How To Care For Flaming Katy (Kalanchoe Blossfeldiana)
Updated: 13 Nov, 2023
Kalanchoe, a genus comprising over 100 plant species native to Madagascar, is recognized for its distinctive succulent foliage. The plants feature oval-shaped leaves, often with scalloped edges, and some varieties exhibit red leaves or edges under sufficient sunlight. Among the well-known species is Kalanchoe blossfeldiana, a prevalent houseplant that produces clusters of small, vibrant flowers in hues such as red, pink, yellow, orange, salmon, and white.
Favored for its drought resistance and ease of cultivation, Kalanchoe is a popular choice as a houseplant. In tropical and subtropical regions, it can thrive outdoors as a perennial, while in colder climates, it is typically grown indoors. It’s important to note that all parts of the plant are toxic to cats and dogs.
|Kalanchoe, flaming Katy, florists Kalanchoe, Christmas Kalanchoe
|6–18 in. tall and wide
|Full sun, partial shade
|Acidic, neutral, slightly alkaline
|Seasonal bloomer; requires six weeks of 14-hour nights in winter to reset its bloom cycle
|Yellow, red, orange, salmon, pink, white
|Kalanchoe, flaming Katy, florists Kalanchoe, Christmas kalanchoe
What is Flaming Katy Kalanchoe?
Flaming Katy Kalanchoe refers to a popular houseplant belonging to the Kalanchoe genus, primarily represented by the species Kalanchoe blossfeldiana. Known for its vibrant and colorful flowers, Flaming Katy is a succulent plant with oval-shaped leaves that often have scalloped edges. The plant is cultivated for its ability to produce clusters of small, brightly colored flowers in shades of red, pink, yellow, orange, salmon, and white.
Flaming Katy Kalanchoe is favored as a houseplant due to its attractive appearance, ease of care, and the ability to bloom multiple times throughout the year. It is a drought-tolerant plant, making it suitable for various environments. In tropical and subtropical climates, it can be grown outdoors as a perennial, while in colder regions, it is commonly cultivated as an indoor plant. It’s important to note that all parts of the Flaming Katy Kalanchoe plant are toxic to cats and dogs, so care should be taken to keep it out of reach of pets.
Maintaining kalanchoe is a straightforward task when armed with essential guidelines and optimal conditions. Key requirements for successful kalanchoe cultivation include:
Planting in a loose, loamy, sandy, and well-drained potting medium, such as cactus mix or soil designed for succulents.
Positioning the plant in a warm indoor setting with bright, indirect light. When placing it outdoors, ensure it receives full sun but with protection from the late afternoon sun.
Allowing kalanchoe plants to completely dry out between watering sessions.
Fertilizing indoor kalanchoes once a month, specifically during the spring and summer seasons.
For optimal growth indoors, kalanchoe plants thrive in bright, indirect light. When cultivating them outdoors, partial shade to full sun is recommended. If planted in full sun, it’s advisable to provide some afternoon shade to prevent scorching. Leggy stems are an indicator of insufficient light exposure.
Outdoor kalanchoe plants flourish in well-drained, loamy, or sandy soil. Indoors, it’s recommended to use a potting mix that doesn’t retain excessive moisture, such as a 50% potting soil and 50% cactus mix, or a blend of 60% potting soil and 40% perlite. To ensure proper drainage and prevent excess moisture, planting kalanchoe in a clay pot can help wick away surplus water from the soil.
Kalanchoes are resilient to occasional forgetfulness in watering. These hardy plants require saturation only every few weeks, even less frequently in winter. Allowing the soil to completely dry between waterings helps prevent root rot. As succulents, kalanchoe leaves can store water, ensuring the plant’s well-being even if watering is delayed by a few days.
