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KALANCHOE daigremontiana

Image of Kalanchoe daigremontiana

Jesse Saylor

Family

Crassulaceae

Botanical Name

KALANCHOE daigremontiana

Plant Common Name

Devil's Backbone, Mexican Hat Plant, Mother-of-Thousands

General Description

This unique succulent is a popular houseplant and specimen for warm, dry landscapes. It is native to southwestern Madagascar where it inhabits dry, mountainous areas. One of its most unique characteristics is its ability to produce small plantlets (pseudo-bulbils) along the periphery of its leaves, which is why it's commonly called mother-of-thousands.

The large, opposite leaves of mother-of-thousands are broad and tapered. The foliage sparsely lines the stems and may be green, gray-green or sometimes mottled with burgundy. When growing conditions are dry the leaves may cup upwards along the edges. The pseudo-bulbils along the toothed edges are produced most in the summer months and are suppressed in winter. They eventually develop their own roots and drop to the ground to become whole new plants, which are clones of the parent. In early summer, tall, sturdy stems topped with a dense cluster of exquisite tubular, coral red flowers appear. Specimens grown in the Americas may be visited by hummingbirds. Cut back the stems after flowering to encourage new, vigorous basal growth.

Full sun and sharply drained, sandy or gravelly soil is needed for good plant health. In the desert plants should be protected from hot afternoon sun. Otherwise, they are tough, easy ornamentals that will thrive in any sunny window or garden hot spot. Those grown outdoors can only be planted where there is no threat of heavy frost. Refrain from overwatering and be sure to grow container-grown specimens in a good growing mix for cacti.

Whether container or garden grown, mother-of-thousands will proliferate and has been known to be invasive where hardy. In fact, it has become naturalized in Hawaii and the southernmost tip of Florida. It is also a toxic plant.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    11 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    9 - 13

  • Sunset Zone

    H2, 13, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Cactus or Succulent

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    3'-4' / 0.9m - 1.2m

  • Width

    1'-2' / 0.3m - 0.6m

  • Bloom Time

    Late Spring, Early Summer, Summer, Indeterminate

  • Native To

    Madagascar

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Drought

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Xeric/Desert, Drought Tolerant

  • Habit

    Upright/Erect

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Purple, Orange, Pink, Magenta

  • Fruit Color

    Brown

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Gray Green, Burgundy

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green, Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Green, Gray Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Container, Houseplant, Mixed Border, Rock Garden / Wall, Tropical

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    Sometimes

  • Attracts

    Hummingbirds

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes