Kalanchoe: Blooms on Demand

November 29, 2009

The kalanchoe, with its ruddy, succulent leaves, and bright bouquets of red, orange, white, yellow, or pink, is one of the best gifts to give or receive in December. For here is a plant that blooms for six months of the year, and has no special requirements for high humidity and cool temperatures. My favorite variety is pink ‘Sensation,’ pictured above. Read on, and I’ll tell you how to make kalanchoe bloom when you want it to.

Like most succulents, this African tourist wants little except for twelve to fourteen hours of darkness every night for at least three weeks before Christmas — if you want it to bloom then. Like the chrysanthemum, it is a short-day plant. I take mine to a dark closet around Thanksgiving, and then to the sunny music room window about December 15. If the first crop of faded flowers is cut off, more soon push up, and this fabulous cycle continues through May. I provide a porous soil, about half humus and half sand or perlite, very little fertilizer, and a clay pot. In summer I cut the plant back by half (to avoid repotting in a larger pot), and give it a sheltered position on the semi-shaded front porch. There it quickly grows new branches, and gains strength for another glorious winter performance.

Easy to grow, tolerant of high heat and low humidity, and constant flowers for six months of the year…what more could we ask from a houseplant? Well, perhaps an easier name. Properly, it is pronounced Kal-an-koh’ee.

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Related Posts:
Flowers to Brighten the Indoor Winter Garden
Indispensable Vines for Every Window
African Violets: My Easy, Always-In-Bloom Program
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  1. Doris says:

    Kevin, I love kalanchoe, and always buy a few red ones for the December displays. But I've always thrown them out after they finished flowering. I had no idea you could make them bloom again! Thanks for the horticultural lesson, and for saving me money in the future!!!

  2. Justin says:

    Ditto for me. Didn't know they would bloom a second time. That's why I read this blog!

  3. GothamDan says:

    My kalanchoes didn't stop blooming for months, but now they are ugly and spindly. Every once in a while, one of the stems turns brown and the whole part falls off. If I stick it in the dirt and water it, it begins to grow.

  4. GothamDan — Yes, they do grow spindly if not cut back periodically. As you said, all of the cut pieces can be rooted to form new plants.

  5. Leslie says:

    Love your blog, Kevin! A google search lead me here. I just bought three kalanchoes (one red, one orange and one white), and didn't know how to care for them. Now I do! After seeing the photograph, I might go back and buy a pink one.

    I signed up for your newsletter, too.

  6. Leslie – welcome! I look forward to seeing you around here often!

  7. Anonymous says:

    I bought a red kalanchoe about a month ago and now the flowers are fading. i 'll try your suggestion to force it bloom again.

  8. Melinda says:

    I received one of these plants from a student at the end of the school year in May and it has been blooming since! It is near a window ton my fireplace hearth and all I have done is water it. I am not very good with houseplants so it feels like a miracle!

  9. Riversana says:

    Hey Kevin. Love your monthly chore lists(!), which led me to this post. My husband bought several Kalanchoe last winter, and they continued to bloom sporadically all summer. But they also grew awkwardly. I have 3 colors in one 10″ pot, and all three have a couple giant leaves shading the dirt, while the stems grow out and away from the pot and then bush out. This makes for a very awkward plant to place indoors. Can I pinch it back? Should I remove the large lower leaves? It was just repotted around June or July.. Thanks!

  10. Hi Riversana – Definitely cut your Kalanchoes back. The cut pieces can then be rooted to make new plants (should you want more!).

  11. Susi says:

    Hi Kevin, I just bought a sweet little deep pink kalanchoe at Trader Joe’s– really just a baby. When you say closet for about 14 hours around T-giving, do you bring it into the light during the day? I hope you’re seeing some sun there– it’s encouraging!

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