- Kalanchoe pinnata is a succulent perennial plant that has dark green leaves that are distinctively scalloped and trimmed in red sprouting out bell-shaped flowers that look like little cathedral bells.
- They are drought-tolerant which makes them great for low-water landscaping and are easy to maintain, making them ideal for beginners.
- Water: Water them once a week or when you notice the top of the soil dries out. In the summertime, monitor them more as water evaporates faster and it is their growing season.
- Sunlight: They need bright, indirect sunlight. They can also grow in direct sunlight, but you should keep them out of strong sunlight so their foliage doesn’t burn.
- Soil: The plant requires potting soil that is well-draining, organic, light, and airy.
- Temperature: They thrive in temperatures ranging from 60 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything lower than 50 degrees Fahrenheit is fatal to the plant.
Table of Contents
- 1 Key Takeaways
- 2 What is a Kalanchoe Pinnata Plant?
- 3 Why Grow Kalanchoe Pinnata Plants?
- 4 How to Care for Kalanchoe Pinnata Plants
- 5 Propagation
- 6 Common Pests
- 7 FAQ
- 8 Other Kalanchoe plants to consider
- 9 References
What is a Kalanchoe Pinnata Plant?
Kalanchoe pinnata is a succulent perennial plant that is commonly known as the air plant, cathedral bells, or miracle leaf plant.
On average, a mature plant reaches 47 inches (1.2 meters) in height.
Kalanchoe pinnata was previously known as Bryophyllum pinnatum because it was classified under the Bryophyllum genus before being reclassified under the Kalanchoe genus. The Bryophyllum genus was first established and included plants with the unique ability to produce tiny plantlets on the margins of their leaves. However, the Bryophyllum genus has since merged with the Kalanchoe genus, which is why Kalanchoe pinnata is also known as Bryophyllum pinnatum. Despite the change in name, the plant is still commonly referred to as Bryophyllum pinnatum in some parts of the world.
It has tall, hollow stems, fleshy dark green leaves that are distinctively scalloped and trimmed in red, and bell-like pendulous flowers – resembling little bells hanging off its branches.
These flowers have a musk or honey scent and grow on opposite stout branches making this plant look outstanding in hanging baskets.
The plant mainly grows in Madagascar, although it has now become a widely kept houseplant while also growing naturally in tropical climates.
Why Grow Kalanchoe Pinnata Plants?
Firstly, Kalanchoe pinnata plants are drought-tolerant and can withstand periods of dryness due to their fleshy leaves that can store water. This makes them suitable for xeriscaping and low-water landscaping.
Secondly, they are easy to grow and maintain, making them ideal for beginners. They can thrive in a range of temperatures and do not require frequent watering or fertilizing.
Thirdly, Kalanchoe pinnata plants produce beautiful bell-shaped flowers that can range in color from pink to red to orange. These flowers can add a pop of color to your landscaping and attract pollinators like bees and butterflies.
Lastly, some people believe that Kalanchoe pinnata plants have medicinal properties and can be used to treat ailments like high blood pressure, coughs, and headaches. Overall, growing Kalanchoe pinnata plants in your landscaping can add beauty, attract pollinators, and potentially provide health benefits.
How to Care for Kalanchoe Pinnata Plants
Temperature and Climate
Cathedral bells plant can be grown outdoors in USDA hardiness zones 10a to 11b.
You can grow the Kalanchoe pinnata in temperatures ranging from 60 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit (15 to 29 degrees Celsius).
Temperatures lower than 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius) can kill these frost-sensitive medicinal plants.
The Kalanchoe pinnata plant does not need any specific humidity requirements. Average household humidity is sufficient for this succulent plant species.
Kalanchoe pinnata plants require bright, indirect sunlight to grow well. They can also tolerate direct sunlight, but it is important to protect them from intense sunlight during the hottest parts of the day, especially in areas with very hot summers.
If your plant shows signs of leggy growth, you should move it to a new spot with more light. Direct sunlight can scorch the beautiful colored leaf edges.
The light-colored leaves with reddish-purple stems have less chlorophyll and need more sunlight than many other plants.
Kalanchoe pinnata plants have moderate water requirements so only water them once a week or when you notice the top of the soil dries out.
Pro tip: Water this plant when at least 2-3 inches of the soil has dried out – this will prevent overwatering.
The soil should be moist during the active growing season – lasting from spring to the end of summer.
It is important not to overwater them as these plants can store water in their fleshy leaves, which means they can withstand periods of drought.
Water the plant less frequently in the dormant phase and allow the potting soil to dry out before watering.
Soak and Dry Method
Another method is to do the soak-and-dry method. This works well for Kalanchoe succulents.
First off, it is recommended to use a terracotta or clay pot with at least one drainage hole to ensure good drainage.
To soak and dry, water the soil until the water starts flowing from the drainage hole. This means the entire pot of soil will be watered deeply.
Once complete, wait till the soil dries entirely before watering again.
Remember, overwatering leads to other issues for this Kalanchoe pinnata, such as fungal growth or root rot. So it’s best to be on the conservative side of watering.
