How to Grow and Care for Kalanchoe Pinnata

kalanchoe pinnata flowers, stems, and leaves

passion4nature / Getty

Kalanchoe pinnata, also called cathedral bells, is a succulent plant in the stonecrop family. It's known for its vigorous growth, bell-shaped flowers, and ability to grow baby plantlets along the scalloped edges of mature leaves. Kalanchoe pinnata grows best with warm temperatures, well-drained soil, minimal watering, and at least six hours of bright sunlight per day. Note that kalanchoe pinnata, like other kalanchoe species, is toxic to people and pets.

Common Name:  Cathedral bells, Hawaiian air plant
Botanical Name:  Kalanchoe pinnata (syn. Bryophyllum pinnatum)
Family:  Crassulaceae
Plant Type:  Succulent, Perennial
Mature Size: 6 ft. tall
Sun Exposure:  Full, Partial
Soil Type:  Sandy, Well-drained
Soil pH:  Acidic
Bloom Time:  Spring
Flower Color:  Yellow, Pink, Red
Hardiness Zones:  10-11 (USDA) 
Native Area:  Madagascar
Toxicity:  Toxic to dogs, cats, and humans

Kalanchoe Pinnata Care

  • Plant in rich, well-drained potting mix such as succulent soil.
  • Place in a spot with bright indirect light or full sun.
  • Water deeply, allowing the soil to dry out between waterings.
  • Fertilize once in spring and once in summer with balanced houseplant fertilizer.


Kalanchoe pinnata can be invasive if planted outdoors in regions where it's winter hardy (zones 10-11). In Florida, the plant is listed as a Category II invasive plant, meaning its numbers have increased but it hasn't yet caused ecological damage. For this reason, it's best to grow kalanchoe pinnata in containers indoors to keep it from spreading in the landscape.


Give kalanchoe pinnata at least six hours of bright light per day. Keep indoor plants in a place with bright sunlight, ideally in a south-facing or west-facing window. Outdoor plants will do best with some afternoon shade in regions with very hot summers. In full sun conditions, the plant's leaves will take on a greenish-gold color.


Plant kalanchoe pinnata in a rich, loose, well-drained potting mix. You can use premade succulent soil or cactus mix or make your own mix. Combine two parts peat moss or coconut coir, two parts coarse sand, and one part perlite.


Because kalanchoe pinnata is drought-resistant and stores moisture in its succulent leaves, it needs relatively little water, especially in winter. Water this plant only when the soil has completely dried out, but water deeply. Allow the container to drain fully and check saucers and drip trays so the plant doesn't sit in water, which can cause root rot.

Temperature and Humidity

Kalanchoe pinnata prefers temperatures around 70 degrees during the day and between 50 and 65 degrees at night. Because it grows well in arid conditions, it's an ideal plant for very dry regions or low-humidity spaces.


As long as the soil it's planted in is relatively rich, kalanchoe pinnata doesn't require fertilizer. If desired, you can feed it with a balanced houseplant fertilizer diluted to half strength when you see new growth in the spring and again a few months later in summer. Avoid fertilizing in fall and winter.


Kalanchoe pinnata doesn't require regular pruning to be healthy, but you'll want to cut back the foliage if your plant is looking leggy or outgrowing your space. Use clean, sharp scissors or pruners, and remove no more than a quarter of the total plant growth while pruning. Save cuttings to propagate into new plants.

Propagating Kalanchoe Pinnata

You can easily propagate kalanchoe pinnata using leaf cuttings or stem cuttings. It's best to do this in spring or summer when the plant is in active growth. Here's how to propagate kalanchoe pinnata.

Propagating Kalanchoe Pinnata Using Leaf Cuttings

You'll need scissors or pruners, a small plant pot, and succulent soil.

  1. Select a healthy leaf and cut it from the mother plant, leaving the petiole (leaf stem) behind. Leave the cutting out to callus for a day or two.
  2. Fill a small plant pot with succulent soil and moisten it lightly.
  3. Place the leaf on the soil surface. You may want to use greening pins or a bent paperclip on the leaf stem to help hold it in place.
  4. Put the cutting in a warm place with bright, indirect light. Mist the soil occasionally with water.
  5. After a few weeks, you should see plantlets begin to form on the scalloped edges of the leaf. Once the plantlets have grown roots, you can remove them from the leaf and pot them up.

