Mother of Thousands, ETC.
Kalanchoe x laetivirens
Bryophyllum x laetivirens
Likely a natural hybrid between:
Kalanchoe daigremontiana x Kalanchoe laxiflora
Kalanchoe x laetivirens Desc. is the correct and accepted scientific name for this natural hybrid of Kalanchoe. It was named and described as such by Bernard Marie Descoings in Le Journal de Botanique de la Société de botanique de France in 1997. The species has flopped between the Kalanchoe and Bryophyllum genera like a few other Kalanchoe species. It has been described as Bryophyllum x laetivirens (Desc.) V.V.Byalt as named and described by Vyacheslav Vyacheslavovich Byalt in Botanicheskii Zhurnal in 2008.
The genus, Kalanchoe Adans., was named and described as such by Michel Adanson in Familles des Plantes in 1763.
The other genus, Bryophyllum Salisb., was named and described by Richard Anthony Salisbury in Paradisus Londinensis in 1805. Currently, this genus is a synonym of Kalanchoe… Not sure for how long, though, because there is a lot of controversy…
Plants of the World Online lists 155 species in the Kalanchoe genus (as of 2-2-21 when I last updated this page). It is a member of the plant family Crassulaceae with 36 genera. Those numbers could change as updates are made.
I have to apologize for incorrectly naming this plant and not catching it since 2014… When I did my initial research for this plant when I brought it home in 2014, I incorrectly identified it as Kalanchoe daigremontiana. Continue reading…
THERE ARE SEVERAL LINKS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE FOR FURTHER READING.
My first, um, Mother-Of-Thousands was given to me by Ruth Wagler of Wagler’s Greenhouse in 2014. It was a very beautiful plant with a few small “plantlets” along its phylloclades. This was my first experience with this plant and little did I know why its common name was “Mother of Thousands”. I was about to find out… What appears to be leaves on several species are actually phylloclades which are flattened branches modified for photosynthesis. Ummm… Flattened stems are called cladodes. Interesting that phylloclades still have a petiole that attaches to the stem. I wonder if a plant with a cladode that produces a phylloclade is attached to a petiole? 🙂
My initial research to find out the species name of this plant was only somewhat complicated. I typed in what Mrs. Wagler said it was, Mother of Thousands, and most of what found online was for the species called Kalanchoe daigremontiana. It also goes by Mother of Millions, Alligator Plant, and Devil’s Backbone. When I got on the LLIFLE (Encyclopedia of Living Forms) website, I thought it was odd that the photo showed a plant with more slender leaves with purplish markings. Most all the other websites show plants with leaves like mine… SO, I opted to use the name Kalanchoe daigremontiana…
Well, that was back in 2014 and until I was writing a post about the Kalanchoe in 2020 I thought all was well… I did a little more research and realized I had screwed up… The species of the plant (s) I have been calling Kalanchoe daigremontiana is actually Kalanchoe x laetivirens… Both share the common names Mother of Thousands and Mother of Millions… It is believed to be a natural hybrid found in the wild of Madagascar between Kalanchoe daigremontiana and Kalanchoe laxiflora…
There are a lot of photos online that are improperly identified as Kalanchoe daigremontiana which is supposed to have green leaves with purple markings. Kalanchoe x laetivirens has NO purple markings on the leaves…
There are several species in the genus that produce these plantlets along the edges of what we normally refer to as leaves. A few species and hybrids produce A MULTITUDE of these baby plants, which some all bulbils, along their margins while other species just produce a few at the tip and sometimes a few along the margins. Species that produce these plantlets were transferred to the Bryophyllum genus but there has been a lot of controversy about that and the species have been moved back and forth multiple times.
I gave up many succulents in the late summer of 2014 then had to start all over. I went back out to Wagler’s Greenhouse and got another one of these strange plants.
Zones: USDA Zones 9b-11 (25 to 40° F).
Size: 36” to 48” tall.
*Light: Sun to part shade.
**Soil: Fast-draining. Quality potting soil amended with pumice (50/50) or additional perlite and chicken grit (2-1-1).
***Water: Normal watering during the growing period, barely in winter.
Propagation: Plantlets from their phylloclades, stem cuttings.
*Even though information online says this species does well in full sun to part shade, I have never grown mine in full sun during the summer. Prior to 2018, my cactus and succulents were on tables under a Chinese Elm Tree. After the first Japanese Beetle invasion in 2018, I moved the cactus to the deck at the back of the house and the succulents to the covered front porch (facing west). The succulents get light shade throughout most of the day with periods of direct sun. During the winter, all the Kalanchoe are on a shelf in a cool bedroom on a shelf in a south-facing window.
**Finding the sweet spot when it comes to cactus and succulent soil can be tricky. There are a lot of recipes online, but I had been using 2 parts Miracle Grow Potting Soil amended with an additional 1 part perlite and 1 part chicken grit. Many cactus and succulent enthusiasts recommend using pumice instead of perlite, so I switched in 2018. Now I use a 50/50 mix of Miracle Grow Potting Soil and pumice I ordered online from General Pumice. They also say a loam-based potting soil is better than peat-based, but finding a loam-based potting mix is impossible locally. I may have to experiment with the topsoil from the garden… 🙂 After I move the cactus and succulents inside for the winter and stop watering, the potting soil can get very hard. SO, I started re-potting them with fresh mix during the fall and winter so their soil will be nice and loose.
***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…
Many members of the Kalanchoe genus are quite variable. Some of these species have darker leaves with purple markings, some are fuzzy, etc. They also hybridize with other members of the genus.
To say this plant multiplies by plantlets is such a vague understatement. It isn’t even the tip of the iceberg. Maybe I should say the beginning of the flood as the iceberg melts. Those little plants grow aerial roots so when they fall off they are completely ready to grow.
These plantlets come up everywhere! Every pot nearby had its offspring as well as the cracks in the table, between bricks, etc. I was surprised they didn’t grow in the carpet when inside. I actually left a few on the floor to see if they would.
Seriously, though, there are many plants with certain hang-ups we deal with because we like them. We have to learn to adapt with their personalities just like we do with other people, chickens, cows, cats, birds and everything else. We all have to survive and nature has adapted many ways to do so without our help. Sometimes, though, we need to intervene so there isn’t a population explosion. Nature does that with the changes in seasons but we go and take the plant in the house…
This plant continued to grow while it was inside for the winter. It wasn’t in bright enough light so it stretched way out of proportion and got really strange…
This pot was FULL of plantlets at one time but have shallow roots so they are easy to pull up. I know, that seems like such a waste, kind of like murder, but sometimes you just have to do it. I always ask forgiveness and eventually we move forward. 🙂
The main stem died but I had left a few of the larger plantlets. Once I removed most of the plantlets, the ones that were left began to grow much better.
The above photo was taken about four months after the one before and you can see how fast they grew. The temperatures were starting to get cooler, I moved the plants into the basement temporarily. After a few days, I moved the cactus and succulents to my bedroom next to a south-facing window.
I moved some of the succulents to the windowsill in the kitchen and others to the table in my bedroom. I put the larger pots on the floor under the table where they received a lot of sun from a southern exposure. When the temps warm up and the plants are back outside I will put these plants in their own pots. I have some experimenting to do and more plants always make it easier.
Once the temperatures warmed up, I moved all the potted plants back outside for the summer.
On June 6 (2018) I decided it was time to separate the plants in this pot…
Now, that is much better…
On July 4 I had to move the plant tables and most of the plants to the front porch. We had a severe Japanese Beetle invasion and they completely changed the environment where most of the potted plants were. The plant tables were behind a shed under an old Chinese Elm tree and the beetles love their leaves. We went from light to part shade to full sun almost overnight…
As you can tell, most of their phylloclades are LOADED with plantlets…
The four smaller Kalanchoe x laetivirens are doing well on the front porch. Now, I won’t lie to you. Plants from the plantlets may take a while to look as good as the big plant. In fact, it will take a series of cutting off the stems and re-rooting. If you don’t do that, they will get tall and weird… Another weird thing is that some of these plants grow well and some do not.
Well, they just can’t help themselves! The Kalanchoe x laetivirens is a regular baby factory!
The plantlets grow roots while still attached so they are ready to grow when they fall off.
When I moved the plants inside for the winter I decided to remove the plantlets so they wouldn’t be falling off on the floor and in other pots. That seemed like a good idea at the time.
All I can say about the Kalanchoe x laetivirens for 2019 is the same as usual. Continues to grow and produce LOTS of plantlets as usual. Once again the main plant grew by leaps and bounds and became quite tall so I cut the stem several inches below the lowest leaves and put it back in the pot with fresh potting soil. It never flinched a bit.
I keep most of the succulents on a shelf in front of a south-facing window in the back bedroom over the winter. I hardly ever go into the bedroom and I keep it fairly cool. It is a perfect place for succulents to overwinter where they can be neglected a little and I won’t be tempted to water them too often. Most of the plants in this bedroom don’t get watered but once over the winter. The Kalanchoe may get a little more if their leaves start to wrinkle and shrivel. One day when I went in to check on the plants I was shocked to see the Kalanchoe x laetivirens had buds. I have had this plant for several years and this is the first time it flowered.
After a while, I decided I wanted it in the main bedroom so I could keep an eye on it. This was very exciting and I didn’t want to miss anything. How cool is that?
I had seen flowers of this plant online but up close and in person was much better.
Although the flowers were small, there were a bunch of them. Once the flowers faded I just left them and the flower stem on the plant to see what would happen. Which you will see in the last photo.
I had to move the potted plants inside for the winter on October 15 because an “F” was in the forecast. As always, I took photographs and measurements. NORMALLY, there is one big plant in the center and a bunch of plantlets that have come up. BUT, after the main plant flowered, two HUGE offsets grew from the main stem. The parent plant fizzled out but I had left the stem all summer.
AS always, the Kalanchoe x laetivirens produced LOADS of plantlets. I always remove them when I move the plants inside because they can eventually become a pain in the neck.
SO, what happened to the flower stem? Well, it eventually fell over and the flowers were replaced by more plants. What do you expect from this plant?
The two plants from offsets of the main plant continue to do well but I really need to get them separated and move them to their own pots. At this point, these two are the only plants of the species I have. Plants that are grown from the planets sometimes do well and sometimes it takes a while to get them going.
Honestly, the Kalanchoe x laetivirens is a plant you will either love or hate. Sometimes it gets unruly and you have to cut off the stem and repot it. That will make the leaves get bigger and there is hardly a better-looking succulent than a well-grown Kalanchoe x laetivirens. BUT, there is hardly any worse than one that looks bad.
I read a GREAT post on a website called Sucs for You called “The Many Mother of Thousands” which you can read by clicking HERE. Now I have to find a Kalanchoe gastonis–bonnieri… 🙂
I will continue adding more photos as time goes by.
I hope you enjoyed this page and look forward to adding more photos and information. If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, I would like to hear from you. You can check out the links before for further reading. Please click on the “Like” below if you have visited this page. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. 🙂
There isn’t much online about the Kalanchoe x laetivirens except from online stores. If you type in, for example, “Mother of Thousands”, you will get websites that show photos of Kalanchoe x laetivirens but they say the information is for Kalanchoe daigremontiana. That is likely how I misnamed this plant in the first place… SO, the links below for Gardening Know How and House Plants Expert say they are about Kalanchoe daigremontiana but the photos are Kalanchoe x laetivirens. Both share the common names Mother of Thousands and Mother of Millions…