Kalanchoe laxiflora commonly known as Milky Widow’s Thrill is a perennial subshrub succulent that belongs to family Crassulaceae. It is a drought smart plant that makes it a great choice for xeriscaping. This succulent has beautiful leaves that are reddish along the margins. It looks absolutely amazing in succulent gardens and rock gardens.
Synonym:Bryophyllum crenatum, Bryophyllum laxiflorum, Kalanchoe crenata, Kalanchoe tieghemii.
Origin and Habitat
Kalanchoe laxiflora is native to Madagascar (an island country lying off of the southeastern coast of Africa). It grows well in the Rocky Mountains and dry soils of Madagascar.
What are the general features of Kalanchoe laxiflora?
Kalanchoe laxiflora is a subshrub that grows up to 20 inches tall. It has elliptical shaped grey-green leaves, often tinged with red hue along the leaf margins. The older leaves often display a red-violet color at the margins. It produces orange bell-shaped flowers on a 1 foot (30 cm) tall inflorescence.
In which season Kalanchoe laxiflora blooms?
Kalanchoe laxiflora blooms in the spring season by giving off beautiful orange-reddish flowers.
Is Kalanchoe laxiflora an outdoor or indoor succulent?
Kalanchoe laxiflora can be planted in both outdoor and indoor gardens depending upon the weather condition. It can be planted outdoors in containers during the summer season and as an indoor succulent during the winter season (when the temperature drops below freezing).
How to Grow and Care for Kalanchoe laxiflora?
Kalanchoe laxiflora does not require a lot of care and can be easily grown. Here are some general conditions you need to meet to keep this succulent healthy.
Like all other Kalanchoe succulents, Kalanchoe laxiflora prefers to grow under bright sunny locations. Outdoor succulents can be planted in full bright sun to partial shade.
Where should I keep Kalanchoe laxiflora?
In areas where the summer season is extremely hot, and the sunlight is too intense they should be planted in partial shade.
Put the indoor Kalanchoe succulents near a bright sunny window for ample sunlight exposure. During the winter season keep your succulents near a south-facing window, while in summer season move them near east or west-facing windows. Avoid direct contact with the windows during the summer season, when the sun is too intense it may cause the burning or scorching of the leaves.
What happens if Kalanchoe laxiflora does not get enough sunlight?
Light is one of the most critical requirements to ensure the normal and healthy growth of Kalanchoe laxiflora. If your succulents appear leggy or stretched out and start growing too tall, it indicates that your succulents are not getting enough sunlight exposure. Immediately move your succulents near a bright sunny window.
Kalanchoe laxiflora requires well-draining potting soil. You can use a special cactus soil mix or a succulent soil mix readily available in the market or you can prepare a potting mix at your own by mixing 40 to 50% grit (perlite and sand) with peat moss.
Coarse sand and perlite improve the drainage and aeration of the potting medium by increasing the soil porosity. A well-draining potting soil prevents the water build-up and saves the root from rotting and decay.
What type of potting medium should be avoided?
Avoid the use of a potting medium that is too clayey. The clayey soil will not have enough porosity to let the excess water drain out and it will ultimately lead to water build up in the potting soil, causing root rot and decay.
Should I put rocks at the bottom of the containers?
It is not necessary to put the rocks at the bottom of the containers. Generally, a single rock to cover the drainage hole is sufficient to prevent the soil from leaching out of the bottom. Putting rocks in the containers does not improve drainage or air circulation.
Kalanchoe laxiflora needs warm temperatures to thrive well. It cannot survive freezing temperatures. The temperature should not fall below 55 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature drops below freezing it will cause frost injury and death in no time.
How to save the succulents from frost injury?
If there is a risk of frost it is better to bring the potted plants indoors and place in a sunny windowsill or under artificial grow lights. If the succulents are grown in the garden soil it is better to cover them with frost clothes to protect from the damage caused by freezing temperatures. It has been reported that even a few hours of exposure to below freezing temperatures is enough to kill the Kalanchoe succulents.
Can I keep Kalanchoe laxiflora on the Terrace or Balcony?
Yes, you can keep Kalanchoe laxiflora on the Terrace or Balcony. It will add beauty to the display of the Terrace or Balcony. They love to thrive in a sunny spot. If the weather becomes too cold, you can simply move the succulents indoors.
