HomeUltimate Guide To Kalanchoe

Plant Guide:Kalanchoe

Did you know that kalanchoes have fast become one of our favourite houseplants? It’s not hard to see why either. Their mass of brightly coloured flowers deliver real bursts of happiness into our homes. In fact, they’re so popular they were named as one of the top 10 houseplants trends for 2022. It’s had some love on social too; head over to Instagram and this plant racks up over half a million posts.

So what’s all the fuss about? Well, this one has a few things going for it. You may not realise it from looks alone, but this plant is a succulent. That means it's incredibly easy to look after, you can pretty much ignore it and the kalanchoe will keep itself happy. But without a doubt, it’s the joyful flowers that have really won over our hearts. From warming orange to zingy pink, flaming red and happy yellow, you can guarantee there will be one you can find that you love.

When it comes to the houseplant party, this one is a bit of a latecomer. The plant was first recorded in 1763 when it was found growing in arid areas of its native home of Asia, Africa and Madagascar. It wasn’t until the 1930s that botanist Robert Blossfeld finally brought this one over to Europe and from there its popularity grew and grew. To thank him for his work, the most popular variety of this plant was even named after him.

It’s not even us lot on earth that love them. Did you know it was one of the first plants to be taken into space? In 1970 kalanchoe plants were taken up with a resupply vessel to the Soviet Salyut 1 space station for research purposes and to also to cheer up the astronauts – it really does spread happiness far and wide!

Unsurprisingly, because of its ability to grow in harsh conditions, this one is a symbol of endurance and perseverance. A great gift if you know someone who has recently passed their exams or is coming to the end of a big project at work.

The flowers also represent love and affection. The blooms stick around for weeks or even months so perfectly represent long-lasting adoration to a loved one – a perfect alternative to flowers for a wedding anniversary present.


Types of kalanchoe

Following extensive breeding of this plant in the ’60s and ’70s, the kalanchoe is available in all sorts of colours and sizes. Today, there are approximately 125 different species available in a range of colours and leaf shapes.


Kalanchoe Blossfeldiana

Already got a kalanchoe houseplant? We’re pretty sure this one will be the Blossfeldiana variety – it’s the one most commonly chosen as an indoor plant. We think that is probably down to the fact that it’s one of the easiest kalanchoes to encourage into flower. What we do know for certain is that all those blooms bring a real zing of colour indoors.

Now, don’t let the name of this one confuse you. Its scientific name kalanchoe blossfeldiana was given in honour of the man who grew its popularity, Mr Blossfeld. What you might not realise is that this one also goes by the common name of Flaming Katy, probably thanks to the bright red flowers it produces.


Kalanchoe Beauverdii

This variety goes by the common name Widow’s Thrill, which is interestingly also the common name sometimes give to the Blosseldiana mentioned above. However, take a look at the Beauverdii with the dark, almost purple leaves and we think Widow’s Thrill is a far better choice for this kalanchoe. This one is a climbing plant that produces striking trumpet-shaped flowers that, as you guessed, are almost black in colour. Possibly not the most joyful plant to have around but striking nonetheless.


Kalanchoe Pinnata

This is another one that has some interesting names. You may see it given the name Cathedral Bells – you’ll see why when you take a look at the gorgeous flowers. It’s also known as the ‘miracle leaf plant’ which is down to its ability to grow baby plants along the edges of mature leaves. Taking this into account, it won’t surprise you that this one is incredibly easy to propagate.


Kalanchoe Pumila

A gorgeous evergreen plant, this dwarf kalanchoe delivers wonderful powdery-white leaves all year round. It’s no wonder it is also called Flower Dust Plant - the leaves look like they’ve been covered in a fine covering of dust. Over summer you’ll be rewarded with stunning pink flowers that sit above the foliage.


Kalanchoe Sexangularis

For something completely different, why not take a look at Kalanchoe Sexangularis. This one has magnificent, large dark red leaves which are wavy in appearance. Growing above all of this are delicate yellow flowers that sit proudly upright above the leaves.


Kalanchoe Tomentosa

When you look at the leaves, you’ll very quickly realise why this one has earned the common name of panda plant. Furry and almost velvet-like to touch, the grey leaves develop brown spots along the tips. You’re unlikely to get flowers from this kalanchoe, but we think the beauty of the leaves more than makes up for it.

Where to place Kalanchoe plant in your home

With so many delightful flowers on this houseplant, it would be a shame for it not to take pride of place. Pop it somewhere like your hallway and it will cheer everyone up as they arrive. If you’re working at home, place it near your desk. Houseplants have been proven to increase productivity, plus the happy flowers will make your working day a whole lot better. Treat yourself to more than one and add one to your living room - you can pick one of the many different colours to perfectly match your décor.

Just remember, this is a tropical houseplant which means it needs heat and plenty of light. However, it can’t cope too well with the burning hot sun. Pop it near a window in the morning, but move out of direct sunlight as the afternoon arrives. You don't want the flowers and leaves to burn!


Kalanchoe care

One of the advantgaes of this little houseplant being a succulent is that they don’t need much water (perfect if you’re going on your hols and have no one to look after your plants). They are also pretty unfussy as a houseplant. Keep them happy and they’ll deliver their gorgeous blooms for about 8 weeks (sometimes even more).

Here are our top tips on how to care for kalanchoe:

  • Water – this one can last quite a long time with minimal water. Just remember it does need a drink every now and then but don’t overdo it. You should also avoid letting any water settle on the leaves. The best approach to watering is to let the plant sit in a bowl of water and then drink up whatever it needs. Let any excess water drain away properly.

  • Food – this plant doesn’t need much feeding, if any. However, when the buds start to appear you may need to give it some food – just to help it along.

  • Deadheading – now the one thing we all want from our kalanchoe is lots of gorgeous flowers. You can help this plant by removing any dead blooms – it sort of gives them a little boost and means it can concentrate all its energy into producing new flowers.


Common problems with the kalanchoe plant

Without a doubt, one of the biggest reasons for this plant looking unhappy is overwatering. If you let the roots of your kalanchoe stay too wet for too long, they will start to rot and that will very quickly kill your plant. Another problem is too much or too little light. If the stems of your plant become leggy it's basically growing to find the light, move it to a brighter spot to keep it happy. If the leaves become brown at the edges, it’s the opposite and you’ve given it too much sun.

Now the biggie – how do you get your kalanchoe to flower again? This is a problem most of us face which is why this houseplant is often thrown away at the end of its flowering season. However, with a little bit of work and perseverance, you can get it blooming again.

What you need to do is to trick the plant into thinking it's winter by giving it a quiet period. To do this, you’re going to give your plant six weeks of limited light to help the buds form. That basically means it has to be in darkness for around 14 to 16 hours. I know it sounds like a lot but it's definitely worth the effort.


Are kalanchoe toxic to pets?

In traditional medicine this plant has been used to treat several ailments including infections, inflammation and rheumatism. The flowers are also said to provide healing properties that restore balance and vitality. Despite this houseplant being a bit of a favourite in herbal treatments for humans, when it comes to your pets it’s not quite as beneficial.

The problem is, these toxins which can help us humans, are not so good for your cats and dogs. Any part of the plant is poisonous. In fact, if they get to munch on too much of this plant it can cause serious problems including cardiac poisoning.


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