There are over 120 species in this genus, but the one you will most likely come across in nurseries, florists, or grocery stores is the Kalanchoe blossfeldiana.
Most kalanchoe varieties are perennial herbaceous plants, although some are annuals and shrubs.
This plant’s thick leaves vary in shape and can be either waxy or hairy.
The orange, red, white, or yellow flowers have four clusters. Some varieties produce clonal plantlets from the base or along the leaf margins.
Types of Kalanchoes
Among the most common kalanchoe species, valued for their unusual foliage:
- Felt Buch: The Kalanchoe beharensis has fuzzy leaves with a white blush. This species often develops warty projections on the leaves’ underside. It can grow up to 4 feet tall indoors.
- Chandelier Plant: the Kalanchoe delagoensis has tubular leaves with brown or maroon splotches. This species is sometimes listed as Bryophyllum tubiflora or Kalanchoe tubiflora and can grow up to 4 feet tall.
- Panda Plant: Kalanchoe tomentosa, or as some may call it, pussy ears. This kalanchoe species is known for its fuzzy silvery leaves with reddish-brown tips.
- Mother-of-thousands: Kalanchoe daigremontiana has plump toothed leaves that produce microscopical plantlets along their edges. When these fall off, it starts new plants, which can grow up to 3 feet tall. This kalanchoe variety is known as the good luck plant, the devil’s backbone, or Bryophyllum daigremontianum.
- Florist’s kalanchoe: Kalanchoe blossfeldiana. This kalanchoe species has succulent leaves with scalloped edges. It needs long nights and bright light to bloom properly.
Whether grown indoors or outdoors, kalanchoe plants are well suited to various temperatures as long as it is not exposed to frost.
Beginning in early spring, you will be treated with colorful flowers that can last several weeks and recur throughout the year, as long as you control your plant’s light exposure and meet its needs.
The bloom cycle for the kalanchoe plant is roughly six weeks, and the plant experiences at least 14 hours of darkness daily.
Around four months after this period, the kalanchoe plant will begin to bloom.
Kalanchoes grown indoors need a lot of light to bloom, so they should be placed in a room with a natural abundance of bright indirect light.
However, this plant should not be in direct sunlight; it can reduce blooming and scorch the leaves.
If you belong to the group of people who tend to forget whether they water their plants, this might be the perfect plant for you!
Being a succulent, kalanchoe leaves can store water, so your plant will be fine even after being water neglected for a week or two (or 3!).
This hardy plant is drought-tolerant and does well with minimal water. Watering is only needed 1-3 times a week, depending on the season.
In spring and summer, once a week is sufficient. You can taper down to once every three weeks in the fall and winter.
Let the soil dry out in between waterings to avoid root rot.
Kalanchoe plants are not fussy regarding different moisture levels.
They’re okay with various humidity levels inside or outside a home as long it’s within the plant’s optimal temperature.
If you are growing your kalanchoe indoors, your household temperature is essential.
Though this plant is not as picky as other houseplants, they generally thrive in temperatures ranging from 55-80°F.
Keep this plant out of temperatures below 55 degrees because any bit of frost will severely damage or even kill your plant.
When grown outdoors, kalanchoe plants grow best in sandy soil.
But, indoor kalanchoe plants should be potted in a well-draining soil blend that retains little moisture, like 50% cactus mix and 50% potting soil or 40% perlite and 60% peat moss.
To avoid an overly moist environment and ensure proper drainage, you can plant your kalanchoe plant in a clay pot which helps wick excess water from the soil.
Like most plants that bloom, kalanchoe plants benefit from fertilizer, though they’re less hungry than many.
Garden plants require more than a single feeding in spring. Indoor kalanchoes should be fed with a well-balanced fertilizer blend once every month during the spring and summer.
If flowering is sparse, switch to a high-phosphorous fertilizer.
Pinching back the plant’s stems will help maintain its shape while also promoting fuller blooming.
Kalanchoe plants are very simple to propagate, and propagating will significantly benefit the plant’s health.
As a mature kalanchoe plant grows, it produces offset that can tax the mother plant. Instead of letting them leech nutrients from the mature kalanchoe, you can propagate the offsets or take stem cuttings. Here’s how to do it:
- Cut a stem segment several inches long from a mature plant using a clean knife. If you’re using an offset, move it where it connects to the parent plant at the joint.
- Allow the cutting to dry out until the end appears to have healed shut.
- Once healed, dip the ends of the cutting in a rooting hormone.
- Plant the cutting in the same soil the mother plant is growing.
- Let the new cutting sit in bright indirect sunlight and do not water.
- The stem should take root within 30 days, and at that point, you can care for it like a mature plant.
Kalanchoe Common Problems
Like most succulent plants, kalanchoe plants are straightforward to care for.
However, problems may arise if their needs are unmet. Here are some of the most common kalanchoe problems.
You may encounter certain pests if something is off in your plant’s growing environment.
The most common pests include mealybugs, powdery mildew, or spider mites.
These insects can be treated with insecticidal soap.
Soft or Damaged Foliage
Plants touched by freezing temperatures often experience stunted blooms, damaged leaves, or even death.
Proper light exposure is critical to healthy plants.
Too much direct sunlight can burn the plant’s leaves.
The best location for indoor kalanchoes is where they can receive a lot of bright indirect light.
The main reason why leaves wilt is because of high temperatures. These plants should be kept ideally below 85°F.
Soft and fragile stems are caused by overwatering.
Too much water can easily cause root rot and even stem rot in this plant.
If your plant’s stems are soft, withhold water until the plant recovers.
The Best Way to Make a Kalanchoe Rebloom
Like an amaryllis, kalanchoe plants require at least 14 hours of darkness every day for six weeks to flower.
To get a kalanchoe to rebloom, reduce watering and feeding overnight (6 PM to 8 AM) and place it in a dark place with zero sunlight, like a closet or cupboard. You should start noticing the first signs of vibrant blooms after six weeks.
After that, you can resume leaving your kalanchoe out.
Kalanchoes rebloom annually, and their beautiful blooms generally last 5 to 6 months.
They bloom from the fall to the spring (generally from November to April).
To get new growth, try these quick tips:
- Keep in the dark for 14 hours.
- Decrease watering.
- Keep your plant in temperatures of around 85.
- Refrain from fertilizing.
All members of the Kalanchoe genus are toxic for both humans and pets.
Dogs are particularly sensitive to the cardiotoxic effects of this plant.
Keep your kalanchoe plants away from children and pets.
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Melissa Pino is a biologist, master gardener, and regular contributor for Planet Natural. Melissa's work focuses on promoting environmentally-friendly practices, helping people create healthy gardens and finding ways to achieve overall health and wellness.