Kalanchoe laxiflora is a drought-tolerant succulent and it can tolerate a period of neglect. The watering needs vary with the seasonal temperatures. Kalanchoe laxiflora needs moderate irrigation in the autumn and spring seasons, while during summer they need to be irrigated more often. In the summer season, the evaporation rate is very high due to the hot weather, and the water is lost at a rapid rate from the soil. During the winter season, the succulents need occasional watering, therefore, irrigate only if the plants start shriveling.
Water well and let it drain out of the drainage holes. Then wait for the soil to dry out completely before applying the next irrigation. Insert your finger in the soil if the top 1 to 2 inches feel dry, it is the right time to water.
Though these succulents can survive a period of drought but do not neglect them for a long time. Water the succulents well as soon as the soil dries out to ensure their healthy growth.
Note: Overwatering is the most commonly occurring problem causing the death of the succulents. Excess of water causes rotting and decay of the roots; it also encourages fungal growth.
Can I use spray bottles to water Kalanchoe laxiflora?
Avoid using spray bottles. The most common watering mistake is that you water your Kalanchoe succulents by spraying water on the leaves. This method only works for propagating new Kalanchoe succulents. In mature plants, it is the root system that absorbs water and nutrition for the succulent. Water the soil directly near the root zone using water bottles or cans for better water utilization efficiency.
Another disadvantage of using spray bottles is that the water stays on the leaves and can cause rotting.
What is the right time to water Kalanchoe laxiflora?
The best time to water is in the morning. Avoid watering your Kalanchoe succulents at noon or in the afternoon. Also do not water your succulents when the weather is too humid or extremely hot.
How to water Kalanchoe succulents in the pots without drainage holes?
If you are using pots without drainage holes, it is recommended to water your succulents sparingly. After a few minutes tip the container sideways and let the excess water drain out. Water slowly so that the water gets evenly distributed in the soil without pooling at the bottom of the container.
Does Kalanchoe laxiflora like humidity?
All varieties of Kalanchoe succulents can generally take all levels of humidity. The only thing that varies with the humidity is their watering needs. If the humidity is very high, the succulents need less water, while at low humidity they may need water more often.
Though humidity does not impact the overall plant growth directly, however, high humidity can likely encourage the fungal growth on the succulents. Generally, the humidity at room temperature is fine for the growth of Kalanchoe laxiflora.
Does Kalanchoe laxiflora need to be fertilized?
Fertilization is always a fun thing for enthusiast gardeners who want to make their plants grow luxuriantly. Though Kalanchoe laxiflora gets plenty of nutrition from the potting medium, it can be benefited from a moderate dose of some extra nutrients.
How to fertilize Kalanchoe laxiflora?
It is recommended to fertilize your succulents during the active growing phase biweekly or monthly with a light dose of manufacturer’s recommended 20:8:20 cactus fertilizer or a succulent fertilizer mix. Avoid feeding your succulents when they are in the dormant phase.
- These succulents do not need a lot of nutrients so, avoid the overdose of fertilizers.
- Can I use coffee grounds, eggshells, and banana peels to fertilize Kalanchoe laxiflora?
As the coffee grounds easily break down in the soil, they will add nitrogen to the potting medium. Nitrogen is a vital nutrient for Kalanchoe succulents because it is a major component of chlorophyll. Coffee grounds will also help to improve soil aeration and drainage. Coffee grounds may even suppress pests and weeds.
Eggshells can be used in succulent gardens. You can use the eggshell tea to give an added dose of calcium to the Kalanchoe succulents. Eggshells will also give them an extra dose of potassium.
Banana peels are good for Kalanchoe succulents. They contain essential minerals that are beneficial for your succulents. They are not only a rich source of potassium and phosphorus, but they also contain some other elements like calcium, sodium manganese, and sulfur.
How to propagate Kalanchoe laxiflora?
Kalanchoe laxiflora can be propagated by using leaf and stem cuttings.
To take the cuttings use a clean sharp scissor or gardening shears. Gently cut the plant part you want to propagate. Let the cuttings sit at a warm dry place for 2 to 3 days. It will allow the cuttings to develop callous at the cut ends.
Why the cuttings should be left to callous?
If you let the cuttings develop callous for some time, it will avoid the attack of diseases and insect pests and shortens the time required by the plant to become completely established.
Fill the containers (in which you wish to propagate the succulents) with a standard succulent mix. Place the cuttings at the top of the pre-moistened potting soil (a mix of sand, perlite, and peat moss). Keep misting the cuttings regularly 5 to 6 times a day and also keep the soil evenly moist. The cuttings need more water until they establish in the soil. But do not overwater it will rot the cuttings in no time.
