If you want to grow a beautiful flowering perennial succulent, kalanchoe can make a lovely addition to your indoor or outdoor garden.
Many people do not realize that kalanchoes can bloom every year. But with the right care, they can. In this guide, we will teach you how you can enjoy your kalanchoe flowers year after year. You can skip to any section you want using the advanced jump below, or read on for our full guide to growing kalanchoes.
- What Are Kalanchoes?
- Kalanchoe Basics
- Where Do Kalanchoes Grow?
- Why Grow Kalanchoes?
- When Do Kalanchoes Bloom?
- How Long Do Kalanchoes Bloom?
- When to Plant Kalanchoes
- Ideal Growing Conditions for Kalanchoes
- How to Plant Kalanchoes
- How to Propagate Kalanchoes
- How to Care for Kalanchoes
- Recommended Planting Combinations for Kalanchoe
- Kalanchoe Landscaping Ideas
- Recommended Kalanchoe Varieties
- Frequently Asked Questions About Growing Kalanchoes
- Where to Buy Kalanchoes
What Are Kalanchoes?
Kalanchoe is the name of a genus of succulents that are part of the stonecrop family. There are around 125 species in this genus.
This plant has a few different nicknames, including “Flaming Katy” and “Widow’s-thrill.” It produces vibrant flowers in a range of exquisite hues.
Many people are under the impression that these flowering plants are annuals. But in truth, the majority of them are perennials.
The reason so many assume otherwise is because kalanchoe can only be grown outdoors year-round in zones 10-12. In colder climate zones, winter is too much for these plants to handle, and they die.
Some sources suggest that it is possible to keep this plant outdoors year-round in zone 9 as well. The University of Wisconsin-Madison explains, “The plants can survive temperatures to the mid-20ºFs, but the leaves will be damaged at about 30ªF, so outside of zones 9-10 it is best to bring the plants inside when frost threatens (unless grown as a seasonal annual that is not intended to survive the winter).”
So, unless you live in zones 10-12, you are going to want to plant kalanchoes in containers. That way, you can overwinter them.
Fun Fact: In 1979, a kalanchoe plant was sent to the Soviet space station Salyut 1, making it one of the first terrestrial plants ever go to space.
|Most of the year
|Up to 12 inches
|Full to partial
Where Do Kalanchoes Grow?
Kalanchoe plants are native to Madagascar and tropical regions of Africa. They are widely cultivated as houseplants around the world and may also be grown outdoors year-round in hot enough climates.
Why Grow Kalanchoes?
• This flower exerts a strong draw on pollinators such as butterflies, birds, and bees, all of whom may stop by your garden to sample its nectar.
• The bloom period for this plant can be especially long with the right care and conditions. In fact, you may be able to enjoy blossoms for most of every year.
• Kalanchoe are deer-resistant to a point, though not completely immune from being eaten.
• There are many beautiful types of kalanchoe plants that produce clusters of flowers in different hues. You can find exactly what you need to create any look you want in your indoor or outdoor garden.
• Kalanchoe is a no-fuss houseplant that requires minimal care and maintenance. Many people feel that having a kalanchoe plant in their home helps them to purify their air and feel healthier and happier.
• Propagating kalanchoe is easy. You can do so using kalanchoe cuttings or seeds, or you can divide these low-maintenance plants.
• If you are into Feng Shui, you can use kalanchoe to create a more harmonious flow of energy in your home and in your life.
• Even outside of their bloom times, kalanchoes are beautiful. Their succulent foliage has lasting appeal throughout the year. Indeed, some cultivars are as desirable for their foliage as they are for their blooms. You will be surprised by the sheer variety out there; some kalanchoe pants look so dissimilar from one another that if you did not know better, you would not even think they were related, much less all part of the same genus.
• Kalanchoe plants make lovely gifts. And since you can propagate them so easily, they can make cost-effective ones as well.
When Do Kalanchoes Bloom?
Kalanchoes often bloom from late winter through late spring. But sometimes, they may bloom for much longer than that.
How Long Do Kalanchoes Bloom?
Kalanchoes kept in ideal conditions may bloom for 6 months or longer, sometimes even the majority of the year.
When to Plant Kalanchoes
If you are planting kalanchoes outdoors, we are guessing you are in a climate zone where the temperatures are safe for them year-round, so you can probably plant them anytime you like.
If your climate occasionally dips a bit lower at night than these plants would like but is otherwise suited to them, you might want to wait until that is not happening anymore and then plant them (so, for example, in spring).
