The genus Kalanchoe includes more than 100 species of plants, but only a few are regularly seen in cultivation, the most recognizable of which is the Kalanchoe blossfeldiana. Native to Madagasgar, kalanchoe thrives in arid environments, making it a popular succulent. Growers are drawn to kalanchoe for its ease of care and interesting leaves and flowers, which bloom consistently throughout the year in response to daylight.
Kalanchoe is slow-growing, on average taking between two and five years to reach mature size. Available in pretty shades like red, pink, yellow, and white, Kalanchoe can be easily found at most grocery stores, nurseries, and florists, especially around the holiday season. Homeowners that have curious pets at home should be careful about where they keep their kalanchoe—all parts of the plant are toxic to cats and dogs.
|Common Name||Kalanchoe, Flaming katy, Panda plant, Christmas kalanchoe|
|Botanical Name||Kalanchoe blossfeldiana|
|Plant type||Herbaceous perennial|
|Mature size||6–18 in. tall, 6–18 in. wide|
|Sun exposure||Full sun, partial shade|
|Bloom time||Spring, summer, fall, winter|
|Flower color||Yellow, red, orange, pink, white|
|Hardiness zones||10–12, USA|
|Toxicity||Toxic to pets|
Watch Now: How to Grow and Care for Kalanchoe
If you're looking to grow a succulent with a little extra beauty, look no further than the kalanchoe plant. Like most succulents, kalanchoe is a relatively hands-off varietal, preferring plenty of sunlight and well-draining soil. It's also suited to a variety of temperatures, but will not bloom during the winter months. However, beginning in spring, you'll be treated to bursts of colorful flowers that can last several weeks and can reoccur throughout the year, as long as the plant receives the proper light exposure and is pruned correctly between blooms. Kalanchoe plants are relatively problem-free—at most, you may notice an issue with mealybugs or powdery mildew, but even that is rare.
Kalanchoe plants need a lot of sunlight to bloom, so they should be kept in a room with an abundance of bright, natural light. However, you should avoid placing them on windowsills or in direct sunlight as it can scorch the leaves and cause the plant not to bloom.
A kalanchoe plant will grow best in well-drained soil, so choose or create a blend that doesn't retain too much moisture, like a 50 percent potting soil and 50 percent cactus mix or a 60 percent peat moss and 40 percent perlite mix. To ensure proper drainage and avoid an overly moist environment, you can also plant your kalanchoe in a clay pot, which can help wick excess water from the soil.
If you have a habit of forgetting to water your plants every once in a while, a kalanchoe may be the perfect pick for you. The hearty plant does well with minimal water, requiring a complete saturation only every few weeks or so (and even less often during the winter months). Let the soil dry out completely in between waterings to help prevent root rot. Because the Kalanchoe is a succulent, its leaves are actually capable of storing water, so even if you're a few days late watering, the plant will be just fine.
Temperature and Humidity
Your household environment is important to the kalanchoe, though it's not as picky as other indoor houseplants. Generally, it will thrive at temperatures ranging from 55 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit so, with the exception of not letting the plant freeze, you don't have to do much to create the proper indoor environment. When it comes to humidity, kalanchoe plants do not require certain moisture levels in the air.
Like most flowering plants, kalanchoe benefits from fertilizer. This is especially important around bloom time, so feed the plant with a well-balanced fertilizer blend once a month during the spring and summer months.
Types of Kalanchoe
While there are tons of different kalanchoe varietals out there, only a few are well-suited to life as a houseplant. The most popular (and widely-available) options include:
- K. blossfeldiana: The most popular type of kalanchoe, blossfeldiana features large flower heads and is available in a variety of colors. They naturally bloom in the spring, though they can be forced into flowering throughout the year.
- K. manginii: This plant varietal features fleshy leaves and bears large, bell-like pendant flowers. Moist air is an essential component of its prolonged flowering.
- K. porphyrocalyx: Also known as Pearl Bells, this varietal consists of slender, rectangular leaves and purple pendant flowers.
- K. beharensis: This kalanchoe type is prized for its large, velvety leaves, which come in pale silvery green.
- K. pinnata: This kalanchoe variety is characterized by fleshy green leaves and bears tiny plantlets along its margins.
Kalanchoe is very simple to propagate, and doing so is actually considered beneficial to the plant's health. As a mature kalanchoe grows, it produces offsets that can be taxing on the "mother" plant. Instead of allowing them to leech nutrients from the mature plant, you can propagate the offsets (as well as stem cuttings). Here's how:
- Cut a segment of stem several inches long from a mature plant using a sharp clean knife or clippers. If using an offset, remove it at the join where it connects to the parent plant.
- Allow the cutting to dry out for a few days, or until the end appears to have "healed" shut and calloused over.
- Dip the calloused ends of the cutting in a rooting hormone once healed.
- Plant the cutting soil comprised of the same mixture used to grow the mother plant.
- Let sit (do not water) and the stem should take root within a month, at which point you can care for it as you would a normal kalanchoe plant.
Potting and Repotting Kalanchoe
Unlike plants that prefer to be pot-bound, kalanchoe plants actually thrive best if repotted rather frequently. For best results, repot your kalanchoe annually each fall after the plant has bloomed—doing so will encourage new growth and increase the plant's fullness.
How to Get Kalanchoe to Bloom
If given the proper care and environment, kalanchoe plants can bloom year-round indoors. The most essential component of a frequently flowering kalanchoe plant is ample sunlight. For your kalanchoe plant to bloom to its full potential, it should be located somewhere where it gets at least six to eight hours of sunlight a day. However, exposure to low light conditions during the fall and winter is necessary for the plant to amass energy for further blooms.
Deadheading the flowers, once the blooms are spent, is also a great way to prompt continual flowering. If you're struggling to help your plant achieve its flowering potential, look for a fertilizer blend that includes potassium, which can help it produce added buds next time it blooms.
Are kalanchoe plants easy to care for?
Yes—kalanchoe plants do well with a bit of watering neglect, as long as they're getting enough light to prompt blooming.
How fast does kalanchoe grow?
Kalanchoe plants grow slowly, and can take up to two or three years to reach their mature size.
Can kalanchoe grow indoors?
Yes! Kalanchoe plants do best when grown indoors, and thrive in a household environment.
ASPCA. Kalanchoe Toxic and Non-Toxic Plants. ASPCA.