Kalanchoes are a great houseplant addition for plant owners of any level of experience. Plus, learning how to grow kalanchoes successfully is extremely rewarding!
As a succulent is used to an arid environment, they don’t need much water and are delightfully low maintenance.
Kalanchoe plants are a type of succulent but they have a much longer bloom than other succulents. With a little attention, your kalanchoe can be encouraged to rebloom year after year. Kalanchoes are very laid back when it comes to care routines and only a little specialist knowledge is needed to see them thrive and rebloom annually.
As a devoted succulent owner, I can give you the lowdown on how to care for these easy-going and beautiful succulents. Read on to discover tips and tricks for providing expert kalanchoe plant care.
Table of Contents
- What Are the Light Requirements?
- When Should I Water?
- What Temperature and Humidity Is Best?
- Is a Well-Balanced Soil Required?
- How Can I Fertilize?
- Do I Need to Repot?
- Can I Control Blooming?
- When Is Pruning Ideal?
- How Can I Propagate?
- What Are Some Common Kalanchoe Problems?
- What Are 5 Popular Types of Kalanchoe?
What Are the Light Requirements?
The key to providing good kalanchoe care indoors is to get the light exposure right.
As a native plant of Madagascar, Kalanchoes like bright, indirect sunlight. Anything from full sun to partial shade will help your kalanchoe grow.
A place near an east- or west-facing window is perfect for your kalanchoe in the summer as it will benefit from the soft morning and evening light while avoiding the bright direct light of the afternoon.
A south-facing window is better in the winter when the light is of limited quality and duration.
Avoid putting your kalanchoe in a spot with direct sunlight as this can scorch a kalanchoe’s leaves and will reduce the bloom.
When Should I Water?
A kalanchoe is a perfect plant for anyone who regularly forgets to water their plants.
Kalanchoes require limited water, as long as they get enough light. Missing a watering or two won’t distress your kalanchoe because, as a succulent, its leaves can store water.
Aim to give your kalanchoe a thorough watering every few weeks (and much less often in the winter).
Most importantly, let the top few centimeters of soil dry out completely before watering it again in order to prevent root rot.
What Temperature and Humidity Is Best?
Kalanchoe can be grown indoors or outdoors in warmer climates.
They are not too fussy about temperature, as long as they are kept away from frost. Anything between 12.7°C – 26.6°C (or 55°F – 80°F) will be fine.
Make sure your kalanchoe is not exposed to temperatures below 10°C (or 50°F) as they do not like frost.
In line with their easy-going nature, Kalanchoes are also not fussy about humidity levels. The humidity levels in your home will be fine and they do not require misting.
Other than avoiding frost (which can kill a kalanchoe), there isn’t a need to alter the conditions of your home to help your kalanchoe thrive.
Is a Well-Balanced Soil Required?
As they come from a naturally arid, dry environment, kalanchoes don’t need super nutritious soil.
What they do prefer is sandy, well-draining soil. Opt for a blended mix that won’t retain too much moisture – a 50% potting soil and 50% cactus mix would work well.
Kalanchoes prefer acidic soil at around pH 5.8 – 6.3, but they won’t be too fussy about neutral soil.
When potting your kalanchoe, a clay pot is a good choice as porous materials like clay can help to reduce excess moisture. Always ensure the pot has drainage holes to avoid moisture build-up. Find out more on how to best pot and report a kalanchoe here.
How Can I Fertilize?
As a flowering plant, kalanchoes will benefit from a little fertilizer. But they do not need as much as many other plants.
A fertilizer blend once a month during the spring and summer will help your kalanchoe to flourish. Use a more phosphorus fertilizer if your kalanchoe’s bloom is quite small.
Skip fertilizing your kalanchoe in the winter, but begin using a very diluted fertilizer again as the first buds of the year emerge.
Do I Need to Repot?
