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The Kalanchoe Page

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Kalanchoe   Adanson 1763 (Widow's Thrill)
Chinese Kalan Cauhuy = 'that which falls and grows'

Kalanchoe includes 139 species of leafy succulents from South and East Africa, Arabia into S.E Asia. Kalanchoes produce panicles of pendulous bells or upright clusters of many small brightly coloured flowers. Many hybrids are distributed through the nursery trade as attractive, undemanding flowering houseplants with single or double flowers in yellows to reds. A wide range of hybrids with bell-like flowers has also been produced.
 
Kalanchoe daigremontiana and K. delagoensis (K. tubiflora) often do well on a sales table as the small plantlets on their leaves make them instantly attractive to children, but otherwise they can be a menace in a collection as the plantlets root in every nearby pot. I wouldn't be without them though.
 
Bryophyllum has been incorporated into Kalanchoe but this obsolete genus is still often seen on labels.
 
Cultivation: Many species and hybrids are easy to grow in a free-draining gritty compost on a sunny window ledge. Water weekly with a little of any balanced house plant fertiliser during the growing season. It may be necessary to tie plants to a cane and grow in a heavy (clay) pot for stability.
Kalanchoes tolerate cool, frost-free conditions during the winter if kept dry. Mealy bugs and vine weevils can be discouraged with a systemic insecticide based on Imidacloprid e.g. Provado Vine Weevil Killer. Crassulaceae are generally intolerant of Malathion.
Many species can be propagated from stem cuttings, or in some species from plantlets forming along the leaves. Kalanchoes should be treated as poisonous as some species contain toxic bufadienolide cardiac glycosides.

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Kalanchoe beharensisKalanchoe beharensis

Kalanchoe beharensis  Drake 1903
This shrubby plant has a long grey-brown stem, made knobbly by leaf scars with sharp projections. Towards the ends of the stems are a few large, felted deltoid leaves with undulate margins. The leaf surface has white to brownish pubescence. The inflorescence is a panicle of many, small, pink to greenish-yellow flowers.

Native to dry forests of Southern Madagascar. Needs to be restarted regularly to look its best.

Left: Makes a fine specimen plant for a warm climate or conservatory. Photo: Scot Corrigan 2014.

Kalanchoe beharensis
Kalanchoe blossfeldiana cultivar

Kalanchoe blossfeldiana  von Poellnitz 1934 (Flaming Katy)
The 1ft branching stem has smooth, fleshy ovate leaves have irregular serrated edges. Clusters of flowers are produced with four diamond-shaped petals.
 
Probably the most common Kalanchoe cultivated by the horticultural trade. Vast numbers of this undemanding plant are produced with flowers in many shades of magenta, red, yellow, white and green. Double flowers have appeared recently. New plants are easily propagated from cuttings and will flower better than an old plant.
Native to Northern Madagascar, in forests up to 7800ft above sea level.

Kalanchoe bracteata

Kalanchoe bracteata  Scott Elliot 1891
This low branching shrublet has thin branches with quite fleshy ovate leaves. Some clones have all-green leaves and others have leaves with a silvery coating. Clusters of bright orange-red, rather fleshy tubular flowers are produced at the ends of the stems.
 
Native to South-East Madagascar.

Kalanchoe daigremontiana  Hamet & Perrier 1914 (Alligator Teardrop Plant, Flea Plant, Mother of Thousands)
Kalanchoe daigremontianaKalanchoe daigremontianakalanchoe
Photo: Dale HumphriesPhoto: Kathy BenderPhoto: Patrick Burns  

Kalanchoe daigremontiana is an easily grown (biennial) succulent plant for a sunny window ledge. Small plantlets (bulbils) form on the serrated leaf margins, drop off, and grow in any nearby plant pot. A large plant produces a panicle of pink flowers, which should be cut off after the flower is finished or the plant will die. In any case, when this Kalanchoe starts to develop a flower spike, it is best to start a new plant from the many bulbils.
 
Kalanchoe daigremontiana is native to South-West Madagascar and naturalised elsewhere. It has the potential to become an invasive weed in a frost-free climate and contains bufadienolide cardiac glycosides which can cause losses of grazing livestock.

kalanchoekalanchoe
Photo: RJ HodgkissPhoto: Cathy Sue Hawkins

Kalanchoe delagoensis  Ecklon & Zeyher 1837
Syn. K. tubiflora Hamet 1912 (Mother of Thousands)
 
An almost indestructible (biennial) Kalanchoe that propagates by vegetatively forming plantlets (bulbils) on the leaf tips. These drop off and root in any nearby plant pot, so it is almost impossible to lose the clone. This plant grows up to 5 ft tall and produces an attractive cluster of pink flowers at the top of its stem. A tall plant needs staking or it is liable to flop over.

Kalanchoe delagoensis is native to Southern Madagascar and naturalised elsewhere. It has the potential to become an invasive weed in a frost-free climate and contains bufadienolide cardiac glycosides which can cause losses of grazing livestock.

kalanchoe
Photo: Ivo Polach

Kalanchoe luciae  Hamet 1908 (Flapjack Plant)
A choice biennial plant for a sunny position in a frost-free climate. In the shade, the leaves will go a boring green. This species tends to colour up naturally in full sun, but there is a particularly red cultivar called "Red Flapjack". The inflorescence is a dense panicle of yellowish-green flowers.
Native to Zimbabwe, Mozambique, South Africa and Swaziland.
 
The rather similarly shaped Kalanchoe thrysiflora has glaucous green leaves with a farinose coating, but the two species are often confused in the horticultural trade.

Kalanchoe cv. mirabilis

Kalanchoe cv. mirabilis
 
One of many attractive selected forms and hybrids with bell-like flowers, often given bell-related cultivar names such as "Mission Bells", "Bells Dream" etc.

Kalanchoe rhombopilosa

Kalanchoe rhombopilosa  Mannoni & Boiteau 1947
This small succulent species has sprawling thick woody stems bearing fan-shaped green leaves with undulate margins and a white farinose coating. The leaves may have spots and tend to become bronzed in strong light. A narrow panicle of yellowish flowers is produced in the Spring, but flowering is infrequent.
 
Native to South-West Madagascar. Leaves fall off but root easily. The leaves are quite variable and various selected cultivars are in circulation.

Kalanchoe rotundifoliaKalanchoe rotundifolia

Kalanchoe rotundifolia  Haworth 1825
This plant has slender, erect stems growing 3ft or more tall, bearing rounded blue-green leaves. The inflorescence is a small cluster of orange-red flowers.
 
Widespread in Africa including Zimbabwe and South Africa. This species is traditionally used by the Zulu in a charm to confer invisibility. It is poisonous to livestock.

Kalanchoe schimperiana

Kalanchoe schimperiana  Richard 1847
The stems and leaves of this perennial shrublet are pubescent. A cluster of greenish-white flowers is produced at the growing point.
 
Native to Ethiopia and Eastern Tanzania.

Kalanchoe sp.

Kalanchoe sp.  
A prolific plant producing a panicle of bright yellow flowers.