Kalanchoe

Kalanchoe/Bryophyllum species are nearly indestructible succulents when given the right conditions. They do best in tropical, subtropical and moderately warm climates.

Scroll through the identification and care guides below to find out the little nuances that make each species unique! I’ll be adding more to this page, so be sure to check back often!

Kalanchoe/Bryophyllum Care Guide

Lately, I’ve been seeing the names Kalanchoe and Bryophyllum used interchangeably. Bryophyllum is generally regarded as a section within the genusgenus a principal taxonomic category that ranks above species and below family, and is denoted by a capitalized Latin name Kalanchoe, but some consider it to be its own separate genus however this is not widely accepted. Two things that distinguish Bryophyllum from Kalanchoe is that they grow plantlets from the margins of their leaves and have pendulouspendulous hanging down loosely flowers. Kalanchoe have upright flowers and do not form plantlets on their leaves. Naming these succulents just depends on who you talk to since noted botanists can’t agree on what is what. I’ll probably use the two terms interchangeably.

Not really. These prolific succulents are generally hardyhardy Able to withstand most climatic conditions all year without protection, often qualified with a minimum temperature to USDA Zone 9B and can handle very brief, light frosts, but not hard freezes. If you live in a colder zone, be sure to plant your kalanchoe in a container that can be brought indoors.

Give your kalanchoe a spot in a very sunny window as they will bend, stretch and twist to find more light if they’re not getting enough. Be sure to give your indoor kalanchoe plants lots of ventilation to prevents pests from making their home in the leaves and soil. Indoor succulents need to be watered less frequently than outdoor succulents because it takes longer for the soil to dry out. Be careful not to overwater as that is the number one reason these plants die. Using clay pots for your Kalanchoe indoors is important so they can drain and dry out quickly. 

Kalanchoe will thrive in poor soil (meaning low in nutrients) that has lots of inorganicinorganic not consisting of or deriving from living matter material like pumice or lava rocks for drainage. See my Guide to Succulent Soil.

As with other succulents, Kalanchoe are made to survive prolonged periods without any water. Overwatering is the main reason these plants die. Water them using the “Drench and Dry” method allowing the soil to dry out completely between waterings and waiting until the first signs of thirst before watering again. In colder months, water sparingly. See my Guide to Watering Succulents to see what the signs of thirst look like.

Some Kalanchoe like Kalanchoe luciae (Flap Jacks) propagatepropagate breed specimens of a plant by natural processes from the parent stock like taking stem cuttings, leaf cuttings or seeds only by offsets and seeds while others like Kalanchoe/Bryophyllum daigremontiana (Mother of Thousands) produce plantlets on the margins of their leaves or can be propagated by stem cuttings or seeds. In some parts of the world, they are considered invasive weeds which speaks to their ability to propagate quickly! See my Guide to Propagating Succulents here.

Kalanchoe don’t really need to be fertilized at all but if you do, use a balancedbalanced referring to the nutrient content or NPK numbers. An example of balanced fertilizer has 15-15-15 on the label. fertilizer, low in nitrogen and diluted to at least half strength once early in the summer growing season. See my Guide to Fertilizing Succulents.

Kalanchoe plants, when mature, can handle full sunfull sun direct sunlight for at least 8 hours of the day outside most of the day with protection from the harsh rays during the hottest parts of the day. As with most succulents, aim to give them at least 6 hours of sunlight a day. See my Guide to Giving Succulents the Right Amount of Light.

Kalanchoe are toxic to animals and humans if ingested. Plant them with care around your pets and children.

Native to the subtropical climate of Madagascar and South Africa. These aren’t hot, dry desert plants!

These succulents are prone to snails, slugs, mealy bugs, aphids and scale insects. In my experience, snails and mealy bugs are the worst of the pests that love to eat Kalanchoe. Without fail, every time it rains the snails gobble up my Kalanchoe fedtschenkoi! See my Guide to Getting Rid of Mealy Bugs.

In 1971, Kalanchoe became one of the first plants sent into space.

One question that comes up frequently in discussion groups is where people want to know if they have a Mother of Thousands or Mother of Millions. This is one reason why I prefer to use the botanical/Latin names rather than common names. They always get confused and one common name may describe more than one plant by its botanical name. Confusing confusing! 

Mother of THOUSANDS – Kalanchoe/Bryophyllum delagoensis
Also known as: Chandelier plant, Kalanchoe tubiflora
Features: Thin, tube shaped leaves with plantlets on the ends

Mother of MILLIONS – Kalanchoe/Bryophyllum daigremontiana
Also known as: Alligator plant, Devil’s Backbone
Features: Wider, triangular shaped leaves with plantlets around the entire edge

What’s even more confusing is that these two plants hybridize very easily with each other so many people might even have a hybridhybrid A variety of succulent created from crossbreeding two different types succulents of the two (Kalanchoe/Bryophyllum daigremontiana x Kalanchoe/Bryophyllum delagoensis) which is named Kalanchoe/Bryophyllum x houghtonii. These hybrids have thinner leaves than Kalanchoe/Bryophyllum daigremontiana, and are not tubular like Kalanchoe/Bryophyllum delagoensis. 

THousands = THin Leaves

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