Kalanchoes love to be regularly re-potted on an annual basis, as it helps to maintain good drainage. Aim to repot your kalanchoe every autumn after its bloom to encourage more growth until it reaches maturity.
Here is a useful method for repotting your kalanchoe:
- Once the roots are beginning to grow through the bottom of the nursery pot, it is time to repot your kalanchoe. Choose a new pot that is one size bigger. It must have drainage holes to prevent the build up of stagnant water.
- Fill the pot ⅓ of the way with a multi-purpose compost or a houseplant or cactus compost mix. (See more tips about choosing the right soil here.) Adding perlite or horticultural grit to the compost can improve the drainage.
- Add your plant to the pot and fill the pot up with more soil. Make sure the soil covers the roots, then pat it down gently.
- Water your plant well and make sure the excess water can drain away.
Can I Control Blooming?
The most important thing to know about kalanchoe blooms is that light exposure matters. They need six to eight hours of bright (but indirect) sunlight in order to bloom.
Kalanchoes often start their bloom cycle in February, after an important dark winter dormancy period.
Kalanchoe flowers come in a wide range of colors, including yellow, red, orange, pink and white.
As kalanchoes are “short day” plants, they require a period of long nights and short days in the winter in order to rebloom. There is a simple method which you can use to encourage the bloom:
- Give your kalanchoe six weeks of 14-hour nights by putting it in a cupboard or windowless room.
- During this six-week period, water your kalanchoe only sparingly – just when the soil has become very dry.
- After six weeks, return to watering and feeding your kalanchoe as normal.
- It should start to produce new flower buds after eight weeks.
After this period of prolonged nighttime darkness, the colorful spring bloom will last for several weeks. If the light exposure is right, they can rebloom throughout most of the year.
When Is Pruning Ideal?
Pruning back the stems with sharp, clean scissors or clippers can help to encourage a large bloom and keep your kalanchoe looking its best.
Deadheading the flowers once the bloom has gone over can also encourage repeat flowering. Simply pluck off the dead flowers and add them to your compost bin!
How Can I Propagate?
You might be wondering how to propagate kalanchoe, and if the process is simple enough for anyone to attempt. Not only is propagating a kalanchoe easy, it can also help the health of the mother plant.
A kalanchoe produces offsets that will take nutrients from the main plant, so propagating these offsets is a good idea.
Follow these simple steps for propagating a kalanchoe with ease:
- Remove an offset from the main plant by cutting the joint with sharp, clean clippers or a knife.
- Let the cutting dry out on a sunny windowsill for a few days or until the cut begins to callus.
- Add a little rooting hormone to the callused end of the cutting.
- Plant the cutting in a sandy mixed soil.
- Place your new plant in bright, indirect light and do not water.
- Allow your plant to develop for a month, then care for it as normal.
Is It Possible to Grow Kalanchoe From Seed?
It is relatively simple to grow a kalanchoe from seed, but because they are slow growing plants it is much quicker to use the offset method above.
If you do wish to grow a kalanchoe from seed, follow this method:
- Sow the seeds on the surface of a porous potting mix in early spring.
- Provide light to help the seeds germinate and do not cover the seeds.
- Increase the humidity by putting the container in a plastic bag for around ten days to help the seeds germinate. Or you could use a humidifier – see our helpful guide on choosing the perfect houseplant-friendly humidifier.
- After two months, transplant the seedlings into individual pots and care for them as normal.
What Are Some Common Kalanchoe Problems?
Kalanchoes are hardy little plants that don’t tend to suffer from the problems faced by other houseplants.
Spider mites, mealybugs and powdery mildew could become an issue, but even these rarely affect kalanchoes.
Most problems kalanchoes face come from incorrect watering or extreme temperatures.
Burned or Faded Leaves
Brown patches on the leaves are usually caused by too much direct light. But you don’t need to worry about the leaves turning red in the sun, as this is natural and isn’t a sign of sunburn.
When the leaves start to lose their glossy green color, this indicates that there is not enough light.
