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Kalanchoe Blossfeldiana Care – Growing Flaming Katy – Widow’s Thrill – Christmas Kalanchoe

These tips for kalanchoe blossfeldiana care will show you how to care for and get this plant to keep blooming all winter long.

Flowering kalanchoes are plants that are often seen around the holidays and in the winter months.

The plant is also known as Florist Kalanchoe, Christmas Kalanchoe, Flaming Katy and Widow’s Thrill. 

Christmas plants add color and warmth to any indoor setting and this pretty succulent is one of my favorites because the flowers last a long time.

Pink and red Christmas Kalanchoe plants in flower.

Succulents like the Christmas kalanchoe are drought smart plants that are super easy to grow and make fantastic houseplants.  Be sure to check out my tips for how to care for succulents.

Be sure to also check out my posts on these Kalanchoe plants:

Winter is a time for dormancy for many plants.  But not so, it seems, with this succulent plant.  This pretty indoor plant is found in big box stores and florists when it is cold outside and not much else is in flower.

It has cheery clusters of blooms on upright stems.  The plant is sure to bring a pop of color indoors.

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Looking for a plant that flowers around the holidays? Try kalanchoe blossfeldiana - AKA flaming Katy, Christmas kalanchoe and widow's thrill. Find out how to grow it on The Gardening Cook.  Click To Tweet

When does kalanchoe blossfeldiana flower?

Fortunately for those in the Northern Hemisphere, kalanchoe blossfeldiana flowers when the days are short and the temperatures are cool. This means that we’ll enjoy it around the holidays.

The blooms of Christmas kalanchoes happen as a response to short day length, just like their holiday cousins poinsettias, cyclamens, Thanksgiving cactus, and Christmas cactus do.

Kalanchoe plants in flower in a collage.

Even though we often find them in flower this time of the year, just follow these tips for keeping your plant healthy and blooming for years to come.

Kalanchoes are a popular succulent house plant that is easy to grow and comes in many varieties.  (Be sure to check out my post for growing Kalanchoe Millotii, another great kalanchoe variety.)Flaming Katy red Kalanchoe plant close up

What is kalanchoe blossfeldiana come from?

Kalanchoe blossfeldiana is a succulent that is a native of Madagascar and tropical Africa.and it would appear that it is popular with the women there since one common name is Madagascar widow’s thrill!

It can be found growing on the plateaus of the Tsarantanana Mountains and grows in humus rich soil.

In its native habitat, the succulent can reach an ultimate height of 12 to 18 inches tall with a spread of 4 to 19 inches.

It makes an ideal houseplant. The upright version of the plant is the most common form grown here but there are other varieties, as well.

Some are non flowering varieties grown for their foliage and others have a more drooping growth habit that makes them great for hanging baskets.

Kalanchoe blossfeldiana care tips

No matter the type you choose and what you call it, the widow’s thrill kalanchoe plant care is the same as many other kalanchoes. Follow these tips to get the most out of your plant.

Sunlight and Temperature needs

All kalanchoe varieties need ample sunlight.  A south facing window in winter is best and the more filtered light from an east or west window in the summer months is preferable.

If your plant starts getting very tall with lots of space between the leaves on the stem, this means that it is reaching for the light and that you should move it so that it gets more sunlight. 

Doing so will reward you with more blooms and the ones that you have will last longer.Widow's thrill plant on a sunny windowsill.

This is definitely not a plant for a north facing window in winter!

Keep the plant away from drafts and not too close to the window itself, particularly in the winter when the glass is very cold.  Kalanchoe blossfeldiana is a tropical plant which is very sensitive to cold and can chill easily.

It is best to keep the temperatures near the plant above 50 degrees.  The idea temperature range is 65-75 degrees F.

This means that if you place your Christmas kalanchoe outdoors in the summer months, be sure to bring it indoors before there is a chance that night time temps will drop below this.

Cyclamens also need this sort of treatment to flower again in the second year.

Soil and fertilizing needs

Choose a well draining cactus or succulent soil for your Flaming Katy kalanchoe houseplant. If you can’t find this, add some sand or perlite to normal potting soil so that the water will drain more efficiently. 

When the plant is actively growing and flowering, feed it with an all purpose, well balanced fertilizer that is high in phosphorus (to promote more flowers) every two weeks.

