The Kalanchoe is a plant with succulent foliage, native to Africa, Asia and Australia. As the fleshy leaves contain a lot of water, this plant is particularly suitable for indoor growing, which can easily withstand the extremely dry climate. The plants adapt without problems to a spartan life, with scarce watering and fertilization. Generally, to keep a kalanchoe luxuriant and beautiful, it is advisable to water regularly, but only when the soil is perfectly dry.
From spring to autumn it is usually watered once a week; in cold seasons, however, watering can be much more sporadic, even once every 10-25 days. If the plants, during the winter months, are left in rooms with temperatures below 10-12°C, it is better to avoid watering.
There are several species of kalanchoe that can be found in nurseries, although very often they are kalanchoe blossfeldiana. This plant is utilized both as flower plant to be cultivated at home, and for the flowerbeds of the garden, but only for the summer season, as the kalanchoe blossfeldiana fears the frosts, which can reduce the foliage in very bad conditions, even in very short times.
They are plants native to warm climate zones, perfectly adapted to life in places exposed to direct sunlight for many hours a day. Therefore, both in the house and in the garden, it is good to place the plant in such a way that it receives the sun, for at least 4-6 hours every day, avoiding the central hours of the day during the warmest periods. Otherwise, the floral stems tend to get much longer and the plant tends to produce an always smaller number of buds.
After the flowering, when all the flowers are withered, it is good to cut the stem carrying them, at the base, close to the centre of the rosette of leaves.
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The kalanchoe in nature lives in soils not particularly rich and very well drained; to ensure that the flowering is continuous and that the foliage is lush, it is good to add periodically some fertilizer to the watering. With plants of this kind, it is better not to exceed: they fertilize from May to September, twice a month. It is good to use a fertilizer for flowering plants, very rich in potassium and quite poor in nitrogen.
To verify that the fertilizer you are using is of good quality, it is good to check that among the ingredients are also present microelements, such as zinc, iron and boron. To have a plant that is always beautiful, it is also advisable to repot, once a year, at the end of winter. A very well drained mould is utilized, formed by universal mould, mixed with washed sand or perlite, or even with balls of expanded clay.
The parasites and diseases of the Kalanchoe
There are several pests and diseases that can affect the kalanchoe, often caused by cultivation in less than ideal conditions. Always moist soil and excessive watering, or the use of fertilizers with excessive amounts of nitrogen can promote the development of rot in the collar, which quickly expand to the entire foliage, causing the death of the plant. It is better to wait for the soil to dry up, using a fungicide against the parasites.
A particularly dry climate, on the contrary, can favour the presence of the cochineal: an insect which tends to nest mainly at the base of the leaves, often difficult to notice. Against this parasite it is advisable to use special insecticides, carrying out at least a couple of treatments, after two weeks. Very often the kalanchoe are affected also by the so-called grey mould, a fungus which attacks the foliar pages, causing classical dark spots.
In this case, it is advisable to reduce the ambient humidity and increase the aeration from the place where the plant is grown.
- The Latin name is Kalanchoe, it is a genus formed by little more than a hundred plants, belonging to the f
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