Kalanchoe is a tropical succulent commonly grown as a houseplant. This plant hails from Madagascar, where it grows as a perennial in arid environments. More formally known as Kalanchoe blossfeldiana, this plant has one of the more bizarre common names: widow’s thrill. Whatever you call this darling, it is a good fit as an indoor plant because it’s easy to maintain and blooms with proper care. A relative to the Jade plant, kalanchoe is slow-growing and thrives with a small degree of neglect. Learn more about kalanchoe care and how to encourage this beauty to bloom.
Types of Kalanchoe
This plant has a lot going on, thanks to its eye-catching foliage and flowers. Thick, leathery leaves have scalloped edges and a curved form. The foliage grows in symmetrical pairs opposite one another on the stem. Dainty flowers bloom in clusters that stand above the foliage. Depending on the cultivar, the flowers can be single or double blooms. Kalanchoe flowers are commonly white, yellow, orange, pink, or red. When the plant blooms, the thick canopy of flowers almost obscures the foliage.
Kalanchoe blossfeldiana is typically sold as a houseplant, and it’s a common sight in the plant section of grocery stores during the holidays. Most kalanchoe cultivars are grown as outdoor plants. Kalanchoe is a perennial in zones 10 through 12. The plant is grown as an annual in other zones, or gardeners bring this beauty inside to grow as a houseplant during the winter. Some of the more common kalanchoe varieties include:
- Chocolate Soldier Kalanchoe
- Flapjacks Kalanchoe
- Kalanchoe farinacea
- Kerinci Kalanchoe
- Lanin Kalanchoe
- Panda Plant
- Queen Jodie Kalanchoe
- Queen Lindsay Kalanchoe
- Simone Kalanchoe
- Variegated Kalanchoe
Kalanchoe Light Requirements
A sunny window sill or a spot that receives bright indirect sunlight is ideal for kalanchoe care. This indoor plant likes lots of light. Sunlight is critical to getting kalanchoe to bloom, as these plants only push out flowers if the lighting is just right. With some careful planning, you can encourage your plant to bloom.
How to Get Kalanchoe to Bloom
In nature, kalanchoe blooms after experiencing the darkness of winter. If you want your kalanchoe to bloom, you need to recreate these conditions by placing the plant in a spot that receives limited light. Ideally, this plant needs six weeks of 14-hour nights or darkness. Once the simulated winter is complete, relocate the kalanchoe in bright indirect sunlight, and the plant should set flower buds.
Gently remove the flowers as soon as they fade to encourage another flush of blooms. Use clean, sharp pruning shears to remove the entire stem. Do not pull or yank the stem because you may damage leaves and remove more than intended. Kalanchoe can continue to bloom for months at a time with proper care.
How Often to Water Kalanchoe
As a succulent, kalanchoe has low water needs. This plant stores water in its thick foliage to sustain itself in the dry climates it calls home. Old habits die hard, so let this beauty dry out completely before giving it a drink. Drench the soil when watering until excess water runs through the container. Drainage is important for all plants but extremely important for succulents like kalanchoe. Too much water or exposed contact to damp conditions can cause root rot, so always plant kalanchoe in a container with drainage.
Best Soil for Kalanchoe
Well-drained soil is crucial for kalanchoe. This plant naturally grows in arid climates, so it prefers dry conditions. Most cactus or succulent mixes are a good choice for kalanchoe care. You can also mix regular potting soil with a cactus mix. If you want to provide next-level kalanchoe care, use slightly acidic soil with a 5.8 to 6.3 pH.
Temperature for Kalanchoe
Warm conditions are best for proper kalanchoe care. Most homes are kept at a comfortable temperature for these plants but avoid drafts from exterior doors, windows, and heating or cooling systems. Wait until outdoor temperatures are consistently above 55° F before moving the plant outdoors. Frost kills kalanchoe, so get this plant back inside before the weather turns chilly.
Humidity is not that important to kalanchoe. As a succulent, this plant can do very well in dry conditions, but increased dampness in the air is not a deal breaker. Humidity will impact how often the plant needs water, so be aware and plan to water plants grown in dry conditions more frequently than plants in a humid environment.
Kalanchoe is not a heavy feeder, but giving this plant a nutritional boost will help it set flowers and live its best life. Indoor plants benefit from monthly feedings using a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer. Practice good kalanchoe care by feeding the plant during the spring and summer while it is actively growing and blooming. Hold off on fertilizing when the plant is dormant and resting up for the next bloom cycle.
When to Repot Kalanchoe
A crucial part of kalanchoe care is repotting. This plant does not like cramped conditions and needs regular upgrades as it grows. Repot kalanchoe after the blooming cycle is complete. Choose a pot that is 1 to 2 inches larger in diameter.
Kalanchoe can be propagated through offsets or cuttings. Offsets are small baby plants that appear alongside the mother plant. These tiny plants can be removed and placed on top of soil. The tiny plant will take root and become a full-fledged plant in no time.
Sections of the stem can be removed and propagated. A cutting needs at least a couple of leaves to be viable. Remove the lower leaves, but hold on to the foliage. Both the stem cuttings and the leaves can be propagated. Let the stem and leaves sit out for a few days, so the cut ends dry out and callous over. Next, place the cut end of the stem and the leaves in soil. Roots should form in a few weeks, and you’ll have a new batch of kalanchoe plants.
Is Kalanchoe Pet Friendly?
Kalanchoe is toxic to pets, so avoid gifting this plant to friends or family with furry companions. All parts of the plant are harmful if ingested.
Kalanchoe Styling Tips
Kalanchoe has a mounded, upright growth habit. Plants range from 1 to 18 inches tall, making them an excellent addition to a desk or end table. Cluster several small plants together to create a curated look. The leaves are interesting, and the flowers steal the show, so pair this plant with a neutral cover pot or complement this plant’s good looks with a bold statement-worth container.
Kalanchoe Care Tips
Kalanchoe is a charming plant with lovely flowers that is easy to grow. This beauty effortlessly brightens up a sunny spot with its attractive foliage and dainty flowers. Proper care is essential for all plants, but kalanchoe care largely depends on a sunny location and being left alone long enough for the soil to dry out. Follow these kalanchoe care tips to keep your plant lush and blooming.