Succulents come in hundreds of varieties, and chief among them is the Madagascar variety: the kalanchoe family.
These plants are fantastic for propagation, grow wonderfully indoors (most of them), and bring a wide array of medicinal properties and aesthetic blossoms.
We’re going to outline a handful of the best kalanchoe plants to grow, as well as your burning questions surrounding this breed of succulent.
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What Are Kalanchoe Succulents?
You might have already seen some of these without realizing it.
Kalanchoes are succulent plants that pop up in florist shops, nurseries, and garden centers absolutely everywhere.
These are native to the island of Madagascar, but thanks to propagation, they’ve been replanted and bred to the point that they’re just everywhere.
These are nearly maintenance-free plants that require a lower temperature than most, and may either produce long green leaves, or large blossoms depending on the breed of kalanchoe you choose to grow.
There’s a lot of variety, so let’s look at four of the most popular breeds of kalanchoe to get a feel for what we’re doing.
Kalanchoe Tomentosa, the “Panda Plant”
This glorious plant does well indoors, making it one of the best beginner kalanchoes that you could possibly buy.
With green, oval-shaped leaves that are filled to the brim with liquid membranes, you might see some similarities between this and a cactus (minus the spikes).
Brown spots form at the tip of tomentosa leaves, which is perfectly natural and welcome.
These are fairly simple for propagation, though you have to be sure these leaves have a clean break when you pull them apart.
Another variation of the tomentosa apart from “Panda Plant” is the “Chocolate Soldier”.
Kalanchoe Thyrsiflora, the “Paddle Plant”
If you’ve ever heard of the paddle plant, now you know it has a much more difficult-sounding name.
This unique type of kalanchoe appears to mimic cactus leaves and bok choy in appearance, though it remains soft and fuzzy to the touch.
These plants can get up to five feet tall, and are extremely fragrant throughout a couple of seasons, adding a pleasant aroma to your garden.
If you’re doing this indoors, your kitchen will smell glorious.
Daigremontiana is actually a dangerous, toxic steroid, but it’s not the only thing in this kalanchoe—there are actually five different types of bufadienolides, which are toxins.
That sounds scary, but these plants are harmless to grow in your home, so long as you aren’t eating them.
This type of kalanchoe is a child plant of bryophyllum, which is called the “Mother of Thousands” kalanchoe plant.
While these enjoy lower temperatures and require very little water, their properties sometimes worry potential growers into not hosting them in their homes.
Kalanchoe Beharensis, the “Elephant Ear”
While this is a type of kalanchoe, most people seem to forget this.
It’s commonly seen as an evergreen shrub, with an extremely long stem in the center.
These look like long green leaves that fold in the center, just like an elephant’s ear, while still having slight brown spotting along the edges (which is completely normal).
These kalanchoes will appear spiky and rough as they age, thanks to their defense system.
Benefits of Kalanchoes
When ingested, kalanchoes have been proven to remedy some harsh symptoms of various diseases and disorders that make people’s day-to-day lives more difficult.
We do not know what your reaction to ingesting kalanchoe would be, so while we advise against ingesting it directly in this:
- Oral Health Protection: The nutrients in kalanchoe help to protect your gums and teeth from decay and rot. While this is known to have helped, this area has the least amount of scientific backing, so proceed with caution before looking for a kalanchoe-based oral healthcare solution.
- UTI Prevention: Along with areas of the female reproductive system, UTIs can be prevented with kalanchoe if it’s being consumed on a regular basis. This isn’t a one-and-done kind of solution.
- Treating Muscle Pain: Muscle pain is very different from temporary aching from a workout. Muscle pain can be chronic, and causes a sharp, stabbing pain in your muscles that is far from soreness and aches. Kalanchoes are known to help alleviate this pain.
- Sunburn Remedy: Sunburns suck no matter what, but with a kalanchoe plant, you can help speed up the healing process and pull some of that heat out of the burn. No more tingling and hotness when you touch your skin; that can all be in the past.
