Kalanchoes are pretty, low-maintenance, perennial, succulent plants that bear bunches of small blossoms on branching bracts. They are typically grown indoors, but can be placed outside whenever temperatures are warm enough or if winter temperatures don't get low enough to harm them. Grown indoors or outdoors, Kalanchoes still need bright light, dry periods between watering and room to spread their root system.
While temperatures of 50 to 60 °F (10 to 15.5 °C) will keep the Kalanchoes in bloom, freezing temperatures can kill them. In USDA hardiness zones 10 and 11, they can be planted directly in the landscape with minimal winter protection and will function as perennials. Even a few hours of temperatures near 40°F (4.5°C) can kill unprotected Kalanachoe.
Kalanchoes are lovely in or out of bloom, but need short daylight hours to produce blooms. Kalanchoes planted where nighttime lighting reaches the leaves may not produce blooms as often as those planted where they have long stretches of darkness at night. In USDA hardiness zones 10 and 11, summertime direct sunlight can burn the leaves. Planted near a deciduous tree with dappled shade, Kalanchoes benefit from more winter sun and less summer sun.
North of USDA hardiness zone 11, Kalanchoes are grown as summer annuals, or must be planted in pots so they can be moved indoors when frost threatens. If they are set outdoors in an area with intense, full sunlight, they must be gradually adjusted to the lower light levels they will experience indoors.
Kalanchoes grown outside don't need much care. They have low water needs, whether grown indoors or out. Do not water plants unless the top 1 inch (2.5 cm) or so of the soil feels dry. Kalanchoes have sensitive roots and do not like soggy soils, which can cause root rot and kill the plants. The plants can stand some drought, but if soil gets too dry, it can inhibit plant growth.
You can propagate Kalanchoes in spring by taking cuttings of 2 to 3 inches (7.5 cm) shoots or taking a single leaf cutting. Some Kalanchoe plants, such as Mother of Thousands (Kalanchoe laetivirens), produce leaflets or bulblets on the edges of leaves which grow easily when they fall to ground or when placed in soil.
Pests and Disease
Kalanchoes grown outside are more susceptible to pests. Aphids, spider mites, scale insect and nematodes can all attack the plant. Some signs of insect infestation include honeydew on leaves, bitten or torn leaves and faded leaves. To treat plants for insects use a nontoxic treatment, like neem oil, to avoid damaging the plant. When grown in humid conditions, the plant can suffer from leaf spotting.
Heavy winds can break the succulent stems of Kalanchoes or even uproot them. Place the container in a sheltered area. Kalanchoes also do not "play well" with other plants, in that they have a very demanding root system. They need plenty of root space from other plants and particularly don't compete well with grass. The more root room they have in the ground or in their containers, the larger the plant will grow and the more bloom clusters it can support.
- Back to genus Kalanchoe
- Succulentopedia: Browse succulents by Scientific Name, Common Name, Genus, Family, USDA Hardiness Zone, Origin, or cacti by Genus
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