I recently bought a kalanchoe to add to my succulent plant collection. Within a few weeks, I saw the leaves drooping and falling off.
I was concerned as this had never happened to one of my plants. I contacted a friend of mine who owns a nursery to see if she might be able to tell me why my kalanchoe’s leaves are falling off.
Kalanchoe is a hardy type of succulent, so it’s concerning to see some of the leaves fall off. The reason for this may be as simple as too much sunlight, but other reasons include seasonal changes, lack of sunlight, wrong fertilizer dosage, incorrect watering, temperature control, and more.
I didn’t want my new kalanchoe to die, so when I asked my friend, she helped by giving me all the most helpful information I needed to revive my kalanchoe and stop its leaves from falling off.
I wanted to share the information she gave me and what I discovered in a post to help others save their kalanchoe.
Why Are My Kalanchoe Leaves Falling Off?
Kalanchoe plants belong to the succulent family and have over 120 different types. Most of the plants in the succulent family are hardy and won’t quickly droop, lose leaves or die. That is why it is essential to know what the cause is when your kalanchoe leaves start to fall off.
We will discuss the reasons why your kalanchoe leaves are falling off and what to do about it. We discuss each of these reasons in more detail throughout this post.
- Improper watering
- Wrong temperature and seasonal changes
- Not enough sunlight
- Insect invasion
1 – Improper Watering
Like most other plants, kalanchoe plants need to be watered correctly, or the plant will wither and die. Knowing how much water to give your kalanchoe is essential to keep it healthy and thriving.
There are two main considerations when it comes to watering your succulents; overwatering and underwatering.
Because kalanchoe plants are succulents, they can store water in their leaves, meaning they don’t need to be watered a lot.
So, if you are a worry wort about your plants and give your succulent too much water, the leaves will start to get overly full and fall off. It can be concerning to see what looks like healthy leaves fall off your kalanchoe.
Overwatering your succulent can lead to root rot, which will also cause the leaves and stems to droop and fall off. Root rot can spread, so you need to keep a close eye on the plant.
If you see the leaves fall off and the plant starts to sag even though the soil is moist, it might be root rot. Other symptoms of root rot include:
- Sour, musty, or decomposing foliage smell
- If you carefully dig so you can see the root system, you will see grey or brown mushy roots.
- The roots will be slimy and disintegrate when you touch them.
If you find one or two of these problems with your kalanchoe, there is a way to save it. Here are the supplies you need:
- New pot
- Rubbing alcohol
- Pruning shears
- New succulent potting soil
Firstly you need to get rid of all the excess soil that might be stuck to your roots. Fill a basin with water. Remove your succulent roots and all from the pot but keep in mind that the root system is severely damaged, so you must work carefully so you don’t rip the roots off.
Then you need to gently sway the roots in the water to remove the excess soil. Once you have removed all the potting soil, you must put the kalanchoe on paper towels to dry.
It’s essential not to touch the roots at this point, or they might break off or mush together. Leave the plant to dry until the roots are not dripping water and look less mushy.
Take your pruning shears and disinfect them with rubbing alcohol. Snip off any grey, soggy, slimy black, or mushy roots. Remember to disinfect the shears between each cut so you don’t spread the rot to the healthy roots.
When all the infected roots have been removed, you must repot your kalanchoe. Don’t water the plant for the first week to allow the excess water still stuck in the roots to drain. Keep a close eye on the amount of water you give your plant.
Succulents like the kalanchoe only need to be watered every few weeks. You can wait until the soil is almost completely dry before watering your plant.
To ensure your damaged kalanchoe roots will grow new, you can’t use fertilizer on the plant for at least six months after repotting it. After that, only give half the recommended dose until the roots are strong and healthy again.
As uncommon as it is to underwater a succulent (seeing as they don’t need much water to grow), you can underwater your plant.
While succulents don’t need a lot of water, they still rely on it to survive. You will see the leaves start to fall off, and soon they will curl back and look like they have wrinkles. That is a sure sign of dehydration.
To combat this, you must thoroughly drench your kalanchoe until the water comes out of the drainage hole. The leaves should plump back up in a few hours.
Buying a moisture meter can help you see how much water your plant needs or set up a watering schedule to remind you when to water your kalanchoe.
2 – Wrong Temperature and Seasonal Changes
Keeping your kalanchoe at the wrong temperature might also be the reason why it’s losing leaves.
While the kalanchoe is not as fussy as other plants, they don’t do well in freezing weather. For your kalanchoe to thrive, it needs temperatures between 55-80 degrees Fahrenheit.
If your kalanchoe is an outdoor plant, you need to bring it inside during the winter months when temperatures can drop below 0.
They might be hardy plants, but in extreme weather conditions like these, the leaves will fall off and eventually die. If the temperatures drop suddenly or the plant is touched by frost, it will die immediately.
Kalanchoe are not really affected by humidity like many other plants are, so as long as the temperature stays above 55 and below 80 degrees Fahrenheit, it will stay healthy.
3 – Not Enough Sunlight
Most plants need sunlight to grow, and kalanchoe is no different. These plants require at least 6 hours of indirect sunlight. It’s important to remember that these succulents can’t handle direct sunlight.
They need to be placed in a room with an abundance of light but not in direct sunlight. It also encourages the start of the plant’s bloom cycle.
4 – Using Incorrect Soil
The correct soil mix is also crucial to keep your kalanchoe healthy and avoid diseases that might compromise your plant. The optimal soil mix to use when planting your kalanchoe is 50% potting soil and 50% cactus potting soil. You can also use 60% peat moss and 40% perlite.
These mixtures are the best to use as they provide proper drainage and the right moisture level. You can use a clay pot to help the excess water dissipate from the soil.
5 – Fertilizer Usage
If you use fertilizer and the amount is incorrect, or you use the wrong kind of fertilizer, your kalanchoe will show the signs by drooping leaves that fall off. You can use a fertilizer that is not too strong once a month. If you use too much, it could burn the plant’s roots. You should discontinue fertilizing the plant for at least six months if this happens.
6 – Insect Invasion
The biggest issue you can have if you see leaves falling off of your kalanchoe is pests. Insect invasions can devastate a plant and kill it quickly if you don’t intervene. Spider mites, scale, and mealybugs are the most common pests that love to invade kalanchoe.
Here is how to identify these bugs on your succulent:
- Spider mites: Spider mites are not easy to see, but the leaves will have small white webbing on the infected plants. If you don’t treat it, the leaves will turn yellow to brown and fall off.
- Mealybugs: Mealybugs leave a sticky substance on the leaves and present in clusters that look like mini cotton balls. If left untreated, the affected leaves will fall off and die.
- Scale: Scale looks like round brown balls on your succulent leaves. They love to feast on the sap in the leaves of the kalanchoe, and if you leave it untreated, the leaves will fall off, and the plat will become susceptible to all kinds of diseases.
The most effective way to treat a plant with these bug infestations is to use an organic insecticide. If you find that a mild insecticide doesn’t work, you can use commercial pesticides.
Remember that pesticides are toxic; if you use them indoors, you need to take your plant outside for treatment. You must follow the instructions on the insecticide to ensure you don’t use too much, or your plant might die.
7 – Diseases That Effect the Leaves of Kalanchoe
Some plant diseases will affect the plant’s leaves and cause them to fall off. Below is a list of these diseases:
Black Spot Fungal Disease
Black spot is a fungal infection that affects the leaves. It causes dark spots on the leaves, but it causes more than ugly dark spots on your leaves; it attacks the leaves at the cellular level, damaging the leaves and causing them to fall off.
Powdery Mildew Fungal Disease
Powdery mildew can be hard to detect on your succulent as it only produces a fine white webbing that is hard to see. The other problems that are easier to detect are yellow spotting, leaves falling off, rings and spots that coat the leaves, and a dusty gray color.
Powdery mildew consists of branching filaments instead of spores. The best way to get rid of the powdery mildew is to rub the leaves clean with a cloth and apply a potassium bicarbonate mixture.
Systemic Bacterial Infections
Systemic bacterial infections cause soft stem rot in kalanchoe plants. When you overwater or over-fertilize your kalanchoe plant. It weakens the plant, making it more vulnerable to this infection.
If you think your succulent has a systemic bacterial infection, ensure to keep it isolated away from your other plants so they won’t get infected. Unfortunately, once the kalanchoe has developed a systemic bacterial infection, it’s best to discard the plant.
Tips to Keep Your Kalanchoe from Losing Leaves
If you are new to keeping a kalanchoe or want to keep it healthy, you might find these tips helpful:
Trim the Diseased or Damaged Leaves
If you see the kalanchoe is losing leaves, inspect them, and when you see there are issues with the leaf, you should trim all the other leaves that have the same issues. It will encourage new growth and delay the spread of the disease or bugs until you can find out more and save it.
Buy a Moisture Meter
With the help of a moisture meter, you can ensure the plant has the right amount of water so that you don’t over or underwater your kalanchoe. Both of these issues cause the leaves to fall off and can be detrimental to your kalanchoe’s health.
When You Prune Your Kalanchoe
When you trim or prune your kalanchoe, use a sterilized pair of pruning shears. It will ensure no diseases or mold spreads to other parts of the plant. It’s best to wipe the shears with rubbing alcohol after each trim.
Keep an Eye on the Temperatures
If there is a heatwave and your kalanchoe is kept outside, you might want to bring it inside or in a shaded place as the heatwave might cause the leaves to dehydrate quickly, go limp, and fall off. Moving them is the best way to prevent this.
It’s sad to see a once healthy kalanchoe’s leaves fall off. Many things could cause these succulents to lose their leaves, which might even lead to the plant dying.
You must keep an eye on your plant’s conditions, how much water you give, the soil you use, and the amount of light you expose your plant to.
These and other issues can cause harm to your plant. Luckily kalanchoe is a hardy plant, and you might be able to save it. By following the advice we mentioned in this article, you will have a thriving and healthy plant.
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.