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Kalanchoe blossfeldiana (Florist Kalanchoe)

Flaming Katy, Christmas Kalanchoe, Florist Kalanchoe

AGM Award
Kalanchoe blossfeldiana, Flaming Katy, Christmas Kalanchoe, Florist Kalanchoe, succulent plant, Drought tolerant plant, red flowers, yellow flowers, pink flowers, orange flowers

What is Florist Kalanchoe?

Florist Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana) is a popular flowering succulent plant native to Madagascar. It is also known as Flaming Katy, Christmas Kalanchoe, or Madagascar Widow’s Thrill. This plant is admired for its striking, long-lasting blooms and glossy, dark green leaves.

Flowers: The Florist Kalanchoe produces clusters of small, star-shaped flowers that come in various vibrant colors, including red, orange, yellow, pink, and white. The plant typically blooms in late fall to early winter, although it can also flower at other times of the year when grown indoors. This Kalanchoe flowers every 6 months or so and keeps its blooms for 6 weeks or more.

Foliage: It has dark green, fleshy leaves that are oval-shaped and grow in opposite pairs along the stems.

Height/Spread: This Kalanchoe is a compact plant that typically grows to a height of 6 to 18 inches (15 to 45 cm) and spreads about 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 cm) wide.

Hardiness: This Kalanchoe is not frost-tolerant and is best suited for USDA hardiness zones 10 to 12. In colder climates, it is recommended to grow the plant indoors or in containers that can be moved indoors during winter months.

Uses: The Florist Kalanchoe is primarily grown for its ornamental value due to its vibrant, long-lasting blooms and attractive foliage. It makes a great indoor plant, as well as a potted plant for patios, balconies, or outdoor spaces in warmer climates. It can also be used as a seasonal bedding plant or in mixed container gardens.

Award: Kalanchoe blossfeldiana is the recipient of the prestigious Award of Garden Merit of the Royal Horticultural Society.

Toxicity: All parts of Kalanchoe blossfeldiana, particularly the leaves, are toxic to cats, dogs, and other animals when ingested. The plant contains compounds called bufadienolides, which can cause symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and, in severe cases, abnormal heart rhythms.

Florist Kalanchoe is a low-maintenance plant that is perfect for indoor cultivation or as a potted plant in warmer climates. It requires well-draining soil, bright indirect light, and infrequent watering, making it an excellent option for beginners or those with a busy schedule.

Why Should I grow Kalanchoe?

Growing Kalanchoe can be a rewarding experience for several reasons:

Vibrant blooms: The plant produces eye-catching, long-lasting blooms in various striking colors, including red, orange, yellow, pink, and white. These colorful flowers can brighten up your living space or outdoor garden.

Low maintenance: Kalanchoe is an easy-to-grow plant that requires minimal care. It is drought-tolerant and needs infrequent watering, making it a great choice for busy individuals or beginner gardeners.

Versatility: Florist Kalanchoe can be grown indoors or outdoors (in suitable climates), making it an adaptable option for various settings. It works well as a potted plant, a windowsill decoration, or a seasonal bedding plant.

Compact size: Its compact size makes it an excellent option for small spaces, such as apartments or rooms with limited space. The plant’s modest size also makes it suitable for mixed container gardens or tabletop displays.

Air purification: Some studies suggest that Kalanchoe blossfeldiana, like many other indoor plants, can help purify the air by removing pollutants such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and improving indoor air quality.

Where to Plant Kalanchoe

The Florist Kalanchoe can be grown both indoors and outdoors. If you live in a region with a warm climate (USDA hardiness zones 10-12), you can plant it outdoors in a light, sandy, well-draining soil mix. Choose a location that receives bright, indirect light or partial sun. Avoid placing the plant in an area with intense direct sunlight, as it may scorch the leaves.

If you live in a colder climate, or if you prefer to grow the plant indoors, place it in a container with a well-draining soil mix (such as cactus or succulent mix) and provide bright, indirect light, such as near a south or east-facing window. Ensure the container has drainage holes to prevent waterlogging and root rot.

When to Plant Kalanchoe

If you’re planting Kalanchoe blossfeldiana outdoors, the best time to plant it is during the warmer months of spring or early summer when the risk of frost has passed. For indoor planting, you can plant it at any time of the year, provided you can maintain a stable indoor environment with adequate light and temperature.

