Kalanchoe blossfeldiana [kal-un-KOH-ee, bloss-fel-dee-AY-nuh] is an herbaceous perennial, very popular succulent hailing from Madagascar.
It’s a member of the Crassulaceae family.
The genus name of the Kalanchoe plant comes from an unintelligible or corrupted version of the Chinese name for this species of succulent plants.
The specific epithet, blossfeldiana, honors Robert Blossfeld, who was a German nurseryman.
Born in the late 1800s, his work with plants was well known in Potsdam, Germany from 1920 to 1940.
You may hear it called by its common names including:
- Flaming Katy Kalanchoe
- Christmas Kalanchoe
- Florist Kalanchoe
- Madagascar widow’s thrill
Kalanchoe Blossfeldiana Care
Size & Growth
Kalanchoe plants attain a height and spread ranging from 6″ – 18″ inches.
Flaming Katie ‘s dark green leaves are large, thick, scallop-edged, and succulent.
Its growth habit is upright and multi-branched.
Flowering & Fragrance
This seasonal bloomer produces pretty flower colors in shades of yellow, salmon, scarlet and pink.
Kalanchoe flowers grow in large clusters above the leaves.
As houseplants, the bloom time is quite long.
Like poinsettias, kalanchoe rebloom in response to shortening day lengths.
The clusters of flowers may last for several weeks.
Ample bright light is essential for good blooming.
Eight or ten hours of sunlight and fourteen hours of dark per 24-hour cycle over a period of about six weeks encourages better bloom production.
A stable, warm temperature is also necessary for the best blooming.
Optimally, the daytime temperature should be 70° degrees Fahrenheit (21° C), and the nighttime temperatures should be 60° degrees Fahrenheit (16° C).
Light & Temperature
Flaming Katie does well in low light to a full sun setting.
As a houseplant, Kalanchoe should be kept in bright indirect sunlight or even in full sun.
As with all houseplants, watch for leaf scorching if the plant is subjected to full sunlight magnified through a glass window.
Extremes in temperature will cause plants not to flower.
Protect your Kalanchoe from temperatures lower than 40° degrees Fahrenheit (4° C).
Just a few hours of this sort of chill can kill these plants.
Flaming Katie does best in consistently warm temperatures ranging from 60° – 85° degrees Fahrenheit (16° C – 29° C).
The plant is extremely cold sensitive and can grow well in USDA hardiness zones 7 through 11.
It is winter hardy in USDA hardiness zones 10 through 12.
A south-facing window in winter is best for this flowering plant if indoors.
Watering & Feeding
The water needs of this succulent plant are low to moderate, and an occasional deep watering should keep the plant thriving.
It’s always best to water at ground level or from the bottom for potting plants.
Avoid getting Kalanchoe’s leaves wet as this can promote rot.
When kept as indoor plants, water the plant thoroughly and allow the soil to dry completely before watering again.
Fertilize lightly at the end of the growing season to prepare the plant for the year to come.
During the winter and just before bloom time, you should water a little bit less and fertilize less.
This will spur growth and blooming.
When the plant is not in bloom, reduce watering to give it a rest.
When kept as a houseplant, you may wish to fertilize Kalanchoe more frequently.
Use a well-balanced houseplant fertilizer, or opt for one with a slightly higher phosphorus content.
More phosphorus promotes better blooming.
Needing very little water, kalanchoe only needs one light application of fertilizer each year.
Quarter to half strength solutions is recommended.
Only fertilize during periods of new growth, and then do so lightly.
Soil & Transplanting
The best soil mix for Kalanchoe is well-draining, open, light, and sandy.
Heavy soil may be amended with cactus mix or sand to provide the necessary drainage.
If planting outdoors, dig a hole just deep enough to accommodate the roots.
Pack the soil down lightly all the way around to give the plant solid footing.
If repotting do so in early spring.
Grooming & Maintenance
These plants bloom randomly, year-round.
To promote better blooming, deadhead the flowers when they become spent.
Consistent deadheading encourages them to bloom more continuously.
During the growing season, pinch back the stems to encourage an attractive shape and to promote more flowering.
Cousins of Kalanchoe include:
- Kalanchoe Daigremontiana (Mother of Thousands plant)
- Kalanchoe tomentosa (Panda Plant)
- Kalanchoe beharensis (Felt Plant)
- Calandiva Kalanchoe series
How To Propagate Flaming Katy
New plants may be propagated by stem cuttings, leaf cuttings, and removing plantlets which occasionally grow on the margins of the leaves.
Remove the miniature plants and place them in their own potting mix.
Care for them as mature plants.
After a month, resume standard care and showy new buds should eventually appear.
Kalanchoe Pest or Disease Problems
When well-kept, Flaming Katie is fairly trouble-free.
As with all succulents, you must be on the lookout for scale, mites, and mealybugs.
Caterpillars may also be problematic.
Overwatering will cause stem and root rot.
High humidity levels can cause leaf spot disease.
Is Kalanchoe Toxic Or Poisonous?
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), all Kalanchoe contain bufadienolides, which is a highly toxic substance.
If ingested, tachycardia, gastric distress, vomiting, and diarrhea may ensue.
Is Kalanchoe Invasive?
Although Kalanchoe may escape cultivation in USDA hardiness zones 10-12, it is not considered invasive.
Suggested Uses For Flaming Kalanchoe
In warmer climates, Flaming Katie can grow happily outdoors all year long.
It may be used as an annual in cooler climates.
When kept outdoors, these succulent plants should be placed in sheltered locations.
Strong winds can easily break the plant or cause it to fall over if potted.
This is because the leaves are so large, thick, and flat.
Kalanchoe may be kept as a houseplant year-round in cooler climates.
Remember to use very well-draining soil and a pot allowing for good air circulation around the roots. Clay terra-cotta is best.
As a container plant, Kalanchoe is an excellent choice on the windowsill, in a sunroom or gracing the patio or porch.