Ideal Growing Conditions for Kalanchoes
For this ornamental succulent plant to do well, it needs suitable sun and soil conditions, plus the right amount of water. Below, we go over the exact requirements of kalanchoe so you can grow it successfully.
How Much Sun Do Kalanchoes Need?
You might assume that full sun is best for kalanchoes, but this is not necessarily the case. If you plant them outdoors, a sunny spot with afternoon shade is ideal, rather than a spot that receives nothing but direct sun all day.
Indoors, you want to give your kalanchoe indirect sunlight if you can. The direct sun can be too intense, but it still needs an abundance of light to flourish.
Now, while that is true the majority of the time, during part of the year, you will need to move your kalanchoe to a dark location for 14 hours a day. By doing this, you will be able to get your kalanchoe to re-bloom. Check the FAQ for more details.
What Type of Soil is Right for Kalanchoes?
When planting kalanchoe in containers, you need a well-draining soil mix. A balance of 40% perlite and 60% peat moss works great.
If you will grow your kalanchoe directly in the ground, the best soil is sandy and drains well.
How Much Water Do Kalanchoes Need?
Now let’s go over the ideal watering conditions for kalanchoes. You are used to keeping soil moist for most of your plants, but kalanchoe do not want that. They need plenty of time between waterings.
How much time? In most cases, it is between 2-3 weeks. The best way to know if your kalanchoe needs water is to push your finger 2 inches into the soil. Is it dry? Then it is time to water. If it is not, then keep waiting. Note that in this case, dry means dry.
How to Plant Kalanchoes
When planting kalanchoes, you will usually be using a starter plant from a nursery rather than seeds. Let’s explain how to plant them in your flower beds or in pots.
We only recommend you plant kalanchoe in the ground if you plan to keep your plant outdoors year-round. If your climate zone is too cold for that, definitely plant your kalanchoe in a container instead.
1. Find a spot in your garden that features sandy, well-drained soil and plenty of sun.
2. Dig holes for the kalanchoes that are spaced apart 8-10 inches.
3. Plant the kalanchoes.
4. Backfill the soil.
5. Water deeply.
The majority of gardeners are going to want to plant kalanchoes in pots. That way, you can bring these plants indoors during winter so they survive until the next spring. Here are the instructions.
1. Pick out a suitable container. Kalanchoes need enough room so that they are not root-bound, but it is important that they do not have too much room.
To select the right container size, start by measuring the root ball. Then, add 2 inches to that width. That should be the width of your pot. Add drainage holes to the pot if it does not have them already.
2. Add potting mix to the container. You should use a mix that is suitable for succulents. That means it needs to drain very effectively. A good mixture is around 40% perlite and about 60% peat moss.
3. Now, it is time to take the kalanchoe out of the container in which it arrived. Do this carefully so that you do not harm the roots.
4. Transfer the kalanchoe to the container you picked out for it.
5. Finish filling in the potting mix around the kalanchoe. Gently tamp down the potting mix.
6. The last step is simply to water the kalanchoe well. Then, find a spot for your plant to flourish.
How to Propagate Kalanchoes
There are several options for propagating these perennial succulents: from seeds, cuttings, or divisions. Let’s explain how to do each.
Starting Kalanchoes from Seed
Follow these directions to grow kalanchoes from seeds in early spring:
1. Grab some small containers with drainage holes, and fill them with potting mix.
2. Get the potting mix moist, allowing the excess water to drain.
3. Sow the kalanchoe seeds on the surface of the potting mix. They require sun in order to germinate, so do not cover them.
4. Put a plastic lid or wrap over the top of the container. Whatever you use needs to be clear so that it can let the sunlight through.
5. Over the next 10 days, check on the seeds and moisten the potting mix as needed. Once that period of time elapses, they should germinate.
6. Remove the lid from the container so that the seedlings can grow upwards unobstructed. Continue to moisten the potting mix as needed, giving them an additional two months to grow.
7. If you plan to keep the kalanchoes indoors, transplant them into the container where they will live and place them where you will be keeping them throughout the year.
If you want to put them outdoors, harden them by bringing them outdoors for progressively longer time periods so they have a chance to adjust. Then, transplant them into your outdoor containers or your garden beds.