How to plant Kalanchoe

  • Choose a well-draining soil mix, such as a cactus or succulent mix, or create your own mix by combining equal parts of potting soil, coarse sand, and perlite.
  • If planting outdoors, prepare the planting site by loosening the soil and incorporating the soil mix.
  • For indoor planting, select a container with drainage holes and fill it with the soil mix.
  • Gently remove the plant from its original pot, taking care not to damage the roots.
  • Create a hole in the soil that is slightly larger than the root ball of the plant. Place the plant in the hole, making sure that the top of the root ball is level with the soil surface.
  • Fill in the area around the root ball with the soil mix, gently firming it down to remove air pockets.
  • Water the plant thoroughly to help settle the soil around the roots. Allow the soil to dry out between waterings to avoid overwatering.
  • Place the plant in a bright, indirect light location or a partially sunny spot outdoors. Monitor the plant’s growth and adjust watering, light, and temperature as needed to ensure optimal health.

Caring for Kalanchoe

Light: Provide bright, indirect light or partial sun. Avoid intense direct sunlight, which can scorch the leaves.

Watering: Water the plant when the top 1-2 inches (2-5 cm) of soil feels dry. Allow the soil to dry out between waterings to avoid overwatering, which can lead to root rot.

Soil: Use a well-draining soil mix, such as a cactus or succulent mix. You can also create your own mix by combining equal parts of potting soil, coarse sand, and perlite.

Temperature: Maintain temperatures between 60-75°F (15-24°C) during the day and slightly cooler temperatures at night (around 50-60°F or 10-15°C).

Fertilization: Apply a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer every 4-6 weeks during the growing season (spring and summer).

Pruning: Remove spent flowers and dead leaves to encourage new growth and maintain the plant’s appearance.

How to Get a Kalanchoe to Bloom

To get your Florist Kalanchoe to rebloom, you need to mimic the natural light conditions it experiences in its native environment. Here’s how you can encourage your kalanchoe to rebloom:

Light control: Kalanchoe blossfeldiana needs a period of darkness to initiate blooming. Provide the plant with 12-14 hours of complete darkness each day for about 6 weeks. You can achieve this by placing the plant in a dark closet or covering it with a box or a dark cloth during the dark period. Make sure to remove the cover or take the plant out of the closet for the remaining 10-12 hours of the day so it can receive bright, indirect light.

Temperature: Maintain consistent temperatures between 60-75°F (15-24°C) during the day and slightly cooler temperatures at night (around 50-60°F or 10-15°C) throughout the darkness treatment period.

Watering: Water the plant sparingly during the darkness treatment period, just enough to prevent the soil from completely drying out. Overwatering can lead to root rot and may affect the blooming process.

Fertilization: Apply a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer once the darkness treatment period is over to encourage blooming. Continue to fertilize every 4-6 weeks during the growing season.

Pruning: After the plant has finished blooming, prune back the spent flowers and any leggy growth. This encourages new growth and may help to promote reblooming.

Patience: It may take some time for the plant to start blooming again, even after following these steps. Be patient and continue to provide the right conditions for your kalanchoe, and it may reward you with a new set of blooms.

How to Propagate

Kalanchoe blossfeldiana can be propagated through stem cuttings or offsets.

Stem cuttings:

  • Cut a 2-4 inch (5-10 cm) long stem from the plant using a clean, sharp pair of scissors or a knife.
  • Remove the lower leaves, leaving the top few intact.
  • Allow the cutting to dry and form a callus at the cut end for a day or two.
  • Plant the callused end in a well-draining soil mix and water sparingly until new roots develop.

Offsets:

  • Locate the offsets: Look for small offsets, also known as “pups,” growing at the base of the parent plant. These offsets are miniature versions of the parent plant and can be used to propagate new kalanchoe plants.
  • Remove the offset: Gently remove the offset from the parent plant by either using your fingers to carefully wiggle it loose or by using a clean, sharp knife or pair of scissors to cut it away. Be cautious not to damage the parent plant or the roots of the offset during the process.
  • Let it dry: Allow the offset to dry for a day or two, forming a callus at the cut end. This helps prevent the cut end from rotting when planted.
  • Prepare the soil: Use a well-draining soil mix, such as a cactus or succulent mix. Alternatively, you can create your own mix by combining equal parts of potting soil, coarse sand, and perlite.
  • Plant the offset: Plant the callused end of the offset in the prepared soil mix, ensuring the roots are covered with soil. Water the soil lightly, being careful not to overwater.
  • Provide proper conditions: Place the newly planted offset in a bright, indirectly lit location with temperatures between 60-75°F (15-24°C). Avoid direct sunlight, as it can scorch the leaves.
  • Root development: Keep the soil slightly moist but not wet to encourage root development. In a few weeks, the offset should establish roots and start to grow.
  • Care for the new plant: Once the new kalanchoe plant is established, follow the standard care guidelines for Kalanchoe blossfeldiana to ensure it thrives and blooms.

