Another gorgeous succulent you can keep at home is kalanchoe, pronounced as kal-lan-KOE-ee. This perennial plant boasts its green, scallop-sized leaves with generous flower heads atop. Sporting colors of red, pink, yellow, or white, kalanchoe makes one of the best-potted flowering plants to display indoors.
Being a succulent plant, kalanchoe makes life easier for the plant owner. They’re easy to care for and maintain in general. The most tricky thing you’ll encounter would be the watering part but if you’ve cared for cacti and succulents in the past, you’d surely have had mastered this area.
||Kalanchoe, Mother-In-Law-Plant, Devils Backbone, Chandelier Plant, Mother of Millions
||Madagascar and Africa
||Scallop-edged leaves; upright, much-branched
||0.5 to 1 foot
||Low to medium
||Bright, indirect light
||60 to 65 F (15 to 18 C)
||Well-drained growing medium with a pH of 5.5-6
||Apply household fertilizer on a one-month interval
||Leaf cuttings, seeds
||Toxic to cats and dogs
||Aphids, scales, and mealybugs
Kalanchoe Plant Overview
Like most succulent plants, kalanchoe belongs to the Crassulaceae family. They have a unique pathway for photosynthesis known as Crassulacean Acid Metabolism (CAM) which makes them adaptable to arid conditions. During the day, they close their stomata to conserve water and they open it at night to trap carbon dioxide.
Native to Madagascar and Africa, kalanchoe has more than 125 species under its genus. The most popular species among them is Kalanchoe blossfeldiana. Depending on which species, kalanchoe can be called different common names such as Mother-In-Law-Plant, Devils Backbone, Chandelier Plant, or Mother of Millions.
Providing the right amount of water is very important to keep your kalanchoe alive. Overwatering is a common problem among succulents. If you’re not careful, you might end up killing your plant.
Letting the soil dry out between waterings is needed. To check, dip your finger at least an inch in the soil and feel if it’s still moist. This should serve as an indication of whether to water the kalanchoe or not.
During winter, watering should be reduced to at least once a month. The leaves of kalanchoe which serve as a reservoir of water are great advantage. They can readily consume this stored water during dry periods.
Kalanchoe needs plenty of light to bloom particularly less than 12 hours. In an indoor setting, it’s best to place this potted succulent near a window where there’s a bright light coming in. It will do well in full sun but refrain from direct exposure to sunlight.
You can provide partial shade if the intensity of light is too strong. Kalanchoe can also suffer from sunburn with so much heat. Always observe how your plant responds to the light available in its location.
If you’re having trouble in making your kalanchoe produce flowers, then the present location must be too shady. Gradually transition the plant from shade to bright light. This will help the plant adjust to changing light conditions without getting sunburn.
Kalanchoe is made for dry conditions. This means that it prefers an environment with low humidity. This makes things easier for you because you’ll save a great amount of time from raising moisture levels in the air.
Your regular home humidity should be fine for kalanchoe to thrive. Avoid prolonged exposure to moisture as this may trigger the development of diseases such as powdery mildew and leaf spot. Protect your plant from low temperature because it’s not frost-tolerant.
Plant Food and Soil
The soil requirement that’s suited for kalanchoe is a well-drained growing medium with a pH of 5.5-6 (slightly acidic). You can mix 50% peat moss and 40% perlite to achieve a fast-draining mixture. Using a pH meter, test the soil’s acidity or alkalinity, and make certain adjustments if needed.
For regular feeding, apply houseplant fertilizer once a month during summer. Dilute the fertilizer concentration to only half of its original measure. To promote flowering, use a fertilizer with the higher phosphorus content.
Be careful when it comes to fertilizer application. Too much of it can lead to the burning of the roots and leaf tips. If this happens, leach off excess fertilizer with water.