Propagating Kalanchoe Pinnata Using Stem Cuttings

You'll need scissors, a small plant pot, succulent soil, a clear plastic bag, and rooting hormone powder (optional).

  1. Choose a healthy stem on the mother plant and remove a six-inch stem tip, cutting just below a leaf node.
  2. Allow the cutting to callus over for a day or so.
  3. Fill the pot with succulent soil and water it lightly. Use your finger or a pencil to poke a hole a few inches down into the soil.
  4. Dip the cut end of the stem in rooting hormone powder. Plant the cutting in the soil.
  5. Put the cutting in a place with bright, indirect light. Tent the plastic bag over the pot to hold in humidity. Water when the soil has dried out.
  6. New leaf growth is a sign that the cutting has rooted. You can remove the plastic and care for the plant as usual.

Potting and Repotting Kalanchoe Pinnata

Repot kalanchoe pinnata every two years or so, or when you see roots growing out of the bottom of the pot. Unlike some houseplants, kalanchoes don't like to be root-bound. Use fresh soil and go up one pot size when repotting. Plastic, glazed ceramic, and terracotta pots all work well. Some growers prefer to use terracotta pots, which allow moisture to evaporate more quickly and reduce the risk of root rot.

Common Pests & Plant Diseases 

Common houseplant pests like aphids, spider mites, and mealybugs can affect kalanchoe pinnata. These sap-sucking insects can cause leaves to yellow or curl slightly. Examine your plants regularly for signs of pests, like the webbing left by spider mites or cottony masses where mealybugs have laid eggs. Remove pests with horticultural soap and treat plants with neem oil to prevent future infestations.

How to Get Kalanchoe Pinnata to Bloom

Kalanchoe pinnata gets the common name "cathedral bells" for its bell-shaped blooms. However, the plant requires lots of warmth and bright light to bloom, which isn't always possible with kalanchoe pinnata plants kept indoors. You can encourage blooming by giving the plant at least six hours of direct sunlight per day.

Bloom Months

Kalanchoe pinnata blooms appear in the summer months.

What Do Kalanchoe Pinnata's Flowers Look and Smell Like?

Kalanchoe pinnata flowers are bell-shaped and hang down from a tall flower stalk at the top of the plant. The red, pink, and yellow flowers produce a mild, sweet, honey-like scent.

Deadheading Kalanchoe Pinnata Flowers

After flowers fade, cut back the flower spike to the base of the plant.

Common Problems With Kalanchoe Pinnata

Leaves Turning Yellow

Yellowing leaves can be a sign that your plant is getting too much water. Wait for the soil to dry out completely between waterings. If you're not already using succulent soil, consider repotting the plant in this faster-draining mix. You can also try repotting into a terracotta pot, which helps wick away moisture.

White Spots on Leaves

Dusty, white spots on foliage can be a sign of powdery mildew, a common fungal infection. Treat it with a baking soda solution or organic fungicides designed for houseplants. Make sure there's good ventilation around the plant. Avoid getting the foliage wet when watering.

Wrinkled Leaves

Kalanchoe pinnata might be drought tolerant, but it does need water to live. Wrinkled leaves are a sign that the plant is using up the moisture reserved in its succulent leaves. When you see them, give the plant a deep watering. The foliage should return to normal once the plant is hydrated again.

  • Is Kalanchoe pinnata invasive?

    Kalanchoe pinnata is considered invasive in zones 10 and 11, where it is winter hardy. Check with your local cooperative extension in these regions before planting outdoors, or keep the plant inside.

  • What's the difference between Kalanchoe pinnata and mother of thousands?

    Kalanchoe pinnata and mother of thousands (Kalanchoe daigremontiana) are two different species in the same genus. Both are vigorous growers that can reproduce by forming plantlets on the edges of their scalloped leaves.

  • Can Kalanchoe pinnata grow indoors?

    Yes. With at least six hours of bright sunlight per day, kalanchoe pinnata can grow well as a houseplant.

Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Are Succulents Poisonous to Humans? Missouri Poison Center.

  2. Kalanchoe.

  3. Kalanchoe Species. University of Florida Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants.