Nothing breaks a gardener’s heart more than waking up to see one of their plants having a hard time staying alive.
Succulent species, such as the Kalanchoe, may be resilient, but they’re still at risk of their leaves wilting, dropping, or dying.
Because taking care of a Crassulaceae family member can often be difficult, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to list out the most common Kalanchoe diseases that you should look out for.
In this guide, we’ll explain how to classify these various Kalanchoe diseases by going through the popular symptoms and signs of each one.
Let’s get started!
Bacterial Kalanchoe Diseases
Bacterial diseases in Orpines, including Kalanchoe, happen as a result of bacterial pathogens that infect the plant.
Dealing with a bacterial infection is easier than handling a viral one, mainly because bacteria affects only the spaces between cells—as opposed to invading them.
Luckily too, there are clear signs to identifying bacterial Kalanchoe diseases. Some examples are the appearance of galls, leaf spots, soft rots, scabs, specks, and overgrowths.
This section covers three important and prevalent bacterial infections found in Kalanchoe varieties.
Leafy Gall, otherwise known as bacterial fasciation, is primarily found in ornamental Kalanchoe plants.
This pathogen starts near the soil line, particularly around the main stem. It appears in the shape of a witch’s broom or a cauliflower head.
Fasciation clusters are spindly and swollen. Their diameter can be an inch or several long and often appear a normal green color—which can lead to misdiagnosing issues.
A good way to tell if your plant is infected is to look for signs of stunted growth. When flowers don’t blossom and the roots have swollen, the infected parts should be removed and then burned.
Bacterial Soft Rot
Soft rot caused by bacteria is, thankfully, not a huge problem, but it can be if not controlled as soon as possible.
That’s because this bacterial disease affects the fleshy, most important parts of the plant, such as the corms, tubers, bulbs, and succulent buds.
After a while of feeding on your Kalanchoe, the plant turns into a soft mush of rot, hence the name.
The best course of action, in this case, would be to discard the dying planting completely since root rot can’t be reversed. Otherwise, remove the infected parts of the plant to prevent the bacterial soft rot from spreading.
Kalanchoe species are most susceptible to Crown Gall disease. This infection is called as such because the galls appear as crown heads alongside the roots and trunks.
Unfortunately, Crown Gall disease starts with the soil which makes it hard to control. Not only that, but it also feeds off the plant’s vital nutrients.
In other words, there’s no actual cure for Crown Gall, especially if there are numerous galls already spread all over the plant.
Exposing the plant to heat might reduce the gall spreading, but eventually it’ll wilt the Kalanchoe leaves. Simply put, it’s advised that you get rid of the plant and not attempt to reuse its soil.
Fungal Kalanchoe Diseases
Fungal infections are typically the result of overwatering or infested soil. The fungus can easily be spread through contaminated tools, wind, or infected crop debris.
The main parts of a Kalanchoe that become affected by fungal diseases involve the crown, stem, leaves, spikes, and seeds.
Visible symptoms that show your Kalanchoe has been infested with fungi include yellowing leaves, leaf rust, stunted growth, mildew, and root rot.
Below, we’ll go through three of the most common fungi that affect Kalanchoe plants.
Powdery Mildew is a popular disease found in Kalanchoe species, mainly since these plants thrive in conditions similar to where this kind of fungi grows.
To put it simply, a warm and humid environment will cause a white, powdery cluster of mildew to appear on the surface of the plant’s leaves and stems.
These webbings may seem harmless at first, but like most plant diseases, they shouldn’t be left untreated for long.
Start by spraying the fungi-infected parts with a pesticide that contains potassium bicarbonate to effectively kill the mildew. Remember that this disease is airborne, meaning, it can quickly spread to nearby plants.
Southern Blight, unfortunately, is a lethal fungal disease. On the bright side, however, it’s quite rare to find in Kalanchoe varieties.
Similar to Crown Gall, the Southern Blight causes the entire plant to wilt since it leads to the discoloration of its lower leaves and the wilting of the Kalanchoe’s foliage.
