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How to Grow and Care for Kalanchoe

closeup image of small red flowers and buds against succulent green leaves

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With their cheery blooms and shiny leaves, kalanchoes make beautiful houseplants. Also known as flowering kalanchoe, this succulent perennial is native to Madagascar. You'll find potted kalanchoe plants for sale at flower shops, nurseries, and supermarkets.

With colorful flowers in shades of pink, red, orange, purple, green, and white, it's no wonder these beloved houseplants are often given as gifts. Here's what you need to know to grow kalanchoe.

  • Botanical Name: Kalanchoe spp.
  • Common Name: Kalanchoe, flowering kalanchoe, widow's thrill
  • Plant Type: Perennial succulent
  • Mature Size: Up to 12 inches tall
  • Sun Exposure: Full to part sun
  • Soil Type: Sandy, well-drained soil
  • Soil pH: 5.8 - 6.3
  • Toxicity: Toxic to dogs and cats and to humans

Plant Care

While kalanchoes are a pretty low-maintenance family of plants, they do need some basic care to survive and thrive. In terms of water, treat them as you would cacti and succulents.

Allow the top inch of soil to dry out between waterings. These plants store extra water in their fleshy leaves and stems, and too much water will cause root rot and kill your plant. Keep in mind that your plant will need less water in the winter than in summer.

potted plant with tan pot, green leaves and tiny orange flowers on tan counter in front of white floral curtain

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Best Growing Conditions for Kalanchoe

Kalanchoes grow best with lots of bright, indirect light. In warm climates, you can plant them outdoors in full to part sun. Indoors, they'll grow best in a south-facing or west-facing window.

Plant kalanchoes in sandy, well-drained soil like cactus or succulent mix (they are succulents, after all). These plants are able to tolerate temperatures as low as 45 degrees when planted outdoors. But they'll do best (and be most likely to bloom) at temperatures between 65 and 85 degrees.

How to Propagate Kalanchoe

Propagating kalanchoe plants is easy to do with stem cuttings. You'll have the best results in spring or summer when the plant is actively growing. You'll need a healthy mature plant, sharp scissors or pruners, small containers, succulent mix, a clear plastic bag, and optional rooting hormone powder.

  1. Select a healthy stem on the mother plant (avoid stems with flowers). Make a cut just above a leaf node, ensuring that the cutting has at least two leaves and is at least three inches long. Set the cutting aside for a few days to allow the cut end to dry out and callus over.
  2. After the cut has callused over, plant the cutting in a small container of well-moistened succulent soil. If you'd like, you can dip the cut end in rooting hormone powder before planting to encourage faster root growth.
  3. Move the plant to a warm place with bright, indirect light. Keep the soil from drying out by misting it (not the plant) with a spray bottle. You can encourage new growth by placing a clear plastic bag with a few holes in it for ventilation around the plant, creating a humid microclimate.
  4. When you see new growth, remove the bag and care for the plant as usual.

In addition to flowering kalanchoe, this genus includes more than 100 species of succulents, such as devil's backbone (Kalanchoe daigremontiana), fuzzy panda plant (Kalanchoe tomentosa), and paddle plant (Kalanchoe thyrsiflora).

Common Problems With Kalanchoe

Aside from mushy leaves and stems caused by overwatering, kalanchoes have few growing problems. Wilting leaves can indicate frost damage, underwatering, or overwatering. Ensure the plant is away from cold drafts and check the soil moisture.

Brown spots on the leaves can indicate sunburn from too much direct light. If this happens, move the plant a few feet further away from the light source. When bringing plants outside in the spring, be sure to start with just a few hours in the shade each day, gradually increasing the time and brightness when your plants are outside to avoid sunburn.

If your plant is growing etiolated—tall and leggy—that means it isn't getting enough light. Move it to a brighter spot. You can cut back some of the leggy growth and use it to propagate new plants.

Potting and Repotting Kalachoe

To repot kalanchoe, fill a pot one size larger than the current pot halfway with succulent potting mix. Gently remove the plant from its current pot and use your fingers to loosen the soil around the roots.

Place the plant in the new pot and add potting mix, ensuring that the soil line is at the same place it was in the old pot with about one inch between the soil and the edge of the pot. Gently pat down the soil and water the plant so that the soil is well saturated.

How to Get Kalanchoe to Flower

After your flowering kalanchoe has bloomed, you can encourage it to bloom again. In addition to removing spent blossoms and feeding, kalanchoes require several weeks of short periods of daylight before they will rebloom.

About six weeks before you'd like your plant to regrow flowers, place it in a dark spot like a closet or cabinet for 14 hours each day, giving it bright, indirect light for 10 hours each day. Avoid watering or fertilizing the plant during this time. When you see buds begin to form, return it to a spot with regular bright, indirect light and resume watering.


Is Kalachoe easy to care for?

With proper care and the right conditions, kalanchoe plants are low-maintenance and easy to care for.

How long do Kalanchoe plants live?

Kalanchoes can survive for several years with the proper light and soil conditions and routine care.

Can Kalanchoe be grown outdoors?

Kalanchoes can be grown outdoors in warm climates (zones 10-12). In colder regions, it's best to keep them as houseplants or grow them in containers so they can be brought indoors for the winter.