Penwiper Plant, Pen Wiper Plant, Spotted Kalanchoe, Penwiper, Baby Penwiper
ROYAL HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY AWARD OF GARDEN MERIT
Kalanchoe marmorata Baker is the accepted scientific name for this species of Kalanchoe. It was named and described by John Gilbert Baker in Gardener’s Chronicle & Agricultural Gazette in 1892.
The genus, Kalanchoe Adans., was named and described as such by Michel Adanson in Familles des Plantes in 1763.
As of 12-18-22 when this page was last updated, Plants of the World Online lists 165 species in the Kalanchoe genus. It is a member of the plant family Crassulaceae with 36 genera. Those numbers could change as updates are made on POWO.
THERE ARE SEVERAL LINKS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE FOR FURTHER READING.
I bought this nice Kalanchoe marmorata from Elizabeth Li through the Facebook group Cheap Cactus and Succulents on April 6, 2018. I had selected a Sedum spathulifolium subsp. pruinosum ‘Cape Blanco’ and she said she had other plants. Most of what she had were really nice Echeveria. Since I have problems with some Echeveria species during the winter, I chose this Kalanchoe marmorata. She shipped the plants from California on Monday the 9th and they arrived on Friday the 13th. Both plants arrived safe and sound and were well-rooted.
The Kalanchoe marmorata has very thick leaves, kind of rubbery, with brownish-purple blotches. The leaves have a weird sticky feeling that is hard to explain. Common names include Penwiper Plant, Pen Wiper Plant, Spotted Kalanchoe, Penwiper, and Baby Penwiper. They are native to West and Central Africa where they grow up to 48″ tall but in pots, they normally grow to about 16″.
Origin: Central and West Africa.
Zones: USDA Zones 10B-11 (35 TO 40° F).
Size: 16” tall.
Light: Sun to part shade.
Soil: Fast-draining soil. Good quality potting soil amended with pumice (50/50) or additional perlite and chicken grit (2-1-1).
Water: Average water needs during the growing period, sparse in winter.
I water my cactus and succulents on a regular basis during the summer when they are outside. Normally, the cactus on the back porch get enough rain, but the succulents on the front porch are under a roof. Sometimes I get busy during the summer and they get neglected, but they always do just fine. During the winter, I hardly ever water the Kalanchoe unless their leaves start to shrivel or get wrinkly…
Llifle says, “This is a very healthy plant and easy to grow. It needs a fast-draining mix. Keep it where it is bright, sunny, warm, and airy but protect it from mid-day sun. Water well during the summer with dry periods between watering. During the winter, keep them rather dry, not completely. The leaves become redder with the cool nights of the winter, but will need protection from the cold during hard freezes.” Somewhat edited…
They also say the Kalanchoe marmorata produces starry white, four-petalled flowers, sometimes tinged with pink, “profusely from the end of winter to early spring.” They are short-day plants blooming when they have less than 12 hours of light per day.
By the time warmer temperatures arrived and stayed, I moved all the potted plants outside for the summer. By that time, most of the leaves had fallen off of the Kalanchoe marmorata. I knew it would be OK, though, because it had two new leaves and an offset.
On July 4 I moved most of my potted plants to the front and back porch. I had a Japanese Beetle invasion which completely changed the light where the plant tables had been (under a Chinese Elm Tree the beetles loved).
The Kalanchoe marmorata definitely seems to be out of the woods now. It is doing much better and had 12 leaves when the above photo was taken on August 29. The leaves grow in groups of four.
I had to move the potted plants inside for the winter on October 10 because an “F” was in the forecast. I photograph all the plants as I move them inside and measure the cactus and some of the succulents. Kalanchoe, for the most part, needs to be “regrown” from time to time so it is no point to measure some of them. At this point, I think this plant has been through enough to be cutting its stem and regrowing it. Maybe next year
The Kalanchoe marmorata survived the winter and had been on the front porch for over a month when the above photo was taken.
I had to move the potted plants inside for the winter on October 11 because an “F” was in the forecast. The Kalanchoe marmorata (Penwiper Plant) and I have made an agreement. As long as it doesn’t die I will keep doing the best I can. I was fairly busing during the summer so I was sometimes neglectful of the plants. As the above photo shows, at one point I cut the stem of the main plant and stuck it in the same pot. The old stem continued growing new leaves and offsets along the stem. I put the offset from before in its own pot.
I repotted a few cacti and succulents after I moved the plants inside. I think Fall is a good time to repot cacti and succulents so their soil will stay nice and loose over the winter. The original plant died after I moved the plants inside. I also put the cutting deeper into the soil in its own pot. The first offset I removed it doing fine, but I noticed it wasn’t even in the potting soil when I took this photo. Hmmm…
So, once again, I am hoping the Kalanchoe marmorata survives the winter. Even though I have A LOT of plants that do well, a few have their own personalities to get accustomed to. This seems to be one of them. Maybe your experience with this species is different so please leave a comment if you have anything to share.
I had to move the potted plants inside for the winter on October 15. As always, I take photographs and measurements as I bring them inside. The Kalanchoe marmorata continues to survive, even though weirdly. The plant grown from the stem I cut off keeps getting taller while the one from the offset stays short…
It still won’t grow an abundance of leaves like the plant was when I first got it. I will figure this plant out yet!
It’s still alive. This species is weird for me. As of July 20 (2021), the taller plant needs to be regrown AGAIN as it is just a long stem with a few leaves on top. The smaller one, however, is growing new leaves and looks better than it has for a long time. In fact, the smaller one usually always looked worse than the taller one.
I was taking photos for a post on August 17, so I thought I better name another one of the smaller Kalanchoe marmorata. It hasn’t done much since the previous photo… It needs to be repotted because I just noticed it isn’t in the center of the pot. Hmmm… It was in the center before. 🙂 This plant is 5 1/2″ tall…
I decided I would go ahead and cut the stem of the taller Kalanchoe marmorata in half on August 28. I will put it in another pot in a few days once the stem scabs over. The taller plant “was” 10″ tall with a 7 1/2″ long stem. Snip snip…
Hmmm… I noticed the smaller Kalanchoe marmorata had a growth spurt. I was so proud of it I decided to take its photo.
Well, sorry to say, this plant died over the winter. We had a lot of ups and downs, so I don’t think I will try another one unless I have better conditions.
I hope you enjoyed this page and maybe found it useful. If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, I would like to hear from you. Please click on “like” if you visited this page. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. 🙂 You can check out the links below for further reading. The links take you directly to the genus and species of this plant.
I find this so strange that I have to share it with you. My mother in law gave me a piece of cactus that was given to her. It reproduces by a single section falling onto the dirt. The strange part is I live in Ohio and we get temperatures below 0 degrees Fahrenheit! I have no idea how these survive our harsh winters.
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Dianne, there are many cactus and succulent species that do survive very cold temperatures. The ones we are more familiar with from garden centers usually don’t. Thanks for the comment!
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The leaves keep falling off and drying up on my pen wiper plant. I have it in front of a South facing window. I have tried spase watering and a little heavier watering. Please help me to figure this plant out.
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Hello Mary! My plant looked great when it arrived then it soon went to crap. But, it didn’t die. This past summer it grew and I cut the stem off to regrow it. You have to do that with Kalanchoe (and other succulents sometime) but you should do it in the spring. I don’t know how long you have had your plant, but little roots will form along the stems at the leaf nodes. To regrow, cut the stem, let it callous over for a week, then put the stem in the soil about up to where the leaves are growing. Don’t discard the old plant and new leaves/stems will grow from then eventually you can make more plants from them as well. This is a neat species but maybe a little finicky. Some are not picky about their potting soil but it always needs to drain very well (water draining almost as fast as you pour it in). No matter what kind of potting soil you use, I recommend mixing it 50/50 with pumice. You can buy small batches on Ebay or get a big bag from General Pumice online. That’s where I bought mine. During the summer you can water fairly normally but rarely in the winter. Only water if the leaves look wrinkly because overwatering during the winter is fatal. A south-facing window is OK during the winter or even an east window. Kalanchoes are supposedly summer dormant but that doesn’t mean they actively grow in the winter and need the same watering schedule. If you want, you can send photos of your plant to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. That way maybe I can give better advice. If you notice, I haven’t taken many photos of this plant for the blog because it has its ups and downs. Iam going to update this page soon. Thanks for the comment and I hope I have helped. Let me know your progress.
hello! Thank you very much for your photos and comments. I “proplifted” a pup and leaf from a very large mature plant at an abandoned mall, and have been growing the pup since then. It’s about 3″ across, has 6 leaves (growing in opposite pairs, then quarter-round for the next pair), and has long spidery white roots that shoot out in a puffball in all directions – even up in the air out of the dirt! I’ve been watering it by misting it in cactus soil, and I kept it attached to the mother leaf for about 3 weeks, I only cut it off today because the leaf was starting to look limp. (I kept the leaf in water because I was trying to prop it also – I didn’t know which way it wanted to be propagated so I tried both.) 🙂 I’m looking forward to my baby growing up and maybe flowering, and thanks to you I think I have a better handle on how to keep it happy!
Hello Adriel! I am glad to hear from you and about your success. Mine has been weird and is staying small. I am glad you found my tribute to the Kalanchoe marmorata helpful. Please keep me posted. Take care and thanks for the comment!
How do I separate my pen wiper plant? Looks like a new growth is getting very large. Thanks Don
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Hello Don! What do you mean separate? If you have an offset, you just remove the plant from the pot and separate the offset and repot both of them. If your plant has a long leafless stem with a lot of leaves on top, just cut the stem 3″ or so below the leaves, let the stem scab over for about a week, then insert the stem into the potting soil. That is something that I usually have to do every year. It can be a weird plant but practice makes perfect. 🙂 Take care and thanks for the comment!
