If you’re looking for a pretty and cheerful plant to add to your succulent collection, look no further! The Kalanchoe is an excellent houseplant with green rubbery foliage and bright, long-lasting flower clusters.
With the proper care and environment, these cheerful plants bloom year-round indoors -the secret lies within the light.
The Kalanchoe requires ample bright, indirect light to thrive and continuously bloom. The plant also prefers temperatures of 60 to 85° and well-draining, slightly acidic soil. Water the Kalanchoe once the top 1 or 2 inches of soil dries out, and fertilize it monthly during spring and summer.
Like most succulent plants, the Kalanchoe is a relatively low-maintenance and hands-off species. Focusing on providing the perfect lighting requirements will ensure that your plant produces thriving, year-round blooms.
Here’s how to care for a Kalanchoe plant.
Is Kalanchoe a Succulent?
Kalanchoe plants are tropical perennial succulents often available in florist shops and garden centers. Most of these thick-leaved plants end up as potted houseplants due to their easy culture indoors. However, they can be grown outdoors in areas that mimic their warm and arid native climate.
Home to Madagascar and tropical Africa, these pretty succulents belong to a family of over 100 species. The most common variety is the Kalanchoe blossfeldiana, discovered in Madagascar by Robert Blossfeld. The plant is frequently called flaming Katy, windows thrill, and Christmas Kalanchoe.
Kalanchoes mature between 6 to 18 inches tall and wide when grown indoors. However, these succulents are slow-growers, taking two to five years to reach maturity.
Kalanchoe plants have an exceptionally long bloom period compared to most succulents. Consequently, growers are predominantly drawn to plants for their simplistic growing requirements, attractive scalloped foliage, and continuous flower production (when exposed to the appropriate light exposure).
The plants produce thick leaves and bright starry flower clusters in shades of red, orange, magenta, light pink, yellow, and white. The flowers bloom for around eight weeks, but second blooms can be encouraged with some effort.
Can You Grow Kalanchoe Indoors?
Kalanchoes are best grown indoors. These succulents are suited as houseplants in most climates, but they tend to be fussy when growing outdoors.
Kalanchoes thrive in temperatures between 60 to 85°F, similar to most average home temperatures.
Growing a Kalanchoe plant indoors allows these little sun worshippers to access warm, bright light without the risk of cold winds and icy night-time temperatures. Keep in mind that you’ll want to keep your Kalanchoe far away from drafty windows and doors.
A south-facing window is the best spot, offering bright direct light for long periods. However, a west-facing window will also suffice. Unfortunately, east-and-north-facing windows receive inadequate light to keep these plants flourishing.
Kalanchoe Care: Indoor vs. Outdoor
Whether you should grow your Kalanchoe indoors or outdoors primarily depends on your location and local climate.
Planted outdoors, the Kalanchoe normally only flowers in the spring. However, you can coax indoor plants into blooming nearly year-round.
Here’s a brief comparison of growing Kalanchoe indoors vs. outdoors:
|Light||Bright, indirect sun. Place Kalanchoe plant on a south-facing windowsill. Alternatively, introduce artificial lighting to increase light exposure.||Bright, indirect sun. Plant the Kalanchoe under a tree or shrub to ensure partial shade during the hot afternoons.|
|Soil||Loose, well-draining organic potting soil. Use 1-part succulent mix and 1-part organic potting soil with high sand content.||Well-draining sandy soil.|
|Temperature||Kalanchoes thrive in average household temperatures between 60 to 85°F.||Kalanchoes require warm temperatures between 60 and 85°F. Bring outdoor plants indoors during winter and cold evenings.|
|Water||Water Kalanchoe once the top two inches of soil dry out during spring and summer. Limit watering to every fortnight during winter.||Lightly water the Kalanchoe once the top inch or two soil dries out. Prevent overwatering the plant.|
|Fertilizer||Provide a water-soluble fertilizer once a month during spring and summer.||Fertilize the Kalanchoe once a month during spring and summer with a standard flowering houseplant fertilizer. Switch to a fertilizer with a slightly higher phosphorus concentration if you notice that the flowers are sparse.|
Continue reading for a more descriptive overview of growing Kalanchoe indoors and outdoors.
Growing Kalanchoe Indoors
Here are the indoor requirements for a Kalanchoe plant:
Indoor Kalanchoe Light Requirements
When grown indoors year-round, Kalanchoe plants flourish in bright indirect light throughout most of the year. Therefore, lighting is the most essential factor in ensuring a healthy growing indoor Kalanchoe plant. However, avoid placing the plant in direct sunlight, as it might scorch the foliage and reduce blooming.
