The genus Kalanchoe includes more than 100 species of plants, but only a few are regularly seen in cultivation. The most recognizable is Kalanchoe blossfeldiana, usually known simply as kalanchoe. Native to Madagascar and closely related to the jade plant, K. blossfeldiana is a succulent perennial with scallop-shaped leaves and umbels of flower clusters that extend above the voliage. It has an especially long bloom period when compared to other succulents. Kalancho thrives in arid environments and is a popular, easy-to-grow houseplant. Growers are drawn to kalanchoe for its ease of care and interesting leaves, and for flowers that bloom repeatedly if the light exposure is properly controlled.
Kalanchoe is slow-growing, on average taking between two and five years to reach mature size. Available in pretty shades of red, pink, yellow, and white, Kalanchoe can be easily found at many grocery stores, nurseries, and florists, especially around the holiday season. However, homeowners who 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, Christmas kalanchoe|
|Botanical Name||Kalanchoe blossfeldiana|
|Plant Type||Perennial, succulent|
|Mature Size||6–18 in. tall and wide|
|Sun Exposure||Full sun, partial shade|
|Soil type||Sandy, well-drained|
|Soil pH||Acidic (5.8 to 6.3)|
|Bloom Time||Varies; requires 6 weeks of 14-hour nights|
|Flower Color||Yellow, red, orange, pink, white|
|Hardiness Zones||10–12, USDA|
|Native Area||Africa (Madagascar)|
|Toxicity||Toxic to pets, considered non-toxic to humans|
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 kalanchoe (Kalanhoe blossfeldiana) . Like many succulents, kalanchoe is a relatively hands-off species, preferring plenty of sunlight and well-draining soil. In warm-weather zones (10 to 12) where it is grown outdoors, kalanchoe needs a well-drained, sandy soil; it thrives on limited water, provided it gets enough light. As an indoor plant, a cactus mix potting soil is best, and it does best with bright indirect light.
Indoors or outdoors, kalanchoe is well suited to a variety of temperatures, provided it is not touched by frost. Its bloom cycle is set in motion by a long stretch with lengthy periods of nighttime darkness in the wintertime. Beginning in spring, you'll be treated to bursts of colorful flowers that can last several weeks and can recur throughout most of the year, as long as you control the light exposure.
The bloom cycle for this plant is set in motion by a period of roughly six weeks where the plant experiences at least 14 hours of darkness each day. Roughly four months after this period, the plant will begin to bloom. It is possible to keep the plant blooming almost year-round if they get this winter darkness in order to reset the bloom cycle.
Kalanchoe plants grown indoors need a lot of light to bloom, so they should be kept in a room with an abundance of bright, natural light. However, avoid placing them in direct sunlight, as it can scorch the leaves and reduce blooming.
Outdoors, a kalanchoe plant grows best in well-drained, sandy soil. Indoor plants should be potted in a blend that doesn't retain too much moisture, like a 50 percent potting soil and 50 percent cactus mix, or 60 percent peat moss and 40 percent perlite. 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 occasionally forgetting to water your plants, a kalanchoe can be the perfect pick for you. This 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; 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 protecting it from frost, you don't have to do much to create the proper indoor environment. Kalanchoe plants are not fussy about air moisture levels.
As outdoor garden plants, kalanchoe is not a good choice outside of zones 10 to 12, as they don't thrive at temperatures below 55 degrees and will instantly die if touched by frost.
Like most flowering plants, kalanchoe benefits from fertilizer, though they are less hungry than many plants. Garden plants require little more than a single light feeding in the spring. Indoor plants should be fed with a well-balanced fertilizer blend once a month during the spring and summer months, but not during the winter. If flowering is sparse, switch to a fertilizer that is higher in phosphorus.
