Kalanchoe makes a charming addition to any windowsill with its gorgeous purple and green foliage and bright pink blooms. Kalanchoe is one of the most prolific succulents you can find, and you don’t have to have a green thumb to coax kalanchoe to grow from leaves, stems, or offsets.
Read on to learn how to propagate kalanchoe at home!
Basic Propagation Principles
Propagation is the fundamental skill in gardening and horticulture of creating new plants from existing ones. This is done by either seeds or cuttings.
Kalanchoe is ideal for propagating because it is hardy, fast-growing, and produces offsets (plant “pups” that can be easily separated and planted). Propagating kalanchoe is also made easier because it is tolerant of many soil conditions, relatively disease resistant, and fairly low maintenance.
Propagating Kalanchoe from Leaf Cuttings
The most common method for propagating kalanchoe is from leaf cuttings.
Start by choosing a healthy leaf from the parent plant. Look for a leaf that is mature but not old or damaged.
Using a clean, sharp knife or scissors, cut the leaf at a 45-degree angle, then allow the cut end of the leaf to callus over for a day or two to help prevent rotting.
Plant the callused end of the leaf in a well-draining succulent or cactus potting mix. You can plant multiple leaves in the same pot. Water the soil just enough to moisten it, and then place the pot in bright, indirect sunlight. Keep the soil consistently moist but not soggy.
After a few weeks to a couple of months, tiny plantlets should begin to emerge from the base of the leaf. Once they have grown a bit, you can transplant them into their individual pots.
Propagating Kalanchoe from Offsets
Many home gardeners also like to propagate kalanchoe from offsets. To do this, first look for an offset that is a reasonable size but not too large. Ideally, it should have at least two or three pairs of leaves. Very small offsets may not have developed enough to thrive on their own, and very large offsets may have already used up some of their energy reserves.
A healthy offset should have vibrant, plump leaves. Stay away from any kalanchoe offsets with yellowing, shriveled, or damaged leaves. The leaves should be free from spots, blemishes, or signs of disease.
Ensure that the offset is attached firmly to the parent plant. It should not come off easily when gently tugged. If it is loosely attached, it may not have developed sufficient roots to survive on its own. If you can see roots, it’s probably a good candidate for propagation.
Look for younger offsets that are located towards the outer part of the parent plant, as these are more likely to be receiving adequate light and nutrients. Offsets from the center of the plant may not have grown as vigorously. It may seem obvious, but you should avoid taking offsets from a stressed or diseased parent plant.
The best time to take offsets for propagating kalanchoe is during the spring or early summer.
Once you’ve found your healthy offset, gently remove it from the parent plant using a clean, sharp knife or scissors, and allow the cut end of the offset to callus over for a day or two (just like you would when propagating a leaf cutting).
Plant the offset in a small pot with well-draining soil, water it lightly, and place it in indirect sunlight.
Keep the soil consistently moist until the plant establishes roots and begins to grow.
Propagating Kalanchoe from Stem Cuttings
As with propagating from leaves and offsets, choose a healthy stem from the kalanchoe plant. Look for a stem that isn’t too young or too old.
Using clean and sharp scissors, cut a section of the stem that is around 3 to 4 inches long. Make the cut just below a leaf node (where a leaf attaches to the stem).
Allow the cut end of the stem to callus for a couple of days, placing it in a dry, shaded location to air-dry.
Fill a small pot or container with well-draining succulent or cactus potting mix. Make a small hole in the soil using your finger or a pencil, and insert the cut end of the stem into the hole in the soil, making sure it’s firmly in place. Pat the soil around the cutting to stabilize it.
Water the cutting lightly, ensuring that the soil is evenly moist but not soaked. Overwatering can lead to rotting. Cover with a plastic bag or wrap to create a humid environment.
Place your kalanchoe cutting in bright but indirect light. You should see new roots developing in a few weeks to a couple of months. During this time, continue to water sparingly to maintain even moisture.
Once the cutting has developed a sufficient root system and is growing well, you can transplant it into a larger pot.
Water propagation is an alternative method to propagate kalanchoe, and it’s a bit different from the more common soil-based propagation methods.
To propagate kalanchoe in water, select a healthy, mature leaf. Using clean and sharp scissors or pruning shears, carefully cut a healthy leaf from the parent plant. Make a clean cut, ensuring that you have a whole leaf with the stem intact.
