its origin, the ghost plant needs a high level of humidity and brown leaf tips can be remedied with regular spraying of the plant. A change of location can also help the plant to regain normal growth behavior.
The situation is different with pests. In particular, the infestation of aphids or spider mites occurs relatively often in the ghost plant when the room air is too dry. On the other hand, only regular moisture and appropriate, professional control of the spider mites can help. Alternatively, washing the leaves with soapy water can help. Unfortunately, only commercially available insecticides can help with more severe pest infestation. There are also certain types of maggots that make themselves comfortable in the earth and attack the root ball. If you have any suspicions, you should dig up the earth and examine the roots carefully. Sometimes repotting the plants in a new environment also helps. In this way you can prevent the spread of diseases and the plants can recover.
The ghost plant is a very frugal plant that delights its owners with its fast, vigorous growth and wonderful flowers. If you meet their desire for a humid climate and a bright place without direct sunlight, then you will enjoy this exotic plant for a long time. The ghost plant not only enriches terraces and balconies in an inimitable way, but also gives living spaces a particularly fascinating atmosphere.