In tropical environments, kalanchoe thrives in outdoor garden beds, but gardeners in less temperate zones appreciate it as a low-maintenance houseplant that grows to about 6 to 12 inches tall with fleshy, succulent leaves. Flowers blanket some varieties; others sport fuzzy leaves in a variety of shapes and sizes.
Kalanchoe burst into bloom during gray winter and early-spring months. Its tiny red, white, pink, yellow, or orange flowers cluster into dense groups above a skirt of dark green foliage. Count on the blooms to last for several weeks. It is especially striking in the tropics when grown in pots on a patio or porch. Great container planting companions include asparagus fern and majesty palm.
Favorite Foliage Varieties
One member of the kalanchoe family is the panda plant. That might come as a surprise because this non-blooming succulent dazzles with fuzzy, silver gray leaves. Give panda plant bright light and occasional watering. Too much water causes root rot. Easy-to-grow panda plant pairs with succulents like sedums and hens-and-chicks for a playful combination of colors and textures in one container.
Kalanchoe Care Must-Knows
Kalanchoe grows best in a bright sunny window inside the house or a place that receives at least 8 hours of direct sunlight outdoors. Sunny patios or entry gardens are great spots for potted kalanchoe. When planting or moving kalanchoe, be careful of their tender branches; they break easily.
Before watering, check the soil. If it is dry to the touch, water the plant. If the soil is moist, wait a few days and check the soil again. As a general rule, they will need water about once every other week. When in bloom, kalanchoes require more water. Keep soil evenly moist, not soggy.
More Varieties of Kalanchoe
Kalanchoe delagoensis has succulent, tubular leaves splotched in maroon or brown. It can grow to 4 feet tall and is sometimes listed as Kalanchoe tubiflora or Bryophyllum tubiflora.
Kalanchoe beharensis has fuzzy leaves with a thick white blush. It often develops warty projections on the underside of leaves. Like panda plant, leaves may be tipped with reddish brown. Indoors it can grow to 4 feet tall.
Kalanchoe blossfeldiana has succulent leaves with scalloped edges, but the real reason for growing it is brilliantly colored clusters of flowers. The plant needs bright light and long nights to bloom well.
Kalanchoe tomentosa is known for its fuzzy, silvery leaves with reddish-brown tips. It is also called pussy ears.