Kalanchoe Blossfeldiana Plant: How to Grow & Care + Common Problems


Kalanchoe, usually called Flaming Katy, Panda Plant, Widow’s Thrill, or Florist Kalanchoe, is the most popular succulent household plant with long-lasting blooms. This succulent perennial was discovered in Madagascar by botanist Robert Blossfeld, hence scientifically called Kalanchoe blossfeldiana. 

Popular as an upright household plant that grows to about 1.5 feet tall and wide. Grown for its ease of care, scallop-shaped leaves and umbels of flower clusters extend above its foliage. In its native habitat, it grows in arid areas and has a long-bloom period compared to other succulents. You can easily find this succulent in nurseries, flower shops, grocery stores, big-box stores, and garden shops. 

Kalanchoe blossfeldiana is available in a diverse range of colors to suit your décor and flower pots- some of them are vibrant shades like pink, red, yellow, and white. In addition, it doesn’t need much watering and maintenance to grow.

It is a slow-growing succulent perennial that takes around two to five years to reach mature size. But once, once it is entirely developed, its flowers tend to bloom repeatedly if the light exposure is controlled correctly. 

This plant can work excellent as an indoor-outdoor potted and patio plant if you have a place with bright light and tend towards a somewhat hands-off gardening approach. 

Note: You need to be careful about where to put it if you’ve curious pets at your home because all parts are toxic to cats and dogs. 

kalanchoe blossfeldiana plant on a patio outdoors

Plant Care at a Glance

Common NameKalanchoe, widow’s thrill, panda plant, flaming Katy, florist Kalanchoe
Scientific NameKalanchoe Blossfeldiana 
Plant TypeSucculent, perennial 
LightBright sunlight
Water Low water requirements
Soil TypeWell-drained, sandy
Native AreaMadagascar
  SafetyAll parts are toxic to pets but non-toxic to humans

Things to Know About Kalanchoe Care

Kalanchoe blossfeldiana is a perfect choice if you want to grow a succulent with some extra beauty. It just needs plenty of sunlight and sandy soil to bloom.

The plant can grow outdoors in a warm climate (about zone 9 and up) and as an indoor plant in lower zones by providing bright direct light and well-drained soil.

Kalanchoe plants are relatively problem-free and well-suited to various temperatures, provided they are not touched by frost.

The bloom cycle of the Kalanchoe plant varies with the climate changes.

It most commonly blooms in late winter to late spring, and this cycle slows down as lighting increases. However, the plant can bloom almost throughout the year as long as you control the light exposure.

The best way for your plant to provide long-lasting and colorful blooms is by giving proper kalanchoe care.

Follow these tips to grow your kalanchoe plant effectively:

  • Choose well-drained or sandy soil.
  • Before watering, make sure the soil is dry from the last time.
  • Put your widow’s plant near a window that can get indirect sunlight.
  • Regulate the temperature to keep your plant blooming.
  • Watch out for common pesticides and use natural pest control to keep them at bay.

Kalanchoe Care

pink flaming katy - kalanchoe blossfeldiana plant
Pink Flaming Katy – Kalanchoe Blossfeldiana Plant

Growing kalanchoe plants can be an excellent choice for houseplant lovers, as they don’t require high expertise.

In addition, you don’t need a green thumb to grow flowering kalanchoes in your home. However, it would help to remember the following things to grow your plant effectively.

Light

The bloom cycle of kalanchoe remains colorful for about six weeks, during which the plant will experience at least 14 hours of darkness each day. The cycle can be maintained almost throughout the year if they get proper exposure to light.

In the case natural light is not adequate, you can use a brighter lamp for supplemental light.

Kalanchoe plants grown indoors prefer to receive natural sunlight that is relatively bright, but they don’t do well in direct sunlight.

Be sure to keep your plants off any hot windows (south-facing) as it can reduce blooming and scorch the leaves. The morning sunlight will help your plant grow better during the blooming season. 

If you have a place that experiences a bit less light and you want to grow a kalanchoe to enhance your home’s beauty, buy it near as full bloom as possible because, at this point, it can tolerate the cooler conditions.

In general, the ideal temperature for the growth of an indoor Kalanchoe plant is about 60 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit (15 to 20 degrees Celsius). In winter, place your plant in the west or south-facing window, and in summer, choose a warm or sunny window (north or east-facing). 

Effects of Insufficient Light Exposure

If your kalanchoe plant is not getting adequate exposure to light, it may experience issues such as;

  • Unbalanced Growth
  • Leaf Drop
  • Pale Foliage
  • Elongated Stems
  • Smaller Bloom Cycle

Water

If you occasionally forget to water your plants, a kalanchoe plant may be a great fit.

This perennial grows in arid areas and requires moderate water to survive. Especially in the winter season, it needs even less watering to grow and bloom.

