Kalanchoe Flowering: How To Make A Kalanchoe Rebloom

I received a Kalanchoe as a gift plant this summer and I am now struggling to get it to bloom anew. Kalanchoe is an African native that has become a common house guest in North American homes. These plants require low light conditions to force budding. Ideally, the plant should experience 14 hours of lightless conditions to promote budding and bloom. Getting Kalanchoe to bloom again requires a bit of a rest period for the plant, correct lighting and some good fertilizer to fuel the process. A few tips on how to make a Kalanchoe rebloom will ensure success and a beautiful flowering houseplant in winter.

Kalanchoe Bloom Time

Usually, the plant is in full bloom at purchase and produces a constant parade of flowers for weeks or even months. Kalanchoes are forced to bloom by nurseries, in order to present their flowers for purchasers. When does Kalanchoe bloom naturally? In its native region, Kalanchoe can bloom almost year around, but as a container houseplant, it is most commonly blooming in late winter to late spring. This cycle will slow down as lighting increases.

Getting a Kalanchoe to bloom again requires a rest period for the plant and

then tricking it into thinking it is a different time of year. Exposure to lower light levels during fall and winter will generally encourage the plant to bloom, but plants in higher light regions will need some closet time to mimic the lower light hours of a winter hibernation.

A hibernation, or rest period, is necessary for the plant to amass energy for blooming and growth when conditions are favorable. Keeping the plant in no light for this period will awaken the plant from its winter slumber and cause flower production. Failing to provide a rest period is often the reason getting Kalanchoe to bloom again may be unsuccessful.

How to Make a Kalanchoe Rebloom

After the flowers on your plant begin to fade and die, cut them back and remove the spent blooms. This prevents the plant from directing energy to trying to sustain a part that is already spent.

During the summer, keep the plant in well-drained soil in a sunny location and maintain a moderate moisture level.

When fall arrives, cut back on water and move the plant indoors if you are in a zone below USDA 9 or where frost is expected. The plant will experience low light conditions from fall to late winter, which normally causes flowers to form.

Fertilize with a 0-10-10 in late winter or just as the first buds are forming. This will promote better and more Kalanchoe flowering and enhance plant health and vigor.

Tricking a Kalanchoe into Blooming

If you want your plant to bloom at a specific time, such as Christmas, you will need to do some planning. Minimize watering and give the plant a 14-hour period without light daily 6 weeks before the desired bloom time. Place the plant in a closet or under a box for 14 hours and provide 10 hours of bright light.

Keep the plant warm and away from drafts. Do not water or feed the plant for 6 weeks, as it is dormant. As soon as you see flower buds, move the plant to brighter lighting and resume watering. Feed the plant in spring and remove spent flowers to encourage new buds.

These plants are easy to grow and provide up to 6 months of beautiful little flowers and thick attractively scalloped leaves.

Kalanchoes are pretty, low-maintenance, perennial, succulent plants that bear bunches of small blossoms on branching bracts. They are typically grown indoors, but can be placed outside whenever temperatures are warm enough or if winter temperatures don’t get low enough to harm them. Grown indoors or outdoors, Kalanchoes still need bright light, dry periods between watering and room to spread their root system.

Hardiness Zone

While temperatures of 50 to 60 °F (10 to 15.5 °C) will keep the Kalanchoes in bloom, freezing temperatures can kill them. In USDA hardiness zones 10 and 11, they can be planted directly in the landscape with minimal winter protection and will function as perennials. Even a few hours of temperatures near 40°F (4.5°C) can kill unprotected Kalanachoe.

Location

Kalanchoes are lovely in or out of bloom, but need short daylight hours to produce blooms. Kalanchoes planted where nighttime lighting reaches the leaves may not produce blooms as often as those planted where they have long stretches of darkness at night. In USDA hardiness zones 10 and 11, summertime direct sunlight can burn the leaves. Planted near a deciduous tree with dappled shade, Kalanchoes benefit from more winter sun and less summer sun.

Photo via gardenerdy.com

Moving Indoors

North of USDA hardiness zone 11, Kalanchoes are grown as summer annuals, or must be planted in pots so they can be moved indoors when frost threatens. If they are set outdoors in an area with intense, full sunlight, they must be gradually adjusted to the lower light levels they will experience indoors.

Outdoor Care

Kalanchoes grown outside don’t need much care. They have low water needs, whether grown indoors or out. Do not water plants unless the top 1 inch (2.5 cm) or so of the soil feels dry. Kalanchoes have sensitive roots and do not like soggy soils, which can cause root rot and kill the plants. The plants can stand some drought, but if soil gets too dry, it can inhibit plant growth.

You can propagate Kalanchoes in spring by taking cuttings of 2 to 3 inches (7.5 cm) shoots or taking a single leaf cutting. Some Kalanchoe plants, such as Mother of Thousands (Kalanchoe laetivirens), produce leaflets or bulblets on the edges of leaves which grow easily when they fall to ground or when placed in soil.

Pests and Disease

Kalanchoes grown outside are more susceptible to pests. Aphids, spider mites, scale insect and nematodes can all attack the plant. Some signs of insect infestation include honeydew on leaves, bitten or torn leaves and faded leaves. To treat plants for insects use a nontoxic treatment, like neem oil, to avoid damaging the plant. When grown in humid conditions, the plant can suffer from leaf spotting.

Considerations

Heavy winds can break the succulent stems of Kalanchoes or even uproot them. Place the container in a sheltered area. Kalanchoes also do not “play well” with other plants, in that they have a very demanding root system. They need plenty of root space from other plants and particularly don’t compete well with grass. The more root room they have in the ground or in their containers, the larger the plant will grow and the more bloom clusters it can support.

Source: hunker.com

Links

  • Back to genus Kalanchoe
  • Succulentopedia: Browse succulents by Scientific Name, Common Name, Genus, Family, USDA Hardiness Zone, Origin, or cacti by Genus

Subscribe now and be up to date with our latest news and updates.

Kalanchoe blossfeldiana

The Blossfeldiana is the most popular succulent plant from the Kalanchoe genus, mainly grown for its flowering ability rather than its foliage – unlike many other succulents. Growers can motivate the plant to bloom at any time of the year, although they’re naturally spring bloomers. The green leaves will become a reddish color around the edges, if given enough sunlight.

Blooming: In the past these plants were thrown away after the flowers died which is why they were better known as flowering gift plants. However, they can bloom many times, at any time of the year indoors. It’s best to prune these back as soon as the existing flowers are spent or dead, which will encourage new buds and further flowering.

Taking cuttings from the flaming katy and propagating them (easily done) will allow a grower to create new plants and provide a higher chance of seeing more flowers if the parent plant decides it no longer wants to produce more (it’s easier than being concerned about the parent re-flowering).

Level of care: Taking care of these is pretty easy and they may actually thank you for a little neglect. Getting them to re-flower is the difficult part, although as mentioned above you can just propagate new cuttings.

Pets: The Kalanchoe plant is toxic to pets (dogs and cats), as advised by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), if consumed. The ASPCA advises owners to contact there veterinary clinic if their animal begins vomiting or has diarrhoea.

This popular succulent, unlike most other succulents, is grown predominantly for its vibrant blooms. It often finds its way into homes as a gift plant, and is usually thrown away after the flowers have died, as the foliage of the plant is not very interesting to look at. However, if you are prepared to wait for new flowers to bloom, the Flaming Katy can be kept inside as a houseplant all year round.

Growing to no more than 30 cm tall while indoors, it makes quite a nice compact plant to be kept on a bright shelf or windowsill. It’s a very easy plant to care for, being tolerant of a large range of temperatures, not requiring any special humidity conditions, and being drought resistant and, therefore, easy to keep alive if you tend to water sporadically. It requires very little attention to thrive and is even happy in a variety of light conditions, though bright, indirect light will be needed for a few hours each day if you want the Flaming Katy to flower again.

