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Kalanchoe Care: As A Houseplant & In The Garden

These long, lasting blooming plants will brighten up both your garden & home.

Oh how I love succulents! And, a succulent with lots of long lasting flowers is just the cat’s meow. Enter the popular Kalanchoe blossfeldiana which is most commonly sold as a houseplant but here in Santa Barbara (USDA zone 10) mine enjoy the great outdoors year round. Here’s how to take care of Kalanchoes, or Kals as we used to call them, both in the house and in the garden.

I buy mine at the farmers market and although we used them a lot in the interiorscaping trade in offices and homes, I had never grown them in the garden before. I’ve discovered that Kalanchoes bloom almost all year round here with very little care. My kind of plant!

Growing Kalanchoes in the garden (I have them in pots & not growing in the ground):

Light: Bright shade. Mine get 1 or 2 hours of direct sun in the summer, no more.

Water: Once a week, thoroughly.

Soil: Mine are planted in organic potting soil.

Fertilizer: I don’t use any. I plant with worm castings & then top dress with worm castings & compost every Spring. Once or twice during the warm months, I’ll water in some seaweed extract.

Pests: None so far.

Tip: I trim off the dead flowers, taking the stem all the way down to where it meets the foliage. I don’t have to do it too often because the flowers are long lasting, and plainly put, it just looks better this way.

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 Kalanchoes at our farmers market (& at flower shops) come with this decorative wrapping

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this one is the rosebud or double Kalanchoe

Tip: Yes, that paper wrapping may be prettier than the grow pot but remove it when you water your plant. Remember, the Kalanchoe is a succulent & too much water building up will drown it out.

Now, onward to caring for them as a houseplants. This is one of the long lasting, blooming plants in our book which you can check out here Keep Your Houseplants Alive.  At the end of this post, I touch briefly on how to get them to bloom again indoors. Hint: it’s not easy.

Light: As bright as possible, something like a south &/or west exposure. Give it lots of sun but nothing direct for more than 2 hours. Keep it away from the hot windows – touching that glass will burn it. Ouch!

Water: Every 2 weeks in the warmer months. If the soil is still wet, wait until the top 1/2 dries out. And, don’t let it sit in water. Remember, they are succulents which means they store water in their leaves & stems.

Soil: Organic potting soil suitable for houseplants. A mixture of half potting soil & half succulent & cactus mix would be fine. That’s what I used to plant up my new pink Kals.

Temperature: I say if your home is comfortable to you, then your houseplants should be just fine too. They would enjoy a vacation outdoors in the warmer months (refer to outdoor care above).

Fertilizer: Use an organic liquid fertilizer like Houseplants Alive but easy does it. Only 2 applications per year – once in mid-Spring & the other in mid-Summer.

Pests: Keep an eye out for mealy bug. It leaves behind a residue which looks like specks of cotton.

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In the video (below) I said that you could see the pot before I painted it. Well, here it is.

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Here’s the pot after a bit of dry brushing & a couple of “look at me” dots of poly jewels glitter.

Tip: The foliage grows very densely.  I snip away some of those larger leaves growing over the blooms. Those purdy flowers will show more.

Now, on to how to get them to bloom again. If yours hasn’t ever repeat bloomed, don’t feel bad.  I’ll start this by saying “good luck” because you’re going to have to work for it. Kalanchoes, like Poinsettias, are photoperiodic. This means they react to periods of light exposure and need at least 12-14 hours of complete darkness to bloom again.

Chances are, if you have them in your home, you have them in a room that isn’t getting that amount. So, starting in winter, you have to put them in a closet or a room that’s pitch black for 12-14 hours. And yes, they need that every night for 2 months. Be sure to cut back on the watering too.

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Here the purdy Kals are in their spot on my covered front porch where I, & others, will see them many times a day.

Kalanchoes are known for their flowers which come in vibrant shades of red, orange and pink.  You can also find them in white and more subtle shades of pink. The flowers are long lasting and the foliage a nice, rich, shiny green. A great blooming plant for the garden or your home!

