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Flaming Katy - Tips For Growing Kalanchoe blossfeldiana

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by Max - last update on February 26, 2019, 5:08 am
Flaming Katy (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana) in a pink steel pot

This popular succulent, unlike most other succulents, is grown predominantly for its vibrant blooms. It often finds its way into homes as a gift plant, and is usually thrown away after the flowers have died, as the foliage of the plant is not very interesting to look at. However, if you are prepared to wait for new flowers to bloom, the Flaming Katy can be kept inside as a houseplant all year round.

Growing to no more than 30 cm tall while indoors, it makes quite a nice compact plant to be kept on a bright shelf or windowsill. It's a very easy plant to care for, being tolerant of a large range of temperatures, not requiring any special humidity conditions, and being drought resistant and, therefore, easy to keep alive if you tend to water sporadically. It requires very little attention to thrive and is even happy in a variety of light conditions, though bright, indirect light will be needed for a few hours each day if you want the Flaming Katy to flower again.

Quick Facts


OriginMadagascar
Scientific NameKalanchoe blossfeldiana
FamilyCrassulaceae
TypeEvergreen Succulent
Common NamesFlaming Katy, Window’s Thrill, Panda Plant, Christmas Kalanchoe
Ideal Temperature55° F – 85° F
LightMany light levels tolerated, though bright indirect light is best
WateringAllow to dry out between watering, little water required
HumidityAny humidity
ToxicityPoisonous to pets and livestock

Caring for Your Flaming Katy Plant

Flaming Katy plant in pot

Watering

Caring for this plant is a dream come true for people who have a forgetful or sporadic watering style. The Flaming Katy likes to be watered thoroughly and then, left to dry out between waterings, though it will do just fine if you accidentally neglect it every now and then. The succulent leaves of the plant are capable of storing water for several weeks at a time, so the plant should not go thirsty if you leave it untended to while on summer vacations away from home.

This plant does not like to sit in soggy soil, so a good combination of well-draining potting mix together with occasional moderate watering will result in a happy and thriving plant. Always test the soil before adding more water to avoid overwatering. This plant will benefit from having its soil dry out to around half the depth of the pot. You can check if this is the case by dipping your finger into the soil and noting whether it is moist or dry. If it is damp at all, then you can wait a few more days before testing again.

During winter, the plant will need even less frequent waterings, and the amount you need to water it will also be reduced. You should be watering it every two weeks at the most, but less frequently will be fine too. Make sure you adjust your watering level in line with what the plant needs. During winter, it will not grow, so it needs very little water just to sustain itself. Make sure your pot has drainage holes underneath and a drip tray so that you can pour away any water that drains through the soil. This will help to prevent overly wet soil and root rot.

Temperature

Ideally, the Flaming Katy should be in a temperature range of 55° F - 85° F, though it isn't terribly temperamental when it comes to temperature. If the temperature drops a few degrees below 50° F for a brief period, then the plant will probably be okay, and likewise if the temperature rises a few degrees over 85 °F. That being said, the plant will not do well in frost, so if you put your Flaming Katy outside for the summer months, then be sure to bring it back inside before the first frost arrives. The plant will also not tolerate excessively hot conditions, and will need extra water during heat waves.

Light

The Flaming Katy enjoys bright, indirect light, though for short periods of time, you can move the plant to a more shaded area of your home. While the plant is in bloom, its common to want to sit the plant in a darker space- on a shelf or table with little light to brighten up the area. This plant will be okay with that in the short-term, but after around four weeks, you will need to move it to a better lit spot.

To encourage the plant to bloom time and time again, you will need to allow it at least a few hours of indirect, bright light each day. Without this the plant will not flower again, and may even die completely. A windowsill benefitting from several hours of light each day would be ideal, though make sure you filter any direct light with a shade or window blind (Flowers and Plants Association).

Humidity

The Flaming Katy plant is not fussy when it comes to humidity, and any level of humidity will be fine. The plant will not need any misting and humidity isn't something you need to be concerned with.