Flaming Katy Plant Overview

Quick Facts

Origin Madagascar
Scientific Name Kalanchoe blossfeldiana
Family Crassulaceae
Type Evergreen Succulent
Common Names Flaming Katy, Window’s Thrill, Panda Plant, Christmas Kalanchoe
Ideal Temperature 55° F – 85° F
Light Many light levels tolerated, though bright indirect light is best
Watering Allow to dry out between watering, little water required
Humidity Any humidity
Toxicity Poisonous to pets and livestock

Caring for Your Flaming Katy Plant

Watering

Caring for this plant is a dream come true for people who have a forgetful or sporadic watering style. The Flaming Katy likes to be watered thoroughly and then, left to dry out between waterings, though it will do just fine if you accidentally neglect it every now and then. The succulent leaves of the plant are capable of storing water for several weeks at a time, so the plant should not go thirsty if you leave it untended to while on summer vacations away from home.

This plant does not like to sit in soggy soil, so a good combination of well-draining potting mix together with occasional moderate watering will result in a happy and thriving plant. Always test the soil before adding more water to avoid overwatering. This plant will benefit from having its soil dry out to around half the depth of the pot. You can check if this is the case by dipping your finger into the soil and noting whether it is moist or dry. If it is damp at all, then you can wait a few more days before testing again.

During winter, the plant will need even less frequent waterings, and the amount you need to water it will also be reduced. You should be watering it every two weeks at the most, but less frequently will be fine too. Make sure you adjust your watering level in line with what the plant needs. During winter, it will not grow, so it needs very little water just to sustain itself. Make sure your pot has drainage holes underneath and a drip tray so that you can pour away any water that drains through the soil. This will help to prevent overly wet soil and root rot.

Temperature

Ideally, the Flaming Katy should be in a temperature range of 55° F – 85° F, though it isn’t terribly temperamental when it comes to temperature. If the temperature drops a few degrees below 50° F for a brief period, then the plant will probably be okay, and likewise if the temperature rises a few degrees over 85 °F. That being said, the plant will not do well in frost, so if you put your Flaming Katy outside for the summer months, then be sure to bring it back inside before the first frost arrives. The plant will also not tolerate excessively hot conditions, and will need extra water during heat waves.

Light

The Flaming Katy enjoys bright, indirect light, though for short periods of time, you can move the plant to a more shaded area of your home. While the plant is in bloom, its common to want to sit the plant in a darker space- on a shelf or table with little light to brighten up the area. This plant will be okay with that in the short-term, but after around four weeks, you will need to move it to a better lit spot.

To encourage the plant to bloom time and time again, you will need to allow it at least a few hours of indirect, bright light each day. Without this the plant will not flower again, and may even die completely. A windowsill benefitting from several hours of light each day would be ideal, though make sure you filter any direct light with a shade or window blind (Flowers and Plants Association).

Humidity

The Flaming Katy plant is not fussy when it comes to humidity, and any level of humidity will be fine. The plant will not need any misting and humidity isn’t something you need to be concerned with.

Feeding

While the plant is flowering, then you shouldn’t feed it. A few weeks after all the flowers have died off, a houseplant fertilizer can be used at half dilution. Feed the plant around every four weeks through spring and summer, and not at all over winter. Look for a fertilizer high in potassium, as this will help the plant to produce more flowers when it next blooms.

Repotting

This plant is often only kept in the home while it is flowering. The foliage of the plant isn’t very interesting to look at and trying to get the plant to flower again is sometimes more trouble than it’s worth. For this reason, many people throw the Flaming Katy away after the flowers have died, and will therefore never have cause to repot it.

However, if you choose to keep this plant in your home, it will need to be put in a new pot around every two years. Try to do this in the springtime, carefully removing the plant from its current pot without disturbing the root ball. Plant it into a new pot one size bigger than the previous pot, using a well-draining soil mixed with builder’s sand. Extra care must be taken when re-potting the Flaming Katy because the leaves are quite brittle and can be very easily snapped or damaged.

Flowers

The flowers on this plant are the stars of the show, and really, they are the only reason that anyone would buy a Flaming Katy. It is common for the plant to have around 50 flowers blooming at the same time, which is quite something given the small stature of the plant. When it is in full bloom, the plant looks very striking, with masses of flowers in various vibrant colors.

The blooms are usually single flowers with four petals, or double flowers with eight petals. Common colors for the Flaming Katy’s flowers are pink, orange, red, yellow, purple, and white (American University of Beirut- Landscape Plant Database).

Flowers on the Flaming Katy can be short-lived, lasting just a few weeks, though it is possible for the plant to flower for a month or more if it is carefully cared for, with dead flowers being removed frequently. Keeping the plant in a cool spot will also help to prolong the life of the flowers.

Though this is often a throwaway plant after the flowers have died, you can keep the plant around for longer and encourage it to bloom again. As long as it gets the right light, the Flaming Katy can bloom time and time again.

Propagating this plant is easy, and for some people, it is the better option for getting new flowers instead of trying to get the mother plant to bloom again. Propagation can be achieved through leaf or stem cuttings. Simply cut a stem from the mother plant a few inches in length and allow it to dry out for a few days before doing anything with it. Once it has dried out, you can plant in in soil, where roots should begin to grow within a few weeks. Rooting hormone can be used to encourage successful propagation, though this is usually a personal preference.

Toxicity

The Flaming Katy is highly toxic to pets, livestock, and humans. Both the leaves and flowers contain cardiac glycosides, which can cause major heart problems for animals, and even death if the animal eats enough of the plant.

In areas of the world where the Flaming Katy plant grows in the wild, deaths of livestock are often reported. The rate of death usually increases during the time when the plant is in bloom, as the toxic cardiac glycosides are found in much larger amounts in the flowers of the plant.

Even small amounts of this toxin can cause harm to pets, so it’s important to keep it out of their reach, even if you don’t think they would be likely to nibble on it. If you suspect a pet has eaten some of your Flaming Katy, you will need to take them to see a vet as soon as possible. Symptoms that pets have ingested some of the plant include drooling, depression, and diarrhea, as well as cardiac problems (American Kennel Club).

Ingesting parts of the Flaming Katy plant will usually result in tummy upset for humans, so keep the plant out of reach from children.

Common Problems

No New Blooms

Getting the Flaming Katy to produce new flowers can sometimes be a challenge. Professional growers can get this plant to bloom at any time of year by tricking it into thinking it is a different season with the use of artificial light. To get your Flaming Katy to re-bloom, you’ll need to do this yourself to some extent. The plant will need long night time hours and few day time hours to produce new buds. Ensure the plant is getting enough light during the day by setting it on a bright windowsill.

Many growers allow the plant to rest during October, better enabling it to produce new blooms afterwards. Beginning in October, allow the plant to only receive moderate light during the day and put it in a dark room for 14 hours each night. Do not feed it during this time and allow very little water. Follow this plan for around six to eight weeks, by which time, the plant should be starting to bloom. Following this period of rest, resume normal care and enjoy your new flowers

Deadheading the plant when it flowers and cutting off flowering stems once they are spent will also encourage new blooms.

Wilting Leaves

Wilting leaves are either caused by too much or too little water. Given that the Flaming Katy is a drought resistant plant, the likelihood will be that it’s wilting leaves are a product of overwatering. An easy way to check is to simply feel the soil. If it is moist, then the wilting leaves are almost certainly an overwatering issue. If the soil is very dry, it could be that you haven’t watered the plant enough.

Overwatering will often result in root rot, which kills the roots and prevents them from supplying water and nutrients to the plant, thereby killing it. If you suspect root rot then the plant needs to be repotted in fresh, well-draining soil. Root rot is often so severe that the plant cannot be saved, so don’t expect too much from your plant if the roots are in poor condition.

Dropping Leaves

A Flaming Katy losing leaves can be due to a number of things. Most commonly, a sudden temperature drop of lower than 50° F will cause the leaves to drop. As this is often sold as a Christmas plant due to its ability to flower through the winter, it’s easy for the plant to be inadvertently exposed to very low temperatures. If you suspect this is the case, ensure it is at a comfortable home temperature away from cold drafts to allow if to recover.

