Kalanchoe plants are thick leaved succulents that are often seen in florist shops or garden centers. Most end up as potted plants, but areas that can mimic their native land of Madagascar can grow them outdoors. They sense the shorter days of winter and provide your garden with clustered red, yellow, orange, pink, purple, white, and variants of these blooms in both winter and spring. Although these succulents can be propagated by seed in both indoor containers and outdoor gardens, growing new Kalanchoe plants from leaves is much simpler and less time-consuming. The ability of a new Kalanchoe to grow from a leaf allows the plant to reproduce successfully without developing energy-consuming seed pods, in USDA plant hardiness zones 10 and 11.
Choosing the best cutting from your Kalanchoe in the late spring or early summer enables you to have a better chance at a successful new plant. As you evaluate your Kalanchoe, select a 2 inches (5 cm) long stem that has at least two leaves attached to it. It is good practice to avoid any flowering stems so that the cutting concentrates on growth rather than reproduction. After removing the stem, you need to place this cutting in a dry area, such as on a gardening bench. The cut end needs to callus or scar before you attempt to plant it in a growing medium.
Instead of removing a stem-and-leaf combination from the Kalanchoe, you have the option of cutting a plantlet from one of the leaves. These succulents are known for their growths, or plantlets, that grow directly off the mother plant's leaf edges. These plantlets are miniature leaf shapes that grow side by side along the leaf margin, resembling a decorative border. Allowing these plantlets to remain on the leaf causes the Kalanchoe to appear misshapen and steals precious energy away from flowering activity. You simply cut a plantlet off the leaf at its connection point and allow it to callus before planting it in a pot. The mother leaf is not harmed from the removal process because the plantlet grows on a small base. A new Kalanchoe plant flourishes from the callused plantlet alone, with proper care.
Preferring warm climates, Kalanchoe leaf cultivation must have a desert-type soil for the best propagation results. A simple starter soil consists of perlite and peat moss in an equal ratio. This mainly sandy soil structure, along with nutrient-rich peat, allows the leaf to have a lot of air pockets and well-drained moisture for optimum growth. For one leaf or combination cutting, a 4-inch (10 cm) pot is sufficient to support the growing Kalanchoe in the spring or summer. The callused end simply rests just under the soil surface so that the remaining cutting does not rot from moisture exposure. Adding bottom heat from a heating pad helps the Kalanchoe grow vigorously from a small cutting. You may plant the cutting outdoors or pot it in a separate container approximately 2 to 3 weeks after you start the cutting in starter soil.
Kalanchoe leaf cuttings prefer dry soil conditions between irrigation sessions so that rot does not set in. A simple misting from a water bottle is sufficient for brand-new cuttings. After the leaf establishes itself, irrigation through microtubes and emitters is good practice to control the watering accurately. Narrow tubes with water emitter components allow water to seep into the soil rather than saturating the leaves from above with standard sprinkler systems. Once your cutting has grown a strong root system, the Kalanchoe withstands drought well and does not require as much water as a mature plant.
- 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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