Temperature and Humidity:
Kalanchoe adapts well to household environments, thriving at temperatures between 55 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The plant is not overly sensitive to air moisture levels. For outdoor garden planting, it’s advisable to avoid zones below USDA hardiness zones 10 to 12, as kalanchoes are not frost-resistant and don’t thrive in temperatures below 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
While kalanchoes benefit from fertilizer like many flowering plants, they are less demanding. Garden-grown plants require light feeding in spring, while indoor plants should be fertilized with a well-balanced blend monthly during spring and summer, excluding winter. If flowering is sparse, a fertilizer higher in phosphorus can be used.
Kalanchoes typically have a slow growth rate, taking two to five years to reach maturity. ‘Flaming Katy,’ a common kalanchoe, reaches around 12 inches in height. Outdoor plants tend to grow faster due to brighter conditions. In colder climates, acclimating indoor kalanchoe plants to the outdoors when night temperatures are above 60 degrees Fahrenheit can provide extra sunlight. Bring them indoors as temperatures begin to drop in late summer or early fall.
Types of Kalanchoe
Kalanchoe blossfeldiana is offered in numerous unnamed varieties, showcasing a spectrum of colors including yellow, red, orange, pink, and white. When planted outdoors, these varieties typically bloom in spring, while indoor plants can be encouraged to flower almost year-round. Other related species also make excellent choices for both garden and indoor settings:
- K. Mangini: Featuring fleshy leaves and large, bell-like pendant flowers, this species, also known as the chandelier plant, thrives in USDA hardiness zones 9 to 11. Prolonged flowering is facilitated by moist air conditions.
- Kalanchoe daigremontiana: Commonly referred to as mother of thousands due to tiny plantlets along its leaf edges, this kalanchoe is hardy in USDA hardiness zones 9 to 11.
- K. porphyrocalyx: Also called pearl bells, this species boasts slender, rectangular leaves and purple pendant flowers. It is hardy in USDA hardiness zones 11 and 12.
- Kalanchoe delagoensis: Known as the chandelier plant, this species features tubular orange flowers hanging down from its stems. It’s hardy in USDA hardiness zones 10 and 11.
- K. beharensis: Sometimes referred to as velvet-leaf kalanchoe, this species, hardy in USDA hardiness zones 9 to 11, is prized for its large, pale silvery-green fuzzy leaves.
- Kalanchoe luciae: A popular houseplant, the flapjack plant, with its flat, rounded leaves that can develop red edges in winter, is hardy in USDA hardiness zones 9 to 11.
- K. pinnata: Also known as cathedral bells, this kalanchoe species features fleshy green leaves and tiny plantlets along its margins. It thrives in USDA hardiness zones 10 and 11.
- Kalanchoe tomentose: Recognized as a chocolate soldier or panda plant, this kalanchoe has thick, fuzzy leaves with a blue tinge and brown spots around their edges. It’s hardy in USDA hardiness zones 9 to 11.
Propagating Kalanchoe is a straightforward process that not only benefits the plant’s health but also helps manage the strain on the mature plant caused by offsets. Rather than allowing these offsets to draw nutrients from the mature plant, you can propagate them (or take stem cuttings) at almost any time. Here’s a step-by-step guide:
Use a sharp, clean knife or clippers to cut a segment of the stem, several inches long, from a mature plant.
If using an offset, remove it at the joint where it connects to the parent plant.
Allow the cutting to dry out for a few days or until the end appears to have healed shut and calloused over.
Rooting Hormone Application:
Dip the calloused ends of the cutting in a rooting hormone to encourage the development of roots.
Plant the cutting in soil composed of the same mixture used to grow the mother plant.
Place the newly planted cutting in bright indirect light. Avoid watering it at this stage; the stem should take root within a month.
Once the stem has taken root, you can start caring for it as you would a mature kalanchoe plant.
This simple propagation process allows you to cultivate new plants from mature ones, promoting the overall health of both the parent and propagated plants.
