Do you like succulents or non-cacti? If so, and you do not have much experience and / or would like to have very low maintenance species, we definitely recommend the Kalanchoe . There are many types, and each of them has something that makes them unique. In some, it is the color of its leaves, in others its beautiful flowers. However, the vast majority of them can be used to decorate any luminous corner , both in the garden and in the home.
In addition, there are species that are medicinal . What more could you want? A care guide? That is done! Although not only learn to take care of them, but after reading it you will discover things that, probably, you did not know about the Kalanchoe.
Origin and characteristics of the Kalanchoe
The Kalanchoe are native to the warm regions of the world . Mainly, they are found in the African continent and Madagascar. The genus consists of about 125 species, which are shrubs or perennial herbaceous plants, with a few annual or biennial. They are characterized by fleshy leaves, medium to dark green, covered by something similar to wax, which form rosettes. Flower stems emerge from each of them during winter and spring . The flowers can be red, pink, yellow, white or purple, and have no aroma.
But, if there is something that distinguishes many Kalanchoe is its tendency to produce suckers at the edges of its leaves . These suckers are exact replicas of the plant that produced them. Once they grow a little and have their own rootlets, they fall, and if there is dirt, they immediately root. In this way, the survival of the species is assured, because although they are also multiplied by seeds, they need more time to germinate than the ones that the young need to grow.
Main types or species
It is a native species of Madagascar known as Elephant Ear that grows to a height of 3 meters , which makes it the highest in the genre. Its leaves are triangular-lanceolate with margins that have a double festoon. These are olive green and are covered by a fine tan or bluish vellus on both sides. The flowers sprout in early spring and are greenish-yellow. Resists frost of up to -2ºC .
It is a plant native to Madagascar that grows up to 40cm in height . Its leaves are fleshy, bright dark green. Its flowers are grouped in inflorescences in the form of red, purple, orange, yellow or white cluster in late spring. It does not resist frost .
It is a plant native to Madagascar known as aranto or spine of the Devil that reaches a height of up to 1m . Its leaves are lanceolate, with the serrated edge, the bright green beam and the green underside with black spots. It does not usually bloom, but when it does it develops an inflorescence in the form of a cluster composed of pink flowers. Resists the cold and soft frosts of up to -2ºC .
Known as “leaf of the air”, is a native species of India and Madagascar that grows to reach a height between 30cm to 1m . It has pinnate leaves, which is what gives it the name, with margins serrated. Its stems are an intense purple color. It produces inflorescences with flowers of green, yellow or reddish colors. It is sensitive to frost .
It is a plant native to South Africa and Lesotho formed by rosettes of rounded leaves with a smooth margin that reach 40-50cm in height . These are green, but the more they are exposed to the sun, the more pink-red they become. Its flowers are grouped in erect inflorescences and are green with recurved yellow lobes. It blooms from autumn to spring. Resists frost of up to -2ºC .
What care do you need?
Are you liking these succulent plants? If so, surely you are thinking of acquiring a copy, right? Provide this care so you can enjoy it to the fullest:
- Location : most of the species found in nurseries need to be in a very bright area, even in full sun. Only the Kalanchoe blossfeldiana will appreciate being in semi-shade.
- Watering : scarce. During the summer you should water once or twice a week, and the rest of the year every 10-15 days.
- Subscriber : in spring and summer must be paid with fertilizers for cactus and succulents, following the indications specified on the package.
- Soil or substrate : it is not demanding, but it has to have good drainage because otherwise its roots will rot. You have more information here .
- Planting or transplanting time : in spring, when the risk of frost has passed.
- Multiplication :
- Seeds: seeds in seedbed in spring or summer with vermiculite. Cover them with a very thin layer of this substrate and keep them always slightly damp (not waterlogged). They will germinate after a month.
- Stem cuttings: Cut a stem cuttings in spring or summer and plant them in a pot or in another part of the garden. Take care of it as if it were already a rooted plant, since it will not take more than a couple of weeks to take root.
- Hijuelos: you can separate them from the mother plant when they have their first rootlets, and plant them in small pots until they grow. You can use universal growing medium, although I recommend you cover your roots with river sand or pomice, because as they are so tiny sometimes it is very complicated to plant them correctly.
- Pests and diseases : basically snails and slugs. Molluscs are your enemy. You can keep them away from your Kalanchoe with diatomaceous earth. Lay it on the substrate or the earth, around the plant, and so they will not disturb you. The dose is 30g per 1l of water. In case you can not get it, click here to find out what other natural remedies there are against these animals.
- Rust : some species, as we have seen, withstand soft frost, but it is better to protect them from the cold and, above all, from hail.
What are the Kalanchoe used for?
The Kalanchoe are very beautiful plants that look great planted anywhere . The color of its leaves and its precious flowers make its ornamental value very high. In addition, many species being small can be used to create compositions, both with other Kalanchoe and with other flowering plants.
While most species are toxic, there are others that, when used correctly, can help us improve health. Such is the case of the Kalanchoe pinnata , Kalanchoe daigremontiana and Kalanchoe gastonis-bonnieri . Its leaves can be prepared to apply externally or internally . For external use, they are used making plasters or poultices, and for internal use you can prepare an infusion or add the leaves to dishes like salads. The dose is as follows :
- Internal use: 30 grams of fresh leaf per day.
- External use: from 1 to 3 fresh leaves.
The benefits are : relieves rheumatism and cough, is sedative, cuts diarrhea, improves digestion, can be used as a complementary treatment for cancer, reduces fever and protects the liver.
What are its contraindications?
They can not be used during pregnancy, nor for long periods of time . You should not abuse the plant or consume doses of 5 grams of plant per kilo of weight (which would be about 350 grams of leaves for a person of 70kg, which is a dose four to ten times higher than recommended).
Consult your doctor if you have any questions.
I am Don Burke, one of the authors at My Garden Guide. I am a horticulturist that cultivates, grows, and cares for plants, ranging from shrubs and fruits to flowers. I do it in my own garden and in my nursery. I show you how to take care of your garden and how to perform garden landscaping in an easy way, step by step.I am originally from Sydney and I wrote in local magazines. Later on, I have decided, more than two decades ago, to create my own blog. My area of specialization is related to orchid care, succulent care, and the study of the substrate and the soil. Therefore, you will see many articles dedicated to these disciplines. I also provide advice about how to improve the landscape design of your garden.