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How to Care for a Donkey Ear Plant

The donkey ear plant (Kalanchoe gastonis bonnieri), also known as giant kalanchoe and sprout leaf plant"is a fast-growing succulent originally discovered in Madagascar. This plant is unusual-looking, with oddly shaped, pale green leaves that become covered with spots as they mature and develop small "plantlets" at their tips. The donkey ear plant grows to a height of about 2 feet and produces showy red, coral or orange blooms that are adored by hummingbirds. It has a high drought tolerance and doesn't require much attention in order to thrive.

Choose a location in your garden or yard that receives full sun the majority of the day. Donkey ear plants prefer well-drained soil, so observe the spot that you are considering after a hard rain shower to determine how quickly the water is absorbed.

Dig a hole that is slightly larger and the same depth as the pot in which the donkey ear plant is growing. Add 3 inches of cactus growing mix and place the donkey ear plant into the planting hole, making sure that the roots are not compacted. Replace the soil and tamp down firmly to remove air pockets from around the roots.

Water until the soil is moist, but not soggy. After the initial watering, add water only when the top 2 inches of soil feel dry to the touch.

Clip off spent blooms and damaged foliage as necessary.

Dig the donkey ear plant up in late fall, before the first frost, and transplant to a pot filled with cactus growing mix. Plantlets that develop on the tips of the leaves may be gently removed and potted up as well to create new plants. Water until moist and place the pot in your sunniest windowsill.

Continue watering whenever the top 2 inches of soil no longer stick to your finger and transplant back outdoors in spring, after all danger of frost has passed.


If planting more than one donkey ear, leave 24 to 36 inches between each plant to allow room for spreading. Donkey ear plants also do well as year-round container plants.


The donkey ear plant is poisonous, so take proper precautions if you have pets or young children.

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