The Flaming Katy plant will also drop leaves if exposed to excessively high temperatures, though this is generally much less likely than the opposite issue of low temperature.

Overwatering and underwatering can cause the plant to shed its leaves. Underwatering leads to dehydration of the leaves, which will cause them to drop, while overwatering leads to root rot, which cuts off the plants supply of water and nutrients, causing leaf drop.

Yellowing Leaves

Usually caused by insufficient light, the leaves of the Flaming Katy will turn yellow and eventually drop off if they are not allowed access to a few hours of light each day. Move the plant to a more suitable location, where it should recover.

Powdery Mildew

Powdery mildew starts of as a speckled white coating on the leaves and stems of the plant, looking almost like it has been dusted in powder. If left untreated, this will then progress to a white fluffy texture, causing ill health and death of the plant.

The Flaming Katy is quite susceptible to powdery mildew, especially when kept in low light conditions at around 70° F in temperature. Poor air flow also increases the likelihood of your plant becoming victim of powdery mildew, so try to keep the plant in an area of good air flow and bright light to prevent this issue from occurring. If you notice powdery mildew on your plant, you will need to cut off any leaves that are badly affected and treat the rest of the plant with a fungicide.

Powdery mildew is highly contagious, so keep it away from any other plants you have and treat it quickly. If caught early, the plant should recover well, but a quick diagnosis and treatment is vital as powdery mildew can very quickly kill a plant.

Pests

Mealybugs are the most common pest that a Flaming Katy plant will be host to. They are usually found near the leaf axils in the form of white furry spots, or eggs can sometimes be seen on the underside of the leaves.

These creatures feed on the sap of the plant, stunting its growth and resulting in yellowing or dropping leaves. Mealybugs leave a sticky residue behind after they feed, called honeydew, which will turn to a powdery black texture. When this happens, it is actually mold growing on the honeydew. You can wipe this away with alcohol on a sponge and treat the rest of the plant by spraying it with a strong blast of water.

Take the plant outside each morning and night, spraying it with a jet hose, and within a week or so, all of the mealybugs should have been removed. If the infestation is severe, it may be that an insecticide is necessary to treat the plant. In some instances, the mealybugs have harmed the plant to such an extent that it cannot be saved.

Let us know if this post helped you with your Flaming Katy by leaving us a comment! We’re also happy to answer any other questions you might have.

Kalanchoe blossfeldiana, commonly known as Flaming Katy, is a tropical succulent that is native to Madagascar. This flowering plant is most commonly grown as a houseplant but grows well outdoors in USDA plant hardiness zones 10 and 11. A short-day plant, Flaming Katy produces blooms during the winter months. Young plants have smooth stems and thick leaves. The plant roots readily from a vegetative shoot and many growers use this type of propagation for Flaming Katy production. Commercial growers use intermittent mist and heat mats to propagate this succulent, but you can make cuttings without a professional setup.

1. Cut cleanly through a vegetative stem of the Flaming Katy. This is a stem that has no flower growth. Make the cutting at least 3 inches (7.5 cm) long. Set the cutting in an empty pot for 2 or 3 days to allow a callous to form over the cut flesh of the stem. The callous keeps the cutting from rotting in the growing medium.

2. Mix together equal parts of sand, perlite and peat moss to create a quality growing medium for Flaming Katy cuttings. Fill a sterile pot with the growing medium and water the medium lightly. The size of the pot dictates how many cuttings you root per pot. Pots that are 3 or 4 inches (7.5 or 10 cm) hold one cutting, while 5- or 6-inch (12.5 or 15 cm) pots hold 2 or 3 cuttings.

Photo via 100sp.ru

3. Make a hole in the growing medium and stick the calloused cutting into the hole. Firm the soil around the cutting to keep the Flaming Katy upright. Set the pot in a bright location that has an average temperature of about 70 °F (21 °C). Avoid direct sunlight on the cuttings.

4. Mist the cuttings several times per day. Remove cuttings that show signs of fungal growth. Check for roots after about 2 weeks. Gently pull on the cuttings to feel for some type of resistance that would signify root growth.

5. Transplant the new Flaming Katy plants into separate growing pots when the roots have reached about 1 inch (2.5 cm) in length. Treat the plant as a seedling for the first few weeks. In other words, avoid drafts, direct sunlight and drought conditions. When you see new growth on the Flaming Katy plants, place them as desired in the home.

Source: sfgate.com

  • Back to genus Kalanchoe
  • Succulentopedia: Browse succulents by Scientific Name, Common Name, Genus, Family, USDA Hardiness Zone, Origin, or cacti by Genus

Subscribe now and be up to date with our latest news and updates.

If you want a succulent houseplant that blooms, well then, let me introduce you to the Kalanchoe blossfeldiana. Perhaps you’ve seen one but never brought it home. I want to encourage you to do that because they’re easy to grow and are in bloom for quite a long time. Caring for flowering kalanchoes is no trouble at all but there are a few things you need to know.

This popular flowering succulent houseplant, usually called kalanchoe, florist kalanchoe or flaming katy, is very easy to find. It’s sold in grocery stores, nurseries, big box stores, garden shops and flower shops. They’re grown in a wide range of colors; most of them vibrant hues like yellow, pink, magenta, orange and red. No shrinking violets here! Around the holidays you can more readily find them in white. The foliage makes a statement too because it’s glossy green and the leaves are quite large.

Caring for flowering kalanchoes:

These care tips are for keeping your kalanchoe going for the long haul. I had one for 5 years until it just got too leggy & I had to send it to the compost pile.

Size

Kalanchoes sold in 6″ grow pots usually grow to 12″ tall. They’re also sold in 4″ pots as well as in 2″ pots to go into dish gardens.

Exposure

These flowering kalanchoes like bright, natural light. A medium or high light situation is best as long as there not getting too much direct sun. Keep them out of any hot windows because they’ll burn.

Yours would enjoy spending the summer outdoors just as long as it’s protected from the hot afternoon sun. I live in the Arizona desert where I grow my kalanchoes both indoors & out. I have to keep mine on the patio out of the sun completely because the rays are so strong & the sun shines almost every day. They’d fry in just an hour here in summer!

The more light you give your kalanchoe, the better it’ll look. In lower light conditions the flowers tend to not open & the foliage gets spindly. If you have low light & you want a kalanchoe, buy it in as full bloom as you can.

4″ Kalanchoes sitting on a bench in the grower’s greenhouse. You can see how glossy & large the foliage is.

These plants are succulents with fleshy leaves & stems which means you don’t want to keep them constantly wet. They need good drainage. Water yours well, let it all drain out & then water again when dry. That might mean you water yours every 2 weeks. The frequency will vary depending on your temps, light situation & the size pot your kalanchoes are in.

I water mine a bit more often when it’s flowering. They don’t need to be misted or sprayed but if yours is really dirty, give it a good hose off once a year.

If your kalanchoe comes wrapped in foil or in a decorative pot with no drain hole, remove the plant when you water it. You don’t want water building up because that will lead to rot.

Normal home temps are fine. The summer & winter temps really vary here in Tucson & my kalanchoes outside do okay. I also grew them outdoors when I lived in Santa Barbara where the temps were much less extreme & they seemed to be a bit happier.

As with any flowering plant, the hotter your home is the faster the flowers will open up & the bloom time won’t be quite as long.

These are the fully open flowers of my Calandiva Kalanchoe. They’re an appealing combo of yellow, apricot & orange.

Fertilizing

I don’t use any. I top dress my kalanchoes with worm castings & compost every spring; even the ones growing indoors. If you have a balanced organic houseplant fertilizer, you can apply that in spring & summer if you think your plant needs it.

When I repot my kalanchoes, I use 1/2 succulent & cactus mix & 1/2 potting soil. All succulent & cactus mix would be fine with some compost mixed in. All potting soil works but it’s trickier to keep on the dry side.

I also mix in a handful or so of organic compost & sprinkle the top with a layer of worm compost when I plant.

