Written by Tolly Beck
Tolly Beck is the horticulturist at Lasdon Park and Arboretum in Westchester County. She was formerly a horticulture educator for New York Botanical Gardens in the Bronx and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Rockland, NY.
Kalanchoe are wonderful indoor transition plants when the garden season ends. Their colorful flowers range from orange, yellow, pink, salmon, white and red. The colors coincide nicely with autumn and the winter holidays.
In England a common name for Kalanchoe plants is Flaming Katy. Kalanchoes produce terminal stem clusters of small flowers that are either single or double flowering varieties. The double varieties have become increasingly popular as they resemble very small fully opened roses. Single or double petalled varieties are both easy to find in any store with a flower or garden section.
Kalanchoe plants are succulents and are native to Madagascar. They were introduced as a houseplant by a German hybridizer and botanist, Robert Blossfeld in 1932. The full scientific name for Kalanchoe is Kalanchoe blossfeldiana paying tribute to the botanist who introduced the plant. The houseplant quickly became a favorite due to its low maintenance, colorful flowers, and low water requirements.
Kalanchoe (usually pronounced as Kal-un-KOH-ee) prefers to be potted in soil with good drainage like a cactus or succulent soil. The soil should be completely dry to the touch before watering the plant. Kalanchoe will do well in bright, indirect light. The leaves of a Kalanchoe are a bright, glossy green and intense direct sun can cause browning on the edges of the leaves. A sunny window in fall or winter should be fine as sunlight is not as intense.
Succulents like Kalanchoe are a great addition to our holiday indoor plants. They are low maintenance, have few insect or disease problems, and their flowers last for weeks. Who can ask for anything more?