The Kalanchoe variety of plants are native to Madagascar, an island off the southeastern coast of Africa. They are succulent plants that bloom year-round in warm climates. They require little care and are easy to propagate.
Kalanchoes grow 6 to 12 inches tall and wide. They have thick, dark green, waxy leaves with scalloped edges and clusters of red, pink, salmon or yellow flowers.
In Zones 10 to 11, Kalanchoes are grown outside in rock gardens and raised planters. In colder areas, they are grown outside in containers and moved inside during the winter. Kalanchoes attract hummingbirds and butterflies.
Kalanchoes grow best in light sandy soil that drains well in partial shade. They tolerate low moisture and need to be protected from frost. Pinching the growing tips increases branching and flowering in addition to controlling the growth of the plant.
The extremely small seeds of Kalanchoes should be sown on top of fine textured potting soil, covered with clear plastic or glass and set in bright indirect light. The seeds should germinate in 10 days.
Stem and leaf cuttings should be inserted in potting soil, set in a lightly shaded area and misted intermittently to prevent wilting. The cuttings should root in 2 to 3 weeks and be ready for transplanting.
Diseases and Pests
Kalanchoes are susceptible to Phytophthora rot, Pythium rot, and powdery mildew. They develop leaf spots (oedema) in cool humid conditions. Caterpillars and mealy bugs are common pests on Kalanchoes.
The most common variety is Kalanchoe blossfeldiana. Kalanchoe is the Chinese word for the plant. Robert Blossfeld was a German hybridizer, who introduced the plant in Potsdam, Germany, in 1932.