Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana) is a dark-green succulent that grows indoors or out, in containers or in the ground. It is often referred to as Christmas kalanchoe because it blooms in winter. This decorative plant boasts striking flowers. The species name, blossfeldiana, honors Robert Blossfeld, a hybridizer who introduced it in Europe from its native Madagascar. Calandiva is a brand name; it is a cultivar, or variety of kalanchoe bred from Kalanchoe blossfeldiana. Calandiva is highly ornamental.
Kalanchoe is known for its extremely showy flowers that bloom in pink, red, yellow, white and orange. The multibranched succulent is long-blooming from winter through spring. The leaves have scalloped edges; large clusters of flowers present themselves on short stems above the foliage. Kalanchoe is often used as a houseplant but makes a good cool season bedding plant or attractive container plant. Present-day kalanchoes do not need to have the spent flowers removed.
The highly ornamental 'Calandiva' series is known for its rose-like double flowers in an ever-increasing color palette. It was discovered in 1998 by a Swedish grower who noticed a purple kalanchoe mutant that had 32 petals instead of four. The plant was intensively bred and then introduced to gardeners in 2002. The colors include white, cream, yellow, salmon, light pink, rose, lavender, red and burgundy.
These plants thrive outside in United States Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 10 through 11, where they survive temperatures to 30 degrees Fahrenheit. The perennial plant slowly grows up to 1 foot tall and as wide in either part shade or part sun. It tolerates slightly alkaline, sand or acidic soil and its drought tolerance is high. Lightly fertilize the succulent once a year. If the plant is outside, protect it from frost and watch for caterpillars and mealy bugs.
The succulent is easily propagated and one of the best ways is by stem or tip cuttings. After the flower is done, find a stem with two pairs of leaves that is about three inches long. Cut the stem and lay it out to dry in the house or outside if there is no danger of frost. After two days, simply stick the stem in the planting medium; no fertilizer is required. A recommended rooting medium consists of one part peat to one part sand.
- University of Florida: Miami-Dade County: A Word or Two About Gardening: Flower Beds: Some Water-wise Choices for Miami-Dade; John McLaughlin; December 2010
- Auburn University: College of Agriculture: Kalanchoe; J. Raymond Kessler Jr.
- Michigan State University Extension: Ornamental Plants: Kalanchoe Blossfeldiana
Nellene Teubner Plouffe
Nellene Teubner Plouffe is a writer who started her journalism career as a reporter and columnist for the "Orange County Register" newspaper in 1992. In 1995, Teubner Plouffe received a first-place award in column writing from the California Newspaper Publishers’ Association. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in sociology from the University of California, Santa Barbara.