The popular Kalanchoe plant will grow well indoors in a pot for a few months. Once it begins to decline, it is best to cut Kalanchoe blossfeldiana back and plant it outdoors. In a warm climate, the plant will live and bloom for many years with little care.
If you live in a climate too cold for the plant to survive outdoors over the winter(colder than USDA zone 9), start new plants often to replace the old ones.
The tiny star-shaped blossoms of K. blossfeldiana form on stalks at the tips of the shoots. The juicy green stalks hold the flower clusters just above the plant's succulent leaves.
The thick, waxy leaves are 2-3 inches wide and long. They grow close together on the stems and do a good job of covering the lower half of the plant.
The leaf edges can be either smooth or scalloped depending on the cultivar. They turn reddish in strong sun.
The leaves are not really spotted. The spots in the picture are from watering the plants with tap water.
The Kalanchoe plant flowers in many colors. There are yellow, red, pink, and white varieties.
Over the years, I have tried most of these both in pots and in the ground. The red 'Vulcan' is, by far, the strongest grower and longest lived of the lot. At least in our sub-tropical climate.
None are long lasting houseplants. If you are growing these as houseplants or garden annuals, pick any color that appeals to you and just replace the plants when they become unattractive.
In my central Florida yard, the flowers usually open in December. My plants rebloom in the spring and early summer.
I deadhead the spent summer blooms to help the plants prepare to set new buds in the fall. This is not a big chore as the plants are massed in a foundation planting. One pass with the Hedge Hog gets the job done.
The Kalanchoe plant gives its best performance in full sun. Heat does not phase it. It is very drought tolerant in the ground and not picky about soil quality as long as it drains well. I have it growing in very dry, sandy soil with no supplemental water and it seems quite happy.
The only time I have had problems with them is when growing them inside my shady screen room in pots. They get leggy from lack of sun. Then the dreaded scale insects attack. At that point, I either toss the plants or plant them in the ground.
They are a joy to have on the porch for the few months that they last.
I found this double-flowered Kalanchoe at a nursery in Savannah, GA.
It is now living in my Central Florida yard.
So far, it has withstood light frosts without damage.
The plants only grow to about 18 inches tall so elevating them on a table allows me to view the cheerful flowers up close.
Plants in pots should be allowed to dry out between waterings.
When they go out of bloom keep them dry until they begin to set new buds.
Feed Kalanchoe blossfeldiana 2 or 3 times per season. Withhold food when plants go out of bloom. Resume feeding when you resume watering. Fertilizer and dry soil do not mix.
Kalanchoe care involves starting new plants frequently to replace old ones that have seen better days. The easiest way to do this is by taking 6 inch tip cuttings. They will root quickly when placed directly into soil and kept shaded and barely moist.