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 shrub, it can reach heights of 10 to 12 feet in the wild. Due to the shape and size of the leaves, it acquired the common names:
- Elephant’s Ears Kalanchoe
- Velvet Leaf plant
- Felt Bush
Whether grown indoors or outside, the Kalanchoe beharensis 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 that may take 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 the 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 fang-like foliage.
How Often Does Kalanchoe Beharensis Flower?
Growing the Elephant’s Ears Kalanchoe 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 flowers are urn-shaped and come in shades of reddish-orange and greenish-yellow.
What Lighting and Temperature Does The Felt Bush Like?
The Velvet Leaf 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, 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 partial direct sun.
How Do You Water And Feed Beharensis?
Watering this plant is not a common task. Like most succulents, 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 soil with good drainage.
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 Velvet Leaf Plants
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 from stem cuttings. These seeds can then be planted in the spring in a small container with sandy soil or perlite.
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:
- Kalanchoe tomentosa (Panda Plant) – features soft, fuzzy leaves with brown tips
- Kalanchoe blossfeldiana (Flaming Katy) – includes thick, dark green leaves
- Kalanchoe marnieriana (Marnier’s kalanchoe) – features paddle-shaped leaves with red tips
- Kalanchoe luciae (Paddle Plant) – produces thick, rounded leaves that resemble clam shells
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.