Fall 2020 Update Part 4: Kalanchoe and Ledebouria

Kalanchoe luciae with friends on the shelf in front of a south-facing window in the back bedroom on 11-1-20, #754-1.

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. Since the “S” we have had rain. Last week was rainy for several days then the sun finally came out. This post is for the Kalanchoe and Ledebouria in my small collection and most of the photos were taken on October 15 when I brought the plants inside for the winter. I learned a few things while making this post that calls for a little further research… My Kalanchoe daigremontiana may NOT be a Kalanchoe daigremontiana after all. Hmmm…

All the plants on this post have their own pages which you can view by clicking on the name in green under the photo.

<<<<Kalanchoe daigremontiana>>>>

Kalanchoe daigremontiana (Mother of Thousands) on 10-15-20, #747-51.

The Kalanchoe daigremontiana (Mother of Thousands) has definitely been a plant I have had to grow with. It is kind of like being in a relationship with someone that starts out interesting then it just kind of gets weird. It wasn’t perfect in the beginning but you expected them to just grow with you and blossom. When they didn’t do what you expect, you kind of neglected them then they just stopped being the best they could be for you or themselves. You felt they were just hanging in there until you paid attention and gave them what they needed from you. Well, then I figured out what this relationship needed. Like any good and lasting relationship, you have to take care of it and then it will blossom and be great. Well, at least we hope so. Love is about devotion, honesty, loyalty… It is giving and receiving at the same time. Gardening is the same way, as is anything worthwhile. You get more of what you give sometimes, and you do have to give. The Kalanchoe daigremontiana is definitely a plant that you will either love or hate. You will love it if you know how to take care of it, and hate it if you don’t. So many of these plants are sold and given away only to have them neglected then discarded. If you follow a few basic rules, they are great plants and there is hardly a more beautiful plant than a well-grown Kalanchoe daigremontiana. I brought my first one home from Wagler’s in 2014 and it became a beautiful plant. After I gave up most of my plants in the late summer of 2014, it wasn’t until late in 2015 that I started to rebuild my collection. One of the first plants I brought home was another one of these plants. It started out great and it was a nice plant, too. However, in 2016 it started getting tall and strange. By 2017 it was tall and straggly and its leaves were smaller. It was NOT a pretty sight… Not to mention all those darn plantlets that were coming up everywhere!

Kalanchoe daigremontiana (Mother of Thousands) platelets on 10-15-20, #747-52.

Over the years I have figured out to remove the plantlets when I bring the plants inside. They fall off and come upon every pot close by. I have found them in pots that weren’t even close. Like kids, if you want them to grow into nice plants you have to give them attention, too. Removal of the plantlets is kind of like birth control. Just think of how many babies are born every year that weren’t planned… I have no clue where that came from… GEEZ! According to the experts, the leaves of these plants are not really leaves…They are actually phylloclades which are flattened branches modified for photosynthesis.

Kalanchoe daigremontiana is a native of Madagascar and is listed as an invasive species in several parts of the world. It can produce over 16,000 seeds per fruit not to mention the plantlets!

ANYWAY…

Kalanchoe daigremontiana (Mother of Thousands) on 10-15-20, #747-50.

NICE! Well, I suppose I better tell you the whole story. The two plants in this pot are actually offsets from the parent plant… Here it goes…

The strangest thing happened to my Kalanchoe daigremontiana last winter. In January, I went into the bedroom where the plants are and it had buds. I had seen flowers of them online but this was the first time mine had ever bloomed. OK, I will show you…

Kalanchoe daigremontiana (Mother of Thousands) flowers on 2-21-20, #670-2.

I was shocked! A week or so after I saw the buds I moved the plant to my bedroom with the plants in there so I could keep an eye on it. After the flowers faded I just left the stem attached to see what would happen next. Over the summer I was pretty busy with the garden and this and that and I more or less didn’t pay much attention to the plants on the front porch. After all, they were succulents for the most part and they would be OK. And they did just fine… The main plant just kind of fizzled out, because this species is monocarpic, but two NICE offsets came up next to it… NOT plants from the plantlets (there were several of them too), but NICE big plants… So, the plants in the photos are those two offsets.

So, what became of the old flower stem?

Kalanchoe daigremontiana (Mother of Thousands), where the flowers were, on 10-20-20, #748-1.

The flower stem had fallen over but it produced MORE plantlets where the flowers had been. What else did you expect from this plant? I didn’t notice any fruit or seed pods, but this plant can produce over 16,000 seeds per fruit.

All parts of this species contain a very toxic steroid known as daigremontianin but many commercial drugs are produced from compounds of this plant (from Wikipedia).

Although Kalanchoe daigremontiana is the accepted name at the moment, sometimes it is Bryophyllum daigremontianum. For a while every time I checked it had changed from one name to the other. I left both names on the captions on its page so I wouldn’t have to keep changing it. It miraculously hasn’t changed since I last updated its page in October 2019. There is even confusion online about this plant, and some have it confused with Kalanchoe delagoensis. Even the Llifle (Encyclopedia of Living Forms) website has a photo that is not correct. It looks more like K. delagoensis. The species also hybridize which even complicates the situation further.

I had to do some did some further research because I just read Kalanchoe daigremontiana is supposed to have purple markings under its leaves which mine does not have. How come I never saw that before? Another accepted species, Kalanchoe laetivirens, is very similar with no purple markings under the leaves. Hmmm… Even though POWO says it is an accepted name, Wikipedia says is it likely a hybrid between Kalanchoe daigremontiana x Kalanchoe laxiflora, therefore, lists it as Kalanchoe x laetivirens. Hmmm… Hmmm… Maybe my plant is actually a Kalanchoe laetivirens… GEEZ!!! Llifle doesn’t even list it. I am going to have to look into that further… I will keep you posted…

<<<<Kalanchoe luciae>>>>

Kalanchoe luciae (Paddle Plant) on 10-15-20, #747-53.

Kalanchoe species come in a wide array of sizes and leaf shapes and Kalanchoe luciae (Paddle Plant) is a great example. I brought home my first Kalanchoe luciae from Wal-Mart on February 1, 2016. I have never had issues with this species and it doesn’t proliferate like its life depends on it. I have four pots and they all have offsets. Actually, the top pot has three offsets of the original plant which was cut off and is now in the pot on the left. The original plant grew a long stem and was hanging out of the pot. I thought that was kind of neat so I left it like that until  I need to cut the plant in the pot on the right off and regrow it. It keeps wanting to fall out of the pot. Ummm… There seems to be a pot missing.

Kalanchoe luciae (Paddle Plant) on 10-15-20, #747-54.

The leaves of Kalanchoe luciae are kind of ovalish, light green, with kind of chalky undersides. When in good light, the leaves get kind of a reddish-orange-peachy glow. There is a similar species, Kalanchoe thrysiflora, which share some of its common names but the leaves don’t take on the color in brighter light. The industry sells plants with the name Kalanchoe thrysiflora that are really Kalanchoe luciae. I guess they think they can sell more plants like that and it is a good trick. Most people would never know the difference, but K. thrysiflora is actually a rarer plant and unlikely found in stores. So, if you have a plant labeled Kalanchoe thrysiflora and its leaves turn a reddish color in the sun, you actually have a Kalanchoe luciae. Oh yeah, cooler temps in the winter can also promote the leaf color. Flowers are also different between the species. K. luciae flowers do not have a strong scent while those of K. thrysiflora are strongly scented.

Kalanchoe luciae (Paddle Plant) on 10-15-20, #747-55.

The stems have this neat chalky stuff called “bloom”. The bloom will actually rub off.

Common names for this plant include Flap Jack, Red Pancakes, Paddle Kalanchoe, Northern White Lady, Pancake Kalanchoe, Flipping flapjacks, White Lady, Flapjacks, Dog Tongue Plant, Paddle Plant, Paddle Leaf, Desert Cabbage, and maybe more… Kalanchoe thrysiflora share some of these names.

Kalanchoe luciae (Paddle Plant) on 10-15-20, #747-56.

Ahhh, there you are. This pot was hiding among the smaller succulents on the right side of the table. This is the one I experimented with last summer in full sun on the back porch. Its leaves turned a bright reddish-orange. The right side of the table seems to get more light so it is glowing.

Kalanchoe luciae are easy to grow and are low maintenance. Once they lose a lot of lower leaves just cut the stem a few inches from the lower leaves, let the stem scab over for about a week, then put it in the soil up to the leaves. That’s it!

Give them regular watering over the summer but very little during the winter. Only give them a little water when you notice its leaves starting to wrinkle and get somewhat soft.

Keep them in as bright a light as possible over the winter otherwise, they will stretch a bit. If this happens, just whack off the stem and regrow the plant in the spring. This is true for A LOT of succulents and other plants as well.

<<<<Kalanchoe marmorata>>>>

Kalanchoe marmorata (Penwiper Plant) on 10-15-20, #747-57.

The Kalanchoe marmorata (Penwiper Plant) has been simply weird. I bought this plant from a member of a Facebook group and it arrived beautifully in April 2018. The seller shipped it bareroot and it was beautiful and LOADED with leaves. I put it in potting soil thinking all would be well. It wasn’t. This plant went into shock and lost all but four leaves on top of the stem. Even so, it grew an offset. Since then, it has survived but it is still weird. Last summer I cut off the stem in half and put the offset in its own pot. Sometimes they look like they are getting somewhere but not really… The offset stays short while the other one has grown to 7″ and the leaves fall off as it grows. I am going to have to cut off the stem again this spring (if I can wait that long).

Kalanchoe marmorata (Penwiper Plant) on 10-15-20, #747-58.

It looks good on the top. I will figure out what this plant needs one way or another… Llifle says this is an easy plant to grow. Hmmm… I really want to like this plant because of its interesting leaves. After all, that is why I bought it.

<<<<Kalanchoe orgyalis>>>>

Kalanchoe orgyalis (Copper Spoons) at 25″ tall on 10-15-20, #747-59.