I can’t remember my kalanchoes ever getting any. They’re subject to aphids & mealybugs so keep your eyes open for those critters. You’ll see what they look like & what can be done if you click on the link.

White, red & pink kalanchoes waiting for a home. These would be good to use for a party or some other event, but the blooms won’t last quite as long if you buy them fully open.

Safe for Pets

My kitties don’t bother any of my plants so it’s not a big concern for me. According to the ASPCA website, kalanchoes are toxic to both dogs & cats. I did a post on toxicity & houseplants sharing my thoughts on that subject.

Pinching

I grew many different types of kalanchoes in my garden in Santa Barbara. There are over 200 species found the world over. Many of them tend to get leggy over time. You need to pinch them down after flowering to keep them fuller. As I said above, mine that was 5 years old (you see it towards the end of the video) wasn’t worth trying to save.

Propagating

You can propagate kalanchoes by seed, division or stem cuttings. I’ve never done it by seed but that method takes the longest.

Division can be done if you easily find a way to separate the plant into 2 or 3 separate ones. Some have multiple plants in 1 pot so they won’t be hard at all to divide.

I’ve taken stem cuttings, about 4-5″ long with the bottom leaves few leaves removed, & then healed them off for a week or so. I planted them in succulent & cactus mix & they’ve rooted in about 3 weeks. Be sure not to mist the foliage while they’re rooting.

Both these methods are best done in spring or summer. Avoid propagating a plant while flowering.

Another Calandiva – love this rose/salmon color.

Flowering

The masses of flowers are why this plant is so popular. Yours may flower again in spring or late fall naturally by cutting the flower stems all the way down. Leave the foliage be.

If yours isn’t blooming again, you can force it to. Kalanchoes are photoperiodic (Like poinsettias) which means they react to equal periods of light and dark exposure. They need 12-14 hours of complete darkness to bloom again.

Chances are, if you have them in your home, they’re in a room that isn’t getting that amount of complete darkness. You have to put them in a closet or a room that’s got good light during the day and is pitch black for 12-14 hours. And yes, they need that every night for 6 to 8 weeks. And, be sure to cut back on the watering during this time. Once the buds begin to set you can return them to their normal routine.

Mine that was growing in the guest bathroom bloomed a couple of times a year. There’s a skylight so it got nice bright, overhead light during the day & was completely dark at night. I got off & on blooms all year long out of the ones growing outdoors.

Good To Know

Kalanchoes are succulents which means the can handle the dry air in our homes just fine.

The foliage is so big & dense that sometimes I remove a bit of it so the flowers show more.

Calandiva & Grandiva are relatively newer cultivars (or varieties) with multi-petals which resemble roses. The Grandiva flowers are even bigger.

This could be a problem: Kalanchoes are subject to powdery mildew if you keep them too wet. The foliage is very dense & fleshy – that’s why you don’t want to mist or spray this plant.

Me hanging out in the greenhouse with my purdy kalanchoe friends.

Kalanchoe flowers are long lasting and the foliage is rich, shiny green. They come in so many colors that surely you can find one you love. They’re a great blooming plant to brighten up your home!

Kalanchoe

Kalanchoes come in a wide range of colors such as this red, single flowering variety of kalanchoe (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana).
Barbara H. Smith, HGIC, Clemson Extension

Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana) is a popular houseplant typically available for sale during late winter and spring months. It is a durable flowering potted plant requiring very little maintenance in the home or office. It has dark green, thick waxy leaves with scalloped-edges and small, four-petaled flowers in clusters held above the foliage. It is also available in a double flowering variety with as many as 26 petals per bloom. Kalanchoe brightens the indoors with flowers in various shades of red, magenta, pink, orange, yellow and white. It is native to Madagascar and was introduced in 1932 by Robert Blossfeld, a German hybridizer.

Culture

Kalanchoe grows best in full sun and a well-drained potting media. Kalanchoe will tolerate bright indoor light levels well. However, plants tend to get spindly in low light conditions. Kalanchoe can be damaged by over watering. Allow the soil to dry slightly between waterings. Fertilize actively growing plants with any houseplant fertilizer once a month. Ideal temperatures are 45-65 °F at night and 50-70 °F during the day. Cool night temperatures prolong flower life.

This orange flowering variety of kalanchoe (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana) will brighten up the indoors.
Barbara H. Smith, HGIC, Clemson Extension

Reblooming Kalanchoe

With good care, kalanchoes may be grown to rebloom the next season. After flowering, shift the plant to a slightly larger pot. Kalanchoes are succulents that grow best in a well-drained and well- aerated potting soil, such 60% peat moss and 40% perlite. Cut back tall growth and old flower stems. Keep well watered in a sunny, warm window. After danger of frost, move outdoors to a bright, lightly shaded spot for the summer. Gradually adjust them to outdoor conditions, so tender leaves will not burn. Bring back indoors before the first frost or 3 months before desired bloom time.

Kalanchoes, like poinsettias, require short day lengths (long nights) for flower bud development. Natural day lengths between October 1 and March 1 allow flower buds to form. During this time, keep the plant in a room where lights are not turned on during the naturally dark hours or control day length by placing the plant in a closet in late afternoons and then bringing it out to a high light environment each morning. About six weeks of natural winter day lengths are required for flower buds to form. Natural winter day lengths will supply kalanchoe with a 14 to16-hour night period. Temperatures above 80 °F during the long night period can result in a “heat delay”, inhibiting flower development. After the flower buds are large enough to be seen above the foliage, day length is no longer crucial. At this time, place plants in any location regardless of night lighting. Plants exposed to naturally short day lengths in early October should begin flowering by January (i.e. approximately 12 weeks from start of long nights).

The pink, double flowering variety of kalanchoe (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana) may have as many as 26 petals per bloom.
Millie Davenport, HGIC, Clemson Extension

Propagation

Start with clean and sterile containers and rooting media. A 6- to 8-inch plastic pot can be used to root several cuttings. Recycled pots should be washed thoroughly using a household cleaner and disinfectant. A good rooting medium consists of 50% peat moss and 50% perlite. Normally, peat moss and perlite don’t need sterilization when new. Propagate from herbaceous stem cuttings in spring or early summer. Use vegetative shoots not flowering shoots for best rooting. Terminal cuttings for propagation should be two- to three-inches long with two pairs of leaves. Remove the bottom leaves from the cutting. No rooting hormone is needed. Allow the cutting to callus for several days before inserting into the rooting medium. Place the pot indoors in bright, indirect light and in a closed large plastic bag to maintain high levels of humidity. Cuttings should be established enough to transplant in 14 to 21 days.

Problems

In the home, plant diseases are rarely a problem. Too much or too little water and insects are the main problems. Root rot usually results from a soil mix that does not drain quickly or from overly frequent watering. Do not let plants sit in water. For more information, please see HGIC 1459, Indoor Plants – Watering.

Powdery mildew is another possible disease problem for kalanchoe. Powdery mildew can be difficult to recognize on kalanchoe because only fine webbing will develop. Leaves may be mottled and have yellow spotting, dead flecks, line or ring spot patterns. Plants may be stunted and not flower. To prevent powdery mildew allow for plenty of air flow around plant material. Potassium bicarbonate, such as Bonide Remedy, can be used on kalanchoe to help control powdery mildew. For more information, please see HGIC 2251 House Plant Diseases & Disorders.

Mealybugs, aphids and brown scale are the most common insect pests of kalanchoe. Isolate plants that are infested. Control mealybugs by wiping them off with alcohol using a cotton swab. Brown scale can be removed by scraping them off. Aphids can be removed by hand. For more information, please see HGIC 2252, Common Houseplant Insects & Related Pests.

Kalanchoe Care – Tips On How To Grow Kalanchoe Plants

Kalanchoe plants are thick leaved succulents that are often seen in florist shops or garden centers. Most end up as potted plants but areas that can mimic their native land of Madagascar can grow them outdoors.

The clusters of tiny flowers produce a large bloom held aloft on stems above the majority of the foliage. If you wish a second bloom, it is incumbent to know how to take care of a kalanchoe. These plants need short winter light periods to form new buds. Learn how to grow kalanchoe and the perennial can reward you with several seasons of the bright colorful flowers.

About Kalanchoe Plants

The deep green, scalloped leaves of the kalanchoe are just as attractive as the flowers. The sculpted foliage persists after bloom and provides for a handsome plant. The starry flowers are long lasting and bloom in winter to spring.

Kalanchoe plants require well-drained soil and mild temperatures of at least 60 F. (16 C.). Little maintenance is necessary for kalanchoe care and the succulent has few disease or pest problems, especially when grown indoors.

How to Grow Kalanchoe Cuttings

Kalanchoe plants are fun to grow from cuttings. The vegetative stems produce the best plants and root quickest. Take a 2- to 3-inch section and strip off the bottom couple of leaves. Let the cutting sit out in a warm, dry location to form a callus on the end.

Plant the cutting in pre-moistened peat and perlite up to the first leaf. Enclose the entire pot in plastic to form a little terrarium and conserve the moisture. Place the pot in a bright window with indirect light. Cuttings will root in 14 to 21 days and are then ready to transplant.

How to Take Care of a Kalanchoe

Plants may grow well in southern Florida year round or outside in USDA zones 8 to 10 during the summer months.

Kalanchoe care is minimal but be cautious about light levels. Strong southern light can burn the tips of the leaves. Place pots in partial sun to light shade areas when growing kalachoe plants.

The best planting mix is 60 percent peat moss and 40 percent perlite.

Cut off spent flower stems and pinch back leggy growth to force a compact plant.

Water the plant deeply and then allow it to dry out completely before you give it further moisture.

Fertilize once per month during the growing season with a houseplant food.

Kalanchoe Care for Second Bloom

Although the plant foliage of growing kalanchoe succulent plants is interesting even without blooms, the flowers make the most spectacular display. To force the plant to bloom again, you must fool it into believing it has experienced winter.

During October and early March, the day lengths are short enough to naturally force flower buds. In other periods, you will have to put the plant in a closet or dim room for most of the day. Bring it out only for morning light and then put it away after a few hours. The plant needs six weeks of 12 to 14 hour darkness to form spectacular new flowers.

The best temperatures for formation of flowers are 40-45 F. (4-7 C.) at night and 60 F. (16 C.) during the day. Kalanchoe care for plants that have begun to form buds is the same as that for flowering plants.

The kalanchoe is a perennial succulent and a member of the Crassulaceae family. A native of Madagascar, this easy to care for plant has as many as 125 species and is a popular choice for a potted plant or as an addition to the landscape.

About Kalanchoes

Even though kalanchoe plants are technically perennials, often they are treated as a disposable annual that is thrown away after the flowers fade. However, it can be made to bloom again.

Typically, kalanchoe plants bloom summer through fall. The flowers form little clusters similar to tiny bouquets and come in many shades of red, orange, yellow and purple. Its oval shaped leaves are thick, as is standard in succulent plants.

Most often, kalanchoes are grown in pots as a brightly-colored houseplant, but it also can be used as a landscape plant if you live in the right climate. Kalanchoe plants, indoors and outdoors, prefer low humidity, bright light and well drained soil.

Kalanchoe Care

Kalanchoe care is very simple. It is an ideal plant for people who think they have no time to take care of a houseplant. Like a cactus, they need little water and rarely need fertilizer. However, their needs vary slightly depending on if they are inside or outside your home.

Indoor Kalanchoes

If you are growing a kalanchoe as a houseplant it will need bright light for eight to ten hours a day. It should be potted in a light, well-draining potting soil that is about 50 percent perlite.

Watering only needs to be done when your kalanchoe is dry. Just stick your finger into the soil. If it feels moist you do not need to water it just yet. Soggy soil will lead to root-rot and will kill your plant. Fertilizing should also be infrequent with application no more than once a month. If you intend to throw away your kalanchoe after blooming, there is no need to fertilize at all.

If you plan to keep your kalanchoe, you can make it flower again. When the flowers start to fade, cut them off and put your plant in a dark room for about a month. Cut back on watering at this time. When new buds start to form, put it back in a sunny area. Resume normal watering. Soon you will be able to enjoy more lovely flowers.

Outdoor Kalanchoes

Kalanchoes planted outside also need well drained, alkaline soil. If you live in a wet climate you will not have much success with outdoor kalanchoes. The same is true if you live in a cold climate because kalanchoes do not like to get cold. Ideal temperatures are a low of 65 degrees at night and a high of 85 degrees during the day. If your location does not fit this ideal, you can try putting your plants in pots outside and just bring them in when the weather is not cooperative.

If your kalanchoes are planted outside, they should only need to be fertilized once a year with an all-purpose fertilizer. Avoid overcrowding your kalanchoe plants because this can contribute to leafspot if the plants do not have adequate air circulation.

In the southern part of the U.S., kalanchoes can be planted in the fall. Other parts of the country can plant them in late spring after all danger of frost is past. Those who live in coastal areas will appreciate that kalanchoes are salt tolerant and can handle salty air and soil.

Starting New Plants

Kalanchoe plants are fairly easy to start at home. With many species, you will see tiny plants forming along the outer edge of the leaves. When these get large enough, you can carefully remove them and plant them in their own little pot.

Another way to propagate kalanchoes is the take a cutting of about two to three inches long and allow it to dry for 24 hours. Ideally the cutting should have at least two leaves on it; four or five leaves are even better. Then plant one end of the stem in the potting soil. You will not even need a rooting compound to get it started.

Some species of kalanchoe will sprout little off-shoots that can also be potted once they grow large enough. Whichever way you use, starting new kalanchoe plants is very easy.

Potential Problems

Kalanchoes are sometimes susceptible to some common garden pests and problems. The most common are caterpillars, aphids and mealy bugs. Keep in mind that kalanchoes do not respond well to some pesticides. As is usually the case, natural pest control is the best option.

Occasionally, your plants may have disease problems. Leaf spot is most common and due to a lack of proper ventilation. Another possible issue is powdery mildew which is cause by the same reason as leaf spot.

If your plant is in a cool, humid environment you may notice calloused spots on the leaves. While this is not harmful it is also not very attractive. This can be avoided by making sure your plants have the right growing conditions.

You will not often have problems with kalanchoes. With just basic care you can enjoy a beautiful plant that will brighten any home or yard.

A Kalanchoe for Christmas and Forever After

Kalanchoe is winter hardy in USDA Zones 10 to 12. In those frost-free zones, it is grown outside where it prefers sandy, well-drained sun in full sun or bright indirect light. In other parts of the country the plants are usually grown in containers so that they can be protected from freezing temperatures. Kalanchoe is moderately salt tolerant, so it is an ideal plant to grow on sunny decks that are near bodies of salt water.

After flowering, the stems stretch and seem to lose some of their sturdiness. Some people throw them away when this happens. However, if they are cut back after they bloom and fed with a water soluble liquid fertilizer on a regular schedule, they will grow new, sturdy branches. If they are grown outside during the summer where they can get a minimum of four hours of sunlight a day and protected from freezing weather the following winter, they will grow again into sturdy plants and produce a bountiful crop of flowers the following spring.

Propagation

After a while, however, you might wish start a new plant. Stems root easily when stuck in moist, well-drained soil. Some experts recommend letting the cuttings harden for several days before placing them in the potting mix. This might prevent rot if the potting soil is too wet, but my cuttings have always rooted well when I cut them and placed them immediately in soil.

Forcing Bloom

Kalanchoe can be forced to bloom at Christmas time (or at any time, for that matter). This can be done because kalanchoe is photoperiodic, which means that it reacts in a certain way to the daily cycle of light and darkness. Buds are initiated in response to fewer hours of light, or more hours of darkness. If you have a kalanchoe left over from last year and want it to bloom for Christmas, provide it an extended period of darkness for 30 days beginning about the first of September. Simply cover the plant with a black cloth from 6 PM to 7AM each night until October 1. Then uncover it and watch the flower buds develop. It will bloom for you during the holiday season.

Keep this in mind if you purchased a kalanchoe for this Christmas. Next Christmas it will strut its stuff all over again if it is provided with ample hours of darkness next fall. If all this seems like too much trouble, don’t worry about it. Kalanchoe will bloom in spring under normal houseplant growing conditions.

Pronouncing the Name

How do you say Kalanchoe? I asked that question at a recent lecture and was not surprised when several different pronunciations were suggested. Most said kuh-LAN-choe. One person said kuh-LAN-ko-ee. Still others insisted that the word was kal-en-KOH-ee. Who was right? In the final analysis, all were probably correct. Most authorities, however, have agreed on the third pronunciation, so that is the one I choose. So be sure that while you’re reading this article that you read “kal-en-KOH-ee,” because that’s what I’m saying. You couldn’t have known that if I hadn’t told you.

Tony Avent once said, “Interestingly, the most discussed part of nomenclature is pronunciation. No one seems concerned if the naming rules are followed, but it drives people nuts if you pronounce it wrong. Geez, folks, Latin is a dead language. Let’s worry about getting the names right, and as long as you can communicate, pick something more important to fight about.” I concur with Tony’s statement. Why argue about how to say Kalanchoe, or potato or tomato.

Kalanchoe blosfeldiana has some interesting cousins. Geoff Stein gives a thorough introduction to the genus in his article. Like most other groups of plants, this one has some desirable members and some less desirable. Choose carefully for your garden, or you will, like Geoff, be forever pulling out the thousands that K. diagremontiana mothered.

Scientific name: Kalanchoe blossfeldiana

Growth habit: An upright to rounded succulent perennial growing to 12 inches tall and wide. The leaves are oval to oblong in shape, medium to dark green, thick, with rounded to toothed edges and growing to 3 inches long and wide.

Light: Plants grow best in filtered sun but tolerate full sun where the foliage develops a pink to orange tinge. In the home, keep in high light but out of direct sun for best displays.

Water needs: Drought tolerant; water when the surface soil begins to dry to the touch.

Feedings: Indoors apply a house-plant fertilizer monthly March through October; none during the cooler months. In the landscape, feed every other month during warm weather with a general garden fertilizer. Slow-release products can be substituted following label instructions.

Propagation: Start new plants from leaf or stem cuttings.

Ease of culture: Easy.

Hardiness: Tender; protect from frosts and freezes.

Major problems: Plants may be affected by mealy bugs that feed at the base of leaves and aphids that feed in the tips of new growths. Both can be controlled with insecticidal soaps as needed. Grow in a well-drained soil and avoid over-watering to prevent root rot.

Pruning: Remove stems of declining blooms to encourage more flowers and keep the plants attractive. During late spring and summer, prune plants back to renew their shape and encourage fresh compact growth. The prunings can be rooted to produce new plants.

Uses: Kalanchoe, which were once mainly gift plants for the Christmas season, are now available throughout the year. They naturally open starlike clusters of red, yellow, orange and lavender blossoms December through April but can be forced into bloom as needed by nurserymen. Plantings can be added to flower beds and planters for colorful displays during the cooler months. When flowering is over they can be maintained as foliage plants for the home or landscape.

Florida native: No; most are hybrids with parents from Madagascar.

Introduction to Kalanchoes

(Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on October 19, 2009. Your comments are welcome, but please be aware that authors of previously published articles may not be able to respond to your questions.)

This group of Crassulaceans has some of the most spectacular succulents as well as some of the most annoying weeds of all the succulent plants. Some Kalanchoes grow into enormous tree-like structures while some remain as moderate sized suckering shrubs, and still others seem to only grow a few inches tall. I am not clear on what makes a Kalanchoe a Kalanchoe, and I sometimes get the smaller ones confused with Crassulas, their close relatives. For the purposes of this article, plants in the genus Bryophyllum are included with the Kalanchoe and I think that’s the accepted taxonomy as of today (maybe not next week, though).

3 other plants in the family Crassulaceae that can sometimes be confused with Kalanchoes: Echeveria hybrid (left); Aeonium nobile (right) and Crassula cotyledonis (below)

My introduction to Kalanchoes was with an infamous plant, one of whose common names is Mother of Thousands. Ignoring this ominous common name, I was captivated by the highly ornamental leaf (that’s all I was given) with the jaw-like serrations along the edges and the beautiful mottling of dark and light green. Doubting I would be able to grow such an exotic-looking plant, I was told to just set it on some semi-moist soil and wait. Imagine my surprise when it indeed started to grow into a happy, healthy plant. It never looked back… literally. For the next 6 years I spent hours each month trying to eradicate this plant from my greenhouse as well as my cactus garden with no success. Be careful what you wish for.

Kalanchoe diagremontiana aka Mother of Thousands

That experience had somewhat tainted my enthusiasm for collecting Kalanchoes for many years, but it shouldn’t have. Most other species are far from invasive, and some are even impossible for me to keep alive for more than just a few months. Some are beautiful, some are just odd. Most are worth growing.

Kalanchoe is an Old World genus of 150 to 200 species with the bulk of species in cultivation originating from Africa and Madagascar. However there are a number of Asian species in cultivation as well. One of the things that sets Kalanchoes apart from other members of the Crassulaceae are having 4 petals instead of 5 (it amazes me what separates plants sometimes.) All species have succulent leaves, some fuzzy, some smooth. The fuzzy ones seem more tolerant of high heat like I get in my garden, while the smooth-leaved ones are less tolerant of full, hot, dry sun, and may require sun protection to survive. This generality does not hold in all cases though (for example one form of Mother of Thousands excells in the hottest and driest conditions despite having smooth leaves).

three examples of Kalanchoe flowers: Kalanchoe bracteata (left), Kalanchoe blossfeldiana (middle) and Kalanchoe eriophylla (right, or bottom)

More Kalanchoe flowers Kalanchoe marmorata (left) and Kalanchoe diagremontiana x delagoensis (right)

Some Kalanchoe leaves: huge, dissected, fuzzy leaves of Kalanchoe beharensis (left), small, smooth, shiny leaves of Kalanchoe bracteata and super fuzzy small leaves of Kalanchoe eriophylla (right, or bottom)

Many Kalanchoes are easy to grow and are very drought-tolerant, though few are very frost-tolerant and none can survive much freezing. However I grow about a dozen species, and there are dozens more in the local botanical gardens here in Southern California where freezes do occur fairly frequently. So obviously some tolerate a bit of freezing.

Three Kalanchoes in my yard that went through the 25F freeze a few years ago… Kalanchoe beharensis survived though got badly damaged (left), but Kalanchoe synespala (middle) was completely destroyed; Kalanchoe tomentosa (right or bottom) was virtually untouched

Some species of Kalanchoe are noted for their toxicity, and though this is one of nearly 1,000 species of toxic plant I have growing in my garden, some of these Kalanchoes are among the few half dozen or so toxic plants I grow that I truly do have concerns over pet poisoning potential. However, actual cases of Kalanchoe toxicity in small animals are rare in the literature and I personally have never seen one. Some Kalanchoes contain very toxic cardiac glycosides and reportedly only a small amount ingested can cause serious cardiac (heart) repercussions. Some species have a sedative property and one even has a form of toxin that has shown some cancer-producing activity but also has been used as a medicine for many years. Most also produce marked gastrointestinal effects including vomiting, bloody diarrhea and cramping. There is no antidote for Kalanchoe toxicity, but generally symptomatic treatment is successful.

There are many dozens of species of Kalanchoes and I cannot touch upon them all here, but the following is a brief discussion of some of the more common species that I have some experience with.