Put the pots near a window with indirect sunlight. Avoid exposure to bright direct sunlight until the succulents are established in the soil. The succulents will start rooting after 2 to 3 weeks and will be ready to transplant into new containers.
Can I propagate Kalanchoe laxiflora by using seeds?
Yes, Kalanchoe laxiflora can be propagated by using seeds. The seeds should be left to dry for some time before sowing. They should be preferably sown in the spring season. When the seedlings grow large enough to handle, they must be transplanted into new containers or garden beds. Keep in mind seed propagation is slightly different that requires patience and a bit of expertise to ensure success.
How often to repot Kalanchoe laxiflora?
Kalanchoe laxiflora does not require frequent repotting. It can thrive well in the same container for years. However, a general rule is to repot all Kalanchoe succulents every 2 years, it will provide a fertile potting medium to the succulents with plenty of nutrients. Even if your Kalanchoe has completed 2 years in the same pot and is growing healthy still it is recommended to transfer your Kalanchoe succulents into new containers.
It is also recommended to repot in certain other conditions, for example, when the potting medium and the containers have poor drainage, the succulent is infested by insect pests or diseases, and when the container is too small for the succulent to grow and spread. It is also advised to repot every time you buy a new succulent from the market.
Does Kalanchoe laxiflora need pruning?
Generally, Kalanchoe laxiflora does not require frequent pruning. However, the removal of spent blooms and dead leaves can encourage more blooming and healthier growth in the next growing season. Just take a clean scissor and snip off the spent blooms and dead leaves gently. Make sure you don’t injure any other part of the succulent.
How to make Kalanchoe laxiflora bloom again?
Keep the succulent at a warm location and away from the drafts. Stop watering and fertilization for 6 weeks. Give your succulents 14 hours of the dark period and 10 hours of bright light for 6 weeks before the blooming season. As soon as you see the flower buds coming out, shift the plant to bright lighting, and resume regular watering. Feed the succulents in the spring seasons and remove the spent blooms to encourage the bud development in the next season.
Is Kalanchoe laxiflora poisonous?
Generally, all Kalanchoe succulents are toxic to pet animals, birds, and livestock. They must be kept out of the reach of toddlers because they can cause stomach upset.
Kalanchoe succulents contain cardiac glycosides that are toxic to pet animals. If you are keeping pets at home, it is advised to keep the succulents away from cats and dogs because if they ingest any plant part it can lead to serious consequences. The pets will start developing several symptoms after ingestion such as diarrhea, vomiting, change in heart rate and rhythm, stomach upset or pain, and excessive slobbering.
If you observe any of the above-mentioned symptoms of poisoning take your pet immediately to an expert Veterinarian.
Which containers are recommended to grow Kalanchoe laxiflora?
Pick the pots or containers with drainage holes to allow the excess water to drain out. It is recommended to use terracotta pots or glazed ceramics because they have good drainage capacity and provide exceptional results.
Always make sure you choose the right sized pot to grow your Kalanchoe succulents.
What are the potential pests of Kalanchoe laxiflora?
Kalanchoe laxiflora is generally not prone to insect pests. Mealybugs and aphids can be occasionally observed attacking the indoor succulents. However, these insects are not a very big problem. You can control the infestation easily if you are lucky enough to spot the problem at an early stage. It can also be attacked by snails and slugs.
How to control the pests of Kalanchoe laxiflora?
It is recommended to use 70 % isopropyl alcohol or neem oil spray to get rid of these tiny bugs. The stems and leaves of the succulent should be rubbed with isopropyl alcohol to keep the bugs away. If the infestation is very severe, you can use a non-toxic insecticide spray. Snails and slugs can be removed physically or by treating with a contact pesticide.
Why do the leaves of Kalanchoe laxiflora turn yellow?
Overwatered Kalanchoe succulent is prone to rotting. If the soil has poor drainage the water accumulates in the soil and causes the disintegration of roots. It will ultimately stop the supply of water and nutrients to the plants resulting in several symptoms such as yellowing of leaves, wilting, and death of the succulent.
Which succulents can be planted together with Kalanchoe laxiflora?
Kalanchoe laxiflora can be planted together with other Kalanchoe succulents, and some other succulents like Aloe, Aeonium, and Graptopetalum.