The kalanchoe family has around 120 species of tropical succulent shrubs. It is cultivated across the world, but it is native to Madagascar. Some of the species of this family also originated in the rain forests of south-east Asia and China. The term 'kalanchoe' has been derived from a Chinese word, but no one has any idea as to how the plant got its name. Originally, the flowers of this plant were red and orange in color and even the length of the plant was pretty high, so it was not grown as a potted plant. But in the 1980s, Danish and Dutch growers created the current cultivar with a proper shape, thick stems, and flowers in various colors to choose from; white, pink, purple, yellow, and bi-colored too. The plant is long-lasting, and so it became popular with people. These plants were even used to decorate their homes. So, if you are planning to beautify your place with these garden plants, you should know about how to care for them. It's not that difficult to take care of this plant. However, if you don't take any care at all, then your plant will die. So, here are some tips.
These plants require warm temperature as they originally belong to the tropical regions. They can be easily grown indoors as well as outdoors in a moderate climate, but only in pots and not in the ground. The ideal temperature for these plants is between 60-85ºF. Take care that you do not place them on windowsills or places where they can be exposed to cold drafts.
While planting, always use a clay pot. The root system of these plants are sensitive, hence, the clay pots allow better aeration of the roots. These plants are succulent, so be careful that there is proper drainage of water. You can do this by placing pebbles at the bottom of the pot and also use light soil containing lots of peat moss, perlite, and sand. Never let water stand in the pots.
Another tip is to leave these plants alone in small pots. You may place them in bigger pots and you will have large sized leaves, but that will not affect the blooming. Each spring, repot your plant and add fresh soil.
This plant loves sunlight and also needs plenty of it to grow. One sign that your plant is getting lots of sunlight is when a reddish outline appears on the leaves. But, avoid direct exposure to sunlight during the summer. The reason is that since the leaves contain a lot of water, direct exposure to the sunrays during summer will lead to a sun tan. However, exposure to the direct rays of sun from the winters till the early spring will not harm your plant.
While watering the plants, remember that they are succulent, which means that they have the ability to store water for a long time like the cactus. Thus, another important tip is to provide enough water only when the soil appears to be dry. But, do not water the plant excessively, as its roots will rot. Also, do not allow the plant to dry out completely, as it will only affect its growth. Do not wet the leaves while watering the plant.
Remove Dead Flowers
When the flowers on your kalanchoe die, remove them and allow the plant to rest. Reduce the amount of water during this time, as the plant needs less of it. Soon, you will see buds appearing and your plant will bloom again. This phase of blooming and resting of the plant will go on throughout the year. There is no particular season when the plant rests or blossoms.
These plants require very little fertilizer to grow. When you buy the plant, make sure that it has had enough supply of fertilizers so that you do not have to worry about it for the next few months.
If your kalanchoes are kept indoors, then you do not have to worry about them contracting any diseases. But if kept outdoor, they are bound to be affected by either spider mites, scale, aphids, etc. When your plants are infected by these insects, you can see them crossing the stems or the undersides of the leaves, the leaves will be torn or bitten, or you might even find the webs of some insects stuck to the plant. Use non-toxic treatments only to get rid of these pests, as these plants are sensitive to some of the ingredients used in chemical insecticides.
Now, if you want to buy a kalanchoe plant or already have one, then just follow the above instructions and your plant will live for a long time.