Top Tips & Info
- Care Difficulty - Easy
- We'd recommend locating yours in a few hours of morning or evening sun, especially in the winter months.
- It's better to under-water your Kalanchoe than over-do it, due to the species' intolerance to overly moist soil. Allow all of the soil to dry in between waters, reducing the frequency of hydrations further in the autumn and winter.
- Be careful when watering - allowing excess moisture to sit in the cubbyholes of the stem will result in diseases like southern blight and 'heart rot'.
- Fertilise using a 'Houseplant' or 'Cactus' labelled feed every four waters in the spring and summer, reducing this to every six in the colder months.
- Repot every three years during the spring, using a 'Cactus & Succulent' potting mix.
Location & Light
A brightly lit spot with minimal sunshine is best for the Kalanchoe. If possible, provide on a windowsill that offers an hour of morning or evening sun, placing it in a room that is east, south or west-facing. A shadier spot, more than 2m away from a window, can be tolerated by the plant too, albeit slower growth.
Under-watering is far better than over-doing it with Kalanchoe, so be sure to allow all of the soil to dry between waters. Under-watering symptoms include drooping leaves, stunted growth, and drying leaves; these can be a range of different issues, including forgetfulness, too much sunlight, or the plant being pot-bound. Over-watering symptoms include root rot, a rotting base, or sudden plant death. Kalanchoe must have sufficient light levels (at least two hours of direct sunlight a day) to counteract the chance of root rot.
This is not a factor; however, a quick gentle hose down from time to time will reduce the number of dust particles covering its leaves.
Fertilise every four waters during the growing period before reducing this to every six in the autumn & winter. Although a 'Houseplant' fertiliser will still do the job, we'd recommend using a specific 'Cactus' labelled feed as it'll support the vital thirteen nutrients that this species will need to grow.
Common Issues with Kalanchoe
Over-watering is the most common issue, with typical signs including a softened centre and blackened foliage. There must be periods of droughts to replicate the extremities of deserts, as well as limiting the chance of diseases. Avoid waterlogging as there's no point fulfilling the phrase 'drenches between droughts' if the base of the pot is submerged.
A pale centre and deformed growth are typical signs of too little light. Offer at least an hour of direct sunlight, especially in the winter months, to provide the vital nutrients that'll be converted into plant sugars.
Scorched or browned edges are the result of too little water and over-exposure to the sun. Although Kalanchoe are a superb choice for plants in sunny locations, those that haven't acclimatised to the harsh rays will show signs of sun-scorch and environmental shock. Prolonged exposure will significantly speed the process of dehydration, so consider transplantation into a bigger pot (in the spring) to wrap the roots around moister soil.
Kalanchoe is a flowering genus of over 125 species, mostly originating from tropical locations in Africa and Madagascar. Michel Adanson named the genus in 1763, honouring Czechian botanist, Georg Joseph Kamel (Camellus). The most popular indoor species, K. blossfeldiana, otherwise known as 'Flaming Katie' was first described by Karl von Poellnitz in 1934, citing the recently deceased Karl Blossfeldt, who was a German photographer and teacher in Berlin.
12° - 25°C (50° - 78°F)
H1b (Hardiness Zone 12) - Can be grown outdoors during the summer in a sheltered location with temperatures above 12℃ (54℉), but is fine to remain indoors, too. If you decide to bring this plant outdoors, don't allow it to endure any direct sunlight as it may result in sun-scorch and dehydration. Regularly keep an eye out for pests, especially when re-introducing it back indoors.
Up to 0.7m in height and 0.4m in width. The ultimate height will take between 5 - 8 years to achieve.
Pruning & Maintenance
Remove yellow or dying leaves, and plant debris to encourage better-growing conditions. While pruning, always use clean utensils or shears to reduce the chance of bacterial and fungal diseases. Never cut through yellowed tissue as this may cause further damage in the likes of diseases or bacterial infections. Remember to make clean incisions as too-damaged wounds may shock the plant, causing weakened growth and a decline in health.
Via Seed, Offset Division, Stem/Leaf Cuttings.
Offset (Pup) Division (Some Species) - For this method, it's best to divide in spring or summer and once the offshoots are at least a quarter of the mother plant's size. Remove its pot and place your hand in between the junction that connects the two; soil may have to be brushed away to get a better grip. Gently push the pup downwards while supporting the mother plant until you hear a snap. Cautiously separate the root systems, keeping great care in keeping them damage-free. Place the new plantlet in a small pot with a 'Cactus & Succulent' labelled potting mix, much similar to the original soil, and maintain the same care routines. Provide a bright setting with temperatures around 18°C (64°F) with the majority of the soil drying out in between waters. New leaves should emerge within the six weeks, as long as the soil is kept on the drier to life.
Stem Cuttings - Using a clean pair of scissors, cut a 10cm (4 - 5 inches) section off the stem's terminal. Be sure to use a fresh, damage or pest-free piece as unhealthy divisions are more likely to fail. Remove the older half of the leaves, so that the stem's lower portion is bare, to speed the process of root development. Purchase a 'Cactus & Succulent' compost and vertically push the cutting's base into the soil, avoiding the risk of covering the actual foliage with soil. Situate the cutting in a bright, indirect setting with temperatures above 18°C (64°F). As the roots will develop first, treat it as an adult specimen once there are signs of new foliar development.
Leaf Cuttings (Some Species) - Leaves that are halfway along the stem have the most potential due to its size and maturity. Gently place your fingers between the mother's stem and the leaf's base, pulling it downwards until you hear a snap. Ensure the wound is wholly intact with no damage, as a bruise or tear will result in unsuccessful propagation. Set the leaf ON TOP OF a bed of moist 'Cactus & Succulent' compost for root growth. Not only will this callus the wound (to prevent disease), but it'll also speed up the propagation process considerably. Once there are signs of small roots developing on the node, place it one third into the compost, at a slight angle. Provide a bright setting with temperatures around 18°C (64°F) with the majority of the soil drying out in between waters. New leaves should emerge within a month or two, thus signalling the start of its independent life!
Red, yellow, pink or white flowers are held by a spike that'll develop each year, reaching up to 60cm in height during the spring. Each pendulous flower can last up to several days, with the blooming process lasting several weeks. Ensure to keep the plant slightly more hydrated with a fortnightly feed of 'Cactus & Succulent' feed during this time to prolong this period.
Repot every three years in the spring, using a 'Cactus & Succulent' labelled potting mix and the next sized pot with adequate drainage. Hydrate the plant 24hrs before tinkering with the roots to prevent the risk of transplant shock. For those situated in a darker location, introduce an extra amount of perlite and grit into the deeper portion of the pot to downplay over-watering risks.
Pests & Diseases
Keep an eye out for scale & mealybugs. For more info on how to address any of these issues, hit this link. Common diseases with Kalanchoe are root, crown or heart rot, sun-scald, soft rot, scabs, nematodes, leaf-spot disease and powdery mildew. Identifying Common Houseplant Diseases & Viruses.
This genus is classified as poisonous. If parts of the plants are eaten, vomiting, nausea and a loss of appetite could occur. Consumption of large quantities must be dealt with quickly; acquire medical assistance for further information.