Kalanchoe watering needs

One of the biggest problems that people have when trying to grow Christmas kalanchoes (and many succulents) is that they over water them. Water flaming Katy plant thoroughly and then allow it to dry out well before you water it again.

The plant can easily go 2 weeks before it needs watering again.

Kalanchoe blossfeldiana stores water in its waxy leaves. This is a great way to deal with drought in its native habitat.Flaming Katy leaves and small flower.

Water thoroughly, allowing the excess water to drain out the bottom into a saucer and then remove the extra water. 

I like to water my plants in my kitchen sink so that they get a good soak and I don’t have to worry about the extra water on furniture.

Don’t leave the Christmas kalanchoe plant sitting in a saucer of water.  Kalanchoes can rot easily.

Propagation of Florist Kalanchoe

Do you like plants for free?  Then you are in luck with Madagascar widow’s thrill! The plump, waxy leaves of the plant are easy to propagate. You can also pot up entire pieces of the stem tips to get new plants even sooner.

For best results, choose leaves that are firm and plump. Shriveled, thin leaves will dry out and not send out new babies. Dry out the leaf tip, dip it in rooting powder and plant in cactus soil or seed starting mix.

New plants will grow in a few weeks and can be planted up in their own pots.Kalanchoe plants and leaves with rooting powder in a collage with words How to propagate kalanchoe blossfeldiana.

Check out this post to learn how to propagate succulents cuttings from leaves. It is very easy to do and the process will give you tiny baby kalanchoe plants in no time at all.

If flaming Katy kalanchoes become root bound, they will sometimes send out offsets – tiny plants that can be potted up.  Just remove them from the mother plant and add to new soil and you’ll have a plant giving new growth in a few weeks time.

Maintenance

Since Christmas kalanchoe is often treated as a house plant, there is not much maintenance involved.  Remove the spent flowers (called dead heading) to keep a tidy appearance.

Also, plants that are grown indoors can accumulate dust on the leaves, particularly on a large leafed plant like kalanchoe blossfeldiana.  Wipe the leaves monthly with a damp cloth or gently spray them with water at watering time to remove dust.

Toxicity of florist kalanchoe

Kalanchoe blossfeldiana is toxic to both dogs and cats.  The ASPCA advises owners to take care growing it around pets and to call their vet if the animal has loose bowels or begins to vomit.

Cold Hardiness for Kalanchoe blossfeldiana

if you are lucky enough to live in zones 9-11, your florist kalanchoe will happily grow outdoors year round. In other hardiness zones, you can keep the plant outdoors in the summer and treat it as a houseplant during the colder months.kalanchoe pinnata red flowers.

Kalanchoe plant care outdoors means protecting it from the harshest rays of the sun and being careful to have it in a slightly sheltered location if you get a lot of rain.

Pests and Diseases

Kalanchoe succulents are relatively easy care plants with few diseases and pests.  When you are watering widow’s thrill plant, check the undersides of the leaves for mealybugs, mites and evidence of scale.

The plant is susceptible to stem rot if they have been over watered.

Kalanchoe Blossfeldiana Flower Color

Most succulent plants are grown for their foliage, but the flaming Katy plant is chosen because of its beautiful long lasting flowers.

This pretty succulent with its waxy green leaves comes with a variety of colors from pure white to all shades of pink, red, orange and yellow.

The flowers are very long lasting and open gradually so that you’ll have a display of color for many weeks on end.red, orange, yellow, pink and white kalanchoe flowers in a collage with words Kalanchoe flower color.

It’s not unusual for a single widow’s thrill plant to bloom for 2 to 6 months. The reason is because each flaming Katy kalanchoe flower umbrel consists of many small flowers which open one at a time giving weeks and months of color.Kalanchoe flower buds opening

When you buy a plant, try to get one with a lot of unopened buds on it.  This will ensure the longest flowering time for your plant at home.

If you like cut flowers in your home, but don’t like the cost of buying fresh flowers each week, try growing kalanchoe blossfeldiana.  You’ll get the color for the price of one bunch of flowers but have them for many weeks.

Getting Florist Kalanchoe to re-bloom

Once you have mastered these kalanchoe blossfeldiana care tips, you’ll want to know how to get it to flower again next year. This can be a problem since it loves cool, short days.

For this reason, Kalanchoe blossfeldiana is often cared for as an annual.  Many people just allow it to have its months of bloom time and discard it.