Because Southern Blight disease directly attacks the plant’s cells, it can be difficult to control the infection once your Kalanchoe is infested.
Certain biological treatments involve curing the soil with fungicides, fumigation, heat, and special fertilizers. While it won’t eliminate your Southern Blight problem, it’ll control it until you can safely remove the plant.
Phytophthora is a kind of fungus that’s pretty common in Kalanchoe plants since it grows in moist living conditions.
In other words, overwatering your plant or leaving it to sit in too much water will increase the plant’s risk of getting Phytophthora root rot disease.
The symptoms of this infection include the wilting and yellowing of the leaves. It also involves the dropping of the buds or blossoming flowers.
Simply put, the Kalanchoe begins showing signs of dying. Sadly, the plant’s death could happen suddenly, which means that it’s best you control the infection soon. Phytophthora is an aggressive fungus and should be treated before it causes root or stem rot.
Pest Kalanchoe Diseases
Infestations caused by scale bugs, aphids, mites, and similar crawling creatures are known as pest diseases.
In fact, these types of infections are among the most popular in the gardening world. Luckily, that means there are multiple ways to help get rid of these pesky beasts.
In this section, you’ll find all you need to know about Kalanchoe pest diseases.
Aphids typically infect well-fed plants whose pots are rich with nitrogen-based fertilizers. To put it differently, aphids are a problem during flowering seasons.
For a Kalanchoe, late winter and springtime are when you need to be on the lookout for tiny, brown, or green aphids on the backside of your leaves.
It’s important to mention here that aphids are a fast-growing problem because they multiply pretty fast.
So, if you notice that your Kalanchoe’s no longer blooming flowers, take a look at your leaves and find out if you have an aphid issue. You’ll need to remove the infected parts and then burn them before quarantining the plant from the rest of your garden.
Mites, or vermins, regularly infect Kalanchoe varieties. Fortunately, they’re an easy disease to take care of, considering that all you need is a good bottle of insecticide.
A few common mites that you’re likely to find on your Kalanchoe leaves include spider mites, mealybugs, and scale insects.
Some mites form white webbings on the leaves, while others cause a speckled pattern to appear on them. Sooty mold and droopiness are other signs that you have a mites infection.
Isolate the infested plant in a contained space so you can safely spray it with a particular miticide or pesticide. After that, you can remove the insects by hand or instead, use insecticidal soap and horticultural oil.
Viral Kalanchoe Diseases
Viral diseases may be rare, but they can be quite the complication. In most cases, you won’t be able to resolve the problem in time and will have to get rid of the plant.
Below, you’ll learn how to spot two of the most popular viruses that attack Kalanchoe species.
Kalanchoe Top-Spotting Virus (KTSV)
Kalanchoe Top-Spotting Virus, or the badnavirus, is a pathogenic strain of viruses that belongs to the family of Caulimoviridae. This species is home to more than 90 types of viruses, all of which affect Kalanchoe varieties.
The way KTSV works is that it focuses on hindering the lifecycle of your Kalanchoe. Other symptoms you might come across are deformed leaves and yellow spots.
As is the case with most viruses, it can widespread pretty quickly if not immediately handled.
Kalanchoe Mosaic Virus (KMV)
Kalanchoe Mosaic Virus is rare in Kalanchoe species, only because the mosaic virus is more common in vegetable and horticultural crops. This viral infection primarily affects the leaves by discoloring them.
What causes KMV would be a mite or aphid infestation that has carried the virus to your Kalanchoe. Once the viral disease shows, you’ll notice green, yellow, and black mosaic-patterned spots covering both sides of the plant’s leaves.
Unfortunately, there’s no proper cure for KMV as of yet. You can attempt to remove and burn the infected pieces in the early stages of the infection, otherwise, get rid of your plant.
Kalanchoe diseases are classified into four main categories; namely bacterial, fungal, viral, and pest-induced infestations.
While a few of these Kalanchoe infections are fatal and unfortunately, don’t have a direct cure, most of them can be easily treated. That’s why we hope our guide helped you learn about prevalent Kalanchoe diseases and how to quickly handle them.
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.