How to Grow Kalanchoe

Updated on January 11, 2017
OldRoses profile image

Caren White is a Master Gardener and instructor at Home Gardeners School. She has been associated with Rutgers Gardens for over a decade.

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Does your house look empty and dull after you clear away the holiday decorations? Then you need at least one kalanchoe plant! Like poinsettias, they are light sensitive, needing 16 to 18 hours of continuous darkness before they bloom. Long winter nights are perfect for coaxing them to bud and then burst into colorful bloom in January as the days start to get longer.

What’s a kalanchoe?

Kalanchoes are succulents that are native to the island of Madagascar. Their leaves are slightly thickened and waxy to conserve moisture in an arid environment. The plants can be grown outdoors in growing zones 7 through 11. They are very sensitive to the cold, preferring temperatures ranging from 60 to 85 degrees Farenheit. Grow them in partial shade. Full sunlight will burn their leaves.

In colder climates, kalanchoes can be grown as houseplants, either indoors entirely, or brought outdoors during the summers only. Indoors, grow them on a sunny windowsill. If your plant gets long and spindly, it’s not getting enough light. Move it to a sunnier spot or provide artificial light.

How do I take care of it?

Give it well-drained soil and only water when the top of the soil dries out. Soil that is too wet will cause the roots to rot. Fertilize monthly with any houseplant fertilizer.

With just a little care, you will be rewarded with years of vibrant four petal flowers in red, pink, white, yellow or orange. There are even double varieties available. My kalanchoe is nearly ten years old. It delights me every year with bright pink flowers.

After your plant finishes blooming, clip off the dead flower stalks and any other dead foliage. Allow it to rest, with no fertilizer, for a few months until it starts growing again. When you see new growth, you can resume fertilizing.

How do I make it bloom?

Kalanchoes are light sensitive. They need 16 to 18 hours of complete darkness to set their buds and then begin blooming. Grow them in a room that is dark at night, with no artificial light. A family room where you watch TV in the evenings is not suitable. A rarely used guest room would be a good spot.

I grow mine in my home office. Since I work from home, I leave my office between 5 pm and 6 pm each day. No lights are turned on in the room after I leave. The long hours of winter darkness are just what my plant needs. Each January, it bursts into bloom.

If you don’t have a room that is completely dark at night, you can put your plant in a windowless closet at night to provide the complete darkness that it needs. Just remember to take it out of the closet in the morning!

Can I make more?

It’s easy to root cuttings from your kalanchoe. Snip off a branch that is not flowering. Remove any leaves on the lower 2 inches. Make sure that there are at least 2 pairs of leaves left. Leave the cutting out for a few days to allow it to “callous” which means that the cut end will dry out. Once it has dried, you can dip it in rooting hormone if you have it and then gently push it into the soil of a pot. Moisten the soil and then cover the pot with a plastic bag that has some slits cut into it. The plastic bag will provide a humid environment for your cutting. Place the plastic covered pot on a sunny windowsill, checking the soil periodically to make sure that it remains moist. Roots should start growing in 2 to 3 weeks.

Chase away those winter blues with the brightly blooming kalanchoe. Or two or three!

Questions & Answers

    © 2017 Caren White

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      • OldRoses profile imageAUTHOR

        Caren White 

        5 months ago from Franklin Park, NJ

        No it doesn't make it less healthy but it does make it non-organic. If you wish to maintain organic standards, you need to use a natural rooting hormone such as willow bark extract.

      • profile image

        Abril 

        5 months ago

        Hi, I would like to know if adding rooting hormones does it make it less healthy to eat these leaves later??

      • profile image

        angela pecchia 

        21 months ago

        thanks for the help :)

      • OldRoses profile imageAUTHOR

        Caren White 

        21 months ago from Franklin Park, NJ

        It's a question of hours of darkness rather than age that determines when your kalanchoe will bloom. Make sure that it is in complete darkness for at least 16 hours each night. Mine is in a room that I only use during the day. There are no lights on at night.

      • profile image

        angela 

        21 months ago

        hi! I started kalanchoe plants from cuttings and they are about 10" tall but haven't flowered yet. they are about 5 months old. i was just wondering if you knew how old they are when they start flowering?

      • OldRoses profile imageAUTHOR

        Caren White 

        22 months ago from Franklin Park, NJ

        Hope this helps! Thanks for reading and commenting.

      • The Dirt Farmer profile image

        Jill Spencer 

        22 months ago from United States

        Thanks for these tips, Old Roses. I have several kalanchoe-- they are hard to resist at the grocery store!-- and have been wondering how to make them bloom more. Best, Jill

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