Don’t forget to check out our houseplant care book. Here’s a post  we did telling you all about it.

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57 comments:

  1. I got a kalanchoe in a bouquet when my Mom passed away August 2013. So it’s sentimental to me. A few months later I pruned and picked off some drying leaves, and just let it regrow. But it just seems to grow up taller with small leaves, though it still looks nice in the window. Should I maybe nip the tips off the stems growing upward?

  2. I also have another issue! you know anything about the giant cannas plant? I rec’d some seeds I ordered and the instructions said it could take up to 6 weeks before they germinate. I searched on youtube about germinating theses seeds and found some techniques that I thought I would experiment with, on a couple of the seeds. they germinated after 3 days and are growing. Here it is early January and its going to be 3 months before I can get them outside. do you think they’ll be able to survive that long in a 4×4″ pot by the window?

  3. Hi Ken – Oh those sentimental plants – I so understand. It may not be getting enough light if the leaves are small & the stems are reaching skyward. You can certainly do tip pruning which will encourage it to stay lower & you might even consider doing it every month or 2. My Kanlanchoes grow outdoors & I prune them after every bloom cycle. By the way, because it’s Winter, don’t fertilize it. Even houseplants need a bit of rest! Nell

  4. Hi Ken – Cannas are a very common landscape plant around here. If you only have 2 seeds in that 4″ pot, they should be fine. They do tend to grow fast, including the roots, so just make sure the soil doesn’t completely dry out. Cannas do not like to go dry when young. They are tough plants & transplant easily (I’ve seen them at the grower’s with pots split open) so if they have look like they have to be repotted in March, no problem. Nell

  5. Nell,
    I have a Kalanchoe-Jackie which is into its second bloom. My question is how to control the plant from spreading outward from the center of the pot? Should I us Stick Propagation to refill the center of the pot?
    Thank You

  6. Hi Damian – These Kalanchoes spread from the center of the pot to get more light. I propagate them 2 ways with success: leaf cuttings & 4″ stem cuttings taken from that smaller new growth which shoots off the main stems. Hope that helps, Nell

  7. Hi Nell, so glad to have found your site. I live in Southern Florida, on the Gulf Coast near Naples – way down. It is summer most of the year and mine is red, did not know what I was buying, it was just so beautiful I had to have it. It has not stopped blooming, been about 5 months so far. I am just about to put it in the ground and am now rethinking that. I have some big pots and it seems happy in a pot. So, I think I will transplant it to a larger pot, which, I took, am going to paint! You have inspired me. I am 65 and need some inspiration in my life right now and you are helping me fill that void. I thank you.
    Dotty
    PS I am an avid reader and will read up on propagation, etc .

  8. Dorothy – I’m so glad you found my site too! I live in a temperate climate right on the coast on California but the air is much drier than in Florida. Kalanchoes are succulents & prefer drier conditions so you are wise to keep it in a pot because it could possibly rot out in the ground where you are. Mine are actually in pots too because they make great container plants. Keep on reading & watching because I have a lot more videos & posts coming your way. You made my day Dorothy – I love sharing what I know & answering questions so I’m touched that you find my site an inspiration. All the best, Nell

  9. I have a question about over watering a kal. Im not a gardener and have a black thumb. I dont think i have killed it yet what should i watch out for and can I bring it back?

  10. Hi Heather – Once a succulent is overwatered indoors, it’s hard to bring it back. If it’s not too far gone, you can simply let the soil dry out. If the soil isn’t drying fast enough, then replant your kal into fresh, dry succulent planting mix. Look out for leaves & stems”mushing out” & turning yellow then brown (but still remaining spongy feeling, not dry), Hope that helps, Nell

  11. Hi there Miss Nell.

    I live up in Canada and have 4 Kals of my own. Right now they’re living outside on my porch after surviving a winter in the house under a grow light. They’ve so far received new pots (lager than the wimpy 4″ pots they came in) and have received a teeny bit of liquid fertilizer when I was taking care of some transplanted shrubs.

