What Is a Kalanchoe?
by Lynn KirkJul 10, 2021
A kalanchoe delivers the tropics to your home! All of its 120 species tend to vary in form, flowering, color, and appeal — making it just as magical as its native homelands of Madagascar and tropical Africa.
HOW DO YOU PRONOUNCE KALANCHOE?
Some dictionaries list up to 16 different ways to pronounce kalanchoe, but here are the top four:
Pronunciation preference varies by country, region, and even grower, so it’s probably best to just ask!
WHAT IS A KALANCHOE?
A kalanchoe can be categorized in several ways:
- Succulent plant … its plump leaves store water for use during drought.
- Deciduous plant … its leaves drop in winter and the plant goes dormant.
- Perennial plant … it tends to return each spring in proper growing conditions.
- Compact plant … its form stays centered and tends to require little space.
HOW DO YOU PROPAGATE KALANCHOE?
Buy one kalanchoe, and you’ll surely want more! You can order assorted varieties from domestic growers. Or, add to your collection through propagation, which involves cutting stems to 2 ½ inches long, removing those stems’ lower leaves, and planting them in succulent soil. You also can root the kalanchoe stems in water, but root rot is possible.
HOW DO YOU USE KALANCHOE?
The kalanchoe is a garden great for plant-hardiness zones 10 to 12, where it is used as a ground cover and to jazz up rock gardens. Other zones? It’s best to keep the succulent indoors since it probably won’t survive winter.
WHAT MAKES KALANCHOE UNIQUE?
The leaves are worth a closer look since tiny babes (plantlets) grow along the edges. The flowers, just like those in the tropics, are colorfully hued orange-reds, pinks, and yellows. The flowers’ vibrancy makes up for their tiny size.
Remarkably, the kalanchoe plant can consumed by humans (though this practice is not recommended by Succulent Market unless you know what you’re doing). Extracts from its leaves can be infused for tea or juice. Some claim that kalanchoe works as an anti-inflammatory, muscle relaxer, and fever reducer.
IS KALANCHOE POISONOUS TO PETS?
Kalanchoe, regardless of the species, is toxic to cats, dogs, and birds. Ingestion can cause gastric discomfort or worse, so keep plants out of reach!
WHAT ARE THE KALANCHOE’S OTHER NAMES?
Kalanchoe will answer to lots of names, depending on the species and region:
- Devil's backbone
- Flaming Katy
- Christmas kalanchoe
- Madagascar widow's-thrill
- Good luck plant … which we hope will be true for you when you order your own kalanchoes from Succulent Market -- a 50-year domestic grower of succulent plants.
Watch for a related blog later this month: HOW TO CARE FOR A KALANCHOE.