Kalanchoe plants come in the shape of thick leaved succulents found in both florists and garden centres.
Although native to Madagascar, the majority of these plants are grown in pots in the UK.
However, certain species can be grown outdoors when provided with the correct growing conditions.
These plants, which boast pretty clusters of tiny flowers, are able to produce large, fragrant blooms, which flourish on stems that sit high above the foliage.
If you are growing these plants in the hope that they will produce a second bloom, it is imperative that you know how to take care of them.
For best results, grow Kalanchoe in seasons that offer periods of short winter light, as this will encourage them to form new buds.
Learning a few tips and tricks from gardeners in the know will ensure this perennial will reward you with several seasons of bright, bold colourful flowers.
About Kalanchoe plants
These species of plant boast rich, deep green, scalloped leaves, which are said to be just as attractive as the flowers themselves.
The chiseled foliage lives long after the plant has bloomed, which makes these plants extremely popular with green fingered connoisseurs.
The starry flowers tend to bloom for a lengthy period of time during the months of winter and spring.
These species of plant tend to come in the shape of perennial herbaceous plants or shrubs. You may also come across a few biennial and annual plants.
The largest Kalanchoe plant is found in Madagascar, and can grow to an impressive six metres in height, but the majority of species grow to around one metre in height.
Kalanchoes are categorised by their blooms, which are able to grow new cells on the inner surface of their petals, which results in forcing them outwards.
These flowers are divided into four sections and boast a total of eight stamens.
Kalanchoe plants enjoy well-drained soil and mild temperatures of at least 60°F (c. 16°C).
These species are a great option for gardeners looking for a low-maintenance plant, as this succulent has few diseases or pest problems.
This is particularly the case when they are grown indoors.
Cultivation and uses
These plants are traditionally sold as ornamental houseplants, and in the right conditions, rock or succulent garden plants.
They are popular plants due to their ease of propagation, minimal water requirements and the huge range of colours that are available.
How to grow Kalanchoe from cuttings
Kalanchoe plants are both easy and fun to grow from cuttings. The vegetative stems are renowned for producing plants that root extremely quickly.
To grow from cuttings, take a section measuring between two and three inches and remove the bottom couple of leaves.
The next stage requires you to allow the cutting to sit in a warm, dry location. This will encourage the cuttings to form a callus.
You should then enclose the entire pot in plastic, as this will help to conserve the moisture.
In terms of location, the plant should be placed in a pot on a bright window ledge, out of direct sunlight.
Cuttings will take around 14 to 21 days to root. Once this time has passed, they are ready to transplant.
How to take care of a Kalanchoe
These particular plants grow well in warmer temperatures, and as such, thrive when grown in the summer months.
Kalanchoe care, although minimal, is essential.
It’s important to be cautious of light levels in particular when growing these species.
Strong southern light can be detrimental to this plant as it can burn the tips of the leaves, which is why it’s important to place the pots in areas with partial sun and regular shade.
The best planting mix to use for Kalanchoe comprises a combination of 60 percent peat moss and 40 percent perlite.
For best results, remove any spent flower stems and pinch back any overgrowth. This will encourage a compact, neat plant.
The next step requires you to water the plant well and allow it to dry out completely before watering it again.
To ensure a healthy plant, fertilise once a month during the growing season, using a quality houseplant food.
Kalanchoe care for second blooms
Although the foliage of the Kalanchoe plant is remarkable even without blooms, the flowers are the star of the show and promise to create a spectacular garden display. To force the plant to bloom over and over again, you must make it think it is winter.
To do this, you can place the plant in a cupboard or dimly-lit room for the majority of the day. Bring it out only for morning light for just a few hours and then place indoors.
The plant requires a total of six weeks of darkness for 12 to 14 hours per day in order to form new flowers.
Alternatively, wait until October to early March, when the days are short enough to naturally force fresh booms.
The best temperatures for new flower growth are between 40°F – 45°F (c. 4°C -7°C.) at night and 60°F. (c. 16°C.) during the day.
When Kalanchoe plants have begun to show new buds, they require the same care as flowering plants.
Growing Kalanchoe outdoors
If you’re wondering whether to keep Kalanchoe plants in the same pots outdoors, or whether to transplant them, it’s important to place them in a large pot or container. You can even plant them alongside other Kalanchoes in the same pot.
For best results, place them on a veranda, patio or in the garden. Alternatively, plant them directly into garden soil – when doing so, you must wait until the ground is no longer frozen.
The middle of May is a good time to plant these species in most climates.
If the area you reside in boasts warm days but cooler nights, simply bring the plants indoors at night.
This will ensure they are protected when the temperature drops. This is only required if the temperature drops to below 10°C at night.
To ensure optimum growth, ensure your plants get one to two hours of direct sunlight in the summer months – no more or no less.
You should also water them thoroughly once a week and plant them in a quality, organic soil.
Interesting facts about Kalanchoe
This plant is a genus of around 125 species of tropical, succulent flowering plants, which come from the Crassulaceae family.
They are native to both tropical Africa and Madagascar, with 60 species found in the latter.
Further species are found in parts of Asia, although in much reduced numbers.
Kalanchoe were also one of the first plant species to be sent into space, on a resupply to the Soviet Salyut One space station in 1971.
In China, this plant is known as ‘10,000 purple or 1,000 red’ and is commonly purchased during the Lunar Calendar New Year, when it is predominantly used in decorative arrangements.
Although Kalanchoe plants require regular and careful care, they can provide plenty of colour to your indoor and outdoor spaces.
When potted, they make exceptional houseplants, although you should be careful as it is toxic to cats and dogs.
You should therefore ensure that any houseplants are kept out of reach of pets.
If you’ve tried your hand at growing Kalanchoe then we’d love to know how you got on, especially if you had success with getting successive blooms.
Similarly, if you have any extra tips that you think we’ve missed, then please let us know and we can share them with our readers.