Optimally, sunny south-facing windowsills or bright sunrooms provide the ideal light requirements for Kalanchoe succulents. However, they will also tolerate a west-facing window.
If your home lacks a suitable high-light spot for the Kalanchoe, try increasing light exposure by introducing fluorescent tube lighting or incandescent bulbs.
Note: be extra careful not to place an incandescent bulb too close to your Kalanchoe. The generated heat may scorch the plant’s leaves.
Indoor Kalanchoe Soil and Pot Requirements
Kalanchoe plants thrive in loose, well-draining organic potting soil. These plants flourish in containers as long as they have drainage holes to help prevent overwatering.
You can plant your Kalanchoe in a blend of succulent potting mix and potting soil with a high sand content to ensure proper drainage.
Consider planting the Kalanchoe in a clay pot to ensure proper drainage and help wick away excess moisture.
Indoor Kalanchoe Temperature Requirements
Generally, Kalanchoes thrive in temperatures between 60 to 85°F, similar to most average home temperatures. In addition, Kalanchoes aren’t fussy about humidity levels.
Therefore, you’ll have little to no adjustments to make when growing your Kalanchoe indoors.
Indoor Kalanchoe Watering Requirements
Water your Kalanchoe weekly with a small amount of water during spring and summer. Ensure that the top 1-2 inches of soil feel dry before rewatering the Kalanchoe. If the soil feels slightly damp, wait a day or two before watering the plant.
Then, limit your Kalanchoe to a splash of water every fortnight to prevent root rot.
If you water your Kalanchoe by placing a saucer under the potted plant, ensure to empty any sitting water from the saucer to prevent the plant from sitting in soggy conditions.
Indoor Kalanchoe Fertilizer Requirements
Kalanchoe succulents are hardy plants and do not rely on loads of nutrition to thrive. They grow well with a limited fertilizer dose.
Provide the Kalanchoe with a decent water-soluble fertilizer dose twice a year – once in spring and then in summer. Alternatively, apply a smaller, diluted fertilizer dose every month.
Growing Kalanchoe Outdoors
Even though Kalanchoes are mostly grown as houseplants, you can also grow them outdoors in mild winters. These drought-tolerant succulents are great for growing outdoors in warmer climates
Here are the outdoor requirements for a Kalanchoe plant:
Outdoor Kalanchoe Light Requirements
Outdoors, Kalanchoe succulents thrive in a sunny spot that receives bright, indirect sunlight and partial light during the harsh afternoon heat. You can plant the Kalanchoe under a tree or shrub to ensure partial shade.
Avoid planting the Kalanchoe in locations subject to intense sunlight during the midday.
If you live in a cooler climate with harsh winters, consider growing the Kalanchoe as an indoor plant during winter. Then, take back outdoors when temperatures warm up during the late spring or early summer season.
Outdoor Kalanchoe Soil and Pot Requirements
Plant your Kalanchoe outdoors in well-draining sandy soil.
Wait until the frost completely disappears before planting Kalanchoe in your garden.
Outdoor Kalanchoe Temperature Requirements
Kalanchoe plants thrive in tropical and subtropical climates. However, trying to grow them as outdoor garden plants is not ideal if the temperature drops below 55°F. Kalanchoe plants will die if exposed to frost.
These succulents require warm temperatures between 60 and 85°F to ensure healthy growth. So, bring these highly frost-sensitive plants indoors during winters to protect them from frost damage.
The same applies to climates with high day temperatures and cold night temperatures – ensure you bring your plants indoors at night.
Lastly, prevent exposing your Kalanchoes to extremely high temperatures above 90°F to prevent sunburn or sunscald.
Outdoor Kalanchoe Watering Requirements
Kalanchoe plants have thick, fleshy leaves that effectively serve as water reservoirs. In addition, these succulents are relatively drought-tolerant and prefer underwatering to overwatering.
Allow Kalanchoe plant’s soil to dry out between waterings. Then, water the plant lightly once the top inch or two of soil is dry.
Do not overwater the Kalanchoe. The plant does not tolerate soggy soil well – it can cause root rot, ultimately killing the plants.
Outdoor Kalanchoe Fertilizer Requirements
Like most flowering plants, the Kalanchoe will benefit from fertilizer. However, they are generally less hungry than most plants.
Fertilize the Kalanchoe once a month during spring and summer with a standard flowering houseplant fertilizer. Switch to a fertilizer with a slightly higher phosphorus concentration if you notice that the flowers are sparse.