    Fall hits our neck of the woods around late August here (coming in the house at night to avoid chill) and I’m wondering when I should Fertilize again and when I should start keeping them in the dark If I want them to bloom for Christmas. 2 months in advance, right?

    How am I doing. Thanks for all this awesome reading material! A.M.

  12. Hi there A.M. – You can give them a fertilizing at 1/2 strength now if you’d like, but no later. You don’t want to feed them too close to their rest period. Actually, around the 1st of Sept. you can put them in a dark room (make sure it’s completely dark) for 12-14 hours at around 5 or 6 pm. Or, simply put a dark cloth over them. Then, bring them out in Oct & give them light. Mine bloom off & on all year but they grow outdoors. Also, be sure to cut off all the flowering growth, stems too, to encourage new growth & flower buds. Thank for reading – I hope that helps! Nell

  13. Thanks Miss Nell! I’ll be sure to do that. I’ve also been enjoying your You-Tube videos. I know all about trimming after flowering. 🙂 The fertilizing was the head scratcher for me.

    None of our windows let in UV light. Will a simple Grow-Light be enough for them after their dark time? Thanks again! A.M.

    p.s. Great blog! 😀

  14. I have bought a kalanchoe from ikea in a small plastic cup.
    i want to give it as a return gift. but i have bought it a week before and the leaves are drying one by one. i live in phoenix. i amanita sure if i will be able to keep it safe till next week for my guests. i have watered it only once. could the small cup be the reason for it to dry or is der anything else to be done. i want it to look good before giving it to guests.

  15. Hi Sindhu – It’s hard to say because when you buy a plant at a big box store like Ikea, you have no idea how long it’s been there & what kind of care it’s received. It could have been over or under watered or not had enough light. Typically, the smaller the grow pot, the more often you have to water. It also depends on what kind of soil it’s planted in. If the Kal is outside in Phoenix, it could simply be too hot for it. Hope that helps, Nell

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  17. Hi Nell, I love the info on the kal. I received one as a gift from my husband for my birthday and now the flower heads are wilting, they are falling over. I don’t know what is wrong. Give me a vegetable garden, and I can grow anything, a flowering plant, I have black thumbs. Please help before I kill it!? :}

  18. Hi Julie – Thank you! The flower heads are most likely wilting because the plant could have been overwatered (by you or the source it came from). These plants are succulents after all & like to be kept on on the drier side (but not completely dry like a cactus). They like nice bright light. Mine grow outdoors & repeat flower but unfortunately, when grown as houseplants, it’s hard to get them to flower again. Hope that helps! Nell

  19. Hi Julie, I bought this Calandiva which is a Kalanchoe plant from Walmart and have owned this indoor house plant for three weeks and four days now. It has beautiful red flowers on it and is in a (4 inch. size pot).
    I live in Oceanside, CA and the temperature inside my house is usually between 67 to 75 degrees during the day time and also in the evening. I place this Kalanchoe plant near by a window during the morning hours five days a week where it can receive sunlight about 2 to 4 hours.
    I only water this plant once per week when the soil is dry but I noticed a few days ago that (three of the leaves located at the bottom of this Kalanchoe plant) is dried at the tip of the leaves and also the tip of the leaves are black. Why are the leaves drying out and changing color? Otherwise the rest of my Kalanchoe plant is doing well and the majority of the plant’s leaves are really beautiful and green.

  20. Hi – Black leaves are usually a sign of cold damage or too much water. The plant could have been over watered before you even bought it. Also, the leaves grow so densely that you’re bound to loose some, especially the ones that grow at the base of the plant. Nell

  21. Hi nell
    My beautiful plant has alot of knats. Please tell me what i can do. Thanks

  22. Hi Cathy – Fungus gnats appear because of too much water. You want to let the top half of the soil thoroughly dry out. They have a short life span so you can let the adults run their cycle or control them w/sticky yellow traps. they lay lots of eggs so you can kill those by watering with 1 part hydrogen peroxide to 5 parts water. It might take a couple of rounds. Nell