Pests and Diseases

Pests: Common pests that may affect Kalanchoe blossfeldiana include aphids, mealybugs, and spider mites. These pests can be controlled with insecticidal soap or neem oil. Check the plant regularly for signs of infestation and treat promptly to prevent the spread of pests.

Diseases: Kalanchoe blossfeldiana is generally resistant to most diseases. However, overwatering can lead to root rot, which can be fatal for the plant. Ensure proper watering practices and use well-draining soil to minimize the risk of root rot.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can kalanchoe take full sun?

Kalanchoe can tolerate full sun in cooler climates or during the cooler parts of the day. However, it prefers bright, indirect light or partial sun. In hot climates or under intense direct sunlight, the leaves may get scorched. It’s best to provide some shade during the hottest part of the day or place the plant in a location with filtered sunlight.

How long do kalanchoe plants last?

Kalanchoe plants are perennial succulents, and with proper care, they can live for several years. Their lifespan depends on factors such as environmental conditions, care, and maintenance. By providing the right conditions and meeting the plant’s needs, you can enjoy your kalanchoe for an extended period.

How many times a year does kalanchoe bloom?

Kalanchoe typically blooms once a year, usually in late winter or early spring. However, with proper care and by manipulating the plant’s exposure to light, it is possible to encourage kalanchoe to bloom more than once a year. Providing 12-14 hours of darkness each day for about 6 weeks before the desired blooming period helps trigger the blooming process.

Requirements

Hardiness 10 - 12
Heat Zones 1 - 12
Climate Zones 17, 21, 22, 23, 24, H1, H2
Plant Type Cactus & Succulents
Plant Family Crassulaceae
Genus Kalanchoe
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early, Mid, Late)
Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 6" - 2'
(15cm - 60cm)
Spread 6" - 1'
(15cm - 30cm)
Spacing 12" (30cm)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Low, Average
Soil Type Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Well-Drained
Characteristics Plant of Merit, Showy, Evergreen
Tolerance Drought, Salt
Garden Uses Beds And Borders, Patio And Containers
Garden Styles Mediterranean Garden, Gravel and Rock Garden
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Do I Need?
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Alternative Plants to Consider

Kalanchoe fedtschenkoi (Lavender Scallops)
Kalanchoe daigremontiana (Mother of Thousands)
Kalanchoe marmorata (Penwiper)
Kalanchoe pumila (Flower Dust Plant)
Kalanchoe beharensis ‘Fang’ (Felt Plant)
Kalanchoe marnieriana (Marnier’s Kalanchoe)

Recommended Companion Plants

Kalanchoe tomentosa (Panda Plant)
Aloe nobilis (Golden Toothed Aloe)
Sedum nussbaumerianum (Stonecrop)
Euphorbia milii (Crown of Thorns)
Senecio serpens (Blue Chalksticks)
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Requirements

Hardiness 10 - 12
Heat Zones 1 - 12
Climate Zones 17, 21, 22, 23, 24, H1, H2
Plant Type Cactus & Succulents
Plant Family Crassulaceae
Genus Kalanchoe
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early, Mid, Late)
Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 6" - 2'
(15cm - 60cm)
Spread 6" - 1'
(15cm - 30cm)
Spacing 12" (30cm)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Low, Average
Soil Type Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Well-Drained
Characteristics Plant of Merit, Showy, Evergreen
Tolerance Drought, Salt
Garden Uses Beds And Borders, Patio And Containers
Garden Styles Mediterranean Garden, Gravel and Rock Garden
How Many Plants
Do I Need?
Explore Great Plant Combination Ideas
Kalanchoe
Guides with
Kalanchoe
Not sure which Kalanchoe to pick?
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