Kalanchoe Growing Conditions
Like most succulents, the Kalanchoe is a low-maintenance and relatively hands-off plant.
Although the Kalanchoe isn’t picky about standard household temperatures and moisture levels, planting the succulent outside is riskier. This is because the Kalanchoe does not tolerate frost; it will die if it comes into contact with frost.
The Kalanchoe thrives in temperatures between 60 and 85°F.
The Kalanchoe prefers plenty of bright indirect sunlight and sandy, well-draining soil when grown outdoors.
As an indoor plant, provide a sunny spot in your home with bright, indirect light, and plant the Kalanchoe in a succulent or cactus mix with sandy potting soil. The potting mix mustn’t retain too much moisture.
The Kalanchoe is ideal for plant lovers who have the bad habit of forgetting to water their plants. This hardy plant will tolerate if you occasionally forget to water it in time. Like all succulents, the Kalanchoe’s leaves are capable of storing water.
The Kalanchoe only requires saturation once the top two inches of soil dry out completely and even less during the winter.
These hardy plants are suited to various temperatures, as long as it doesn’t come in contact with frost.
Providing a regular fertilizer isn’t critical as Kalanchoe succulents are less hungry than most plants. Fertilizing them once per month during spring and summer is sufficient to keep them thriving.
You can prune the Kalanchoe occasionally by pinching back the stems to maintain its shape while promoting robust blooms. In addition, Kalanchoe hates being pot-bound. So, consider repotting the plant annually after it has bloomed to encourage new growth.
How to Grow Kalanchoe Plants
Kalanchoe plants are slow-growing succulents usually grown from cuttings instead of seeds as the cuttings produce faster results. However, they are relatively straightforward to grow from seeds.
As your Kalanchoe matures, it produces offsets that you can propagate and replant in soil comprised of the same mixture as the mother plant.
First, allow the cutting to dry for several days to heal the calloused areas. Then, dip it into the rooting hormone and pop it into the soil. Allow the newly planted cutting to sit in bright, indirect sunlight for a month before watering it like a mature Kalanchoe plant.
If you plan to sow Kalanchoe seeds, ensure you sow them on a porous potting mix in early spring, leaving them uncovered to encourage germination. After around ten days, you can lightly cover the germinated seeds with potting soil. Then, after a month, transplant the seedlings into individual pots.
Kalanchoe Common Problems
Despite Kalanchoe plants being straightforward to grow, problems may arise occasionally.
Here are the most common Kalanchoe problems:
- Soft, damaged foliage: Kalanchoe plants exposed to near-freezing temperatures often experience soft, damaged leaves. Ideally, keep Kalanchoe plants at temperatures above 55°F.
- Soft stems: Overwatering Kalanchoes can easily cause soggy conditions leading to root rot. If your Kalanchoe has soft stems, refrain from watering the plant until it recovers.
- Scorched leaves: Excessive direct sunlight can burn the Kalanchoe leaves. Outdoor plants need protection from the intense midday sun. In comparison, place indoor Kalanchoes in bright, indirect light.
- Wilting: Although Kalanchoe plants tolerate a wide temperature range, intensely high temperatures can cause the leaves to wilt. For best results, keep these plants below 85°F.
- Failure to bloom: If your Kalanchoe fails to produce blooms, it’s usually from a shortage of the much-needed winter darkness the plant needs to bloom continuously.
Kalanchoe Light Requirements
Cheery Kalanchoe plants are sun addicts. These succulents thrive in bright, indirect sunlight near a south-facing window or under a tree.
While the Kalanchoe prefers natural light, you can also increase the plant’s light exposure by adding fluorescent tube lighting or incandescent bulbs. However, you’ll need to be cautious to avoid placing the incandescent bulbs too close to your Kalanchoe, as they can scorch the plant’s leaves.
Suppose your Kalanchoe succulent does not receive sufficient sunlight. In that case, it will naturally start to stretch its stem in search of sunlight, giving it a stretched and leggy appearance. A leggy Kalanchoe will ultimately become weak, and the leaves will start dropping.
Kalanchoe Light Requirements for Blooming
Most people discard their Kalanchoe after it loses its blooms. However, instead of throwing your succulent away, you can trick it into blooming again (even year-round). These plants have particular sunlight requirements to encourage them to bloom again.
Kalanchoe has different light requirements during their normal growth phase and blooming-induced period. This is because kalanchoe plants are light-sensitive and need to receive a specific light and darkness cycle to bloom again.
