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Kalanchoe blossfeldiana

Few succulents are grown more for their flowers than their foliage, but this is a major exception. Christmas kalanchoe flowers massively, with clusters of small single or double flowers (the latter look like small roses!) which sometimes almost entirely cover the foliage. They come in a wide range of colors: red, orange, pink, purple, white or bicolour and flowering can last two months and more. After flowering, cut the plant back by a third and let the foliage take over: the leaves are fleshy and dark green edged in rounded teeth. The plant forms a small, succulent, well-branched shrub, rarely more than 30 cm in height and diameter.

Once offered only during the holiday season (hence the name Christmas kalanchoe), this plant is now available in full bloom all year round.

Light

While the Christmas kalanchoe tolerates medium lighting, it only really thrives under intense lighting, with as much sun as you can give it, so a location very close to a window facing south or west is best. It needs short days (less than 12 hours a day of sunlight) in the fall in order to bloom: keep the plant away from artificial lighting in the evening at that time of the year.

Watering

It’s a true succulent and likes to be allowed to dry out between waterings. In fact, it’s extremely drought tolerant and therefore makes an excellent choice for owners who travel regularly and just aren’t around to water regularly.

Fertilization

Apply an all-purpose or cactus and succulent fertilizer in spring and summer.
Temperature: Kalanchoe tolerates both hot and cool temperatures, easily adapting to any conditions it’s likely to encounter indoors. Minimum: 7 °C (45 °F). It will appreciate a summer in the sun on the patio or balcony.

Humidity

Tolerant of dry air.

Repotting

Repot young specimens annually; mature plants, every 3 years. Prefer a cactus and succulent potting mix.

Propagation

5 to 8 cm (2 to 3 in) stem cuttings root readily. Insert them into dry soil: don’t start watering regularly until you see new leaves appear.

Toxicity

This plant is toxic to humans, dogs and cats.

Further Information

Weak stems that require staking indicate a lack of light. Give the plant intense light if possible. If not, cutting the plant back from time to time will stimulate a denser, more robust appearance.