February 1, 2014

1 - Kalenchoe (Bryophyllum) plants are succulent plants that are easy to grow as houseplants.

Yard and Garden February 1, 2014


I saw your picture of Kalanchoe (Bryophyllum) fedtschenkoi on the NMSU Facebook page. The colors are very interesting - gray, cream, and pink. Is this plant difficult to grow? Does it have to be old or really large before it blooms?


I am glad you use the "NMSU Extension and Experiment Station Publications" page on Facebook. For gardeners who have not yet found this page, it is accessible to you at Facebook - Extension Publications. There is a lot of useful information for gardeners here as well as on the NMSU ACES website.

The plant you saw with gray, cream-colored, and pink foliage is a very interesting houseplant for much of New Mexico. It is frost tender, so it cannot be grown outdoors year-round in New Mexico. It is a succulent that needs very little watering, so it is quite easy to grow. The one you saw is less than a year old and not very large. The presence of cream and pink coloration is due to the fact that this plant is a variegated cultivar. The species has gray-green leaves that develop a pink to purple cast in bright sunlight or when growing under drought conditions. The variegation is an attractive addition to its appearance.

My plant is flowering now (late January). It formed flower buds in late fall and has been attractive since then. But now the orange flower petals are emerging from the pink sepals and look quite exotic. I have grown larger plants that did not flower, so I think the fact that it was pot-bound (growing in an 8 oz. Styrofoam coffee cup repurposed with drainage holes as a flower pot) has contributed to the flowers. Last year my larger plant (in a much larger pot) that had grown for several years without flowering was attacked by scale insects and killed. Before it died I managed to salvage a small stem with only a few leaves by putting it into the coffee cup with potting soil. It grew roots and survived without insect infestation. It was small all last summer, but after I moved it indoors for the winter, it began growing. I should have repotted it, but I did not and it out-grew its pot. I think this may have something to do with the fact that it bloomed. Its location in a cold, sunny window and the fact that, as a succulent, I let it get quite dry before watering may also have contributed to the fact that it flowered. The cool, dry conditions favor flowering in its close relative Kalanchoe blossfeldiana, a common winter-flowering plant sold for holiday decorations.

The Kalanchoe/Bryophyllum group of plants is an interesting and easy group of houseplants to grow in New Mexico. Many are succulents native to South Africa and Madagascar. There is some botanical confusion to the names since some botanist consider all in the genus Kalanchoe, while others retain the genus name Bryophyllum for those that produce aerial plantlets on their leaves or flowers. Many of these plants are toxic, so do not eat them.

Marisa Y. Thompson, PhD, is the Extension Horticulture Specialist, in the Department of Extension Plant Sciences at the New Mexico State University Los Lunas Agricultural Science Center, email: desertblooms@nmsu.edu, office: 505-865-7340, ext. 113.


For more gardening information, visit the NMSU Extension Horticulture page at Desert Blooms.

Send gardening questions to Southwest Yard and Garden - Attn: Dr. Marisa Thompson at desertblooms@nmsu.edu, or at the Desert Blooms Facebook page.

Please copy your County Extension Agent and indicate your county of residence when you submit your question!