Starting Kalanchoes from Cuttings
One awesome thing about kalanchoe is that this plant is extremely easy to propagate from cuttings. The instructions are as follows:
1. Remove a leaf from the kalanchoe plant.
2. Set the leaf somewhere it can dry. Wait a couple of days.
3. Grab a container and fill it with dry potting mix.
4. Place the leaf inside the potting mix.
5. Monitor the leaf. Over time, you should spot fresh growth. Eventually, the plant will grow roots.
6. Once the roots have formed, water the new plant.
7. Keep caring for the new kalanchoe, and when you are ready, you can transfer it to its permanent home.
As you can see, these instructions for propagating kalanchoes from cuttings are a little bit different from those for propagating most perennials from cuttings. This is because kalanchoes are succulents, and most of the flowering perennials we talk about on this site are not.
How to Divide Kalanchoes
You may be able to divide your kalanchoes, especially if you have one of the species that produces more than one stem.
1. If the kalanchoe is in the ground, you will need to use a trowel to dig down in a circle around it and then push underneath the root ball to remove it from the ground.
If it is in a pot, you can simply remove it from the container.
2. Carefully wipe away the extra dirt so that you can see better.
3. Cut the plant into your divisions.
4. Dig holes and plant the divisions (or plant them in new containers).
5. Backfill the soil and water well.
How to Care for Kalanchoes
Knowing how to plant and propagate kalanchoe gives you a start on growing these plants, but you also need to know how to maintain these succulents. Below, learn about fertilizing, mulching, staking, and pruning requirements for kalanchoe.
How to Fertilize Kalanchoes
Fertilizing kalanchoe plants can be helpful, so long as you do not overdo it. These plants can easily be burned by too much fertilizer.
So, if you are growing them outdoors, you should just fertilize them once in spring. Indeed, you might just want to use compost and skip using a commercial fertilizer.
What if you are growing them indoors? Then you will want to use houseplant fertilizer, and you can be a bit more generous about it. You should still apply it lightly, but you can do it every month throughout spring and summer. Do not fertilize these plants in autumn or winter.
How to Mulch Kalanchoes
We have seen some people say to mulch kalanchoes, and others not. The best practices depend on where you live, what type of kalanchoe you are growing, and whether you intend to leave it outdoors all year or not.
The University of Wisconsin-Madison says, “Leave the soil around the plant bare or use a gravel mulch instead of an organic mulch that will hold moisture. Water when dry, but avoid overwatering. It is well suited to container culture, which in the Midwest makes it easier to move indoors to keep over the winter.”
Mulch may be especially helpful if you intend to leave kalanchoe outdoors during winter. Perhaps your climate is right on the fringe of acceptable, and some nights dip a bit lower than is ideal. In those cases, the insulation provided by the mulch will help to protect the roots.
How to Stake Kalanchoes
Shorter kalanchoes may not require staking, but some taller types of kalanchoes can. You can use garden ties or twine to loosely attach them to bamboo stakes to give them the extra support they need.
How to Prune Kalanchoes
Kalanchoes do require some pruning throughout the year to maintain their appearance and encourage blooming. Let’s go over what you need to know about deadheading them and trimming them back.
How to Deadhead Kalanchoes
For kalanchoes to continue to bloom profusely for as long as possible during the year, they need to be deadheaded. That means removing the spent blooms so that the plant can put its energy toward producing new ones.
Pinching off kalanchoe blooms is easy to do by hand, but you can also use sanitized scissors if you prefer.
When to Cut Back Kalanchoes
Some additional trimming may be necessary both during the growing season and outside of it. Kalanchoes sometimes end up with dead or damaged stems or leaves that need to be removed. Plus, sometimes these plants can become leggy-looking or start getting too large. When that happens, you can trim back the stems. Just make sure you are doing it above a leaf node.
How to Overwinter Kalanchoes
Since most people in the US don’t live in zones 10-12, chances are good you will need to overwinter your kalanchoe plants.
You have two options. Either:
1-Keep kalanchoe indoors as a houseplant year-round.
2-Keep kalanchoe outdoors during the growing season, but bring it indoors during winter.
The ideal temperature for kalanchoe is anywhere from 65 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. So, even if your house gets to be rather cool during winter, it should do fine.
And actually, kalanchoe will be okay even if your temperatures drop briefly to 45 degrees Fahrenheit now and again.
When the weather warms up again in spring, you can consider bringing kalanchoe back outdoors. Just make sure that nighttime temperatures are not dipping much below 65 degrees Fahrenheit first.
Are Kalanchoes Vulnerable to Diseases or Pests?
How likely your kalanchoes are to be attacked by pests or diseases depends on where you are growing them and how you are caring for them. If they are indoors year-round, they are relatively sheltered and being kept in predictable, steady conditions. So, they are not all that likely to come down with problems. But if they are outdoors for much or all of the year, issues become more likely.
