For the month of July, we found a fascinating and unique houseplant known as the Mother of Thousands plant (Bryophyllum daigremontiana, aka Kalanchoe daigremontiana) — and looks unlike any plants you've ever owned before. Easier-care houseplants may exist out there somewhere but we haven't seen many that take less work than Mother of Thousands. That makes it a perfect houseplant for July, a month that traditionally gives us some competing activities, from starting your first vegetable garden to perfecting your backyard barbecue skills.
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About the Mother of Thousands
The Mother of Thousands is an exceptional foliage plant growing up to three feet tall, with thick, gorgeous leaves, some six inches long and three inches wide. But it's what is attached to the leaves that makes the plant unusual: baby plantlets grow in around the edges of mature leaves, giving them a lacy look. This unique feature has inspired other common names like Dragon's Backbone and Alligator Plant.
But don't think the leaflets are purely ornamental. According to scientists at the University of California, this Bryophyllum has lost the ability to produce seeds, and instead develops plantlets to propagate the species. Every one of these tiny plantlets can develop roots and turn into another Mother of Thousands plant. How cool is that?
Where to Find?
Although native to Madagascar, you can easily buy this succulent plant in local stores or online. If you live in an urban center, look for a Mother of Thousands at your local garden store or a specialty succulent boutique.
If you're shopping online, Amazon has a variety of Mother of Thousands plants, including rare, dark blue plantlets. Or visit Etsy to get started. They have plantlets, plants, and cuttings, including three rooted plants for $10.99. Succulents Box offers a 2-inch hybrid plant with V-shaped leaves for under $6.
If your Mother of Thousands has well-draining soil and a site with bright, indirect light, it is good to go.
We're serious about that well-draining soil though. Mother of Thousands is drought resistant and can tolerate neglect, but its roots will die in heavy soil. If your potting mix doesn't offer top drainage, you can can cut it with sand or else invest in a cactus potting mix. Then just step back and let her grow. Don't even think of giving "Mom" a drink until the top few inches of soil in the container are dry.
From Alaska to California, from France's Basque Country to Mexico's Pacific Coast, Teo Spengler has dug the soil, planted seeds and helped trees, flowers and veggies thrive. A professional writer and consummate gardener, Spengler has written about home and garden for Gardening Know How, San Francisco Chronicle, Gardening Guide and Go Banking Rates. She earned a BA from U.C. Santa Cruz, a law degree from U.C. Berkeley's Boalt Hall, and an MA and MFA from San Francisco State. She currently divides her life between San Francisco and southwestern France.