Kalanchoe prolifera (Bow.) R.-Hamet
Blooming Boxes, Flaming Katie, Jurassic Kale, Palm Beach Bells
Bryophyllum cochleatum, Bryophyllum proliferum
Kalanchoe prolifera is an interesting fast-growing succulent with a stout, unbranched stem and fleshy, usually pinnately compound leaves. It grows up to 10 feet (3 m) tall. Leaves are green, often with reddish-purple petioles and margins. The stem is erect to procumbent, more or less 4-angled with visible leaf scars, and up to 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter.
After several years, when the plant is mature, the stem is topped with a compound panicle of pendent flowers in late winter or early spring. The panicle is up to 32 inches (80 cm) tall and 16 inches (40 cm) wide. The corolla is tubular, red, green, or yellow and up to 1 inch (2.5 cm) long. The plant dies after blooming but often sucker up with a new stem, and many bulbils form in the inflorescence, so a colony is easy to establish.
Kalanchoe prolifera is native to central Madagascar but cultivated and often naturalized in numerous tropical countries. It occurs in Antananarivo Province, growing on rocky ground at elevations from 3,300 to 6,500 feet (1,005 and 1980 m).
USDA hardiness zones 9b to 11b: from 25 °F (−3.9 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).
How to Grow and Care
Kalanchoe care is minimal but be cautious about light levels. Intense sunlight can burn the tips of the leaves. Place pots in partial sun to light shade areas when growing Kalanchoes.
The flowering varieties are highly rewarding for their colorful and long-lasting flowers. They prefer bright, sunny locations, especially in the growing season. Water moderately from fall to winter when the growth is most active. Reduce watering during the hottest summer months when the plants are mostly dormant and winter when the growth slows down significantly. Let the soil surface dry out between waterings. Watch the fleshy leaves for signs of water distress. An ordinary potting soil mix is fine. Feed bi-weekly during the growing season with a liquid fertilizer, or use slow-release pellets.
These small plants require repotting every few years. When repotting, take additional care in handling as the leaves are somewhat brittle and can snap easily. Clay pots work exceptionally well for planting Kalanchoes. Ensure pots can drain well and saucers can empty easily.
Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Kalanchoe.
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