Kalanchoe blossfeldiana is commonly known as Flaming Katy, Christmas Kalanchoe, Widow’s Thrill, or Florist Kalanchoe. It belongs to the Crassulaceae family and it is closely related to the jade plant. Its genus includes over 125 species of tropical succulents, most of which make for great indoor plants.
Kalanchoe is a very affordable houseplant, and when it is in bloom, it features a gorgeous display of small yet vibrant flowers. Unfortunately, the flowers wilt quite quickly. When that happens, all the plant has to offer is a small bouquet of succulent leaves, which many people don’t consider to be very attractive. As such, when the bloom fades, many Flaming Katy plants end up in the trash bin.
That is quite a shame because these are very low maintenance plants. With some basic care and a little patience, they will reward you with another set of flowers sooner than you think.
About Flaming Katy
- Kalanchoe is a herbaceous plant, featuring no woody stems above the ground level. It is related to grasses and several other grass-like plants.
- This evergreen plant is native to Madagascar, being very common in the Tsarantanana Mountains. However, thanks to its vibrant blooms, it quickly became popular all over the world.
- This low-growing succulent and its relatives are very popular during the Chinese New Year. They symbolize prosperity and wealth. In Chinese culture, these plants are also known as “thousands and millions of red and purple”.
- Various Kalanchoe varieties have been used in herbal medicine to treat different ailments such as infections, inflammations, and even more serious diseases like hypertension.
- In most parts of the world, this plant is grown indoors. Nonetheless, in warmer climates, it is also possible to grow this herb outdoors.
- Since it is a perennial plant, it will need between 6 to 12 weeks of shorter days for a rich flowering.
- Its scientific name is a Latin adaptation of a Chinese name (Kalanchauhuy) that describes a particular plant variety discovered in the Philippines at the beginning of the 20th
- This plant is not prone to diseases, but certain pests like vine weevils or mealybugs can damage it from time to time.
- If you have pets or small children, you should be very careful when you bring a Flaming Katy in the house. The plant is toxic for humans as well as cats and dogs. While a higher shelf might keep it away from children and dogs, cats will easily reach it in most locations. Symptoms of poisoning will include but are not limited to nausea and other digestive problems.
Flaming Katy Features: An Overview
- Kalanchoe Blossfeldiana is a bushy, low-growing, perennial succulent, with evergreen leaves.
- In a proper growing environment, it can reach 40-45 cm in height, and it can spread as wide as 50 cm, especially if you leave it in low light conditions.
- Most people prefer to impede its vertical growth, as its compact nature is more aesthetically pleasing. The plant reaches maturity around the age of 3 to 5 years.
- This is a slow-growing plant with glossy foliage. Its leaves have an oblong, scallop shape.
- Flaming Katy usually flowers in late autumn. Its 4-petal flowers can come in a variety of colors, from bright pink to dark red, orange, yellow, or white. It usually has over 50 flowers at a time. You can prolong the flowering period by placing the plant in a cooler location, away from bright sunlight. Remove the wilted flowers from the bloom cluster to prolong the life of the healthy flowers.
- This plant is very popular in the UK where it has gained the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.
Growing Flaming Katy
This plant prefers partially shady locations. In dark rooms, Flaming Katy will survive in decent shape for a couple of months, but without proper light, it will end up growing leggy. For the best results, try to give it one or two hours of direct sunlight per day. The plant prefers a temperature between 10 °C and 22 °C. If you grow it outdoors, you will have to use a glass coverage to protect it from frost during the wintertime.
If your plant outgrows its pot, you will have to be very careful when reporting it as the succulent leaves are very sensitive and can be easily damaged. Repotting is usually required every two years and we advise you to use clay pots. Use a soil that drains very well. If you can’t find a special soil for succulents, make your own mixture using basic soil, combined with sand or grit.
As far as fertilization goes, a basic houseplant fertilizer will do just fine once every couple of months. At the beginning of fall, you can use a fertilizer for flowering plants to encourage a rich bloom. However, don’t feed the plant during the flowering period.
If you feel that your Flaming Katy is too dull looking when it loses its flowers, you can always group it with other plants in a mixed pot.
It is very common for the leaves to gather dust. You can easily solve this problem by giving the plant a gentle shower under a tap. You won’t have to do this more than once or twice per year.
If you want your plant to bloom more often, you can play with the lighting conditions to trigger flowering. After the initial flowering period has ended, allow it a month to rest. Next, place it in a completely dark environment for 12 hours, followed by 10 hours of intense light. Do this for six weeks and you will be rewarded with a rich cluster of blooms. When the blooms are fully developed, you can put the plant back in its normal light environment.
Watering Flaming Katy
Thanks to its succulent nature, this plant won’t react too badly if you forget to water it from time to time. It can survive without problems, even if you forget to water it for a couple of weeks. This makes it ideal for a beginner gardener. For the best results, you should wait for the soil to dry out completely at the top 5 cm and then water it heavily.
When watering it, place a saucer beneath the pot, and let it sit for 15 minutes so that the plant can draw as much water as it needs. Watering from bellow is recommended for most succulents to prevent rotting.
In the summer, you will most likely have to water it once a week, whereas in the winter you must only give it a light watering, every couple of weeks.
If you notice signs of stem rots, that is an indicator that you are either watering it too much, or your indoor humidity levels are too high. Yellow or wilted leaves are a sign of underwatering. However, for succulents, they can also be a sign of overwatering. When you notice yellow leaves, remove them to protect the healthy leaves and adjust your watering schedule.Orange Kalanchoe Plant, from Amazon
Propagating Flaming Katy
Growing this plant from seed is almost impossible. You shouldn’t even bother with seeds as you can easily find cheap starts. You can also propagate it through cuttings. Simply cut off a leaf or pull it gently to separate it from the leaf cluster. Only cut vegetative stems, meaning stems that have no flower growth whatsoever.
The cuttings should be about 7 cm long. Allow the cutting a few days so that its edge will dry slightly and form a callous over the cut flesh. Next, place it in free-draining soil, with the raw edge in the soil. Use a mixture of normal soil, perlite, and sand. The medium should be moist but well-drained. Use a pot with a diameter of 10 cm for a single cutting. Bigger pots can hold more cuttings but try to stick to a maximum of 3 cuttings per pot.
Make a hole in the medium, place the cutting in the hole, and firm the soil around it to keep it in an upright position. Make sure that most of the leaves remain above the ground to prevent rotting and encourage photosynthesis. Place the cuttings in the direction of growth and keep the pot in a warm room and mist it several times per day.
The new plants should catch roots in about 2 weeks. When you have more cuttings into the same pot, you should transplant them in individual pots when the roots reach about 2 cm.
Whether or not it brings wealth and prosperity, this plant makes for a great gift, even for beginner gardeners. Additionally, with minimum care, it can be an important part of an indoor garden.
To give it a purpose even after its flowers fade, you can integrate it into a mixed succulent arrangement, a rock garden, or a fairy garden. Due to their excellent drainage, rock gardens provide great growing environments for the vibrant Flaming Katy plants.