Kalanchoe (widow’s thrill): How to Grow and Care for it Properly

Kalanchoe (widow’s thrill) is popular for its vibrant colors, unique shapes, and low maintenance requirements. Whether you’re a seasoned green thumb or just starting your plant journey, this comprehensive guide is here to help you unlock the secrets to growing and caring for these captivating succulents.

Different types of Kalanchoe plants

Chandelier Plant

Kalanchoe is a diverse genus of succulent plants that encompasses a wide range of species and cultivars. From the popular Kalanchoe blossfeldiana with its vibrant flowers to the unique Kalanchoe tomentosa with its fuzzy leaves, there is a Kalanchoe plant to suit every taste and preference. One of the most common types is the Kalanchoe thyrsiflora, also known as the paddle plant or the flapjack plant. This variety is prized for its thick, paddle-shaped leaves that form a striking rosette shape.

Felt Bush

Another popular choice is the Kalanchoe daigremontiana, commonly known as the mother of thousands. This plant produces tiny plantlets along the edges of its leaves, giving it a cascading effect. Other notable varieties include Kalanchoe luciae (also called the flapjack paddle plant) and Kalanchoe delagoensis (known as the chandelier plant). Each type of Kalanchoe brings its own unique charm to the table, making it a delight to explore the different options available.

Florist’s Kalanchoe

When selecting a Kalanchoe plant, consider factors such as the size, shape, and color of the leaves, as well as the type of flowers it produces. Some varieties have glossy leaves, while others have a more powdery or fuzzy texture. The flowers can range from bright reds, pinks, and oranges to more subtle yellows and whites.

Panda Plant
Panda Plant

Take the time to browse through local nurseries or online plant shops to find the perfect Kalanchoe plant that matches your aesthetic preferences and fits well with your existing plant collection. Remember, each type of Kalanchoe has its own unique requirements, so it’s important to choose one that aligns with your gardening skills and the conditions in your living space.


Understanding the ideal growing conditions for Kalanchoe plants

To ensure the health and vitality of your Kalanchoe plants, it’s crucial to understand their preferred growing conditions. Kalanchoe plants are native to arid regions and thrive in bright, indirect sunlight. They are well-suited for indoor environments, as they can tolerate lower light levels compared to other succulents. Place your Kalanchoe plant near a window that receives filtered sunlight for a minimum of 6 hours a day. Avoid exposing them to direct sunlight, as it can scorch the leaves and cause damage.


In terms of temperature, Kalanchoe plants prefer a warm climate. They thrive in temperatures ranging from 60°F to 85°F (15°C to 29°C). Keep in mind that these plants are not frost-tolerant, so it’s important to protect them from cold drafts and extreme temperature fluctuations. If you live in a colder climate, consider growing Kalanchoe plants indoors or providing them with additional heat during the winter months.


In terms of humidity, Kalanchoe plants are relatively low-maintenance. They can tolerate average indoor humidity levels, but they may benefit from a slight increase in humidity during dry winter months. You can achieve this by placing a tray of water near the plant or using a humidifier in the room. However, be cautious not to create excessively humid conditions, as this can lead to fungal diseases and root rot.

Potting soil

When it comes to potting soil, Kalanchoe plants thrive in well-draining soil that allows water to flow freely through the roots. A mixture of succulent or cactus potting mix combined with perlite or pumice works well for these plants. Avoid using heavy, moisture-retaining soils, as they can lead to root rot. Additionally, ensure that the pot has drainage holes to prevent water from pooling at the bottom. Proper drainage is crucial for the health of Kalanchoe plants, as they are susceptible to root rot if their roots remain wet for extended periods.

Remember to repot your Kalanchoe plants every 2 to 3 years to provide fresh soil and room for growth. Spring is the ideal time for repotting, as the plants are entering their active growth phase. Choose a pot that is slightly larger than the current one, as Kalanchoe plants prefer to be slightly root-bound. This encourages better blooming and overall plant health.

Choosing the right soil and container for Kalanchoe plants

When it comes to selecting the right soil and container for your Kalanchoe plants, there are a few key factors to consider. As mentioned earlier, Kalanchoe plants require well-draining soil to prevent root rot. A mixture of succulent or cactus potting mix combined with perlite or pumice is an excellent choice. This type of soil allows excess water to drain away from the roots, ensuring optimal growing conditions for your plants.

