Kalanchoe is a pretty, flowering succulent perennial most often grown as an annual houseplant. Pronounced “kal-an-KO-ee,” this plant can reward you with flowers more than half the year. It is native to Madagascar and is popular around the world. Many different species exist within the Crassulaceae family, the same family as the jade plant. The plant you find at your nursery likely will be one of the varieties of Kalanchoe blossfeldiana. Flowers range in color from yellow to red to violet, and their fleshy, oval-shaped leaves on multiple stems add to the plants' attractiveness.
Caring for Kalanchoe Plants
Repot your Kalanchoe from its nursery pot into a decorative ceramic pot if you wish. Use a light, fast draining potting soil that contains sand.
Keep your Kalanchoe in a location that receives partial sun most of the day. It’s OK to give it full sun for part of the day. Maintain a temperature between 55 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit.
Water your Kalanchoe sparingly. If you treat it as if it were a cactus, it will reward you with vigor and flowers. Water it once each week while it is in bloom and cut back on water during its dormant season. Because it will be growing in a fast-draining medium, be sure not to allow it to sit in a saucer of water.
Keep your Kalanchoe at least several inches from other plants to make sure it gets good air circulation in order to avoid fungal diseases that can infect this plant.
Encourage more blooming by cutting off spent flowers and then place your plant in a garage or other dark location for one month. You can completely ignore your plant during that time—no water is necessary. When it starts to form new flower buds, return it to its original location and resume your regular watering.
Fertilize your plant with an all-purpose plant food once every two weeks when it is in bloom. Do not fertilize during its dormant season. If your potting mix contains a slow-release fertilizer, you needn’t give your plant additional food.
Treat caterpillars, should they occur, by hand picking them or by dusting your plant with Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) if the problem is severe.
Things You Will Need
- Light, fast draining potting mix
- Partial to full sunlight
- Temperatures between 55 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit
- Good air circulation
- Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) (optional)
- Kalanchoes do well in coastal areas because they can tolerate salt spray and salty soil.
- If you live in an area that does not receive frost and which receives minimal amounts of rain, Kalanchoes make a good-looking ground cover plant.
- Be sure to protect your Kalanchoe from freezing temperatures.
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