The light exposure kalanchoes experience is important for maintaining their beauty. Move your plant away from any direct sunlight if the leaves are going brown. If the leaves are fading in color, move it to a spot with more bright, indirect sunlight.
Damaged Blooms and Leaves
Damaged leaves and reduced blooms can be a sign that your kalanchoe has had a near-death experience due to low temperatures.
Keep your plant in temperatures above 10°C (or 50°F) to protect it. Kalanchoes will not appreciate exposure to frost.
The wilting or drooping of a kalanchoe’s leaves can suggest that the temperature is too high for it to prosper.
Ensure the temperature does not reach above 26.6°C (or 80°F) to stop the leaves wilting. Also check for any cold draughts as kalanchoes do not like extreme temperature variations or shocks.
Wilting can also be a sign of under-watering so make sure to check in on your kalanchoe a little more often and water it once the top few centimeters of soil are dry.
A soft, fragile stem can be a sign of dangerous over-watering, which can lead to stem rot and root rot. This can kill the plant.
Remove the affected areas and allow all the soil to dry out completely before watering it again.
When you are back on your regular watering schedule, make sure to only water your plant when the top few centimeters of soil are completely dry.
Opt for a soil that encourages drainage and a pot that has drainage holes to let excess water flow out. Check out kalanchoe soil recommendations here.
Failure to Bloom / Short Flowering Time
Kalanchoes can be encouraged to rebloom but will need a lengthy period of winter darkness to reset its bloom cycle.
Keep your kalanchoe in a dark cupboard or windowless room for six weeks in the winter to create a 14-hour nighttime period. See the tips on encouraging your kalanchoe to rebloom for more information.
What Are 5 Popular Types of Kalanchoe?
Kalanchoe flowers come in a wide variety of colors from vibrant oranges and reds to pretty pinks and pure white. They also boast structurally interesting scallop-shaped leaves.
There are over 100 types of kalanchoe succulents, but on average they grow to between 15cm – 45cm. They are relatively slow growing and will reach maturity in around two to five years.
All varieties of kalanchoe can be toxic to pets, so be careful where you place yours.
Some common houseplant varieties of kalanchoe include:
Flaming katy ”Kalanchoe blossfeldiana”: The most common type of kalanchoe houseplant. They bloom almost all year round in a variety of colors, including red, pink, orange, yellow and white and can grow to around 40cm.
Dwarf kalanchoe “Kalanchoe pumila”: A small type which grows to around 20cm and has powdery-white leaves.
Beach bells “Kalanchoe manginii”: This variety has fleshy spoon-shaped leaves and large bell-shaped flowers that need moist air to flower for a longer period.
Paddle Plant “Kalanchoe thyrsiflora”: A bushy kalanchoe with red-edged paddle-like leaves which grow in a rosette. This variety grows to around 50cm.
Velvet elephant ear “Kalanchoe beharensis”: It has large silver-green leaves that feel soft like velvet and can grow small green-yellow flowers.
Kalanchoe Care Is Low Maintenance
Kalanchoes are very low maintenance and come in many beautiful varieties. They are easy-going enough for even a novice houseplant owner and are very forgiving if you forget to water them. Kalanchoe are also one of the most resilient houseplants as many common problems, from houseplant critters to under-watering wilt, will only very rarely affect kalanchoe.
Key things to remember:
- Keep your kalanchoe in a bright, sunny spot.
- Do not water your kalanchoe until the top few centimeters of soil have dried out.
- Give your kalanchoe a prolonged period of winter darkness to encourage a rebloom.
Kalanchoes Are a Rainbow in Your Home
After growing this beautiful houseplant, what’s next? We recommend learning about MORE houseplants by checking out one of the articles below. Or head on over to our houseplant tip headquarters to choose a plant that really tickles your fancy. Ready to get growing? Check out the most necessary gear you’ll need for a successful growing season all year long.
Comment below or let us know your thoughts and feedback here. Flowers are our JAM!