Place the leaf-cutting in a dry, shaded location for a day or two to allow the cut end to callus (to prevent rotting when the leaf is placed in water).
After the callus has formed, fill a clean glass or jar with enough water to submerge the lower part of the leaf without touching the upper part of the leaf. You want the stem of the leaf to be submerged, but the leaf itself should remain above the water.
Place the glass or jar with the leaf-cutting in a location with bright, indirect sunlight. Avoid direct sunlight, as it can cause the water to heat up and potentially harm the cutting. Change the water in the glass or jar every few days to keep it clean and prevent the growth of algae or bacteria. Rinse the cutting gently each time you change the water.
Over the course of several weeks to a few months, you should see roots beginning to develop from the submerged stem of the leaf-cutting. These roots will continue to grow over time. Once the roots have grown several inches long, you can carefully transplant the rooted leaf cutting into a well-draining succulent or cactus potting mix in a small pot.
Frequently Asked Questions About Propagating Kalanchoe
How long does it take to propagate kalanchoe?
The time it takes to propagate kalanchoe can vary depending on the method of propagation you choose and environmental factors.
When propagating kalanchoe from leaf cuttings, it typically takes several weeks to a couple of months for the tiny plantlets to emerge from the base of the leaf. It may take some additional time for the new plants to establish roots and grow into healthy young plants. In total, it can take around 2 to 4 months or longer from leaf cutting to a well-established plant, depending on conditions.
Propagating kalanchoe from stem cuttings can also take several weeks to a few months for the cuttings to develop roots and establish themselves as new plants. The exact timeline depends on factors such as temperature, humidity, and the specific kalanchoe variety.
Propagating kalanchoe from offsets is often the fastest method. Offsets are typically well-developed and already have a root system. They can be transplanted into their individual pots almost immediately after separation from the parent plant.
If you choose to propagate kalanchoe through water propagation using leaf cuttings, it follows a similar timeline as propagating through soil. It can take several weeks to a few months for roots to develop in water. Once the roots are sufficiently long, you can transplant the cutting into soil, and it will continue to grow from there.
What are some common problems when propagating kalanchoe?
Although propagating kalanchoe is pretty easy, you can run into some problems along the way. Rotting, pests, lack of root development, and infection are all issues you may encounter.
Overwatering or excessive moisture is a common cause of rot in kalanchoe cuttings. If you notice that the cuttings or leaves are becoming mushy, discolored, or foul-smelling, they may be rotting. Reduce watering and allow the soil or the cutting to dry out. Ensure proper drainage in your pots or containers. If rot has set in, you may need to discard the affected parts and start over with healthy cuttings or leaves.
Lack of root development
Be patient. Rooting time can vary depending on the kalanchoe variety and environmental conditions. Using a rooting hormone can also stimulate root growth.
Aphids, mealybugs, and other pests can infest kalanchoe cuttings or young plants, damaging or even killing them. Inspect your plants regularly for signs of pests, such as yellowing or distorted leaves, and treat infestations promptly.
What are some fun ways to use the kalanchoe I propagated?
There are so many unique ways to use kalanchoe!
- Vertical garden: Use pockets or wall-mounted planters to create a stunning vertical display of kalanchoe plants.
- Succulent bouquets: The various textures and colors of different kalanchoe species can add depth and interest to a bouquet.
- Living jewelry: incorporate small kalanchoe cuttings into living jewelry creations, such as bracelets, necklaces, or hair accessories.
- Air plant holders: Use hollowed-out kalanchoe leaves as natural holders for air plants.
- Cake toppers: Decorate cakes for special occasions with edible kalanchoe flowers.
Go Forth and Propagate
Kalanchoe is beautiful and low maintenance. So, what are you waiting for? Start propagating kalanchoe today!
To learn more about plant propagation and care on our webpage!
- About the Author
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Ronda Lindsay is a writer and editor who loves getting outside in her garden, whether that’s in the temperate climates of the Pacific Northwest or Mid-Atlantic or in the sweltering heat of south-central Texas.
Growing up, she was a regular at pick-your-own farms, where she and her siblings gathered anything that wasn’t already growing in her family’s backyard to eat, freeze, or can. As an adult, Ronda has taken the vast gardening knowledge bestowed upon her by her mother and used it to grow everything from strawberries to jalapeños, arrange beautiful container gardens, and nurse sick plants back to health.
With a bachelor’s in English and a master’s in professional writing, Ronda enjoys using her skills to share information and advice with Minneopa Orchards readers!