As previously mentioned, Kalanchoe plants fail to bloom when they do not receive adequate winter darkness to reset their bloom cycle. This is because the Kalanchoe needs shorter days and longer nights during the winter.
The Kalanchoe requires six weeks of complete night-time darkness lasting 14 hours each day. Without this “reset period,” the Kalanchoe will fail to bloom again.
With ample sunlight in spring and summer and 14 hours of night-time darkness in late fall and winter, the Kalanchoe can bloom year-round indoors.
Tip: pop your Kalanchoe in the closet during winter evenings to ensure that the plant receives sufficient darkness to induce the blooming phase.
Deadheading the Kalanchoe flowers once spent is another way to promote continual flowering.
Lastly, a water-soluble fertilizer blend with a phosphorus dose can also help promote extra flower buds during the next flowering cycle.
Once the bloom cycle is set in motion, the Kalanchoe will treat you to bursts of bright flowers from the beginning of spring. These flowers can last several weeks, recurring throughout most of the year if you control the light exposure.
Does a Kalanchoe Need Sun?
Kalanchoes need plenty of sunlight to thrive and produce healthy flower clusters.
The Kalanchoe needs plenty of sunshine during all stages of their life cycle. Sunshine is critical to encouraging chlorophyll production and photosynthesis. If the succulents lack adequate sunlight, they’ll experience stress from inadequate photosynthesis.
These succulents do best in direct sunlight with partial shade during the afternoon. Indoors, they thrive on a south-facing windowsill.
If the succulent does not receive sufficient sunlight, the plant can start growing abnormally. Low-lit conditions are a common culprit of a sick or dying Kalanchoe.
The Kalanchoe’s stem will start growing at an unusual length and angle in search of light – this common phenomenon is known as “etiolation.”
The Kalanchoe can become overstretched, causing its stem to collapse if left untreated. If your home lacks suitable sunlight, move the plant under artificial lights.
Can Kalanchoe Take Full Sun?
Kalanchoe plants thrive in plenty of sunlight and need sufficient sunlight to bloom. However, excessive direct sunlight will have a counter-productive effect – it will scorch the foliage and reduce blooming.
Although Kalanchoes prefer growing in bright sunlight, they cannot tolerate the intense heat from direct sunlight. Kalanchoes protection from full sunlight during the hottest parts of the afternoon.
Excessive exposure to full sunlight will scorch and permanently damage the Kalanchoe plant’s foliage. The damaged leaves cannot store water properly and lose their ability to photosynthesize properly.
A sunburned Kalanchoe will have discolored brown leaves due to tissue death. So, avoid exposing your Kalanchoe to intense direct sunlight for extended periods. Keep your Kalanchoe plants indoors when the weather is too warm to tolerate.
Outdoors, Kalanchoe plants grow best in well-draining, sandy soil. Indoor plants thrive in a blend of loose, well-draining sandy potting soil and succulent mix.
However, you can also use a potting mixture of 60% peat moss and 40% perlite. The mixture will ensure a sufficient balance of drainage and moisture retention.
Do Kalanchoe Like Acidic Soil?
Kalanchoe plants thrive in slightly acidic soil conditions. The ideal soil pH for Kalanchoe succulents ranges from 5.5 to 6.
Use a pH meter to test the Kalanchoe plant’s soil’s acidity or alkalinity. If the soil is too alkaline, make necessary adjustments by adding sphagnum peat moss or acid fertilizer.
You can also amend the Kalanchoe’s soil with a water-soluble acidic fertilizer or iron sulfate.
Kalanchoe Hardiness Zone
Kalanchoe succulents aren’t cold-hardy plants. Instead, these perennials thrive in garden beds and landscaped gardens in USDA zones 10 to 11.
In zones 10 to 11, you can go ahead and plant Kalanchoe in outside gardens with minimal winter protection. The succulents will happily function as perennials.
If you live north of USDA zone 11, the Kalanchoe will grow as a summer annual. In addition, you’ll need to plant the succulents in a pot to ensure that you can bring them in for the winter. The slightest bit of frost can kill the Kalanchoe.
Lastly, keep your plant inside if your climate drops below 50°F.
With the appropriate care, the Kalanchoe can delight us with year-round blooms.
Ensure you plant the succulents in well-draining and slightly acidic potting soil made from 1-part sandy potting mixture and 1-part succulent or cactus mix. Then, remember to provide tons of bright, indirect sunlight to ensure the plants stay healthy.
If you wish for a second bloom, remember that Kalanchoe needs exposure to at least 14 hours of complete darkness for six weeks during winter to encourage new buds.
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.