Growing Kalanchoe Beharensis: Caring For The Velvet Leaf Plant

The Kalanchoe beharensis, [kal-un-KOH-ee] [be-HAIR-en-sis], is a slow-growing succulent type.

The “beharensis” part references the plant’s native region of Behara in South Madagascar.


Kalanchoe Beharensis Plant Facts

  • Origin: Madagascar
  • Family: Crassulaceae
  • Botanical Name: Kalanchoe beharensis, [kal-un-KOH-ee] [be-HAIR-en-sis]
  • Common Name: Elephant’s Ears Kalanchoe, Velvet Leaf plant, Felt Bush
  • Plant Type: succulent perennial
  • Size: 10′ to 12′ feet tall
  • Leaves: triangular, velvety covering
  • Flowers: rarely
  • Hardiness: USDA hardiness zones 11 to 12
  • Exposure: Full sun, partial shade
  • Soil: well-draining cactus soil
  • Water: keep on dry side DO NOT overwater
  • Fertilizing: light liquid fertilizer in spring and summer
  • Propagation: cuttings

Kalanchoe Beharensis Care

The plant belongs to the Kalanchoe genus of succulents and the Crassulaceae family. While the beharensis is a succulent shrub, it can reach heights of 10′ to 12′ feet tall in the wild. Due to the shape and size of the leaves, it acquired the common names:

  • Velvet Elephant Ear Succulent Kalanchoe
  • Velvet Leaf Kalanchoe plant
  • Felt Bush

Whether grown indoors or outside, the Kalanchoe beharensis fang is a hardy plant that is easy to care for. The plant is sometimes listed or grown as Kilchingia mandrakensis.

What Is The Size And Growth Beharensis?

This tree-like succulent can reach heights and a spread of 12’ feet, making it a large succulent and the largest Kalanchoe species. It is a slow-growing plant taking years to mature. However, it is a hardy plant.

While it can reach massive heights and widths, it rarely grows that size outside of its native region.

When grown in the US, it’s more likely to reach a maximum height of three to four feet and a spread of two to three feet.

The plant grows slowly, producing triangular leaves with long stalks.

The upper parts of mature leaves feature a bronze-like color, while the undersides are typically a silver-gray color. You’ll also notice plenty of fine hairs on the leaf stalks and the fang-like foliage.

How Often Does Kalanchoe Beharensis Flower?

Growing the Elephant’s Ears Kalanchoe fang outside of its native region may also impact its flowering. In fact, there’s a good chance that you may not see flowers.

If the plant does produce flowers, they should bloom in the spring.

Mature plants can produce long clusters of flowers. These blooms are urn-shaped, with shades of reddish-orange and greenish-yellow flowers.

What Lighting and Temperature Does The Felt Plant Like?

The Kalanchoe beharensis plant will die if the temperature gets too cold. It is not frost tolerant!

The plant is recommended for USDA hardiness zones 11 to 12. As the plant is native to Madagascar, it grows best in warm regions.

If the temperature drops below 55° degrees Fahrenheit, the plant may start to show signs of distress.

It should get plenty of sunlight (full sun), especially during the summer when the plant tends to grow more. In the winter, sunlight is less essential. However, the plant still requires at least some partial sun.

How Do You Water And Feed Beharensis?

Watering this plant is not a common task. Like most succulent plants, the Kalanchoe beharensis is drought tolerant and should be allowed to dry out between waterings.

During the winter, you rarely need to water the plant. You need to add just enough water for the soil to stay slightly moist.

Fertilizer is recommended. However, it isn’t required if the plant receives optimal sunlight and adequate water.

If you do decide to add fertilizer, add it in the spring and summer.

You can add it about once per month through these seasons, but avoid adding fertilizer in the winter when the plant doesn’t require as much nutrition.

Tips For Soil and Transplanting

The “Felt Bush Kalanchoe” should be planted in a well draining cactus. The plant even does well in poor soils.

In fact, if the soil is thick and clay-like, add pebbles or succulent potting media to help improve the drainage.

Keep the plants spaced at least 24” inches apart, giving them plenty of room to spread. If planting in a container, use a large pot or container to give the plant enough space.

NOTE: You should remember to move the containers or pots indoors when it starts to get cold outside.

Grooming Felt Beharensis Plant

The plant is slow-growing. You shouldn’t need to groom it. However, if you want to keep the plant from getting too tall or wide, you can trim the lower leaves as needed.

How to Propagate Kalanchoe Beharensis

The best way to propagate the kalanchoe beharensis is by collecting seeds or from stem cuttings. These seeds can then be planted in the spring in a small container with sandy soil or perlite.

Propagating Elephant’s Ear Kalanchoe From Stem or Leaf Cuttings

Propagating the felt plant is easy. Follow these steps:

  • Remove leaves in the spring or in early summer
  • Allow the leaf cuttings to dry for several days or even a week
  • Stick the fleshy leaves, leaf blades, or stem cuttings in a pot with sandy soil
  • Place the pot in bright light – but not full sun

The cuttings should start to root in about 3-4 weeks. After the roots appear, new leaves should start to grow.

Once new growth starts, move the new young plants to larger pots. Once established and grown a bit the plants can be planted outdoors, depending on the region you live.

Pest, Disease or Problems the Plant May Encounter

Like most Kalanchoe varieties beharensis is prone to several threats, including over-watering. When overwatered, the leaves may start to rot. However, you also need to watch out for critters.

Aphids and mealybugs like the leaves of this succulent. Use your preferred pest spray (we like neem) to keep these bugs from disfiguring the leaves.

What Are the Most Popular Kalanchoe Varieties?

Besides the kalanchoe beharensis, there are several other Kalanchoe plant varieties in this genus that you may want to try, including the following:

What Are The Best Uses Indoors or Out

You may not want to plant Kalanchoe beharensis outdoors unless you live in a suitable region, such as Arizona or parts of California, Texas and southern Florida.

In cooler or wetter regions, the plant does better indoors or in containers so move plants indoors when the weather gets cooler.

When in a container, the plant is a great ornamental piece and can be placed in full or partial sunlight.

The thick, triangular, silver-brown velvety leaves make for interesting looks in the landscape.

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