Belonging to the Crassulaceae plant family, the kalanchoe genus is made up of about 125 different species, all of which flower.
These beautiful perennials come from Madagascar and tropical parts of Africa, and are grown and sold all over the world, not just for their ornamental value in gardens, but also in our homes.
Kalanchoe At A Glance
Kalanchoes are instantly recognizable for their leathery, succulent leaves, and clusters of vibrant flowers.
There are many types to choose from, and all are easy to care for.
Most are shrubs or herbaceous perennials, though you will find biennial and annual forms, too.
In 1932, Robert Blossfeld, a German botanist working in Paris, introduced the kalanchoe to the world.
You may be familiar with his name, as it’s also the name of a particular kalanchoe species, Kalanchoe blossfeldiana, one of the most common varieties, usually sold as a houseplant.
It’s also one of the first plants to adventure into space, having been included on a resupply in 1979, arriving at the Soviet Salyut 1 space station.
Kalanchoe Name Origin
The name of the genus is a Latinized form of the Chinese word Kalanchauhuy, which was the name for one species, roughly translating to ‘that which falls and grows’, probably referring to the way the plant reproduces through its fallen leaves, springing up as new plants in no time.
What Do Kalanchoe Plants Symbolize?
Kalanchoe plants stand for good fortune, abundance, wealth, resilience, and devotion.
In China, the kalanchoe is a popular plant for New Year celebrations, and having it in your home around this time is believed to help invite good luck, prosperity, and new opportunities in the new year.
Kalanchoes are fantastic houseplants, bringing a huge amount of color into any home, as well as featuring in rockeries and containers.
They are popular with beginners and advanced gardeners and houseplant enthusiasts alike, thanks to their easy-going nature and low maintenance qualities.
Kalanchoe has a large role in traditional medicine, used to treat inflamed tissue, rheumatism, and infection, and to suppress the immune system.
In some types of kalanchoe, the plants contain sedative properties, and even antitumor and insecticidal uses, too.
Kalanchoe Growing Requirements
Kalanchoes will survive outdoors, all year round in USDA zones 9 through to 11. In colder areas, you can grow them as houseplants, or take them outside in the summer, and keep them indoors for the rest of the year.
You can force them into flowering, too, but make sure you don’t do this too often, as it could exhaust the plant.
They range wildly in height, and most, including those in containers, rarely get bigger than a foot tall. Some species can reach 3 feet, and Kalanchoe beharensis can reach up to 20 feet tall!
Kalanchoes love as much sunlight as possible, and won’t flower if there isn’t enough light to sustain them.
They need very little water, only when the soil has completely dried out, and the most maintenance you’ll have to do is to take off the spent flower heads.