Avoid pouring water on your plant’s leaves as it can potentially rot them.

Water newly planted kalanchoe plants frequently to keep the soil slightly moist until they are established in the pots. 

Be sure to allow the soil to become completely dry before adding more water to your plant, as it can prevent root rot. That might mean watering your plants every two weeks is sufficient, but this frequency may vary based on your light, temperature, and the size pot your plant is in. 

To water your kalanchoe, move to it a place where overflow will not be a problem and water it deeply with a watering can.

If the texture of your plant soil has become very dry, you may need to submerge the pot to rehydrate the coarse material.

Next, use bottom watering to ensure that roots get the water they need while protecting the leaves from rot. Bottom watering prevents the foliage from getting wet and avoids fungal diseases. 

Symptoms of Overwatering and Underwatering

  • If your plant’s leaves start to appear limp, you might be under-watering.
  • If the leaves begin to rot, you may be overwatering. 

Good water practices ensure that your plant thrives with beautiful flower clusters

Soil

Outdoors, kalanchoe plants grow best in well-drained and well-aerated soil.

Indoor perennials can be planted in soil that does not contain much moisture. It would be acceptable to pot the kalanchoe in a blend that includes 40% perlite and 60% peat, or ½ cactus mix and ½ potting soil.

You can also use a handful of organic compost and sprinkle the top layer with worm compost to plant your panda plant.

Plant in a clay pot to ensure proper drainage and wick the excess moisture from the soil.

Stored potting soil can become extremely dry, causing severe problems to your plant. To avoid any issues, soak your dry potting soil for multiple hours and let the excess moisture drain out before planting. 

Effects of Not Using a Well-Drained Soil

Studies show that if the kalanchoe is not planted in well-drained soil, it can face a soil-born disease-Pythium.

In addition, it can rot the root hairs and tend the lower leaves of your plant to begin to turn yellow. 

Temperature

Temperature and humidity requirements are not as picky as other indoor plants. But maintaining an ideal household environment is very important to grow your widow’s thrill effectively.

Kalanchoe plants are native to tropical and subtropical climates, so they need an outdoor temperature of 55 degrees Fahrenheit or higher to survive.

This hearty plant grows and blooms best in temperatures 65 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit because it is sensitive to cold and requires frost protection. 

If you want to move the plant outdoors during the summer, protect them from direct exposure to intense sunlight. 

Effects of Improper Temperature and Humidity

· Lower temperatures (below 40 degrees Fahrenheit) can kill or damage your panda plant.

· Excessive humidity levels (above 90% on average) can cause leaf drops or damage the flowering structuring of your plant.

Fertilizers

Although Flaming Katy plants are less hungry than other indoor plants, they can benefit from well-balanced fertilizers.

You can feed your plant with a balanced organic fertilizer every month during the spring when it is not flowering. But don’t feed your plant with any fertilizer during the winter (i.e., at the end of September) for about six weeks. Because during this period, kalanchoe goes into a resting stage before blooming.

You can resume fertilization as soon as the first bud on your plant starts appearing. 

If your plant is not flowering properly or flowering is sparse, you can use such fertilizer that contains a higher amount of Phosphorus.

Experts suggest using an organic and well-balanced fertilizer such as 20-20-20 or 20-08-20 formula to provide your plant with additional nutrients.

Types of Kalanchoe

Several unnamed varieties of kalanchoe blossfeidiana can be found in shades of yellow, orange, red, white, and pink. When they’re outside, they’re usually blooming in the spring, but indoors they can bloom almost any time of year.

Other related types that make great houseplants and garden plants:

K. manginii

The leaves are succulent and large, bell-like flowers on the plant. To make the flowers last as long as possible, it needs humidity. It’s sometimes called the Chandalier plant and is hardy in USDA zones 9-11.

K. beharensis

Kalanchoe beharensis plant
Kalanchoe beharensis

Many people love this kalanchoe because it has big, velvety, pale green leaves. Also known as it is hardy in zones 9 to 11.

K. porphyrocalyx

Kalanchoe porphyrocalyx plant in full bloom
Kalanchoe porphyrocalyx

Pearl Bell has slender leaves and purple pendant flowers and is also known as Pearl Bells. It can withstand zones 11 and 12.

K. pinnata

This species is characterized by its fleshy green leaves and bears tiny plantlets along its margins. Also known as cathedral bells, it is hardy in zones 10 and 11.

Lanin Kalanchoe

Langin kalanchoes have dark green leaves and orange blooms.

Kerinci Kalanchoe

The Kerinci plant has dark green leaves and pink flowers.

Queen Jodie Kalanchoe

Its salmon pink, rose-like blooms make it easy to recognize.

Queen Lindsay Kalanchoe

A yellow kalanchoe plant called Queen Lindsay has double blooms.