Great post! I just bought a house in Mexico City that had one of these. The house had been neglected, and we closed the deal at the end of the dry season. Despite the urgent need to remodel, I figured I’d try to revive the plants which were in pots in the patio. One of them is the penwiper plant. Nearly dead from lack of water , it really came back to life with some watering. It had a long stalk with a few leaves on the end, and then some offsets at the base.
Last week, the long stem got bent, so I figured I’d try to root the part with the leaves. Then I cut the stem into 3-4” pieces and let everything callus. I’ve planted it all now, and am wondering if you think I’ve got a good chance of the stem pieces eventually rooting.
The soil might be a bit on the moist side now as rainy season has begun and we are getting rain nearly every afternoon. But there’s nothing I can do about it, so I guess we’ll see.
Roma Sur, Mexico City
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Hello Kim G.! Congratulations on your new house! Sounds GREAT! My problem with this Kalanchoe is not getting it to root, it was getting it to thrive. It looked great when it arrived, but went to crap after that. It would grow over the summer then slowly go down hill over the winter. Your stem cutting with the leaves should root just fine, but I’m not sure about the pieces with no leaves. Never tried that. A lot of the times I will leave the rooted stem (with no leaves) in the pot and sometimes they will grow new leaves (depending on the species).
If you can, I would move the stem cuttings pots to a place where they won’t get wet until they start to root. The problem with smaller succulents (and cactus) is with overwatering. Wet soil where there is no roots can cause rotting. Best to give them “just enough” soil for healthy roots. Of course, the climate is much different there than here in the middle of the United States.
My K. marmorata decided to shoot craps this past winter but I did find a few at a local greenhouse and I may bring one home.
I wish you the best with your new home. I went to your site and read about it and looked at the photos. Looks AWESOME! I decided to follow to keep up with your progress! Hope all goes well and your Kalanchoe will root and take off for you!
Hola! Thanks for the kind words. Yes, see you found my site. Initially I didn’t realize that your site is a WordPress site, though I guess the nice layout should have been a clue. And yes, keeping my cuttings dry-ish seems like great advice. Really, I don’t know why I didn’t think of it myself.
I also recently cut back a rather dangerous Crown of Thorns, which was lying in wait by the kitchen door, ready to nail anyone who walked out without paying close attention. It too can apparently be rooted with cuttings. Supposedly the roots take 12-14 weeks to develop, though a couple of my cuttings seem to have tiny little sprouts. (Or maybe I’m just being too optimistic.) But they’re also probably getting too much water at this point. Since they are in very heavy, concrete planter boxes, moving them is out of the question. But perhaps I’ll see if I can rig up a little roof or something. The rain here in the rainy season (Jun-Oct) can often be torrential. And indeed I was digging in the planter around the fountain and the soil is quite moist. But when I got the place it was bone dry.
Mexico City’s climate is fairly temperate, despite being in the tropics. The altitude, 7,200 ft, keeps it cool. Our hottest months are April/May and when the rainy season begins in June it cools down nicely. For the past few weeks our highs have been in the mid-to-upper 70s with nighttime temperatures in the lower 60s. Even in April/May, it’s rarely over the mid-80s, it’s not humid, and it always cools off at night. Really, it’s an ideal climate.
And my yard and my neighbors’ yards are filled with “houseplants,” like wandering Jews, philodendrons, ficus trees, lots of cultivars of Kalanchoe, and many others that I can’t name.
Anyway, thanks for the lovely reply and the follow to my blog,
Roma Sur, Mexico City
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Growing all those tropicals in the ground sound great. We have to grow them in pots here, mainly as houseplants. When I lived in Mississippi for a few years, there were a lot of plants I could have grown in the ground but I still grew them in pots. I had to get used to the difference in climate as far as what I could grow. The old house (small mansion) had 5 sunrooms. It was great fun! I am sure you have experienced that after living on the east coast. The weather sounds great down there. Right now, it is very hot and humid here. Luckily, we had a nice rain a few days ago.
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Wow, an old mansion in Mississippi! Sounds amazing. On one of the last road trips from Boston to Mexico City, I stopped for a few hours in Laurel, MS. What a charming town! I fell in love with it immediately. I’m not sure I could live there, but it certainly epitomizes the charm of the Old South.
Here in Mexico City, I have a tiled patio in my new digs. It actually belongs to the second house, but it’s set up to be mine. There’s a fountain with a ring of dirt around it and some planter boxes. I’m looking forward to having a bunch of small, interesting plants that won’t need much care once they’re established. In Boston I have a 1/8th acre, and it has been 25 years of trying to get it to behave. There’s still a large patch behind my gravel patio next to the freestanding garage that’s still largely wild. And one big advantage of Mexico City, besides the obvious ones, is that I won’t have to rake 20 cubic meters of leaves every November.
By the way, I took your suggestion on the cuttings. I found a couple of pieces of clear-ish plastic and taped them into a sort of gabled roof which I put over the pot with the cuttings. Hopefully that will keep most or all of the rain out.
Cheers and thanks for the chat!
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