Kalanchoe is a popular houseplant because it’s drought tolerant and easy to grow. In tropical and subtropical climates, it can be grown outdoors as a perennial. In colder climates, it’s typically grown as an indoor plant. Note that all parts of the plant are toxic to cats and dogs.
Planting in loose, loamy, sandy, well-drained potting medium like cactus mix or soil used for succulents
Placing it in a warm indoor location with bright, indirect light; placing it in a full sun outdoor location that has protection from late afternoon sun
Allowing kalanchoe plants to dry out completely between waterings
Fertilizing indoor kalanchoes once per month during spring and summer
Kalanchoe plants grown indoors do best with bright, indirect light. Plant outdoor kalanchoes in partial shade to full sun. When planted in full sun, it’s ideal for it to receive some afternoon shade to protect it from scorching. Leggy stems are a sign that the plant isn’t receiving enough light.
Outdoors, a kalanchoe plant grows best in well-drained, loamy or sandy soil. Indoor plants should be potted in a blend that doesn’t retain too much moisture, like a 50 percent potting soil and 50 percent cactus mix, or 60 percent potting soil and 40 percent perlite. To ensure proper drainage and avoid an overly moist environment, you can plant your kalanchoe in a clay pot, which can help wick excess water from the soil.
If you have a habit of occasionally forgetting to water your plants, a kalanchoe can be the perfect plant for you. This hardy plant does well with minimal water, requiring saturation only every few weeks or so (and even less often during the winter months). Let the soil dry out completely in between waterings to help prevent root rot. Because the kalanchoe is a succulent, its leaves are actually capable of storing water; even if you’re a few days late watering, the plant will be just fine.
Temperature and Humidity
Your household environment is important to the kalanchoe, though it’s not as fussy as other indoor houseplants. Generally, it will thrive at temperatures ranging from 55 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, so, with the exception of protecting it from frost, you don’t have to do much to create the proper indoor environment. Kalanchoe plants are not fussy about air moisture levels.
As outdoor garden plants, kalanchoe is not a good choice outside of USDA hardiness zones 10 to 12 because they don’t thrive at temperatures below 55 degrees Fahrenheit and will instantly die if touched by frost.
Like most flowering plants, kalanchoe benefits from fertilizer, though they are less hungry than many plants. Garden-grown plants require little more than a single light feeding in the spring. Indoor plants should be fed with a well-balanced fertilizer blend once a month during the spring and summer months, but not during the winter. If flowering is sparse, switch to a fertilizer that is higher in phosphorus.
Kalanchoes are generally slow-growing, on average taking between two and five years to reach mature size. One of the most common kalanchoes, ‘Flaming Katy’, reaches around 12 inches tall at maturity. Paddle plant (Kalanchoe thyrsiflora) can grow to more than two feet tall at maturity, while cathedral bells (Kalanchoe pinnata) and velvet-leaf kalanchoe (Kalanchoe beharensis)2 can grow up to five or six feet tall in cultivation.
Outdoor plants tend to grow more quickly because they’re in brighter conditions. In colder climates, you can acclimate indoor kalanchoe plants to the outdoors once night temperatures are above 60 degrees Fahrenheit to give them some extra sunlight. Bring them indoors when temperatures begin to dip in late summer or early fall.
Pinching back the stems of a kalanchoe plant will help maintain its shape and promote more robust blooming.
Potting and Repotting Kalanchoe
Unlike plants that prefer to be pot-bound, kalanchoe plants actually thrive best if repotted rather frequently. For best results, repot your kalanchoe annually in fall after the plant has bloomed. Doing so will encourage new growth and increase the plant’s fullness. Increase the container size to one size larger each time you repot.
Make sure to use a well-draining pot. Clay is a good choice because the material is porous and will help keep the soil relatively dry.
Caring for Kalanchoe in the Winter
If you’ve brought your kalanchoe plant outdoors for the summer, you’ll want to keep an eye on the weather to know when to bring it indoors as temperatures drop.
When should you bring kalanchoe indoors?
Bring kalanchoe plants indoors for the winter before night temperatures drop below 55 degrees Fahenheit.
What is the lowest temperature kalanchoe can tolerate?
Kalanchoe plants can tolerate temperatures as low as 45 degrees Fahrenheit if they’re acclimated to the outdoors, but it’s best to bring them indoors before it gets that cold.
Can kalanchoe plants survive after a freeze?
In USDA hardiness zones 9-11, kalanchoe plants can often survive a frost, even if their foliage dies back. In colder climates, however, they won’t survive frost damage.
What kind of light do kalanchoe plants need in winter?
Keep kalanchoe in a place with bright, indirect light, such as a south-facing or west-facing window, during winter. You can use a grow light if your space doesn’t have enough bright natural light.
How much water does a kalanchoe plant need in winter?
Kalanchoe plants need less water in winter than they do in spring or summer. Allow the soil to dry out fully between waterings.
How to Get Kalanchoe to Bloom
Kalanchoe’s bloom cycle is set in motion by lengthy periods (at least 14 hours) of nighttime darkness in the wintertime. Roughly four months later, in spring, you’ll be treated to bursts of colorful flowers that can last several weeks. Blooms can recur throughout much of the year if you control its exposure to light.
Kalanchoes require bright sunlight during the day to bloom properly. Harsh direct sunlight can actually inhibit blooming, so bright, indirect light is ideal.
Deadheading the flowers once blooms are spent is another way to prompt continual flowering. If you’re struggling with getting your plant to flower, look for a fertilizer blend that is high in phosphorus, which can help produce more buds.
How to Keep Kalanchoe Blooming
With the proper care and environment, kalanchoes can bloom year-round indoors. The most essential factor is ample sunlight. For your kalanchoe plant to bloom to its full potential, it should be located somewhere where it gets at least six to eight hours of bright light each day. During the fall and winter, the plant should experience near-total darkness for the other hours of the day. A full 14 hours of daily darkness for a period of at least six weeks is necessary for the plant to amass energy for further blooms.
Common Problems With Kalanchoe
Kalanchoe plants are very easy to grow, but problems can arise when they are not watered correctly or if they experience temperature extremes.
Soft, Damaged Blooms and Leaves
Plants that are touched by near-freezing temperatures will often experience damaged leaves or stunted blooms. For best performance, keep these plants at temperatures above 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Temperatures that are too high can cause leaves to wilt. Ideally, keep these plants below 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Drab or Burned Leaves
Proper light exposure is key to good-looking plants. Too little light and the leaves will lose the trademark glossy green. Too much direct sunlight and you can expect burned leaves. Indoor kalanchoes will do best in a location that receives a lot of bright indirect light, but not too much direct sunlight.
Soft, Fragile Stems
A very common problem with kalanchoe is overwatering or planting in a soil medium that holds water. Excessive water can easily cause root and stem rot with these plants. If you see this problem beginning, withhold water until the plant recovers.
Failure to Bloom
When a kalanchoe fails to bloom, it is usually because it does not get the lengthy period of winter darkness that allows the plant to reset its bloom cycle. During the winter months, these plants need a six-week period where they experience nighttime darkness lasting a full 14 hours each day. Without this reset period, the plants usually fail to bloom again.