Kalanchoe is a succulent plant valued for its vivid, bright colors, and tightly clustered bouquets of little flowers. It's hardy in USDA zones 10 through 12, but makes an excellent indoor plant. Kalanchoe flowers can start losing their vibrancy in the second and third years of growth, but propagation methods are easy and can produce young, healthy varieties that grow from 36 to 48 inches. The seeds from cross-pollination can produce some interesting hybrids as well, but there’s no guarantee that there will be a particular resemblance to the parent plants. If you want to give it a try and see what you get, seed propagation is right for you. If you would rather have more of the same plant, you can propagate kalanchoe plants by using cuttings.
Safety Tip: All parts of the kalanchoe are poisonous if ingested. Keep away from pets and children!
Kalanchoe seeds are tiny, around 2.5 million per ounce. When you propagate kalanchoe with seeds, you’ve got two options. The first is to purchase seeds from your local garden center or nursery. The second is to cross-pollinate two kalanchoe or more in your perennial flower garden if you have them. You can crossbreed the two varieties and come up with a hybrid that can either have traits of the parent plants, traits of its own, or both. It’s always exciting to see what crossbreeding two kalanchoe plants will bring you, and what colors you’ll see in your shrub.
To crossbreed, wait until you have two or more plants in full bloom. Use a small paintbrush or Q-tip to brush pollen from the stamen of one flower to the stigma of another, transferring from plant to plant. Since the flowers come in crowded bundles, it may be easiest to cut off a clump of them and pull them apart to get to the pollen.
The kalanchoe seeds can go directly into warm, slightly moist soil made of half cactus mix and half fine potting soil. The warmth and the humidity of the dirt will activate the seed’s growth hormones and guide the sprout towards nutrients, thus giving you a baby kalanchoe sprout.
Seeds should be placed in indirect light and kept at temperatures between 70 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Fill a clean spray bottle with filtered or rain water and mist the seeds only when the soil appears dry. Do not over water! Germination should take around 10 days. Pinch the seedling back lightly at six to eight weeks. When they are six inches high, transplant the seedlings to their own individual one to two-inch pots and follow the care instructions below.
Tip: Kalanchoe like their space. Avoid planting companion plants with the kalanchoe and repot them each spring in pots larger by one inch. Use fresh soil, with a standard houseplant preparation, like 20-8-20 time release formula at half strength.
2. Leaf Cuttings
If you want to have the exact same plant in repetition in your garden, you can propagate kalanchoe with leaf cuttings. Take your cuttings in early spring, using a pair of sharp garden shears to cut a few strong green shoots off of the kalanchoe, six to eight inches long. Strip the leaves off of the bottom three inches of the cutting. You should allow the cuttings to dry on the counter for around three days to let the cut side heal up. If you plant the cutting immediately, it will be susceptible to rot.
The soil requirement for cutting propagation is a cactus mix blended with some humus topsoil. Before planting, water the mix thoroughly and allow it to drain for half an hour so that the soil is moist for planting. Dig a small hole and stand the cutting upright, filling the hole in and pressing firmly so that it stands up on its own.
Avoid watering the kalanchoe cutting for at least one week. This encourages the leaf to survive in rather dry conditions by rooting through the soil. The dirt you use should be permeable, well-drained and never overwatered. You should attempt to propagate multiple cuttings to achieve at least one viable seedling. Small plants will begin to grow from the base of the cutting after one month. Keep the seedlings moist, spraying them with filtered or rain water, but never letting it puddle.
After a month or two gently dig the little kalanchoe plants from their potting mix and transplant them into individual one or two-inch pots. Fill the pots with a mix of coarse sand, peat moss, and compost. Always put an inch of pebbles or broken pottery in the bottom of the pot to improve drainage. They can now be treated like mature plants.
Kalanchoe need temperatures of between 60 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit to thrive, and repeated exposure to colder temperatures will kill it. Keep your indoor kalanchoe away from doors or drafts during the winter and consider using a radiator or small heating pad set on low to maintain these temperatures.
Kalanchoe love sun, but avoid direct sunlight in the summer when it can scald them. These environmental parameters should be used until transplantation. Your plants generally won’t be ready for a permanent home in your garden until they're about two or three years old. They need to be between the adolescent and mature stage so that transplanting doesn’t shock the plant to death. If you do not live in UDSA hardiness zones 10 through 12, you have to keep your kalanchoe as a houseplant permanently. Allow the soil to become dry between watering to avoid root rot, a common problem.
Tip: If you are considering planting your kalanchoe in the garden, be warned that this is an invasive species. If left unchecked it will take over entire gardens. Keep a wary eye on it, or plant it in an exclusive bed.
Whichever way you choose to propagate your kalanchoe, you can reap all of the benefits of this low-maintenance plant. You can re-bloom it, you can gift adolescent plants to someone else to care for, and you can even forget to water them sometimes—they’ll forgive you, and they’ll even reward you with more blooms.