In terms of the container, choose one that has drainage holes at the bottom. This allows excess water to escape and prevents waterlogged soil, which can lead to root rot. Additionally, choose a container that is slightly larger than the current root ball of your Kalanchoe plant. This provides room for growth without overwhelming the plant with too much space. Remember, Kalanchoe plants prefer to be slightly root-bound, so a snug container is beneficial for their overall health and blooming potential.

When it comes to aesthetics, feel free to get creative with your choice of container. Kalanchoe plants look stunning in various types of pots, from terracotta to ceramic and even hanging baskets. Consider the overall style and theme of your indoor or outdoor space and choose a container that complements the overall design. Just ensure that the container provides adequate drainage and is suitable for the size of your Kalanchoe plant.

Remember to clean and sterilize your containers before planting to prevent the spread of diseases and pests. A simple solution of mild dish soap and water can be used to clean the pots. Rinse them thoroughly and allow them to dry before adding the potting soil and planting your Kalanchoe.

Watering and fertilizing Kalanchoe plants

Proper watering is essential for the health and longevity of Kalanchoe plants. As succulents, they have adapted to survive in arid conditions and store water in their leaves and stems. Overwatering can lead to root rot and other issues, while underwatering can cause the plants to become dehydrated and wilted. Finding the right balance is key to ensuring the optimal growth and well-being of your Kalanchoe plants.

Watering your Kalanchoe plant

When it comes to watering, it’s best to adopt a “soak and dry” approach. Allow the soil to dry out completely between waterings, and then thoroughly saturate the soil until water drains out of the bottom of the pot. This ensures that the roots receive adequate moisture without sitting in waterlogged soil. During the active growing season, typically spring and summer, water your Kalanchoe plants once every 7 to 10 days. Reduce the frequency of watering during the dormant period in fall and winter, watering only when the soil feels dry to the touch.

It’s important to note that different factors can affect the watering needs of your Kalanchoe plants. These include the size of the pot, the type of soil, the prevailing temperatures, and the humidity levels. Always assess the soil moisture before watering and adjust accordingly. Remember, it’s better to underwater than to overwater your Kalanchoe plants.

Fertilizing your Kalanchoe plant

In addition to proper watering, fertilizing your Kalanchoe plants can help promote healthy growth and blooming. During the active growing season, you can feed your Kalanchoe plants with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer diluted to half the recommended strength. Apply the fertilizer every 2 to 4 weeks, following the instructions provided by the manufacturer. Be cautious not to over-fertilize, as this can lead to excessive foliage growth and diminished blooming. During the dormant period, it’s best to refrain from fertilizing your Kalanchoe plants, as they are not actively growing and do not require additional nutrients.

Common pests and diseases of Kalanchoe plants and how to prevent them

While Kalanchoe plants are generally resilient and low-maintenance, they can still be susceptible to certain pests and diseases. Being aware of these common issues and taking preventative measures can help keep your plants healthy and thriving.


One common pest that can affect Kalanchoe plants is the mealybug. These small, white, cotton-like insects can cluster on the leaves and stems, sucking the sap and causing damage. To prevent mealybugs, regularly inspect your plants for any signs of infestation. If you notice mealybugs, remove them manually using a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol or a solution of water and dish soap. Alternatively, you can use horticultural oil or insecticidal soap to control the infestation. Repeat the treatment as necessary until the mealybugs are eliminated.


Another pest that can affect Kalanchoe plants is the aphid. These small, soft-bodied insects can be green, black, brown, or red, and they feed on the sap of the plants. To prevent aphids, regularly inspect your plants and remove any infested leaves or stems. You can also use insecticidal soap or a solution of water and dish soap to control the infestation. Additionally, attracting natural predators such as ladybugs can help keep aphid populations in check.

Root rot

Root rot is a common disease that can affect Kalanchoe plants if they are overwatered or planted in poorly draining soil. To prevent root rot, ensure that the soil is well-draining and that the pots have drainage holes. Water your plants sparingly and allow the soil to dry out between waterings. If you notice signs of root rot, such as yellowing or wilting leaves and a foul smell, it’s essential to take immediate action. Remove the affected plant from its pot, trim away any rotted roots, and repot it in fresh, well-draining soil.

Leaf spots and fungal diseases

Leaf spots and fungal diseases can also occur in Kalanchoe plants, particularly if the leaves remain wet for extended periods. To prevent these issues, avoid overhead watering and ensure that the leaves have enough air circulation. If you notice any signs of leaf spots or fungal diseases, such as discolored or spotted leaves, remove the affected leaves and improve the growing conditions. Applying a copper-based fungicide can also help control the spread of fungal diseases.