Kalanchoe Plant Additional Care Tips
Regular pruning is needed to keep your plant healthy and in proper shape. It will also encourage the blooming of kalanchoe while maintaining its compact appearance. The best time to do pruning is in late spring because this time, kalanchoe has just finished blooming.
Using a shear you’ve previously disinfected, cut off the dead blooms first down to its base. Brown leaves as well as those leggy parts should be removed to maintain good proportion. Make straight, sharp cuts to avoid certain diseases to develop.
Repot your kalanchoe once a year or as you find it necessary. Plants that have developed root bound will have difficulty maintaining healthy foliage and blooms. As a way of maintenance, repotting should be done regularly.
Withdraw water two weeks before repotting so the soil gets dry and is easy to manage. Carefully remove the plant from its pot, remove excess soil and trim off the roots. Prepare the potting mix and the new pot that’s one size larger than the previous.
Lay a few potting mixes on the pot and place the kalanchoe on top. Fill in the spaces with the remaining potting mix until the plant is erected. Water the newly potted kalanchoe deeply and let it drain well.
You can propagate kalanchoe in two ways. First, you can use seeds especially if you want to cross-pollinate. Seeds are also available in various stores that you can readily purchase.
Sow the seeds in a slightly moist potting mix and place it under indirect light. Mist the seed tray when the soil appears dry and wait until little kalanchoes sprout. It should take around 10 days of waiting.
As for leaf cuttings, cut around 6 to 8 inches of shoots from the mother plant. Let the cutting sit for around 3 days to let the wound dry first. After that, you can plant the cuttings in a potting mix and refrain watering for about a week. After a month, you should see small plants growing from the base of the cutting.
Common enemies of kalanchoe include aphids, scales, and mealybugs. These pests are the usual organisms that infest indoor plants. There are ways to get rid of them by means of physical, mechanical, and chemical control.
As much as possible, avoid using harmful chemicals in managing pests in indoor plants. We do not want the air inside our home to be contaminated with chemicals. Use organic or DIY pesticides instead.
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Be careful with the way you handle your kalanchoe. Even though they look strikingly attractive, this plant toxic to cats and dogs. Symptoms of poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, and abnormal heart rhythm (rare).
It’s best to keep your plant away from your pets and children if you have any. Refrain from touching your kalanchoe with bare hands. Always use protective gloves and appropriate garden tools.
Typical Questions to Keep Kalanchoe Plant healthy
How Do I Trick My Kalanchoe Plant Into Blooming?
If your kalanchoe is not producing flowers, there must be a problem with the amount and light and darkness it receives. Understand that kalanchoe is a short-day plant which means that it needs to be exposed to less than 12 hours of light and the rest should be darkness.
You can trick your kalanchoe into blooming by allowing it to receive the right amount of light in the morning. After 12 hours, you can keep the plant in a completely dark room. Do this for a six-week period to simulate the winter period.
Why Is My Kalanchoe Leaves Browning?
Browning is a sign of various conditions. Primarily, it can be a result of overwatering. Succulents like kalanchoe have the tendency to suffer from this.
If the brown portions are mushy when touched, then overwatering must be the culprit behind. Make sure to check the roots of the plant as there might be a possibility that root rot has developed. Withdraw water for a while.
Why Is My Kalanchoe Dropping Leaves?
One reason for dropping leaves on kalanchoe is the lack of sunlight. In that case, you have to place it in some place where light is more available. If the dropping still persists, then your kalanchoe might be lacking in nutrients.
You can repot the plant to provide fresh soil and more nutrients. Alternatively, you can feed the plant with fertilizers to compensate for the nutrient deficiency.
Kalanchoe is an easy plant to grown and keep. It makes a complete attraction especially when it starts blooming. There are a lot of new hybrids available in the market now which are more beautiful and all you need is choose which one you love.
Remember to keep the environment in check for drastic changes in the growing conditions. This will affect the plant negatively if not mitigated. With proper care and maintenance, your kalanchoe will surely last a long time.