Kalanchoe beharensis, or Felt Bush, is one of favorite species and one of the more dramatic landscape Kalanchoes in cultivation. This plant can actually become a large shrub or even a tree in the right climate, growing up over ten feet tall. It is one of the fuzzy-leaved species, but the leaves on this one can get to large- up to a foot long or more, and nearly as wide. Stems become gnarled, twisted and covered with bizarre, ornamental leaf scars. And old, tall plant is truly a piece of living sculpture. Flowers are unimpressive. This plant is one of the most heat tolerant of all the Kalanchoes tolerating the hottest, drying sun my climate can throw at it. It comes in several cultivars, some with bronze or copper fuzz, and some miniature varities. Cold tolerance is not great, but at least down into the high 20Fs.

Kalanchoe beharensis in landscape (left); dwarf form in my yard (middle); copper colored variety called Chocolate Chip (right, or bottom- photo Happenstance)

old plant in botanical garden (left); Disneyland planting of mature plants (middle, or left); flowers (not grown for its flowers) on right or bottom

Kalanchoe ‘Fang’ is a Kalanchoe beharensis hybrid (possibly with K. tomentosa, some claim?) that is a much shorter plant, and certainly a less vigorous grower, but a common one in cultivation. This plant has heavy, succulent very fuzzy leaves with teeth-like knobs over the leaf surface (the “‘fangs,” perhaps?)

variety ‘Fang’

Kalanchoe blossfeldiana, aka Christmas Kalanchoe, could be the most popular Kalanchoe from a potted plant standpoint. One can find this species at most nurseries, even those not specializing in succulents. It is a green-leafed plant grown for its brilliantly colored flowers, which there must be a dozen or more varieties in cultivation now. I don’t find it a particularly interesting species otherwise and it is not an easy garden plant in my climate (way too cold sensitive and does not like hot sun). But it makes a fairly hardy potted plant, requiring little water to keep alive. However, it does seem to require at least some regular watering should one want it to bloom. From a pet toxicity plant, this is the number one Kalanchoe, too, and one should be careful to keep pets from this species. I am not sure why animals would like to nibble on it; perhaps it is not as bad tasting as most toxic plants tend to be.

Photos of Kalanchoe blossfeldiana at several Southern California nurseries

Kalanchoe delagoensis, aka Kalanchoe tubiflora or the Chandelier Plant but also sometimes called Mother of Thousands (like the related plant below), is–along with the following species–one of the most invasive of all the succulent species easily acquired in cultivation. I personally find this one much less annoying as it takes up a lot less space and is marginally easier to eradicate if need be. However, it spreads quickly and efficiently thanks to lots of itty, bitty leaflets that form along the ornamental tubular leaves. Cold kills this species well so those growing where it freezes have little to worry about these problems when planting this one outdoors. This is one of the most heat- and sun-tolerant of the smooth-leaved Kalanchoes and I have yet to see it suffer much in my climate in summers.

Blooming Kalanchoe delagoensis (left); close up showing tubular leaves tipped with leaflets (middle- photo trois) and plants showing up in an arid garden that gets NO water other than rain 4 months out of the year (right or bottom)

unplanted (at least not on purpose) seedlings showing up all over (photo on right by cactus_lover)

Kalanchoe diagremontiana, aka Mother of Thousands, is probably the most infamous of the Kalanchoes and the one that sometimes gives Kalanchoes a bad name, in terms of invasiveness. There are few more invasive succulents than this one, with virtually every inch of this plant having the potential to grow into another plant. It is not uncommon for succulents to be able to be propagated from leaves, flower stalks or root stock, but this plant does it with such ease and ‘enthusiasm’ that is a bit frightening. However, the most impressive reproductive strategy this plant uses is the creating and easily dropping of hundreds, if not many hundreds of itty, bitty leaflets that form along the mature leaf margins. That plant itself is somewhat ornamental with large, smooth jagged-edged, variegated leaves and large, bright salmon inflorescences made up of many dozens of flowers. If left to seed, many flower stalks will also form bulbils as if this plant didn’t already have enough ways to propagate itself. This plant is sensitive to cold so planting it out in areas that see yearly freezes is relatively safe. It is a vigorous indoor plant and no matter how hard you try, it will often end up showing up in other potted plants throughout the home, and especially if allowed into a greenhouse.

Kalanchoe diagremotaniana photos showing leaflets and seedlings (photo left by LilMissChz, middle by Todd_Boland)

Flowers of Kalanchoe diagremontiana (photo KactusKathi) on left; flower close up (middle); and maturing inflorescence showing bulbil formation and yet another way to spread itself about (right or bottom)

The hybrid ‘Pink Butterflies’ (there are some other names, too) is a very ornamental form of this species that has lost the ability to produce viable bulbils or leaflets (I assume this was purposely bred out of this plant) and is a much safer plant to put out in the garden. However, it has the downside of being somewhat monocarpic, and usually only lasts a few years until it flowers (at least that’s all mine lasted for).

my own hybrid plant showing sterile plantlets on the leaves

Kalanchoe luciae, aka Flapjack Plant or Paddle Plant, is one of the more popular Kalanchoe species in cultivation. More often than not, this species is offered as Kalanchoe thyrisflora which is actually a much rarer but somewhat similar species. Kalanchoe luciae can be told apart by having large, flat and often red-tinged leaves (that look like paddles) while Kalanchoe thyrsiflora is a sea-green plant with smaller, slightly cupped leaves that rarely show any red or pink coloration. Flowers of Kalanchoe thyrsiflora are dark yellow and fragrant while Kalanchoe luciae has pale yellow to nearly white flowers (and supposedly without much of a smell). This plant has little cold tolerance but is one of the more sun-tolerant of the smooth-leaved Kalanchoes only suffering on the hottest days in full sun here in Southern California. This is a monocarpic plant, meaning it will die after flowering. Fortunately it often offsets before actually dying and these offsets can regrow taking the place of the original plant. Plants grown in shade will usually remain a light green while those in full sun or exposed to drought and/or cold will show a variety of color changes including reds, oranges, pinks and even yellows sometimes. This species seems quite prone to mealy bug and snails if grown in moist, shady conditions, and it can rot if overwatered when it’s really hot out (seems to go dormant in super hot weather).

See for a brief comparison of these two species:

Kalanchoe luciae photos (my own left); young plants for sale at a nursery (middle); happy plants in Florida showing they can take a lot of humidity (right or bottom)

plants starting to flower (left); flower detail (middle) and my plant after flowering showing suckers all around the base (right or bottom)

Unlike the photo at the very top of the article, these plants are true variegated Kalanchoe luciaes (also always misidentified as Kalanchoe thyrsifloras)

The real Kalanchoe thyrsiflora according to Huntington Gardens

Kalanchoe marmorata, aka Penwiper Plant, is another commonly grown and more ‘typical’ Kalanchoe. The plant grows as a small shrub of flat, ovoid smooth leaves with most forms having spots and rounded teeth along the distal edges. Many species of Kalanchoe looks similar to this one. This is a species I have seen growing in Florida and Hawaii, obviously tolerating the extreme humidity we do not have here in California. It is not frost tolerant, but seems to come back after frost damage occurs.

Kalanchoe marmorata (two typical forms, and atypical form on right or bottom)

A field grown mass of plants showing some naturally occuring mutations of variegation at the Huntington Gardens

Kalanchoe rhombopilosa is a relatively uncommon species in cultivation, but I mention it for two reasons. One, it is often confused with a much more common species of Adromischus called Bear Paws since it has leaves of a very similar shape. Also a new cultivar (or at least new to me) is showing up in cultivation with extremely ornamental flecking on the leaves. This is a tougher than average plant to grow as it really dislikes heat or cold, preferring to live in a narrow temperature range with little hot, direct sunlight.

Kalanchoe rhombopilosa photos (typical forms on left and middle, photo left Happenstance, and right, or bottom, the newer speckled form)

Adromischus crispa (left) and Crassula tomentosa (right), both more common plants, often confused with Kalanchoe rhombopilosa

Kalanchoe synsepala, aka Walking Kalanchoe, is an interesting species that is mildly invasive and not terribly ornamental, but fun to grow in pots. This plant has large, smooth leaves that can have jagged edges in some cultivars. After flowering, the flower stalk tends to form one large bulbil which ends up weighing the flower stalk down to ground level and there it grows into a new plant (hence the name ‘walking Kalanchoe’).

