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How to Grow: Kalanchoe
Bright sun is best for this succulent outdoors, unless you live in a hot summer climate. Indoors, especially in winter, grow them in the brightest light possible. It’s best to keep the dark green leaves and allow the flowers to bloom longer.
Bloom Period and Plant Shape
Kalanchoe is a popular holiday plant indoors. It also grows well as an container plant outdoors in summer. Outdoors it will boom in spring. Indoors, greenhouse growers have conditioned the plant to bloom around the end of the year similar to poinsettias. The flowers grow in clusters and the colors range from pale yellow to the deepest burgundy and everything in between.
Mature Height x Spread
In their native Madagascar and tropical Africa, kalanchoe selections can grow up to 4 feet tall. However, the types commonly grown as houseplants and summer bedding plants are low growing succulents not reaching more than 1 foot tall.
How to Plant
Plant kalanchoe in the ground in an area that gets bright sun. In hot areas provide some afternoon shade. In containers, plant in a brightly lit room in containers filled with regular houseplant potting soil.
Kalanchoe are easy to grow plants in the garden. If you can grow sedums, you can grow these succulents. However, they are only winter hardy in warm climate areas, so need to be grown as annuals or brought indoors in winter.
Mostly gardeners grow kalanchoe as houseplants purchased around the holidays when they’re blooming. Place potted plants in a cool room with bright sun and keep the soil moderately moist so the flowers last a long time. Allow the soil to dry out between waterings. Increase watering in the summer and reduce it in the winter. The same is true with fertilizers. Fertilize regularly in summer and not much in winter.
The flowers can last weeks indoors in winter making this a great colorful plant for these darker days. After flowering finishes, deadhead the plants and grow them as green foliage plants. Like poinsettias, kalanchoe are hard to get to rebloom for the next holiday season. More likely, if grown as a houseplant they will flower in spring in response to the short days.
Watch for spider mites and aphids on your kalanchoe plants. Wipe the leaves clean with a soapy water solution. Kalanchoe is toxic, if ingested, to pets.
Design Tips: Group these succulents on a holiday table or with other succulents such as aloe and jade. In the garden plant them in containers or with sedums and other creeping plants.
Varieties: The most common kalanchoe is Kalanchoe blossfeldiana. This is the one found in garden centers and florist shops with colorful pink, yellow, red, and white flowers. Other more unusual selections have large, pendant-shaped flowers and velvety, large leaves.