  23. I acquired two really lovely Kalanchoes recently, about a week apart. Both have been repotted with new well draining soil/pot. I have them in East facing windows, and noticed when I had the windows open a bit, some of the leaves wilted. So I stopped doing that. Several days later (today) it was finally sunny here in NY so I placed it in a nice bright South facing window before the bright sun disippated, it was there maybe an 1-2 hours and the leaves really wilted. 🙁 I now understand they don’t like drafts, but I thought they loved sun? It was 62 degrees outside here so I didn’t think it was too hot? So, two questions…1. Will the wilted leaves perk up? 2. Why are the leaves wilting in the sunny window? For now I will keep them in the East window with windows closed. Thanks for any help!

  24. Hi Jane – Kalanchoes like brighter light in winter & less in summer. I now live in the desert & mine grows outside in bright shade. The wilted leaves won’t perk up. They could be wilting because the light was too bright & hot or they’ve gotten too much water – they are succulents after all. If the leaves wilt, shrivel & turn yellow, then too dry. Nell

  25. Hi, I’m in Phoenix and recently was given 4 small pots of Kals and believe they’ll do well outside until our weather warms up (90s+) My thoughts are to bring them inside at that point until October or November. What do you think?

  26. Hi DJ, I’m now your neighbor to the south – I moved to Tucson June 1 of last year. I left most of my kalanchoes behind in Santa Barbara but did bring 1. Here’s what I did: I left it outdoors (in bright shade, no direct sun at all) until the end of Sept. when I brought it inside. I did this because it was going to flower which it’s doing now. I imagine you could do as you suggested but just to certain to protect them from freezing temps. Nell

  27. I have a kalanchoe plant that I have just recently repotted into a larger pot. When I first had this plant it was in a 4-5 inch pot and bloomed twice. Now about 6 months later have had no blooms and the leaves are no longer shiny. They are not wilted either. So not sure if I overwatered it or what. I am hoping the replanting in a larger pot will make the leaves shiny again along with getting more blooms since we are coming into spring. We are located in Southern Iowa And my plant has always been indoors. Any help will be appreciated.

  28. Hi Bonnie – I water my Kalanchoe (which is indoors now) thoroughly once a month. It gets really bright light. I’ll put it back outdoors soon (I now live in Tucson) for a few months. Mine flowered here starting at the end of Dec. & is still in bloom. Easy on the watering, plant it in succulent & cactus mix & give it as much light as possible but avoid any hot, direct sun. Nell

  29. Hi Nell, I received a Kal as a gift, so far so good, and I’d like to keep it that way:) I plan on re-potting the plant. What type of planter do you suggest I use, material wise and shape wise? Also, can I hang this plant outside? I live in Pa where the weather can be a bit erratic and unpredictable at times, so in the event we receive a lot of rain, do I bring the plant indoors? I’m thinking of just keeping it indoors rather than having to worry about it outside. Thank you!

  30. Hi Jodash – The shape or material really doesn’t matter that much. If the plant is in a 6″ pot, then go no bigger than an 8″ or 10″ pot. You can hang it outside but the Kalanchoe is a succulent & doesn’t like to be kept constantly wet so maybe it’s better indoors. And, use a succulent & cactus mix if you can. Nell

  31. I received a Kalanchoe, or at least what certainly seems to be one, in a little planter full of other things which have all died. I thought the Kalanchoe has died, too, so I hadn’t watered the planter in months – probably not since January. I have no ability or experience in cultivating plants, but, on removing all the other dead foliage from the little planter, I discovered that the Kalanchoe is, although poorly, still alive. She’s green on some major leaves and the stems, and still has four little red flowers – although a lot of her remaining leaves are brown, dry, and shrivelled on the ends. I was puzzled how any plant could be alive after that much neglect, but since I’ve now discovered it’s a succulent, I suppose that explains why it’s my only survivor. My question is this: how should I bring my Kalanchoe back to health? She lives on my office windowsill in central Texas, in what seems to be the right kind of sunlight and a generally mild-warm indoor/window-adjacent temperature. Would plant food help her brown leaves? Should I water her slowly, or all at once? She’s still in the plastic-lined planter she came in, which may retain too much water. Would repotting her cause too much stress? What sort of pot should she be put in? Thanks for bearing with my ignorance – I’d like to have an office plant I don’t kill, and this one seems willing to survive poor treatment! Please help me figure out how to save her.

  32. Hi Sisi – The Kalanchoe blossfeldiana can be a bit tricky to grow indoors but certainly not impossible. It needs bright natural light & to be kept on the dry side. You can transplant it into a pot with succulent & cactus mix. Water it thoroughly, letting it almost dry out in between waterings. I feed my succulents don’t need a lot of fertilizing. I feed mine with organic worm compost & compost. Nell

  33. I have a friend’s Kal that was dying because of stem canker, or stem borer. It bores up thru the stem and then out. The roots are almost gone. Root rot. Yet, it has about 3 inches of green leafy growth on the ends. How can I save this plant? It was my friend’s mother’s plant.

  34. I bought my calandiva months ago. It bloomed once. Can I cut my plant back. I don’t water my plants about every 3 weeks. They are in the sun. It keeps growing getting taller still oops great. Any help would be great I live in Manteca ca.

  35. Hi Rita – If the roots are almost gone, you may not be able to save it. Cankers are caused by many different things, including borers. They are considered fungal so the plant has been kept too wet. You can try transplanting it into fresh succulent mix & be mindful not to over water. Nell

  36. Hi I’ve had 2 kalanchoes since 2015 indoors. They are doing well but extremely leggy now. How much can I trim them back at a time to get them under control?

  37. Valerie – Yes, you can cut it back but not all the way down. I pinch mine every 2 months or so to keep them from getting too leggy. Seems to encourage the bloom too. Nell

  38. Hi Neal – I’m growing my Kalanchoes indoors now too & find they get leggy over time. I pinch mine back every 2-3 months, especially after they flower which definitely helps. Don’t prune them back too far though – I’ve found they don’t respond well to that. Nell

  39. Great info. Stumbled here while searching for benefits of
    Kalanchoe.

  40. Thank you Abi! Nell

  41. Hello, I have indoor 3 kalanchoe plant and I live in Canada. Today I cut the dead flowers and I’m little will they bloom again. Thanks Have a nice day

  42. Hi Sadaf – My Kalanchoe is now growing indoors & blooms twice a year. I need to regularly pinch it to keep it from getting too leggy. Nell

  43. Hello Nell. I received a plant for my birthday and couldn’t figure out what it was, until I found a tiny sticker on the bottom of the paper wrapped around the pot. Turns out it is a kalanchoe, grown in Canada and a beautiful sunny yellow – which is not a color mentioned in your article! I was looking for info on the care of it and found your website. Thanks for all the helpful information. I have this plant on the table on my screened porch – bright light, no direct sun, and happy to find that this is a great location for it. I live in southern N.Carolina and can leave it out for all but the the few cold months of the year.

  44. Hi Kate – That’s a great location for your Kalanchoe. It’s also sheltered from frequent rains as it likes to be on the dry side. My Kalanchoes repeat bloom off & on all year so hopefully yours will too. Nell

  45. Hello and thanks for your video. I friend gave me a few cuttings from her Kalanchoes they are in a glass with water and growing roots, when do i have to plant them in soil? I have never grown this kind of plants before. Thank you for any help.

  46. Hi Ana – The growers routinely root kalanchoe cuttings in a propagation mix (soil less & very light). You can plant them in at any time. Nell

  47. Hello…My kalenchoe plant has not bloomed after the first flowering and the new leaves that came after I cut the flower stalk are very tiny and not succulent and some leaves are falling off as bunch. Mine is grown completely indoors (no balcony in my apartapartment) and I water it every 3 weeks .

  48. Hi Abida – It sounds like not enough light &/or too much water. Nell

  49. Hi Nell: my mother brought home a kalanchoe and put it on a windowledge. within days we were over run with houseflys. Are these plants known to be an attractant for flys ?

  50. Hi Rick – Kalanchoes, like other houseplants, aren’t an attractant to houseflies. To the best of my knowledge, they go after our food. Sounds like you might have fungus gnats (small black flies) which hatch out of the soil. This is common with houseplants. Nell

  51. Hi Nell !! Your website is so nice. I am doing research on different types of flowers as I am writing a screenplay and your love and knowledge for flowers inspired me. One of the main characters of my script is a flower expert. May I ask you why do the Kalanchoes are known also as Neverdie? Your support will be very helpful. On the other hand, I’ve noticed some people are a bit nostalgic about this specific plant any thoughts or comments about it?
    Thanks a lot!!

  52. Hi Oscar – The Neverdie Kalanchoe is Kalanchoe crenata is different from the one I write about here.It can last many years in its native environment. The one in this post is Kalanchoe blossfeldiana which is the popular flowering kalanchoe sold in the houseplant trade. There are hundreds of species of kalanchoes. I like this one because of the show of flowers it puts out & the colors it comes in – vibrant. Have fun with your screenplay! Nell

  53. My Kalanchoe is a “rescue plant.” After identifying it using the internet, I thought it would at least develop Lavender Scallops after resuscitating it, but its scallops refuse to turn lavender. Just somewhat dark green, not-thick leaves, with hairy air-roots here and there. Just put it next to my other green plants in the corner, a philodendron and a few snake plants. For color, we got African violets and purple passions.

    I’m still working out the details about putting a box over the plant for 14 hours every night to make it flower. Can’t “Genetic Engineering” get that down to 7 hours? Don’t change anything else; just that.

    When I started taking care of it, it was getting more than 2 hours of direct sun, with only a window between it and the summer sun. The tip-end of its leaves were turning yellow, brown, dying. I didn’t know if it was too much / too little water, or light, or fertilizer.

    It was getting bad for August, but I pulled it back about a foot from the window about one or two weeks ago based on Nell’s advice about “bright shade, not more than 2 hours of direct sun,” and the leaves stopped turning brown. Thanks Nell!

    -neil-

  54. Hi Neil – Lavender Scallops is a different kalanchoe than the 1 I’m writing about here. I grew LS in my garden in Santa Barbara & they flowered heavily in late winter. This is the Florist Kalanchoe, but whichever 1 you have, keep it out of a hot, sunny window! Nell

  55. Good Morning, Nell. I have a Kalanchoe houseplant that I’ve had for 2 years in North Idaho. I understand that it is leggy because not enough light, I let it get too tall before pruning, etc. What can I do now that it is so leggy. All of the new growth at the top is bushy and healthy, but the stems are bare for 10 inches or so. How much should I cut it back, or can I transplant it deeper so that I don’t have to cut back the bushy healthy tops? What are your thoughts? Thank you.

  56. Hi Jennifer – You can take cuttings & start a new plant if you’d like. I’ve cut back a kalanchoe b. quite severely & it didn’t come back as full as bushy as I would have liked it too. Or, you can gradually take it down & see if new growth starts to appear further down the stems. Do it soon though because your days will be getter shorter soon. Nell

  57. I think I may have accidentally killed my kalanchoe. I received it as a present from my mother in law last christmas, but I know nothing about plants and gardening. It was getting pretty big so I had moved it to a bigger pot, and started keeping it outside on the porch since we didn’t really have anywhere inside to put it that had enough sunlight. Well, I live in Michigan, and it got pretty cold the other day and ALL the leaves are wilted and drooping! I brought it inside a couple of days ago, and have been keeping it on a rug by our patio door so it can still get some light. I haven’t seen any change since I brought in inside, but it hasn’t gotten worse or started turning brown either. Is there any hope for it, or is it a lost cause?

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  59. Hi Emily –
    Those kalanchoes really can’t take a freeze. 45 to 50 degrees F is about as low as they’ll go. Most Kalanchoe blossfeldianas are hothouse grown targeted towards the houseplant trade so it’s probably a goner. and anyway, once they loose all their leaves it’s hard for them to come back with any kind of a decent form. Nell

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