Kalanchoe synespala in pot and garden

Kalanchoe tomentosa, or Panda Plant or Pussy Ears, is a popular species with very fuzzy, soft, ovoid leaves. This plant is probably one of the easiest Kalanchoes to grow (aside from the super invaders described above) both indoors and out, being quite resistant to rot, bugs and tolerant of at least some direct sun. I also have not had much cold damage to this plant despite a freeze nearly wiping out all my other Kalanchoes a few years back. Some cultivars have extra fuzziness while others have various metallic colors. Kalanchoe eriophylla is extremely similar but a tad fussier in my garden.

Kalanchoe tomentosa photos

similar species, Kalanchoe eriophylla

There are many other species of Kalanchoe (see some below) but too many to cover in this introductory article. See the PlantFiles for more on Kalanchoes in cultivation.

Kalanchoe arborescens (looks like an Aeonium sp.) on left; Kalanchoe bracteata forms in middle and right or bottom photos

Kalanchoe crenata (left photo Andrew60); Kalanhoe fedtschenkoi (a relatively common species) in center and right (right or bottom photo RWhiz)

Kalanchoe gastonis-bonnieri in above photos (left photo larryo20)

Kalanchoe humilis (left); Kalanchoe longiflora (center); and Kalanchoe mortagei (right or bottom)

Kalanchoe manginii (left photo by PotEmUp) Kalanchoe orgyalis (right)

photos of Kalanchoe marnieriana (left and middle) in landscape of southern California; Kalanchoe ‘Pink Zinfandel’ (right or bottom)

Kalanchoe pinnata (another fairly common species) left and center (center photo htop); Kalanchoe tetraphylla (right or bottom)

another fairly common landscape species in my garden (left) and another’s: Kalanchoe prolifera (left photo nomosno)

Kalanchoe hildebrandtii in landscape and as a show plant (left and middle); Kalanchoe waldheimii (right or bottom)

There are many more species of Kalanchoe, probably many even in cultivation, but these are the ones you will be most likely to run into.

Kalanchoe sexangularis

This is a fast-growing plant and a beauty to have in the garden. Older plants every so often need a hard prune to keep growth tidy, as well as beautiful and lush. Some might say prune after flowering, but it is generally only necessary when material becomes old and untidy. This plant is a good contrasting plant, especially when combined with Kalanchoe longiflora, Curio crassulifolius, Oscularia deltoides, Cotyledon orbiculata and other grey-foliaged plants.

This plant can be propagated both sexually by seeds and asexually by cuttings. Seeds can be harvested from plants in winter, from July onwards, and left to dry and mature. Sow seeds in spring. When the seedlings are large enough to handle, transplant them directly into a garden bed, pot or bag. However, growing plants from seeds requires patience, and the quickest and preferred methods are by means of cuttings, dividing young suckers from motherplants and leaf cuttings. Suckers can be harvested throughout the year. Cut off a sucker of your size preference, remove a third of the lower foliage, place cutting in a dry place void of direct sunlight for ± a week and allow to callus. (Allowing suckers to callus avoids pathogens or diseases and also shortens the time it takes for plants to become established.) Place cuttings into a medium consisting of 40% river sand, 20% coarse, washed silica sand, 10% sifted bark, 15% perlite and 15% vermiculite. Keep cuttings in a well-lit place, away from direct sunlight for 2–3 weeks after they have rooted, whereafter they will be ready for direct sunlight and their final destination in the garden. Make use of all the material, allow nothing to go to waste; the leaves removed from suckers can be used as leaf cuttings. With leaf cuttings allow them to callus for ± a week, void of direct sunlight. Once callused, place the base of the leaf a quarter deep into the medium. In 4–5 weeks young shoots should be appearing where cuttings were inserted. Cuttings should be kept moist, but not soggy, in a cool, well-lit space.

Kalanchoe sexangularis is not prone to pests or diseases, but snails and slugs and various beetles have been observed feeding on the foliage. They can be physically removed or treated with a contact pesticide. Occasionally they are attacked by mealybug and soft scale which should be taken care of by means of a systemic pesticide as opposed to using a contact pesticide which will have minor effect as both insects have protective coverings.

Do not use liquid foliar feeds on this plant, as it tends to scorch or cause brown spots on the leaves; rather use a soil drench or granular feed, preferably organic.

Family : Crassulaceae

Text © Pietro Puccio

English translation by Mario Beltramini

For blooming the Kalanchoe blossfeldiana needs 14 hrs of dark per day for 6 weeks © Giuseppe Mazza

This plant is native to northern Madagascar, where it lives on the slopes of the Tsaratanana Massif, between 1600 and 2400 m of altitude.

The name of the genus is of uncertain origin, as the same has not been specified by the author, Michel Adanson (1727-1806), after some it is coming from the Chinese name of a plant belonging to the genus; the species gets the name from the German nurseryman and dealer of seeds Robert Blossfeld, who introduced it in cultivation in 1932.

The Kalanchoe blossfeldiana Poelln. (1934) is a succulent, perennial, herbaceous plant with erect stems, ramified, up to about 45 cm tall. The leaves, on 2,5 cm long petioles, are opposite, fleshy, persistent, elliptic to spatulate, of glossy dark green colour, 3-10 cm long and up to 4 cm broad, with entire or indented margins, at times reddish if in full sun.

Inflorescences in winter-spring in thick terminal cymes, much ramified, on a scape long up to about 10 cm; the single flowers, long lasting, on a 0,5-2 cm long peduncle, have lanceolate, 0,4-1 cm long, sepals and scarlet-red corolla with a 0,8 cm long tube and four 0,4 cm long lobes. The plant is a short-day species; for blossoming it requires at least six weeks with 14, or more, hours of darkness per day. The fruits are erect follicles containing several tiny ellipsoid seeds.

May be cultivated in open air for flowerbeds or edges. Hybrids with white, yellow, orange and pink flowers © Mazza

It reproduces by seed, in autumn or spring, to be placed in surface, being the germination stimulated by the light (positive photo-sensitivity), utilizing a fine half-sandy, soil; the seeds germinate in about 15 days at the temperature of 20 °C and the first blossoming takes place after 9-10 months. It easily reproduces also by apical cutting, left to dry up well, in spring, on a substratum formed by soil and sand, or agri perlite, in equal parts, at the temperature of 18-22 °C.

The Kalanchoe blossfeldiana, in its numerous varieties and hybrids, is the plant of the Crassulaceae holding also a remarkable economic importance, as it is produced annually in great quantity as interior flower plant, especially in the winter period, but it may be induced to flower in whatever time of the year, provided it is submitted to the necessary darkness period.

Whilst the plant in the wild has only red flowers, the varieties and hybrids have a great diversity of colours, from white to yellow, pink red in various tones; very popular are also the double-flower varieties, commercialized with the name of ‘Calandiva’. It may be cultivated in open air, for flower beds or edges, only in tropical and subtropical climate zones; in fact, it does not bear temperatures close to the 0 °C, or little below, if not for a very short time.

Variety with double flowers similar to roses © Giuseppe Mazza

The exposition must be in full sun or slight shade on preferably clayey soils with addition of sand or crushed stones for improving the drainage. When in pot, for inner spaces decoration, it is to be placed at the maximum possible luminosity and at temperatures not lower than 10 °C, utilizing substrata formed by soil and coarse sand, or agri perlite, in equal parts.

In summer, watering are to be regular, but allowing the soil to dry up before giving water again, scarce in winter or when they are submitted to artificial darkness for obliging them to bloom. During the blossoming, which lasts about 3 months, it may be fertilized with manure rich in potassium and poor (or devoid) of nitrogen, at half of the recommended dosage, every three-four weeks. It is subject to aphids’ attacks and for this reason it must be controlled periodically in order to effect a prompt intervention.

Synonyms: Kalanchoe globulifera var. coccinea H. Perrier (1928).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *