Kalanchoe (kal-lan-KOE-ee) is a common and popular succulent plant you can find in garden centers, florist shops, and even grocery stores.
Kalanchoes are a native of Madagascar can be grown as an outdoor plant in the right settings, but in most non-tropical settings they are grown as long lasting flowering plants.
This herbaceous perennial succulent is a member of the Crassulaceae family.
Caring For Kalanchoe Plant
Size & Growth
Most types of Kalanchoe plants grow slowly. Height and width vary by species and according to the environment in which they are kept.
Generally speaking, a Kalanchoe plant kept indoors tends to be smaller than those grown outdoors in conducive settings.
Flowering and Fragrance
Flower size, shape and color varies from one species to another. All are brightly colored and interesting.
After the first flush of blooms, you can spur a second bloom by carefully deadheading the spent flowers. Lighting conditions are important for proper blooming. Like poinsettia, Kalanchoes need limited winter light if it is to form new flower buds.
If left to its own devices, the Kalanchoes will bloom naturally in mid-autumn and early spring because the days are short enough to spur blooming.
At other times of the year, you’ll need to keep the plant in a dim setting except for during the morning hours. Then it should have bright, indirect sunlight.
For best bloom production, the temperature should be about 60° degrees Fahrenheit during the daytime and between 40° – 45° degrees Fahrenheit overnight.
Even if you’re not successful in getting your plants to bloom abundantly, you can always enjoy your Kalanchoe as a green leafy houseplant. All varieties produce leaves that are very attractive in their own right.
Light Conditions & Temperature
In general, when you care for Kalanchoe as a houseplant without emphasis on producing flowers, they prefer a sunny, bright light setting in the summertime.
In the winter, a south facing window is a good home, but take care that the sun is not so bright as to burn the leaves.
Kalanchoes are happiest in warmer environments. If you are happy with keeping your Kalanchoe mostly for foliage, they will be happier if you don’t allow the temperatures to drop below 55° degrees Fahrenheit.
Watering and Feeding
When growing Kalanchoes as with most succulents, you should allow the soil surface and potting soil mix to almost completely dry between waterings and then water deeply.
Water more during the warm spring and summer months, and reduce watering during the autumn and winter.
During the growing season, feed Kalanchoe once a month using a liquid fertilizer, or apply slow-release fertilizer pellets early in the springtime.
Soil & Transplanting
Plant Kalanchoe in a light, airy, good quality, potting mix. The main requirement is that the soil mixture is light and well-draining.
If planting outdoors, be sure to work plenty of organic matter into the soil to improve drainage. Give them plenty of space to allow for good air circulation and comfortable growth when planting in a garden bed.
These small plants native to Madagascar require repotting every few years. Repot during spring in a well-drained, light soil, one suitable for cacti.
On top of an inch of broken crock or activated horticultural charcoal to provide the best of drainage, use a soil made of equal parts coarse sand a good potting soil or compost.
When re-potting, take additional care in handling as the leaves are somewhat brittle and can snap easily. Clay pots work exceptionally well for planting. Ensure pots can drain well, and saucers can empty easily.
After planting, water thoroughly to settle the soil and fill air pockets. Thereafter keep the plant on the dry side for active growth and continuous bloom.
Grooming And Maintenance
Many people think of the Kalanchoe plant as disposable and simply toss them out when the flowers finish. This is a real waste of good plant.
If you’ve received a Kalanchoe with flowers as a gift, after flowering has finished, deadhead and cut back the plant, reduce water and give it a rest for the rest of the winter.
In springtime, increase watering and give the plant a feeding. You should soon be rewarded with more flowers.
How To Propagate Kalanchoes
- Plants grow easily from cuttings, with stems rooting very quickly.
- Take 2 to 3-inch cuttings, strip off the bottom leaves and allows them to sit in a warm, dry location to form a callus.
- Plant cuttings in pre-moistened a 50/50 perlite, peat moss mix up to the first leaf
- Place the entire starting pot inside a plastic cover forming a little terrarium to conserve moisture
- Place the pot in a bright window, but away from direct sunlight
- Roots should develop after 14 to 21 days and ready for transplanting.
- Also, many varieties of Kalanchoe develop tiny plantlets along the leaf margins which be individually potted
- Plants can also start from leaves laid on the soil, these plants usually bloom more freely than seedlings.
Kalanchoe Pest or Diseases
As with most succulents, Kalanchoe is fairly trouble-free unless it is over watered. Excessive watering and/or too little light can cause root rot and leave the plant susceptible to infestation by pests.