Soil and Fertilizer
Cathedral bells plant requires potting soil that is well-draining, organic, light, and airy.
This plant will not thrive in a rich soil mix. Combine a good quality succulent mix with organic matter to create suitable soil for this Kalanchoe variety.
The soil should be mildly acidic or alkaline.
If you grow these plants from seeds, they will germinate within 10 to 14 days under the right conditions.
Although feeding is not a must for this plant, it will appreciate being fed biweekly in the active growth period.
A balanced liquid fertilizer or a slow-release fertilizer is the best option for the Kalanchoe pinnata.
Cathedral bells should be repotted every two years. Handle the plant carefully, mainly the delicate foliage that can easily break while repotting.
Providing a trellis or attaching it to a fence will ensure a more robust plant and faster growth.
Repotting provides a fresh succulent mix for your plant, but it’s essential to use the same type of succulent potting mix to avoid transplant shock.
Kalanchoe pinnata plants do not need heavy pruning. You will only do pruning to get rid of dead foliage and spent flowers.
Pruning should be done with a sharp and sterilized tool. This will minimize damage or the spread of disease-causing bacteria.
Kalanchoe Pinnata can be propagated by either stem cuttings or leaf cuttings.
Cut a few inch-long pieces from a healthy stem. The cutting should have healthy leaves attached.
Let the cutting callous for at least 24 hours in an open area.
Pro tip: When propagating plants, it is highly recommended to dip the cutting end in rooting hormone to promote faster growth and root development .
Place the lower end of the cutting in a succulent potting mix and keep it moist by misting it now and then.
They also produce roots at the edges of their leaves, propagating them for new plants.
Protect the young plants from direct sunlight exposure. Once the cuttings have established themselves, transplant them into a new pot.
These succulent plants attract not only plant lovers but also some sap-sucking pests.
As a result, the Kalanchoe pinnata is susceptible to spider mites, mealybugs, aphids, and brown-scale attacks that feed on the leaf juice.
Controlling the infection at an early stage is easy and will prevent significant damage to the plant.
Using isopropyl alcohol and/or neem oil work by killing most succulent pests.
Start the treatment by washing the foliage with water, followed by rubbing it with isopropyl alcohol or neem oil.
Is Kalanchoe a medicinal plant?
In traditional Indian medicine, Kalanchoe pinnata leaves treat diabetes, diuresis, kidney stones, and respiratory tract infections. In addition, it is applied to the skin to treat wounds, boils, and bug bites. It may, but has not been proven, help protect the liver from damage caused by alcohol, viruses, and other toxins. Cathedral bells plant leaf juice combined with coconut oil may also be used to remedy a headache. Lastly, the Cathedral Bells plant is a nighttime oxygenator and a natural insect repellent.
Are Kalanchoe Pinnata plants poisonous?
All plants in the Kalanchoe genus are poisonous. In South Africa and Australia, livestock is poisoned when accidentally eaten by animals. When compared to stems, roots, and leaves, flowers have the largest concentrations of cardiotoxic chemicals that result in poisoning. Therefore, Kalanchoe plants away from the reach of kids or your pets.
How long does it take for Kalanchoe Pinnata to grow?
When propagating Kalanchoe pinnatum (Bryophyllum pinnatum) leaves, newly cut leaves should develop new roots within a week. After about two weeks, the roots should have been established, and you can transplant them into a pot as a new plant. Kalanchoe plants are perennial succulents and last more than a year as houseplants.
Other Kalanchoe plants to consider
The Kalanchoe Pinnata is a great plant for any gardener that wants a low-maintenance plant. They will even grow very well and thrive in an outdoor garden if it’s in a warmer climate.
However, Chandelier plants are not the only Kalanchoe plant. There are others and you can read more about them in our related post about different types of kalanchoe plants.
Below are a handful of examples:
- Kalanchoe fedtschenkoi: Lavender Scallops, which is another name for Kalanchoe Fedtschenkoi, is a beautiful succulent with scalloped green leaves. The foliage of this plant has different colors of cream with edges of purple. This tiny succulent looks great on a desk or window sill, but it can also be used as a part of an outdoor garden.
- Kalanchoe tubiflora: Most know this plant as the “Mother of Millions” or “Chandelier plant.” It’s one of the most interesting types of succulents because they produce a ton of little plantlets that can grow into new plants on their own. There are so many of these plantlets that grow along the edges of their leaves, it is no wonder it’s called the “Mother of Millions” plant.
- Kalanchoe beharensis: You might know this as the Velvet Elephant Ear, Velvet Leaf Plant, and Felt Bush. These nicknames come from the fact that the leaves have a shape and size that look like elephant ears. They are hardy plants that can be grown outside that look great in your landscaping, yard, or garden.
Lindsey Hyland grew up in Arizona where she studied at the University of Arizona’s Controlled Environment Agriculture Center. She continued her gardening education by working on organic farms in both rural and urban settings. She started UrbanOrganicYield.com to share gardening tips and tactics. She’s happy to talk about succulents and houseplants or vegetables and herbs – or just about anything in a backyard garden or hydroponics garden.