Kalanchoe care

The kalanchoe: the places of origin, because they are called that

The Kalanchoe genus belongs to the Crassulaceae family and includes a hundred species of perennial succulents, very different from each other, annual or biennial, with the appearance of shrubs or herbaceous plants. Being succulents, they have roots, leaves and stems larger than normal, as they accumulate water reserves that allow them to survive even in drought conditions. They are rustic plants, grown mainly for ornamental purposes due to the originality of the foliage and the showy and prolonged flowering. They are native to Saudi Arabia, Yemen, South America, Southern Africa and Asia, but particularly Madagascar. The first to describe the genus was the French botanist Michel Adanson in 1763, who gave these plants the name Kalanchoe, Latinizing the ancient Chinese denomination kalan chau, still in use in the East. The first to arrive in Italy, in 1922, was the Kalanchoe blossfeldiana which takes its name from the German botanist Blossfeld, who introduced it to Europe.

The best known species: blossfeldiana, beharensis, thyrsiflora

The best known and most loved, often called simply kalanchoe, is surely the blossfeldiana, a small and graceful perennial plant native to Madagascar. It reaches a height of 30 cm and has fleshy, glossy green leaves with wavy or jagged edges. Flowering occurs in winter and bears tubular flowers, even double, of various colors, bright red, white, yellow.The largest is the beharensis, from Behara, a locality in southern Madagascar from which it comes. Slowly growing, in Italy it is less than one meter high on average and rarely blooms, but in its homeland, and where environmental conditions are similar, it can reach a height of 6 meters. Characteristic are the large triangular leaves, about 20 cm long, gray-green in color and covered with a light down, for which it is also called elephant-eared kalanchoe. The thyrsiflora is very decorative, on average 60 cm tall, its leaves are pale green with pinkish margins, and the yellow flowers are gathered in spikes. The name means from panicle flowers.

The cultivation needs common to all species

Despite the great variety that distinguishes the genus, in principle the care of the kalanchoe must follow the same rules. The ideal temperature is around 20 ° C, however never below 10 ° C. The position must be very bright but protected from direct sun, at least in the hottest hours of summer. As a substrate you can use that for succulents or universal soil mixed with sand, the important thing is that it is well drained to avoid dangerous stagnation of water. They do not need frequent watering, it will be enough to give water once every two weeks in autumn-winter, 1 or 2 times a week in spring-summer. In regions where the winter is mild it is possible to place them outdoors, otherwise they do just as well indoors. Reproduction can take place by sowing or by leaf cutting. The second method, more convenient and effective, is preferable. The cuttings are obtained by cutting off the whole leaves at the base or by cutting the largest into portions, and they are left for a couple of days to dry in the sun; then they immerse themselves in a moist soil until the sprouts born on the edge are large enough to be planted.

Kalanchoe cure: The necessary interventions in the care of kalanchoe

The care of kalanchoes does not require special attention, they are in fact resistant plants. However, it is possible, of course, that they run into problems, often caused by errors in the growing conditions. And in fact they can come to find themselves in an excessively humid environment, because they have been watered too much or if the soil is not well drained, in this case the roots can rot and the leaves become soft, it is necessary to ensure that the plants dry up, and if there are mushrooms, apply a specific product. If, on the other hand, they are kept in an environment that is too hot and dry, they can be subject to attacks by cochineal and aphids, which disturb their development and cause the flowers to fall. It is very important to eliminate withered flowers, because they can be a vehicle for infections or promote the spread of mold. After flowering it is advisable to vigorously prune the plant to give it vigor. It is usually not necessary to repot it, indeed it is not recommended that the roots have more space than necessary. During the flowering period, fertilizer for succulent plants can be administered every 15-20 days.

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