Feeding

While the plant is flowering, then you shouldn't feed it. A few weeks after all the flowers have died off, a houseplant fertilizer can be used at half dilution. Feed the plant around every four weeks through spring and summer, and not at all over winter. Look for a fertilizer high in potassium, as this will help the plant to produce more flowers when it next blooms.

Re-potting

This plant is often only kept in the home while it is flowering. The foliage of the plant isn't very interesting to look at and trying to get the plant to flower again is sometimes more trouble than it's worth. For this reason, many people throw the Flaming Katy away after the flowers have died, and will therefore never have cause to repot it.

However, if you choose to keep this plant in your home, it will need to be put in a new pot around every two years. Try to do this in the springtime, carefully removing the plant from its current pot without disturbing the root ball. Plant it into a new pot one size bigger than the previous pot, using a well-draining soil mixed with builder’s sand. Extra care must be taken when re-potting the Flaming Katy because the leaves are quite brittle and can be very easily snapped or damaged.

Flowers

Kalanchoe blossfeldiana flower

The flowers on this plant are the stars of the show, and really, they are the only reason that anyone would buy a Flaming Katy. It is common for the plant to have around 50 flowers blooming at the same time, which is quite something given the small stature of the plant. When it is in full bloom, the plant looks very striking, with masses of flowers in various vibrant colors.

The blooms are usually single flowers with four petals, or double flowers with eight petals. Common colors for the Flaming Katy’s flowers are pink, orange, red, yellow, purple, and white (American University of Beirut- Landscape Plant Database).

Flowers on the Flaming Katy can be short-lived, lasting just a few weeks, though it is possible for the plant to flower for a month or more if it is carefully cared for, with dead flowers being removed frequently. Keeping the plant in a cool spot will also help to prolong the life of the flowers.

Though this is often a throwaway plant after the flowers have died, you can keep the plant around for longer and encourage it to bloom again. As long as it gets the right light, the Flaming Katy can bloom time and time again.

Propagation

Propagating this plant is easy, and for some people, it is the better option for getting new flowers instead of trying to get the mother plant to bloom again. Propagation can be achieved through leaf or stem cuttings. Simply cut a stem from the mother plant a few inches in length and allow it to dry out for a few days before doing anything with it. Once it has dried out, you can plant in in soil, where roots should begin to grow within a few weeks. Rooting hormone can be used to encourage successful propagation, though this is usually a personal preference.

Toxicity

The Flaming Katy is highly toxic to pets, livestock, and humans. Both the leaves and flowers contain cardiac glycosides, which can cause major heart problems for animals, and even death if the animal eats enough of the plant.

In areas of the world where the Flaming Katy plant grows in the wild, deaths of livestock are often reported. The rate of death usually increases during the time when the plant is in bloom, as the toxic cardiac glycosides are found in much larger amounts in the flowers of the plant.

Even small amounts of this toxin can cause harm to pets, so it's important to keep it out of their reach, even if you don't think they would be likely to nibble on it. If you suspect a pet has eaten some of your Flaming Katy, you will need to take them to see a vet as soon as possible. Symptoms that pets have ingested some of the plant include drooling, depression, and diarrhea, as well as cardiac problems (American Kennel Club).

Ingesting parts of the Flaming Katy plant will usually result in tummy upset for humans, so keep the plant out of reach from children.

Common Problems

Kalanchoe blossfeldiana common problems

No New Blooms

Getting the Flaming Katy to produce new flowers can sometimes be a challenge. Professional growers can get this plant to bloom at any time of year by tricking it into thinking it is a different season with the use of artificial light. To get your Flaming Katy to re-bloom, you'll need to do this yourself to some extent. The plant will need long night time hours and few day time hours to produce new buds. Ensure the plant is getting enough light during the day by setting it on a bright windowsill.

