Kalanchoe daigremontiana is a low-maintenance succulent native to Madagascar. The plant is also known as the Devil’s Backbone and Mother of Thousands. A slow-growing Kalanchoe variety, its interesting appearance makes the plant sought after by collectors.
Kalanchoe Daigremontiana Appearance
The Mother of Thousands succulent features green leaves and stems, growing out from a central stalk. The plant grows to a height of 3 feet (0.9 meters) and takes two to five years to mature. The foliage has serrated edges, where several plantlets grow. These miniature versions are easy to propagate. Kalanchoe daigremontiana rarely blooms indoors. The tubular flowers are pinkish-gray and appear in spring and summer as temperatures rise.
Mother of Thousands Light Requirements
Provide bright, indirect sunlight for several hours per day to achieve optimal growth. A spot in a sunny room also works well, as long as the plant is not in direct sunlight. Direct exposure may lead to leaf scorch.
Watering Your Mother of Thousands Succulent
The plant is drought tolerant but not as much as other succulent varieties. Water your Kalanchoe daigremontiana regularly, especially in the spring and summer growth season. Water once every few weeks when the top 2 inches of soil feels dry when you insert your finger to the second knuckle. During the dormant fall and winter months, reduce watering to avoid limp leaves and root rot.
Soil and Fertilizer Requirements
Kalanchoe daigremontiana prefers a well-draining soil. Use either a cactus mix or create your own by combining equal amounts potting soil with either sand or perlite for drainage. An unglazed terra cotta or clay pot is recommended to allow excess soil moisture to wick away. This slow-growing succulent doesn’t require regular fertilizer.
Temperature and Humidity Levels
Keep your Mother of Thousands plant in temperatures between 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit (18.3 to 23.8 degrees Celsius). Avoid temperatures below 40 F (4 C) as growth will slow. While the plant thrives in warm climates, avoid placing it near heat vents as the foliage will dry out. Average household humidity is fine for this Kalanchoe.
Propagating the Kalanchoe Daigremontiana
Propagate the Mother of Thousands succulent when the plant nears its winter dormancy period. Either wait for a plantlet to fall off the foliage of the mother plant on its own, or test the plantlets by gently pulling them. If the plantlet is ready, it will come away from its host leaf easily. Lay the plantlet on the surface of a well-draining soil mix in a small pot. Keep the soil damp, but not soggy. Roots will form on their own and the plantlet will establish itself in time.
Common Pests and Diseases
Inspect your plant regularly for aphids, scale, spider mites, and mealybugs. Signs of infestation include sticky honeydew excreted by the pests, black sooty mold as a result of the honeydew, or tiny webs from spider mites. Damage to the foliage, from the pests feedings on the plant, is also a telltale sign. For small infestations, wipe the insects away with a cotton swab soaked in rubbing alcohol. For larger infestations, treat the plant with horticultural oil.
Root rot is a result of overwatering your plant or using a growing medium that is not fast-draining. Soil with a constant, high moisture content develops fungus, which rots the roots of the plant. The first signs are yellow, wilted leaves. Remove the plant from its pot and inspect the roots. If rot is present, cut away any affected roots that appear dark and mushy. Repot your plant in a clean pot with fresh soil. Remove as much of the old, infected soil from the plant as possible before repotting.
Kalanchoe Daigremontiana may look intimidating but the houseplant is considered beginner-friendly and easy to maintain. The plant propagates with little effort, which is ideal as the mother plant begins to fade once blooms die off. Add this hardy houseplant to your collection.
Kalanchoe Daigremontiana FAQ
This succulent prefers warm temperatures. Gardeners in USDA zones 9 to 11 will have success growing this plant outside. For other climates, some time outdoors in the warm, summer months will benefit the plant’s growth. Ensure the plant is kept in a pot so it is easily moved indoors if weather conditions cool.
Repotting is necessary if the plant has outgrown its pot and the roots begin to grow out of the drainage holes. If fallen plantlets begin to take root in the mother plant’s pot, remove them. The offsets can be discarded or grown in their own pot.
Yes, all Kalanchoe plants are considered toxic and should be kept away from pets and children.
To encourage blooming, slowly decrease watering and sunlight exposure 6 weeks before the desired bloom time. Place the plant in a dark space with no sunlight, such as a closet, for 14 hours per 24 hour period. Once blooms begin to form, place the plant in indirect sunlight and water as usual.
The only pruning the plant requires is the removal of dead blooms, foliage, and stems.