Simone Kalanchoe

It looks incredible with the deep green foliage and the pure white flowers of Simone.

Kalanchoe: How To Get It To Bloom

  • Kalanchoe plants can bloom indoors all year round with the right care. It’s crucial to get plenty of sunlight for a kalanchoe plant to bloom frequently. Ideally, kalanchoe plants should be placed in a bright place where they get at least 6 to 8 hours of bright light every day.
  • If it’s autumn or winter, the plant should be kept in complete darkness for the rest of the day. It takes at least six weeks for the plant to get enough energy to bloom again after 14 hours of darkness per day.
  • You can also keep flowers blooming by deadheading them once the blooms are fading.
  • Trim blooms at the base of the cluster with a sharp, clean pair of scissors. Even when it’s not blooming, kalanchoe has pretty succulent foliage that looks great with other houseplants.
  • Lower light levels that mimic shorter days will trick your plant into blooming again. Like a Thanksgiving cactus, it’s referred to as a “short-day plant.”
  • The days get shorter in the late fall, so time this with the changing season. Let the plants go without water for about a month. You only need to expose them to 8 or 9 hours of light daily. 
  • You can keep your plant in a closet in total darkness for the rest of the time. If the houseplant starts blooming, move it back to sunny light. If needed, water it again.
  • Try a fertilizer blend high in phosphorus if you’re struggling to make your plant bloom. It will produce more buds next time.

Common Problems With Kalanchoe

If you don’t water them correctly or if they’re exposed to extreme temperatures, the plants can become difficult to grow.

Blooms and Leaves That Are Soft and Damaged

When near-freezing temps hit plants, they often have damaged leaves and stunted blooms. Make sure they’re above 50 degrees Fahrenheit for best results.

Soft, Fragile Stems

Kalanchoes don’t do well when overwatered or planted in moist soil. Root and stem rot can quickly happen with these plants if they get too much water. Keep the plant dry until it recovers if you see this problem starting.

Wilting

Too high temperatures can cause wilted leaves. They should stay below 80 degrees.

Drab or Burned Leaves

It’s vital to expose plants to the right amount of light to keep them in their utmost condition.

They’ll lose their lustrous green look if the leaves don’t get enough light. If they get too much direct sun, they’ll burn.

So the best place to grow kalanchoes indoors is where they get plenty of indirect sunlight but not too much direct sun.

Failure to Bloom

Lack of winter darkness can cause kalanchoes not to bloom because the plant cannot reset its bloom cycle. These plants need a full 14 hours of darkness each night during the winter. If they don’t get a reset period, they don’t bloom again.

Try forcing yours to bloom again if it doesn’t. Like Poinsettias, these plants are photoperiodic, which means they need both light and darkness to thrive. So after blooming, they need at least 12 hours of darkness.

If you have them at home, you can bet they’re in a room that doesn’t get that much darkness. So they need to be in a dark room or closet that gets adequate light during the day.

This needs to be done every night for 6 to 8 weeks. Don’t water too much during this time. Then, once the buds start setting, you can let them go back to normal.

Safety Considerations

When it comes to safety, these succulents are a mixed bag. Kalanchoe plants are great for allergy sufferers since they are low in allergens. But, according to the ASPCA (PDF), cats, dogs, and birds can die from their chemicals.

It’s vital to be cautious when growing houseplants as they can be dangerous if eaten by young children or pets.

FAQ About Kalanchoe Plant Care

Got a question we didn’t answer? Scroll down to learn more.

What’s the life expectancy of kalanchoes?

Like most slow-growing perennial succulents, it can thrive for as long as it gets what it needs. There are a lot of cases of potted kalanchoe plants that are more than a century old.

Can kalanchoes grow in mixed containers?

Kalanchoes are usually planted in containers by themselves, but they also look good in large pots with plants such as aloe and jade. They’re traditionally planted with sedums and creeping plants on a patio.

Do kalanchoes grow indoors or outdoors?

Kalanchoes are great for bright spots, like south-facing windows or sunrooms. When summer comes, you can keep it outdoors on a patio, but bring it in as soon as nighttime temps dip below 40 degrees.

What can I do to make my Kalanchoe bloom again?

For flower buds to grow, it takes six weeks of 14-hour nights. Then it blooms in four months. For temperate regions, spring and fall are perfect times.

Cut wilted flowers in the first bloom period so they don’t waste their energy.

Can you grow kalanchoes indoors?

The kalanchoe is one of the easiest succulents to grow. They love low water and bright light. You’ll need to water the soil at least 1.5 inches deep when it’s dry and feed it when it’s growing.

Do kalanchoe plants need sun?

You need to arrange bright sunlight for kalanchoe plants. They won’t grow or bloom if there isn’t enough indirect light. Read our guide above for more details on lighting.

References

PHOTOPERIODISM: PDF Link