Succulents For Beginners: The Ultimate Guide to Kalanchoe

Kalanchoe Succulents for sale

With so many options to choose from when it comes to Kalanchoe succulents, you'll have no problem finding the right one for your home or garden. You'll only have problems limiting yourself to how many you collect!

In 1930, a German man named Robert Blossfield brought these plants from Madagascar to Europe, and the most popular variety of Kalanchoe, "blossfeldiana," is named after him. Interestingly, the name "Kalanchoe" is derived from the Chinese phrase "Kalan Chau," which means "that which falls and grows" about the plant's propagation process.

Kalanchoe plants are known for their long-lasting blooming period and are associated with endurance and lasting affection. One of the distinctive characteristics of Kalanchoes is the growth of new cells on the interior part of their petals, which promotes blooming. These cells also grow on the petal's exterior, which aids in flower closure.

This guide lets you know how to adequately tend to your Kalanchoe succulent and a few universal guidelines, advice, and techniques for preserving these plants' health and vigor.

History, Varieties, and Caring

Kalanchoe, “Kalanchöe” or “Kalanchoë,” is a genus of succulent plants indigenous to Madagascar and various regions of Africa.

It is widely believed that the plant originated in the tropical regions of Madagascar, where it is still found today, growing in the hot and arid conditions of the island’s southwestern regions.

Over time, the plant has been introduced to other parts of the world, including Asia, Europe, and North and South America. As a result of its attractive foliage and vibrant flowers, it has become widely cultivated and is now a popular choice as an ornamental plant.

Kalanchoe is a genus of flowering succulent plants that belong to the Crassulaceae family. The genus name “Kalanchoe” is derived from the Chinese word “kalanchau-hieu,” which means “that which falls and grows.”

The name is thought to refer to the way the plant’s leaves and offsets fall off and take root, leading to new growth. While the precise origin of the name is not thoroughly documented, it is widely believed that the plant’s name originated in China, where it has been cultivated for centuries.

Kalanchoe is a genus of over 125 species of succulent plants native to Madagascar and tropical Africa. These plants come in a wide range of shapes, sizes, and colors, with leaves that can be green, red, yellow, or variegated.

Some of the most popular Kalanchoe species include:

Kalanchoe blossfeldiana (Flaming Katy, Christmas Kalanchoe, Florist Kalanchoe, Madagascar Widow’s-Thrill) – produces clusters of small, tubular flowers in shades of red, pink, orange, yellow, or white. The leaves are typically thick, fleshy, and oval-shaped, often with a glossy or waxy texture.

Kalanchoe luciae (Flapjacks, Paddle Plant, Desert Cabbage, Red Pancakes) – basal rosette of thick, fleshy, rounded leaves resembling clamshells, with green leaves and vibrant red-wine tips.

Kalanchoe beharensis (Elephant’s Ear Kalanchoe, Felt Bush) – leaves of this plant are olive green with triangular-lanceolate shape, arranged in pairs perpendicular to each other, and have crinkled margins.

Kalanchoe tomentosa (Panda Plant, Black Tie, Chocolate Soldier, Teddy Bear) – soft, fuzzy greenish-gray leaves with brownish-red spots on the margins. The leaves are arranged in a rosette pattern and have a velvety texture due to the fine hairs covering them. 

Kalanchoe pinnata (Air Plant, Cathedral Bells, Miracle Leaf, Life Plant, Goethe Plant) – fleshy and featuring serrated or toothed edges, elongated and oval-shaped, growing in opposite pairs along the stem.

Each species has its unique characteristics and growing requirements, making Kalanchoe a versatile and interesting addition to any succulent collection.

Some general guidelines to care for your Kalanchoe:

Light: Kalanchoes thrive in bright, indirect sunlight and can tolerate some direct sunlight but could scorch the leaves. The plant may grow leggy in low light conditions and produce fewer flowers.

Water: Kalanchoes prefer to be kept on the drier side, so water only when the soil is completely dry to the touch. Overwatering can lead to root rot. Instead, allow excess water to drain from the pot and avoid getting water on the leaves.

Soil: Use well-draining soil that is specifically formulated for cacti and succulents. A mix of potting soil, sand, and perlite can also work well.

Temperature: Kalanchoes prefer warm temperatures between 60-85°F (15-29°C). They are sensitive to frost and should be protected from cold drafts.

Fertilizer: It is recommended during the spring and summer during their active growing season to feed them a water-soluble fertilizer. However, it’s essential to refrain from fertilizing them during their dormant periods, typically in the fall and winter.

Further Reading: Rooting a Bare Succulent

Kalanchoe can be propagated through stem cuttings or leaf cuttings. Here are some steps to follow:

Gather your materials: You will need a healthy Kalanchoe plant, a sharp pair of scissors or a blade, and a small container filled with well-draining cactus or succulent soil.

Locate a leaf or stem: Take a stem cutting from the parent plant at least 4 inches long. Remove the leaves from the bottom two inches of the stem. Or, you can select a healthy leaf from the parent plant and gently twist it off the stem.

Let the leaf or stem dry: Allow the leaf or stem cutting to dry for a few hours or overnight.

Apply rooting hormone: Dip the cut end of the leaf or stem in rooting hormone powder to promote root growth.

Plant the leaf or stem: Plant the stem cutting in a pot filled with well-draining soil.

Water the leaf or stem: Immediately after planting, you want to water the soil and place the pot in a bright, indirect light. Water the soil only when it is completely dry to the touch.

Wait: After a few weeks, new growth should appear, indicating that it has rooted.

Transplant: Once grown enough, it can be transplanted into a larger pot. Typically, you will want to go to a pot roughly two inches larger (this is both height and diameter) than the pot it is currently in.

During Chinese New Year celebrations, Kalanchoe is highly valued for its symbolic significance of bringing wealth and prosperity.

Apart from its decorative appeal as a houseplant or succulent garden plant, it is popularly called “ten thousand purple and one thousand red.”

Nevertheless, Kalanchoe extracts are also toxic and should not be ingested as they can cause animal cardiac poisoning.

In herbal medicine, however, this plant has long been used as a natural remedy for infections, rheumatism, and inflammation.

Additionally, in Trinidad and Tobago, Kalanchoe pinnata is also believed to be able to treat hypertension.

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