Regularly monitoring your Kalanchoe plants for any signs of pests or diseases and taking prompt action can help maintain their overall health and beauty. Remember to maintain good hygiene practices by cleaning your tools and pots regularly, as this can also help prevent the spread of pests and diseases.

Propagation methods for Kalanchoe plants

One of the joys of growing Kalanchoe plants is the ability to propagate them and expand your collection. There are several methods of propagation that you can try, depending on the type of Kalanchoe plant you have and your personal preferences.

Stem cuttings

One common method of propagation is through stem cuttings. To propagate your Kalanchoe through stem cuttings, start by selecting a healthy stem with several leaves. Using a clean, sharp knife or pair of scissors, cut the stem just below a leaf node. Remove the lower leaves, leaving a few at the top. Allow the cuttings to callus over for a day or two to prevent rotting. Once calloused, place the cuttings in a well-draining potting mix and lightly water the soil. Keep the cuttings in bright, indirect light and maintain slightly moist soil until new roots develop. After a few weeks, you should start to see signs of new growth, indicating successful propagation.

Leaf cuttings

Another method of propagation is through leaf cuttings. This method is especially suitable for varieties such as Kalanchoe daigremontiana, which produce plantlets along the edges of their leaves. To propagate through leaf cuttings, gently remove a healthy leaf from the mother plant, making sure to include the plantlet attached to it. Place the leaf and plantlet on top of well-draining soil and lightly press it down to make contact with the soil. Water the soil lightly and keep it slightly moist until the plantlet forms roots. Once the plantlet has established roots, it can be separated from the leaf and potted individually.


In addition to stem and leaf cuttings, some Kalanchoe plants can be propagated through division. This method involves separating the plant into smaller sections, each with its own set of roots and leaves. To divide your Kalanchoe plant, carefully remove it from its pot and gently separate the root ball into smaller sections. Ensure that each section has sufficient roots and leaves for successful growth. Repot the divided sections into well-draining soil and water lightly. Keep the newly divided plants in a warm, bright location and maintain slightly moist soil until they become established.

Propagation is an exciting way to expand your Kalanchoe collection and share the joy of growing these stunning succulents with others. With a little patience and care, you’ll soon have a thriving garden filled with beautiful Kalanchoe plants.

Pruning Kalanchoe Plants

Kalanchoe plants are known for their ability to thrive in a wide range of conditions, making them a popular choice among plant enthusiasts. However, to ensure their growth and longevity, regular pruning is essential. Pruning not only helps maintain the plant’s shape and size but also promotes healthy growth and prevents the risk of disease. When pruning Kalanchoe plants, it’s important to remove any dead or dying leaves, stems, or flowers. This not only improves the plant’s appearance but also allows for better air circulation and reduces the chance of pests or diseases taking hold. Additionally, pruning can help encourage the plant to produce more blooms and extend its overall lifespan.

Troubleshooting Common Issues with Kalanchoe Plants

While Kalanchoe plants are generally hardy and resilient, they can still encounter a few common issues. By understanding these problems and their solutions, you’ll be better equipped to keep your Kalanchoe plants healthy and thriving.

One common issue faced by Kalanchoe plants is root rot, which can occur if the soil becomes too wet or if the plant is overwatered. To prevent root rot, it’s crucial to ensure that the soil is well-draining and that you water your Kalanchoe plants sparingly. Allow the soil to dry out between waterings, and always empty any excess water from the plant’s saucer or pot.

Another issue that Kalanchoe plants may face is powdery mildew, a fungal disease that can affect the leaves and stems. Powdery mildew appears as a white, powdery coating on the plant’s surfaces and can inhibit growth and cause the plant to become weak and susceptible to other diseases. To prevent powdery mildew, ensure proper air circulation around your Kalanchoe plants by spacing them adequately and avoiding overcrowding. If you notice signs of powdery mildew, treat the affected areas with an appropriate fungicide and remove any severely affected leaves or stems.


Congratulations! You’ve reached the end of the ultimate guide to growing and caring for Kalanchoe plants. We’ve covered everything from pruning and propagating to troubleshooting common issues and recommended care schedules. By applying the knowledge and tips shared in this guide, you’ll be well-equipped to create a thriving environment for your Kalanchoe plants, whether indoors or outdoors. Remember to always observe your plants, adjust care as needed, and enjoy the journey of watching them grow and flourish.

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