Types of Kalanchoe
Kalanchoe blossfeidiana is available in several unnamed varieties featuring different shades of yellow, red, orange, pink, and white. Planted outdoors, they normally flower in the spring, but indoor plants can be coaxed into blooming nearly year-round. There are also several related species that can make good garden plants and houseplants:
- K. manginii: This species features fleshy leaves and bears large, bell-like pendant flowers. Moist air is an essential component of its prolonged flowering. Sometimes known as chandalier plant, this species is hardy in USDA zones 9 to 11.
- K. porphyrocalyx: Also known as Pearl Bells, this species consists of slender, rectangular leaves and purple pendant flowers. It is hardy in zones 11 and 12.
- K. beharensis: This kalanchoe species is prized for its large, velvety leaves that are pale silvery green in color. Sometimes known as elephant ear kalanchoe, it is hardy in zones 9 to 11.
- K. pinnata: This kalanchoe species is characterized by fleshy green leaves and bears tiny plantlets along its margins. Ofen known as cathedral bells, it is hardy in zones 10 and 11.
Pinching back the stems of a kalanchoe plant will help maintain its shape and promote more robust blooming.
Kalanchoe is very simple to propagate, and doing so is actually 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 (or take stem cuttings) at almost any time. 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 joint 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 in soil comprised of the same mixture used to grow the mother plant.
- Let the newly planted cutting sit in bright indirect light, but do not water; the stem should take root within a month, at which point you can care for it as you would a mature kalanchoe plant.
How to Grow Kalanchoe From Seed
These slow-growing plants are usually grown from cuttings, which produces faster results, but they are relatively easy to grow from seeds. Sow seeds on the surface of a porous potting mix in early spring; do not cover the seeds, as they need light to germinate. Put the container in a plastic bag to increase humidity until they germinate, which takes about 10 days. After about two months, you can transplant the seedling into individual pots or plant them outdoors.
Potting and Repotting Kalanchoe
Unlike plants that prefer to be pot-bound, kalanchoe plants actually thrive best if repotted rather frequently, which encourages good drainage. 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. Go up one container size each time you repot.
Make sure to use a well-draining pot; clay is a good choice, as the material is porous and will help keep the soil relatively dry.
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 bright light each day. During the fall and winter, however, it's important that the plant experiences near-total darkness for the other hours of the day. A full 14 hours of daily darkness, for a period of at least six weeks, 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 is high in phosphorus, which can help it produce added buds next time it begins to bloom.
Common Problems With Kalanchoe
Kalanchoe plants are extremely easy to grow, but problems can arise when they are not watered correctly or if they experience temperature extremes.
Soft, Damaged Blooms and Leaves
Plants that are touched by near-freezing temperatures will often experience damaged leaves or stunted blooms. For best performance, keep these plants at temperatures above 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Temperatures that are too high can cause leaves to wilt. Ideally, keep these plants below 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Drab or Burned Leaves
Proper light exposure is key to good-looking plants. Too little light and the leaves will lose the trademark glossy green. Too much direct sunlight, and you can expect burned leaves. Indoor kalanchoes will do best in a location that receives a lot of bright indirect light, but not too much direct sunlight.
Soft, Fragile Stems
A very common problem with kalanchoe is overwatering or planting in a soil medium that holds water. Excessive water can easily cause root and stem rot with these plants. If you see this problem beginning, withhold water until the plant recovers.
Failure to Bloom
When a kalanchoe fails to bloom, it is usually because it does not get the lengthy period of winter darkness that allows the plant to reset its bloom cycle. During the winter months, these plants need a six-week period where they experience nighttime darkness lasting a full 14 hours each day. Without this reset period, the plants usually fail to bloom again.
How long can a kalanchoe live?
As is true of many slow-growing perennial succulents, Kalanhoe blossfeldiana can thrive for as long as its basic needs are met. There are many cases of century-old potted kalanchoe plants.
Do kalanchoe plants work well in mixed containers?
Kalanchoe is most often planted by itself in a container, but they also will work well in large pots planted alongside related succulents, such as aloe and jade. On a patio, they are often planted with sedums and other creeping plants.
ASPCA. Kalanchoe Toxic and Non-Toxic Plants. ASPCA.