Kalanchoes are succulent plants often grown for their tiny, colourful flowers. The best known are Kalanchoe blossfeldiana, also known as flaming Katy, panda plant or widow's thrill. They are popular house plants grown for their brightly coloured flowers in shades of red, magenta, yellow, orange and white.
Kalanchoe blossfeldiana are named after Robert Blossfeld, who discovered the plant in its native Madagascar. In their native habitat they grow in arid areas, so don't need much watering. They are very low maintenance and flower for around eight weeks. The plants are widely available round in supermarkets, garden centres and florists and are often given as gifts. Once they have flowered, many people discard them. They can be encouraged to flower again, however, with a little effort.
Calandiva® have long-lasting, slightly larger double flowers and are also widely available. They were bred from Kalanchoe blossfeldiana.
There are also many types of kalanchoe that are grown for their attractive leaves, as opposed to their flowers. These include the attractive and unusual paddle plant (Kalanchoe thyrsiflora) and the powdery-leaved flower dust plant, Kalanchoe pumila.
How to grow kalanchoe
Kalanchoes are low-maintenance house plants and are very easy to care for. Give them a bright, sunny spot. Do not water them too much – wait until the top few centimetres have dried out. Deadhead the fading flowers.
More on growing kalanchoe:
Kalanchoe: jump links
- Where to grow kalanchoe
- How to plant kalanchoe
- How to care for kalanchoe
- How to propagate kalanchoe
- Kalanchoe problem-solving
- How to make a kalanchoe flower again
- Where to buy kalanchoe
- Types of kalanchoe to grow
Where to grow kalanchoe
Kalanchoes do best in a bright, sunny spot. A spot close to an east- or west-facing window is ideal in summer, and a south-facing one in winter. Keep above 10º C in winter.
How to plant a kalanchoe
Your kalanchoe will be fine in the pot it came in, especially if you intend to discard it once it has stopped flowering. If you want to keep your plant for longer or are growing a different variety, plant into a pot that is slightly larger than the original pot, with drainage holes. Add fresh peat-free multi-purpose compost, house plant or cactus compost. You could add some vermiculite, perlite or horticultural grit to the compost to make it more free draining. Water in well and ensure that the excess water has drained away.
Caring for a kalanchoe
Kalanchoes are easy to care for and are low maintenance plants. The main thing to remember is to not over water them. Only water when the top few centimetres of the compost are dry and water very sparingly in winter. Ensure that water can always drain away. You can feed once a month in spring and summer. Remove any dead flowers as they fade.
Watch our Quick Tips video on caring for kalanchoe:
How to propagate a kalanchoe
Kalanchoes are easily propagated by stem cuttings or leaf cuttings. Allow the cuttings to dry out for a few days before planting into a small pot of cactus or house plant compost and watering in.
How to make a kalanchoe flower again
It is possible to get a kalanchoe to flower again, but it takes a little effort. Kalanchoes are 'short day' plants, which means they need a 'rest period' of short days and long nights in order to produce buds. That is why they naturally start to flower in February. You can manipulate this natural tendency by giving them only eight or nine hours of daylight a day for at least a month – you can put it in a cupboard or windowless room to achieve this – and by watering only sparingly. Two months later you should see new flower buds and can begin watering and feeding as normal.
Growing kalanchoe: problem solving
Brown patches on leaves are probably caused by sunburn. If your plant is affected, move it out of direct sunlight.
Kalanchoe leaves turn red in the sun – this is nothing to worry about, but you'll need to move it if it also shows signs of sunburn.
If your kalanchoe is wilting, it may have got too cold, so move it to a warmer spot and away from any cold draughts. Your plant might have been under or overwatered so check your watering regime.
A mushy, brown stem on the plant is stem rot, due to overwatering. This can kill the plant, so remove the affected areas and allow the compost to dry out before watering again.
Advice for buying kalanchoe
- Make sure you have plenty of light to give your kalanchoe. If your room is on the shady side, consider growing something else
- Check the plant for signs of damage or disease before buying/as soon as it arrives in the post
- Bear in mind that many garden centres and supermarkets will sell kalanchoes, but you'll find a bigger range with a specialist nursery
Where to buy kalanchoe online
Varieties of kalanchoe to grow
- Kalanchoe sexangularis is a pretty succulent with large, frilly, red edged leaves.
- Kalanchoe thyrsiflora (paddle plant) is an attractive succulent with scalloped, red-edged leaves.
- Kalanchoe pinnata (cathedral bells) is also known as the 'miracle leaf plant', as the leaves produce new plantlets along the edges. These can be easily propagated to make new plants.
- Kalanchoe ‘Magic Bells’ is an upright plant with cascades of lime-green, tubular flowers.
- Kalanchoe pumila (flower dust plant) has powdery white leaves that have a serrated edge, and clusters of pink flowers in summer.