If you're looking for a unique and undemanding houseplant, then you can't go wrong with mother of thousands (Kalanchoe daigremontiana), a forgiving and low-maintenance succulent. It's native to the tropical and subtropical regions of Madagascar. The slow-growing mother of thousands can only be grown outdoors in hotter regions, such as Florida and Hawaii; it rarely flowers indoors. If you plant it outdoors, only do it after the weather gets warmer in the summer months. It's perfect for novice houseplant-lovers and gets its name from the many baby plantlets that grow along the edges of its serrated leaves. It takes from two to five years to mature.
When grown outside, it has small, tubular, dangling pinkish-gray flowers that bloom at the start of the warm season; the plant often declines after blooming. These plantlets add interest and make Kalanchoe daigremontiana very easy to propagate from. It is unlike other Kalanchoe species that have more remarkable flowers.
|Botanical Name||Kalanchoe daigremontiana|
|Common Name||Mother of thousands, devil's backbone, alligator plant|
|Mature Size||3 ft. tall|
|Sun Exposure||Full sun, partial shade|
|Soil pH||Acid, neutral, alkaline|
|Hardiness Zones||9 to 11 (USDA)|
|Toxicity||Toxic to humans, cats, and dogs|
Mother of Thousands Care
The Kalanchoe daigremontiana is hardy, drought-tolerant, and capable of handling intense heat. It won't flourish in more temperate or cold regions. It is generally kept as an uncomplicated houseplant.
It's such an easy grower that this plant can be somewhat invasive when grown outdoors. Many gardeners contain them in pots to minimize their spread.
The mother of thousands prefers a bright spot in your home where it can appreciate several hours of light. However, too much direct and intense afternoon sun can result in leaf scorch, so position them in indirect light.
As with most succulents, your Kalanchoe daigremontiana will need a well-drained potting medium—standing water is a big issue for this plant. Many enthusiasts use a cactus mix, and others might mix sand or perlite into a standard potting soil. Using a clay pot is desirable; it helps absorb excess moisture and takes it away from the plant.
The mother of thousands is drought-tolerant, but not as much as many succulent species. It'll do better if it receives regular and gradual hydration, especially during its growing season. Still, it only needs water once every few weeks, even in spring and summer. It won't be a major problem if you forget now and again.
Once the first couple of inches of the soil surface is dry, then you should rewater. By gradually dampening the soil, you won't risk oversaturating the roots. During the fall and winter, reduce watering. Overwatering will cause limp leaves.
Temperature and Humidity
Mother of thousand plants usually prefers temperatures around 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure it doesn't receive too much intense, direct sunlight. The plant should return inside before the temperatures drop below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Most Kalanchoe species, including the mother of thousands, can live without regular fertilization.
Other than removing dead stalks and dropped plantlets, the plant doesn't have any other pruning requirements.
Propagating Mother of Thousands
The mother of thousands is easily propagated from the plantlets it produces rather than from seeds. The plantlets are usually ready to remove as the main plant heads towards its dormancy period in the winter. They'll fall off naturally, or you can remove them from the leaf they're attached to if they're ready to detach without you applying a lot of pressure. Lay the plantlets on the surface of a well-drained and damp potting medium where they'll begin to take root.
Potting and Repotting Mother of Thousands
Generally, the only time you'll need to do some repotting is if fallen plantlets have begun to take root in the pot of the mother plant. These should be removed and disposed of, or replanted in another container with good drainage.
Bring your mother of thousands inside for the winter. The plant cannot tolerate temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. If your plant moves inside, do not put it too close to a heater. Direct heat can damage the leaves and dry out the plant quicker than it can handle.