In Italy we generally refer to the kalanchoe with the common name kalancola, or calancola, indicating, however, a single species, that is Kalanchoe blossfeldiana, the most widespread in cultivation, of which there are also numerous hybrids and cultivars.
They are small succulents, not exceeding the 25-35 cm of height, formed by a thick erect rosette of big triangular leaves, with wavy margin, fleshy and thick, rigid, of a bright green colour; during the spring and summer, from the centre of the rosette of leaves, rises a thin stem, also fleshy, which carries numerous small star-shaped flowers, united in corymbs, of various colours, from the candid white up to the intense violet, passing through all the shades of yellow and red; there are also varieties with striped flowers or also with double and extra-double flowers, much appreciated for their abundant flowering.
In the house or in the garden?
The Calancola are succulent plants, and like most of these plants, they bear very well the drought; for this reason they are perfectly adapted to ita in apartment, where the ria is dry, not requiring large watering, are also perfect for those who do not have too much time to care for the plants at home, or for those who tend to forget about watering and fertilization.
In fact, most of the kalanchoe sold in Italy are intended to brighten up shelves or windowsills at home, and will never be placed outdoors.
These plants share a characteristic with the Christmas stars, i.e. they only begin to flower after spending a good period in an area characterized by a few hours of light per day; this characteristic allows the nurserymen to make flourish the sheet piles at any time of year.
In this way, the period of sale of the flowering Kalanchoe is uninterrupted throughout the year, and are among the best-selling flowering plants during the winter months, when it is difficult to find indoor plants in full bloom.
This practice tends to shorten the life of small plants, but the easy availability of flowering plants of this kind, makes it so that most of the Calancules are grown as an annual: at the end of flowering are left to deteriorate, or replaced by specimens in full bloom.
The cultivation of these pretty succulents does not have to be done in this way, it is also possible to use them for the flowerbeds in the garden; in fact, they are plants that fear the frost, but if placed in the flowerbeds of the garden at the end of winter they will give us a much longer flowering, and at the end of this the leaves will continue to vegetate and develop.
In autumn, they can be placed in a temperate greenhouse or in the house, with minimum temperatures above 5°C, in order to preserve them for the following year.
- The life of the flowers can be “extended”, so to speak, thanks to the use of drying techniques, which allow the conservation of plants and flowers for a long period of time. The beauty …
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How to cultivate Calancole
These plants are easy to grow, because they have very few needs, and they bear very well drought or nutritional deficiencies; it is clear that, if we want our kalanchoe to survive over the years, and we also want it to flourish, it is appropriate to grow it at its best, without forgetting its existence; In addition to this, many sheet pits are forced to develop and flourish rapidly, are basically “pumped”, if they suffer the shock of passing from a nursery where they are pampered, fed, watered and lit in the best possible way, to our home, where we put them on the highest shelf forgetting them, clear that their lives will certainly be short.
First of all, if we want our kalanchoe to survive over the years, let’s buy it in late winter or early spring, when also in nature these plants are in bloom; then let’s place it in a well-lit area of the house, where they can enjoy a few hours of sunshine a day; if the climate is hot, and night temperatures are above 5-8°C, we can also prepare a kalanchoe aiola in the garden.
The plants grown in the garden should be moved away from the cold towards the end of autumn.
The other Kalanchoe
To the genus kalanchoe belong more than one hundred species of plants, the Kalanchoe blossfeldiana is the most widespread, but it is not the only one which is cultivated in Italy, especially by the lovers; in the wild there are shrubby calancules, which reach the 5-6 metres of height, and also calancoles with foliage covered by a thin down, like Kalanchoe tomentosa.
In general, they have all the typical triangular leaves, which can, however, be of various colours, from the blue grey, up to the white, at times with the margin striated or dotted with red or brown; some develop as Kalanchoe blossfeldiana, that is, constituting a thick rosette of leaves, in other cases, the foliage is placed on a thin fleshy stem, usually little branched.
The flowers are always grouped in inflorescences, in some species they are small flowers with four star-shaped petals, in others they have a tubular shape, and can be even pendulous.
Some species of kalanchoe, such as Kalanchoe daigremontiana, show a very particular type of completely asexual propagation, as each plant develops an incredible number of “suckers” or “bulbs”, that is, tiny plants with their own root system; the peculiarity of these plants is that they develop on the leaf margin, on the largest leaves, which will break, causing the tiny plants to fall to the ground, which take root instantly.
Anyone who has ever cultivated a kalanchoe of this type in the garden, in the greenhouse, on the terrace, knows precisely what the rapidity of development of these small plants is, which can, in a short time, become real weeds, developing also in the subpots, on the edge of the containers, inside the pot holders; if not controlled, they become a myriad, especially in protected conditions such as can be found in a greenhouse.
Parasites and diseases of the kalancules
We said that the sheet piles are succulent plants native to Africa and Asia Minor that love high temperatures and dry climates. In most areas of Italy, however, the continental climate with cold winters and heavy rainfall throughout the year does not allow the cultivation of these species in the open air and makes it difficult to cultivate the sheet piles.
These plants can be grown practically only in an apartment, but you must be sure to provide the plants with all the characteristics they need if you want to achieve good results.
If the plants do not live in a place with the climatic characteristics they need, they can deteriorate and become ill. Let’s see now the main diseases to which the kalancules are subject.
Kalancole with dried leaves
One of the most frequent phenomena observed in the kalancules is the foliar drying up: the leaves become soft and dry in spots. These phenomena occur when the soil remains moist for too long due to an excessive quantity of water or in any case not suitable for the temperature.
One of the most useful remedies in this case is to suspend the irrigation of the seedlings of sheet piles and wait for the soil to dry, perhaps putting the seedlings in a sunnier place.
One of the most frequent diseases on the lower part of the body when they are grown in a warm, humid and poorly ventilated environment is cochineal. Cochineal develops on the leaves and if present in small quantities on a limited number of plants, it can also be removed mechanically from the leaves. Alternatively, when you have a lot of plants to treat you can use products based on mineral oil.
These products create a patina on the leaves which suffocates and dries the cochineals, but during the summer period (and when the temperatures are high), they are not to be utilized or their vicariants are to be utilized for the summer (same products, but less suffocating for the leaves).
Calancola – Kalanchoe blossfeldiana: Watering of calancholas
It is essential to water these plants only when the soil is well dry, following the rule that it is better once less than once too much; therefore, let’s check with the fingers the substratum, if it is dry let’s water, if it is humid, let’s postpone watering. This may mean that in winter we will water once a week, or even less, while in July we will water every day.
From March to September let’s add to the water some watering of the fertilizer for succulent plants, rich in potassium and poor in nitrogen; after the flowering let’s cut the stem carrying the inflorescence, and if necessary let’s repot our plant, using a very well drained soil, formed by universal soil mixed with pumice stone or lapillus, to increase its drainage.
- The Kalanchoe is a plant with succulent foliage, native to Africa, Asia and Australia. Since the foliage
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