How to Grow Kalanchoe From Seed
These plants with a slow growth rate are commonly cultivated through cuttings for quicker outcomes. However, growing them from seeds is quite straightforward. In early spring, sow the seeds on the surface of a breathable potting mix. It’s crucial not to bury the seeds as they require light for germination. Enhance humidity by placing the container in a plastic bag until the seeds sprout, which typically takes around ten days. Following approximately two months, relocate the seedlings to separate pots or plant them directly outdoors.
Flaming Katy Kalanchoe is versatile and can be employed for various uses, adding beauty and charm to different settings. Some of the best uses include:
Flaming Katy is an excellent choice for indoor decoration, brightening up living spaces with its vibrant and colorful flowers. It can be placed in living rooms, bedrooms, or on tabletops to enhance the aesthetic appeal of interiors.
Given its attractive appearance and relative ease of care, Flaming Katy makes for a thoughtful and visually pleasing gift for occasions such as birthdays, housewarmings, or celebrations. Its colorful blooms bring joy and positivity.
The low-maintenance nature of Flaming Katy makes it suitable for office environments. Its presence can add a touch of nature to workspaces, creating a more pleasant and inviting atmosphere.
Events and Celebrations:
Flaming Katy Kalanchoe can be used as decorative elements for events, parties, and celebrations. Its vibrant flowers can complement various themes, serving as eye-catching centerpieces or accents.
In regions with suitable climates, Flaming Katy can be grown outdoors in containers. Placing it on patios, balconies, or in garden beds can contribute to container gardening arrangements, adding color and texture.
For educational purposes, Flaming Katy Kalanchoe can be used to teach botany, plant life cycles, and propagation methods. Its relatively simple care requirements make it a practical choice for learning about plant biology.
Medicinal and Folklore Uses:
Some cultures attribute medicinal properties to certain Kalanchoe species, including Flaming Katy. However, caution should be exercised, and it is advisable to seek professional guidance before considering any medicinal use.
Landscaping (in suitable climates):
In tropical and subtropical climates, Flaming Katy Kalanchoe can be incorporated into outdoor landscaping, adding color and texture to garden beds or rock gardens.
While Flaming Katy Kalanchoe is primarily valued for its ornamental qualities, it is essential to consider the potential toxicity to pets and take appropriate precautions in households with cats and dogs.
Potting and Repotting Kalanchoe
In contrast to plants that thrive when pot-bound, kalanchoe plants flourish when repotted regularly. It’s recommended to repot your kalanchoe every fall after it has bloomed for optimal results. This practice stimulates new growth and enhances the plant’s overall fullness. When repotting, choose a container that is one size larger than the current one.
Ensure the use of a well-draining pot, with clay being a suitable material due to its porous nature, aiding in maintaining relatively dry soil conditions. This choice of container contributes to the health and well-being of your kalanchoe plant.
How to Get Kalanchoe to Bloom
The blooming cycle of Kalanchoe is initiated by extended periods of darkness, preferably lasting at least 14 hours, during the winter months. Approximately four months later, in spring, the plant rewards you with vibrant bursts of colorful flowers that can grace your space for several weeks. With careful light management, blooms can reappear throughout much of the year.
To facilitate proper blooming, Kalanchoes need abundant sunlight during the day. However, intense direct sunlight can hinder the blooming process, so it’s best to provide bright, indirect light for optimal results.
Encouraging continual flowering involves the practice of deadheading spent flowers. Removing these spent blooms prompts the plant to produce more flowers. If you encounter difficulties in getting your Kalanchoe to bloom, consider using a fertilizer blend with a high phosphorus content, as this can stimulate the development of additional flower buds.
How to Keep Kalanchoe Blooming
Achieving continuous blooms from your kalanchoe indoors requires attentive care and a conducive environment. The key factor in this process is providing ample sunlight. Follow these steps to encourage your kalanchoe to bloom year-round:
Ensure your kalanchoe receives a generous amount of sunlight. Place it in a location where it can bask in six to eight hours of bright light each day. This exposure is crucial for the plant to bloom optimally.
Fall and Winter Darkness:
During the fall and winter months, expose your kalanchoe to near-total darkness for the remaining hours of the day. To accumulate the energy needed for continuous blooms, the plant should experience a full 14 hours of darkness daily. This extended period of darkness should be maintained for at least six weeks.
By providing the right balance of light and darkness, you can create an environment that encourages your kalanchoe to bloom consistently throughout the year.
Common Problems With Kalanchoe
While kalanchoe plants are generally low-maintenance, challenges can arise when not properly tended to, particularly in terms of watering and exposure to temperature extremes.
Soft, Damaged Blooms, and Leaves:
Exposure to near-freezing temperatures can result in damaged leaves and stunted blooms. To ensure optimal performance, maintain temperatures above 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
High temperatures can lead to leaf wilting. It’s advisable to keep kalanchoe plants below 80 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent this issue.
Drab or Burned Leaves:
Proper light exposure is crucial for vibrant plants. Insufficient light can cause a loss of the characteristic glossy green in leaves, while excessive direct sunlight can lead to burned leaves. For indoor kalanchoes, choose a location with plenty of bright indirect light, avoiding excessive direct sunlight.
Soft, Fragile Stems:
Overwatering or planting in a water-retentive soil medium can result in soft, fragile stems and potential root and stem rot. If you notice signs of overwatering, refrain from watering until the plant recovers.
Failure to Bloom:
Kalanchoes may fail to bloom if they do not experience the necessary extended period of winter darkness. During the winter months, provide six weeks with nighttime darkness lasting a full 14 hours each day to reset the plant’s bloom cycle. Without this reset, the plants are likely to struggle to bloom again.
How do I care for Flaming Katy Kalanchoe?
Provide well-draining soil, ample sunlight, and water when the topsoil feels dry. Ensure proper drainage to prevent waterlogged soil, and be cautious not to overwater, as these plants are drought-tolerant.
What are the distinctive features of Flaming Katy Kalanchoe?
Flaming Katy Kalanchoe is characterized by succulent, oval-shaped leaves with scalloped edges. It is renowned for its ability to produce clusters of small, brightly colored flowers in various shades.
Can Flaming Katy Kalanchoe be grown outdoors?
In tropical and subtropical climates, Flaming Katy Kalanchoe can be cultivated outdoors as a perennial. In colder regions, it is commonly grown as an indoor plant.
How often does Flaming Katy Kalanchoe bloom?
With proper care, Flaming Katy Kalanchoe can bloom multiple times throughout the year. The blooming period is often triggered by exposure to sufficient sunlight.
What are the toxic properties of Flaming Katy Kalanchoe?
All parts of the Flaming Katy Kalanchoe plant are toxic to cats and dogs. It’s essential to keep these plants out of reach of pets to prevent ingestion.
How can I propagate Flaming Katy Kalanchoe?
Flaming Katy Kalanchoe can be propagated through leaf cuttings or offsets. Plant the cuttings in well-draining soil and provide the right environmental conditions for successful propagation.
Why is Flaming Katy Kalanchoe a popular houseplant?
Flaming Katy Kalanchoe is favored as a houseplant due to its drought tolerance, ease of cultivation, and beautiful display of colorful flowers, making it an attractive addition to indoor spaces.
Flaming Katy Kalanchoe, a prominent member of the Kalanchoe genus, stands out as a captivating and popular houseplant. Recognized for its succulent, oval-shaped leaves and the striking display of colorful flowers, it brings vibrancy to indoor spaces. With ease of care, drought tolerance, and the ability to bloom multiple times a year, Flaming Katy is a favored choice for both novice and experienced plant enthusiasts.
Whether grown as a perennial in tropical climates or as an indoor plant in colder regions, Flaming Katy Kalanchoe adapts well to various environments. However, it’s crucial to be mindful of its toxicity to cats and dogs, necessitating responsible placement to ensure the safety of pets.