The Kalanchoe orgyalis (Copper Spoons) I brought home from Mast’s Greenhouse in June 2018 has been pretty entertaining. Apparently, I didn’t measure it when I brought it home, but it has grown 6 1/2″ taller than last October to 25″. It seems a little strange for a 25″ tall plant to be growing in a 6 1/2″ pot and it is somewhat top-heavy. I have found it laying on its side a couple of times this past summer when the soil was dry even though I keep bricks around the pots. It was like the wind just lifted the pot up and then the plant fell over but luckily it had close friends to catch it so it never fell on the porch floor. I have a heavier, more decorative, clay pot that might be a good idea for this plant. It is a little too big so I may have to do some improvising… Even though this plant is 25″ tall, it doesn’t have that much of a root system so you have to be careful not to put it in a pot with too much soil.

Kalanchoe orgyalis (Copper Spoons) on 10-15-20, #747-60.

One of the common names for this species is Copper Spoons due to its spoon-shaped leaves of a coppery-brown. As the leaves get older the color changes to a browner tone. The leaves are kind of fuzzy like mohair seats but they don’t smell like a wet dog when they are wet.

I hate to do it because I like watching this plant get taller, but at some point, it may need to be whacked in half. The two lower branches are growing, but there are upper branches that are not getting with the program…

Now, for the Ledebouria… 🙂

<<<<Ledebouria socialis>>>>

Ledebouria socialis (var. paucifolia) on 10-15-20, #747-61.

If you haven’t tried Ledebouria socialis (Silver Squill, Etc.), I suggest you do. These are great plants and very easy to care for. Plants of the World Online still doesn’t recognize the varieties of Ledebouria socialis but I include the variety name in parenthesis because there are definite differences. Although Ledebouria species are grown by many succulent enthusiasts, they are bulbous perennials in the Asparagaceae Family (Llifle still says Hyacinthaceae). The variety above could possibly be the “original” species and the others may have “evolved” from it. The species was also named Scilla socialis, Scilla paucifolia, and Ledebouria paucifolia. Scilla laxa is also a synonym. It was first in the Scilla genus, which is still genus, but some differences determined they are Ledebouria. The Pacific Bulb Society has a lot of information about this genus which you can find a link to on the plant’s page. The information they provide is somewhat out of date, name wise, but it makes for an interesting read. Ledebouria species are natives of South Africa.

Ledebouria socialis (var. violacea) on 10-15-20, #747-62.

The Ledebouria in the above photo was previously named Scilla violacea and Ledebouria violacea but most botanists decided it should be a synonym of Ledebouria socialis. Even so, it is different in several ways from the others. For one, the leaves have larger and darker spots with violet undersides. This one also grows and spreads like crazy compared to the other. I had to ut it in a larger pot last year because it had gotten so cramped in the other. It still has some growing room in this one…

Ledebouria socialis (var. violacea) on 10-15-20, #747-63.

This one didn’t flower this summer and I think that is because I didn’t move them to the cooler bedroom early enough so they could go dormant properly. I had them in my bedroom for a while then noticed they just kept growing and the new leaves were long and skinny. Well, that’s what information said they would do if they weren’t allowed to go dormant. They will continue growing and not flower if you don’t move them to a cooler spot and stop watering them. I didn’t put them into the other bedroom until December last winter but they are already in there now. Just since I moved them inside on October 15, they have grown new leaves that are already long and skinny. NO MORE WATER!!! So, now what will happen is the leaves will start dying off, which will take a while, then the bubs will start to shrivel. That process may take a couple of months. Then I will say, “HOLY CRAP”! Then I will be tempted to give them water. So, this will be my first winter with them properly forcing them to go dormant. We shall see what happens…

I will end this post now and get ready for the next one. It will be about the Mammillaria species in my collection.

This week’s forecast is bright ad sunny so I wonder what I can get into. I have gotten all the nails out of the boards I will use to build the new plant shelves, so that will be the main project for the week.

Until next time, take care, be safe, stay positive… You know the drill…

6 comments on “Fall 2020 Update Part 4: Kalanchoe and Ledebouria

  1. katechiconi says:

    I have a whole load of Kalanchoes around my yard but have no idea what variety they are. I may have to resort to sending you photos!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. tonytomeo says:

    It seems like kalanchoes would take over the World by the way the proliferate. It is a bummer that it must be so prolific just to survive. I can not help but wonder what happens to all those extra babies in the wild . . . like all those sea turtles that run across the beach so frantically to reach the ocean before they get eaten, but only a few actually survive.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Tony! Generally, in a plant’s native environment species don’t get so overwhelmingly abundant even though they produce a lot of seeds, offsets, etc. Most of the Kalanchoe seeds and offsets do not survive in their own environment. It is when they are grown in other places where their survival rate increases that they become invasive. Many species have escaped flower beds and pots. Just think how many sea turtles there would be if they didn’t have predators… There are many weeds on the farm that go crazy if allowed like the Cocklebur. Usually, I have only a few, but this fall I noticed a HUGE patch where they have never been before. I am not very happy about that? Take care and thanks for the comment!

      Liked by 1 person

Please leave a comment. I would like to hear from you.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.