Look out for common houseplant pests such as:
If only a few of these bothersome bugs appear, you can simply wipe them off with a clean cloth dampened with rubbing alcohol.
For heavier infestation, try washing them off with a strong spray of water and following up with a mild pesticide, Neem oil insecticide mixture or horticultural soap.
Is the Kalanchoe Considered Toxic or Poisonous?
Be sure to keep dogs, cats, and kids away as the sap is toxic and may cause stomach cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting if ingested. In some very sensitive beings, ingesting this plant can cause heart arrhythmia.
The sap can also be irritating to your skin, so be sure to wash your hands after handling the plant.
Is the Kalanchoe Considered invasive?
This delicate, tropical succulent is not known to be invasive. Even so, if you live in an area that is conducive to its free growth, such as southern Florida, you should take care not to allow it to spread out of your garden.
Suggested Uses For Kalanchoe
Kalanchoe can be grown outdoors in tropical settings, and it is quite attractive to hummingbirds, bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. In the landscape, it makes a nice bedding or edging plant.
Usually, this pretty succulent is kept as a houseplant. It does well in pots and containers and also in hanging baskets.
There are over 200 different species within the family. Here are 9 of the most popular varieties you’ll find down at the garden center:
Panda Plant has very thick leaves that store water well and make the plant quite drought tolerant. The grayish green leaves are also attractive in that they are covered with soft, velvety hairs.
Tomentosa grows to be about 18″ inches tall and when properly pruned, has a tree or bush-like appearance. The lower branches will tend to droop, so this succulent can be a good choice as a hanging basket plant.
When kept outdoors in a conducive environment, Panda Plant will occasionally bloom with bell-shaped, fuzzy blossoms. Kept indoors, it is unlikely to bloom.
The Velvet Leaf Plant Kalanchoe Behrensis is a large-leafed version of the Kalanchoe. This hardy plant is a good choice for outdoor tropical gardens because it can attain a maximum height of 12′ feet tall.
When kept as a houseplant, it usually tops out at about 4′ feet tall. Its large, slightly furred leaves have earned it the common names of
- Felt Bush
- Velvet Leaf
- Elephant Ear Kalanchoe
Flaming Katy is an unusual succulent because it is grown more for the blooms than for the leaves. These flowering Kalanchoes come in an interesting range of colors including white, yellow, pink, orange, red, and purple.
The long-lasting blossoms stay fresh for several weeks. The leaves of the plant are also attractive in a deep shade of glossy green that takes on a reddish hue in bright sunlight.
Donkey Ear Plant is an attractive evergreen succulent that produces strikingly tall and attractive flower spikes during the late autumn and early winter months. The spikes may be as tall as 18″ inches and are topped with lightly scented yellow and red flowers.
When kept in the garden, the blossoms are quite attractive to hummingbirds. After blooming, the plants tend to die back; however, they replace themselves with spontaneously occurring pups.
Donkey Ear plants can be kept outside year-round in USDA hardiness zones 10 through 12. They also do quite well as houseplants.
Paddle Plant has leaves that look somewhat like clamshells or large, slightly curved petals. The leaves may be as long as 6″ inches with a width as great as 5″ inches.
The gray green leaves tend to take on a reddish tint during the cooler months. In the springtime a 2′ or 3′ foot long flower spike emerges and tubular, light yellow flowers appear atop it.
Beach Bells has pendulous branches, attractive spoon shaped leaves and drooping panicles of urn shaped, tubular red flowers. Blooms appear in the springtime.
Lavender Scallops has pretty bluish green leaves that turn pale lavender in bright sunlight or when water is scarce. The scallop edged leaves grow on stems that may be 2 feet long.
Red, bell-shaped blossoms appear atop the stems. As the stems become heavier, they begin to bend earthward. When they make contact, they set down roots to grow new plants.
Flapjacks is also called Paddle Plant, Desert Cabbage or Dog Tongue. The large, flat leaves have a white frosted appearance.
Under ideal circumstances, the plant can grow to be about 18″ inches high, and it produces a flower spike that is about 30″ inches high. In very challenging circumstances, or when kept as a container plant, maximum height is about 12″ inches tall.
Mother of Millions is also called Chandelier Plant. This easy care plant produces a great many tiny buds along the edges of the leaves.
These are little plantlets that sprout roots and drop to the ground around the parent plant. Here they take root and grow into brand-new plants.