Many growers allow the plant to rest during October, better enabling it to produce new blooms afterwards. Beginning in October, allow the plant to only receive moderate light during the day and put it in a dark room for 14 hours each night. Do not feed it during this time and allow very little water. Follow this plan for around six to eight weeks, by which time, the plant should be starting to bloom. Following this period of rest, resume normal care and enjoy your new flowers

Deadheading the plant when it flowers and cutting off flowering stems once they are spent will also encourage new blooms.

Wilting Leaves

Wilting leaves are either caused by too much or too little water. Given that the Flaming Katy is a drought resistant plant, the likelihood will be that it's wilting leaves are a product of overwatering. An easy way to check is to simply feel the soil. If it is moist, then the wilting leaves are almost certainly an overwatering issue. If the soil is very dry, it could be that you haven't watered the plant enough.

Overwatering will often result in root rot, which kills the roots and prevents them from supplying water and nutrients to the plant, thereby killing it. If you suspect root rot then the plant needs to be repotted in fresh, well-draining soil. Root rot is often so severe that the plant cannot be saved, so don't expect too much from your plant if the roots are in poor condition.

Dropping Leaves

A Flaming Katy losing leaves can be due to a number of things. Most commonly, a sudden temperature drop of lower than 50° F will cause the leaves to drop. As this is often sold as a Christmas plant due to its ability to flower through the winter, it's easy for the plant to be inadvertently exposed to very low temperatures. If you suspect this is the case, ensure it is at a comfortable home temperature away from cold drafts to allow if to recover.

The Flaming Katy plant will also drop leaves if exposed to excessively high temperatures, though this is generally much less likely than the opposite issue of low temperature.

Overwatering and underwatering can cause the plant to shed its leaves. Underwatering leads to dehydration of the leaves, which will cause them to drop, while overwatering leads to root rot, which cuts off the plants supply of water and nutrients, causing leaf drop.

Yellowing Leaves

Usually caused by insufficient light, the leaves of the Flaming Katy will turn yellow and eventually drop off if they are not allowed access to a few hours of light each day. Move the plant to a more suitable location, where it should recover.

Powdery Mildew

Powdery mildew starts of as a speckled white coating on the leaves and stems of the plant, looking almost like it has been dusted in powder. If left untreated, this will then progress to a white fluffy texture, causing ill health and death of the plant.

The Flaming Katy is quite susceptible to powdery mildew, especially when kept in low light conditions at around 70° F in temperature. Poor air flow also increases the likelihood of your plant becoming victim of powdery mildew, so try to keep the plant in an area of good air flow and bright light to prevent this issue from occurring. If you notice powdery mildew on your plant, you will need to cut off any leaves that are badly affected and treat the rest of the plant with a fungicide.

Powdery mildew is highly contagious, so keep it away from any other plants you have and treat it quickly. If caught early, the plant should recover well, but a quick diagnosis and treatment is vital as powdery mildew can very quickly kill a plant.

Pests

Mealybugs are the most common pest that a Flaming Katy plant will be host to. They are usually found near the leaf axils in the form of white furry spots, or eggs can sometimes be seen on the underside of the leaves.

These creatures feed on the sap of the plant, stunting its growth and resulting in yellowing or dropping leaves. Mealybugs leave a sticky residue behind after they feed, called honeydew, which will turn to a powdery black texture. When this happens, it is actually mold growing on the honeydew. You can wipe this away with alcohol on a sponge and treat the rest of the plant by spraying it with a strong blast of water.

Take the plant outside each morning and night, spraying it with a jet hose, and within a week or so, all of the mealybugs should have been removed. If the infestation is severe, it may be that an insecticide is necessary to treat the plant. In some instances, the mealybugs have harmed the plant to such an extent that it cannot be saved.


Let us know if this post helped you with your Flaming Katy by leaving us a comment! We’re also happy to answer any other questions you might have.

Flaming Katy Tips For Growing Kalanchoe blossfeldiana

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