Image by Megan Hansen
By Bonnie L. Grant
Kalanchoe plants are thick leaved succulents that are often seen in florist shops or garden centers. Most end up as potted plants but areas that can mimic their native land of Madagascar can grow them outdoors.
The clusters of tiny flowers produce a large bloom held aloft on stems above the majority of the foliage. If you wish a second bloom, it is incumbent to know how to take care of a kalanchoe. These plants need short winter light periods to form new buds. Learn how to grow kalanchoe and the perennial can reward you with several seasons of the bright colorful flowers.
About Kalanchoe Plants
The deep green, scalloped leaves of the kalanchoe are just as attractive as the flowers. The sculpted foliage persists after bloom and provides for a handsome plant. The starry flowers are long lasting and bloom in winter to spring.
Kalanchoe plants require well-drained soil and mild temperatures of at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Little maintenance is necessary for kalanchoe care and the succulent has few disease or pest problems, especially when grown indoors.
How to Grow Kalanchoe Cuttings
Kalanchoe plants are fun to grow from cuttings. The vegetative stems produce the best plants and root quickest. Take a 2 to 3 inch section and strip off the bottom couple of leaves. Let the cutting sit out in a warm, dry location to form a callus on the end.
Plant the cutting in pre-moistened peat and perlite up to the first leaf. Enclose the entire pot in plastic to form a little terrarium and conserve the moisture. Place the pot in a bright window with indirect light. Cuttings will root in 14 to 21 days and are then ready to transplant.
How to Take Care of a Kalanchoe
Plants may grow well in southern Florida year round or outside in zones 8 to 10 during the summer months.
Kalanchoe care is minimal but be cautious about light levels. Strong southern light can burn the tips of the leaves. Place pots in partial sun to light shade areas when growing kalachoe plants.
The best planting mix is 60% peat moss and 40% perlite.
Cut off spent flower stems and pinch back leggy growth to force a compact plant.
Water the plant deeply and then allow it to dry out completely before you give it further moisture.
Fertilize once per month during the growing season with a houseplant food.
Kalanchoe Care for Second Bloom
Although the plant foliage of growing kalanchoe succulent plants is interesting even without blooms, the flowers make the most spectacular display. To force the plant to bloom again, you must fool it into believing it has experienced winter.
During October and early March, the day lengths are short enough to naturally force flower buds. In other periods, you will have to put the plant in a closet or dim room for most of the day. Bring it out only for morning light and then put it away after a few hours. The plant needs six weeks of 12 to 14 hour darkness to form spectacular new flowers.
The best temperatures for formation of flowers are 40-45 degrees at night and 60 degrees Fahrenheit during the day. Kalanchoe care for plants that have begun to form buds is the same as that for flowering plants.