Plant Profile: Kalanchoe
Kalanchoe (ka-LAN-cho or kal-an-KO-ee) is a genus of tropical, succulent plants that are commonly grown as houseplants. These plants are native to Madagascar, Brazil and Southeast Asia. They are grown for their clusters of tiny, colourful flowers and attractive, shiny green foliage. The blooms, which come in red, white, pink, orange and yellow, will last anywhere from 3-6 weeks. Plants will grow to a height of 15-30cm high.
Interesting Facts about the Kalanchoe:
- Kalanchoe is a popular plant during Chinese New Year celebrations, as it is said to bring wealth and prosperity.
- Some species contain toxins that can cause cardiac poisoning in grazing animals
- The plant has been used in traditional herbal medicine to treat infections, rheumatism and inflammation
Kalanchoe is available all year round, with the popularity peaking from March through September. Kalanchoe is one of the easiest houseplants to care for and would be perfect for people that tend to forget to water their plants, as it likes the soil to be on the dry side.
It prefers bright, but indirect light in a warm environment. In fact, if the flowers look pale or bi-coloured, the plant is not getting enough light. Water only when the soil feels dry. Overwatering can lead to crown rot and powdery mildew.
Many people choose to throw out the plant after it is done flowering, but it can re-bloom with a bit of time and patience. Cut off the flowering head and let the plant rest for about a month. Then give it at least 12-14 hours of continuous darkness followed by 10 hours of bright light for 6 weeks to develop buds. Reduce the watering and feeding during this time. Once the buds have formed, the plant can resume its normal light conditions.
Propagation is as easy as placing a cut stem into a glass of water and waiting for the root system to develop. Once the roots appear, plant into a container of fresh, potting soil.