Some diseases that kalanchoe may get include crown rot, heart rot, root rot, soft rot, scabs, sun-scald, leaf spots, nematodes, and powdery mildew.
You will notice how many of these issues involve rot. Prevent rot by ensuring that there isn’t any standing water in your pots and that you are not overwatering.
Clemson Cooperative Extension Home & Garden Information Center writes, “Powdery mildew is another possible disease problem for kalanchoe. Powdery mildew can be difficult to recognize on kalanchoe because only fine webbing will develop. Leaves may be mottled and have yellow spotting, dead flecks, line or ring spot patterns. Plants may be stunted and not flower. To prevent powdery mildew allow for plenty of air flow around plant material. Potassium bicarbonate, such as Bonide Remedy, can be used on kalanchoe to help control powdery mildew.”
Insect pests that can harass kalanchoe include aphids, mealybugs, and brown scales. Slugs and snails also sometimes eat kalanchoe. Naturally, this is likely to be a much bigger problem outdoors than indoors.
Are kalanchoe deer-resistant? To a point, yes. But particularly stubborn or hungry deer, as well as particularly dedicated rabbits, do sometimes eat kalanchoe. Yes, it can make them very sick, but they still may make an attempt.
Recommended Planting Combinations for Kalanchoe
What are some plants that are happy with kalanchoe? Here are a few companion planting ideas:
• Aloe: As kalanchoe is a succulent, other succulents tend to do well alongside it. Among them is aloe vera, which you might enjoy growing for its gel.
• Jade: This popular succulent is also known as a “money plant,” and is another excellent choice for a kalanchoe companion.
• Sedums: Also known as “stonecrop,” sedum is the perfect plant for rock gardens and flourishes well next to kalanchoe. See our Sedum Full Growing Guide to learn how to plant and maintain stonecrop.
Kalanchoe Landscaping Ideas
If you plan to grow kalanchoe outdoors, here are a few ways you can incorporate it into your landscaping:
• Container garden: The most common way to use kalanchoe in landscaping is to plant it in containers which you can set out on your deck or patio or even among the plants in your flower beds. This makes it convenient to bring kalanchoe indoors for the winter and take it back out again the next spring.
• Rock garden: As a succulent, kalanchoe will be very happy growing in a rock garden and can bring some delightful color to your landscape.
• Borders: Like many other plants, kalanchoe can make a lovely border for your flower beds or a garden path or sidewalk.
Recommended Kalanchoe Varieties
If you are ready to bring bright flowers and stunning succulent foliage to your indoor or outdoor garden, you will fall in love with the astonishing variety of kalanchoe cultivars. Here are a few to consider.
• Flower Dust: This cultivar of kalanchoe features pink flowers with a subtle purplish tint. They stand out beautifully against the grayish leaves.
• Pink Mother of Thousands: To understand the name of this cultivar, you will have to look closely at the succulent leaves. They are lined in pink plantlets, each of which looks a bit like a miniature butterfly alighting. You can also find a green version of the Mother of Thousands.
• Dragonfire: It is the fleshy leaves of this cultivar that are the main appeal. Each is green and rimmed in fiery red for a magnificent effect.
• Coral Bells: This plant should not be confused with plants in the genus Heuchera, which also go by the name “coral bells.” It is a type of kalanchoe that produces dainty green leaves and pink bell-shaped flowers. It works beautifully as a hanging plant since it has a trailing growth habit.
• Beach Bells: This cultivar produces green foliage and hanging bell-shaped blooms in reddish and orangey hues.
• Chandelier Plant: Another cultivar that produces bell-shaped blossoms with a reddish hue is this cultivar. As the name suggests, it works best as a hanging plant.
• Kalanchoe Blossfeldiana: If you want to get a type of kalanchoe that will astound you with a profuse abundance of blooms, then you are definitely going to want to check into this variety. It is among the most popular kalanchoes for good reason.
• Penwiper Plant: This unusual type of kalanchoe plant produces green leaves with contrasting spots in dark purple.
• Pink Butterflies: If you like the Mother of Thousands cultivar we shared earlier, you may also delight in Pink Butterflies, which has a similar look. This is a hybrid cultivar of kalanchoe.
• Pies from Heaven: A striking and unusual cultivar, this one produces foliage in a light silvery green color with darker spots. The leaves are densely packed together for a decorative effect.
• Red Pancakes: One of the most dazzling types of kalanchoe you will see is the distinctive cultivar named “Red Pancakes.” This name refers to the large pancake-like succulent leaves, which feature a combination of green and red hues. In fact, the foliage alone is arguably more showy than a lot of flowers you likely have blooming in your garden!
• Common Kalanchoe: Despite the name, this plant is anything but “common.” Its foliage is a mix of pale green, peach, and light pink.
• Queen Jodie: This stately plant is astonishingly elegant with its rose-like pink blooms. The leaves are dark green, providing a dramatic backdrop that really offsets the flowers, making each of them stand out.
• Queen Lindsay: Queen Jodie may be regal, but Queen Lindsay is waiting to usurp the throne. This plant also features green foliage, but this time with spectacular bright yellow blooms.
• Silver Teaspoons: The name of this cultivar is a reference to its delicate leaves, each appealing similar to a silver teaspoon.
• Milky Widow’s Thrill: We don’t have a clue where the name of this cultivar came from; the leaves are bright green and feature serrated, darker edges. It produces blooms in orange with a bell shape.
• Kalanchoe Humilis: The large green leaves of this variety of kalanchoe feature patterns in dark purple for an eye-catching effect.
• Dwarf Velvet Elephant Ear: This cultivar’s name is a reference to the surprising fuzzy texture of its leaves.
• Simone: For dense white flowers, consider planting the gorgeous “Simone” cultivar. They grow so close together that they will appear like a blanket of snow.
• Elk Antlers: The name for this cultivar is derived from the shape of its long, thin, serrated leaves, which look a bit like antlers.
• Copper Spoons: You guessed it—the leaves of this cultivar of kalanchoe look a bit like spoons made of copper.
• Tugela Cliff: Consider planting this cultivar of kalanchoe if you want beautiful yellow flowers.
• Christmas Tree Plant: This peculiar kalanchoe cultivar grows upright with very thin foliage. The shape of the plant is similar to a Christmas tree.
Frequently Asked Questions About Growing Kalanchoes
Let’s answer a few questions you might have about kalanchoe plants.
Insects, slugs, snails, and occasionally mammals may all eat kalanchoe.
As best we can tell, the word “kalanchoe” is derived from “Kalan Chau,” which is Chinese for “that which falls and grows.”
Many people believe that the kalanchoe plant summons luck and prosperity. So, if you are practicing Feng Shui, you might consider planting it in your wealth corner.
Well, first of all, double-check the conditions your plant is living in. Are they ideal? If they are not, simply making some adjustments could get your plant out of its funk.
There is also a trick you can use involving light and darkness. Miracle Gro explains, “A kalanchoe plant is like amaryllis in that it needs at least 14 hours of darkness for 6 weeks straight to trigger flowering. Stick it in a closet or cabinet overnight (from 6 PM to 8 AM) and cut back on watering and feeding during this time. After 6 weeks, you should see the beginnings of colorful blooms. At that point, you can start leaving your kalanchoe out at night again.”
Whether kalanchoe is invasive or not depends on where you live and what type of kalanchoe it is.
The University of Florida writes, “Many species of Kalanchoe have been distributed globally via horticulture, as popular container and landscape plants, and a number of them have escaped cultivation and becoming invasive in many areas. There are ~7 species of Kalanchoe reported outside of cultivation in Florida, with 2 being documented as becoming problematic and both listed as FISC Category II: Kalanchoe pinnata (Cathedral bells) and Kalanchoe x houghtonii (Mother of Millions).”
The site continues, “High reproductive rates and an ability to thrive in dry arid environments have allowed them to invade coastal dune habitats in Florida where they create carpets of plants, crowding out native species.”
So, you should always look up which kalanchoe species are safe versus which ones are invasive for your location before you plant them out in your flower beds.
Of course, you can also take steps to contain them, like deadheading them rather than letting them go to seed. Keeping them indoors as houseplants also is a good way to ensure that invasive species do not spread.
No, you cannot eat kalanchoe leaves. However appealing they might look, they are poisonous. So, do not consume them or allow your children to do so.
Yes, kalanchoe is also toxic to dogs, cats, and other animals. Keep your pets away from this plant.
Kalanchoe plants are mostly perennials, meaning they survive for multiple years and bloom every year. There are some types that are biennials (plants that live for two years) or annuals, however.
If you want to keep your kalanchoe as a perennial, you either 1-need to live in zones 10-12 or 2-need to overwinter your kalanchoe indoors.
Where to Buy Kalanchoes
You can check your local garden center for kalanchoes for sale, but you are bound to find a much larger selection online. Enjoy growing these succulent perennials!