Kalanchoe is a type of succulent native to the tropical parts of Africa and Madagascar. As you may know about succulents, they are relatively easy to care for. Kalanchoes prefer direct sunlight as their native regions are amongst the hottest and sunniest in the world. They are perennials that can be made to bloom again in the late summer and early fall. From the flowers to the resilience, a Kalanchoe plant would be an excellent addition to your indoor plant garden.
How do I care for my Kalanchoe?
A Kalanchoe plant is a great succulent to add to your indoor collection.
A Kalanchoe does not need a lot of water to survive. Succulents are notoriously easy to care for, and this is due to their waxy leaves. Waxy leaves allow the plant to retain more water, which allows them to go longer periods of time without needing more water. If you plan to keep your plant indoors, it is likely you will need to water only every 2-3 weeks, depending on how dry the soil is. If the top 2 inches of soil are dry, it is time to water.
Kalanchoes love sunlight or partial shade. Being native to Madagascar, they are used to high levels of sunlight and high temperatures. Not enough light will cause the Kalanchoe to become spindly. Proper lighting is vital for the health of your plant and if you live in an area that does not get great direct sunlight, try purchasing a growlight from Soltech Solutions.
Any soil capable of good drainage will suit a Kalanchoe. If the soil does not drain well, it can lead to root rot which will harm the health of your plant. The best kind of soil will also be well aerated, such as 60% peat moss and 40% perlite. The soil your plant sits in is a strong determinant as to the long term health of your plant.
The best part about the Kalanchoe plant are the flowers. They provide bright and vibrant colors to lift the mood of any room. Normally people will buy Kalanchoes and discard them once their original bloom has died off. However, it is possible to keep these as perennial plants. You just have to let it be dormant for a bit.
In simpler terms, you will need to let your Kalanchoe “hibernate”, this process will allow the plant to regain the energy required for blooms. In around mid November, begin the dormancy period by putting the plant in sunlight for 9-10 hours and then complete darkness for 14-15 hours. And by complete darkness, we mean complete darkness. No grow lights, no normal lights, just pure darkness.
Limit the water you give it (about once every 3 weeks), don’t give it any fertilizer, and lower the temperature to around 60 degrees F. After about 6-8 weeks of this, you’ll start to see buds forming on your Kalanchoe. Once you switch it back to normal watering and light conditions, your Kalanchoe should bloom its beautiful flowers.
What is the best way to keep my Kalanchoe indoors?
Taking care of certain plants can be difficult at the best of times. You try to control as much as you can. From the watering schedule to light cycles and temperature maintenance, a lot of effort can go into keeping your plants alive. A major issue can arise with where you live. Depending on your location, you may have a good planting zone or a less than ideal one. Check out this article from Soltech Solutions to learn more about planting zones.
If you live in a place where the temperature changes drastically, it would be in your best interests to keep your Kalanchoe indoors. And why wouldn’t you? It is a lovely plant with beautiful blooms that show it can be a real centerpiece of a plant. Keeping it in a spot that gets a good amount of light is important as well. If you are unable to find a good spot in your home at this moment in time, check out this blog from Soltech Solutions detailing 20 different plant tables and shelves to see if you get some inspiration.
What issues can I have with a Kalanchoe?
If you notice your leaves or blooms soft, wilted or damaged, it can be for a variety of reasons. The biggest culprit is usually temperature. The proper range for a Kalanchoe is 60-85 degrees F. An extended period of time outside of this range will lead to wilting, damage or death. If you notice any of these symptoms, repot the plant in a room within the proper temperature.
As stated previously, light is important to the health of your Kalanchoe. One of the most common causes of sunburnt leaves is over exposure to direct sunlight. Despite their love for sunlight, too much of it will be bad longer term. Sunburn will appear as brown or yellow spots on the leaves.
For those who are newer plant parents, one of the ailments your kalanchoe plant could have is due to overwatering. Watering plants is difficult at the best of times, getting the right amount and timing for it can take a while to master. Stem rot comes from overwatering or the plant living in a soil that holds water.
Stem rot symptoms include different colored spots on the stem, along with slight wilting due to the stem being weakened. If your plant experiences stem rot, it is likely already infected with other bacterial infections as well, and would be best to just discard the plant.
Was the first plant in space a Kalanchoe?
Plants are more common in space than you might realize, with many different species being cultivated on the ISS.
The Kalanchoe was one of the first plants in space. In the 1970, the Russian space agency known as Energia were testing different ways to get oxygen to their cosmonauts up in space. Sending up different ships to deliver oxygen tanks was not financially feasible, so they turned their attention to plants.
Plants undergo a process called photosynthesis, where they take carbon dioxide, light, and water to produce glucose and oxygen. While they do consume some oxygen in other chemical processes, they produce about 10 times as much as they need, so the surplus is released. This was a good thought to have as humans produce carbon dioxide, so it seemed like a mutualistic relationship between the cosmonauts and plants.
Through their experiments, they found that providing their cosmonauts with plants raised their emotional well being and overall crew morale. Energia sent up a mature kalanchoe to Valeri Ryumin and Vladimir Lyakhov in 1979 and they were ecstatic. They named this plant the “life tree”. Later experiments found a more efficient way to provide oxygen to the cosmonauts, but the plants stayed as that “emotional support companion.”
For more on this interesting story, check out this article from the Smithsonian Magazine.