- Wound Pain Management: Different from muscle pain, this has known applications to wounds to remove pain and make the healing process more manageable for those involved. Different kalanchoe plants have different properties, so don’t just jump right into anything.
- Assists with Rheumatoid Arthritis: RA isn’t that common, but if you have it, then you know just how much damage it can do to your body. Kalanchoe has some ties to alleviating inflammation, which could directly help your body from attacking itself when you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis.
Is Kalanchoe Good for Cancer?
As a matter of fact, there is some evidence that kalanchoe plants have some cancer fighting abilities.
Researchers found that kalanchoe acts as a cancer retardant, where it helps keep cancer cells at bay.
While there is currently nothing groundbreaking, there has been a five-year study in the works to continually inspect the cancer-fighting properties of kalanchoe and find a way to work it into modern medicine.
That’s Western medicine we’re talking about, here; kalanchoe plants have been used in Southeast Asia and the Philippines for years as an anti-cancer, all-natural remedy.
There are some suggestions that say you can simply eat kalanchoe plants, but as you’ll find later, we don’t recommend it.
Can You Eat Kalanchoe?
Technically, you can consume kalanchoe, but you’re not going to want to just pick off a piece of your plant and have a nibble.
While most kalanchoe plants do have cancer-fighting properties that can majorly benefit your body, it has to be done properly.
It should be done in a laboratory-controlled area where they utilize the benefits of kalanchoe, and leave out the negatives.
For instance, the kalanchoe plant blossfeldiana is actually poisonous to household pets and livestock, but technically can be consumed by people as it’s not deemed poison for human consumption.
Still, there are volatile properties that need to be accounted for.
All I’m saying is that you shouldn’t just grow your kalanchoe to chew on the leaves for their medicinal purposes.
Everything should be handled by a licensed professional, and they’re not likely to use the kalanchoe plant you grow in your home.
They’ll use something that’s been grown in a safe, verifiable space from a drug manufacturer that they can trust.
That being said, grow kalanchoe at your own leisure and enjoy the aromas, just don’t turn your home into an apothecary.
Cats are attracted to the smell, just don’t let them eat it. It’s really not a good idea to leave these un-netted if you have cats or dogs around.
Is a Kalanchoe Plant Better Indoors or Outdoors?
Technically, they can grow in both indoors and outdoors.
Kalanchoes are versatile, but they have a specific area where they strive.
We know that kalanchoes can deal with moderate amounts of water, so we don’t want them to drown in a rainstorm outdoors.
It’s definitely much easier to care for indoors than it is outdoors.
Because most of these are perennials, and also incredibly low-maintenance for the majority of house plants.
If you’re having difficulty getting sunlight for your kalanchoes indoors, you can consider putting them outside for brief intervals of time.
Check the weather and make sure that you don’t end up overwatching your plant.
If you leave it out in the rain after watering it, you could end up with unintentional brown spots on your kalanchoe plants.
This is a common problem for aloe plants as well, which could require culling of some of the leaves.
Try setting a timer to help give your plants the ample amount of sunlight, and so you don’t forget to bring them back inside afterwards.
It helps to have a sunny spot near a window that your plants can sit during the day, although this isn’t always going to be easy depending on your home, how close your neighbors’ homes are, and things of that nature.
Now You Know the Mighty Kalanchoe
Kalanchoe plants have plenty of fantastic properties to them, and they’re not terribly difficult to grow if you’re just starting out.
For more information on your succulent plants and how you should be caring for them, check out our other resources available on this site.
Lindsey Hyland grew up in Arizona where she studied at the University of Arizona’s Controlled Environment Agriculture Center. She furthered her gardening education by working on various organic farms in both rural and urban settings. She started UrbanOrganicYield.com to discuss gardening tips and tactics. Whether it’s succulents and houseplants or vegetables and herbs, growing and caring for just about anything in a backyard garden or hydroponics garden always makes her happy.