The plant is cold hardy only in zones 10 and 11, so it can’t be planted outdoors after the flowers have faded and expect it to over winter, so what is one to do with it?

Yellow kalanchoe in a green pot with words "how to get a florist kalanchoe to re-bloom next year.

Getting Christmas kalanchoe to re-bloom is possible but does require some skill.  Read on for tips to extend your bloom time.

Kalanchoes, like Poinsettias and a few other holiday plants, are photoperiodic.  This means that they react to low light days by setting buds. In nature, kalanchoes will flower in early spring.  This happens after a period of low light shorter days. 

To get  your plant to re-bloom next year, you will need to simulate natural winter light conditions in your home for a period of six weeks. This can be a challenge because of artificial lighting indoors.

Start by cutting down on your watering schedule. Water only half as often as normal (or even less than this.)

During this period of 6 weeks, put your plant into complete darkness for 14 hours a day and then bring it back to bright light for 10 hours a day. This might seem impossible for most homes, but it really only means using a closet or other dark room for the 14 hours to achieve the darkness.

Another way to achieve the darkness requirement is to have a box handy that is large enough to slip over the top of the plant. Just pop it over each night for 14 hours and remove the next day.

If you do this for a period of 6 weeks, you will encourage new flower buds to form.  At this time, bring your plant back into normal light conditions and begin watering again.Yellow florist kalanchoe in flower

Be careful of temperatures during this period. If they go too low, this can prevent buds from forming.

This is exactly the same process that you use to get a poinsettia or Christmas cactus to bloom again each year. It requires some discipline and a tight schedule but is worth it to get the pretty flowers that you know will last for another few months to come.

If you do this process about 6 weeks before the holidays, you’l have a beautifully flowering plant at Christmas time next year that will keep its cheery color all through the following winter months!

Where to purchase Kalanchoe Blossfeldiana

The links below are affiliate links. I earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you if you purchase through an affiliate link.

Check the garden center of both Lowe’s and Home Depot. I found my plant at the Farmer’s Market near my home.  Small garden centers are also a great place to purchase succulents. The plant is also available online: (affiliate links)

Be sure to check out my tips for buying succulents. This gives information on what to look for both locally and when buying online.

Pin these kalanchoe blossfeldiana care tips for later

Would you like a remind of these tips for Kalanchoe Blossfeldiana care? Just pin this image to one of your house plant boards on Pinterest so that you can easily find it later.

You can also watch our video for growing Christmas kalanchoe on YouTube.

Christmas plant in a white pot with words Kalanchoe blossediana - Christmas kalanchoe, Flaming Katy.

The products shown below are affiliate links. I earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you if you purchase through an affiliate link.

Yield: ! healthy kalanchoe plant

Kalanchoe Blossfeldiana Care - How to Grow Florist Kalanchoe

Kalanchoe blossfeldiana

Kalanchoe is a long blooming plant that is found around the holidays and in the winter months in garden centers. These tips will help you care for it and make it re flower next year.

Active Time 1 month 11 days 14 hours
Total Time 1 month 11 days 14 hours
Difficulty moderate
Estimated Cost $10

Materials

  • Computer paper or heavy card stock

Tools

  • Computer printer

Instructions

  1. Sunlight: Bright sunlight (south window) in winter and lesser light in summer (east or west facing)
  2. Temperature: 65-75 degrees. No lower than 50 degrees F.
  3. Soil: Well draining cactus or succulent soil
  4. Watering: Allow to dry out between waterings (once ever two weeks is plenty)
  5. Propagation: Leaf and stem cuttings. Also pot up offsets.
  6. Cold Hardiness: Zones 9-11
  7. Pests: Watch for mealy bug, mites, and scale
  8. Problems: Root rot from over watering

To get a kalanchoe to re-bloom, hold off on watering and give the plant 14 hours of darkness each day and 10 lours of light. A closet, dark room or box over the plant will do this.

Notes

Print out this care tips card for a reminder of how to keep a kalanchoe blossfeldiana plant healthy

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Yu

Thursday 9th of September 2021

I love kalanchoes :)

I need to correct one thing: Kalanchoe Blossfeldiana can't be propagated with just one leaf. The leaf roots but won't give you a new plant ;)

Carol Speake

Thursday 9th of September 2021

It is common for a succulent leaf to rot if it gets too much water. However I have propagated it this way. All succulents will propagate from a leaf if the conditions are right. I would try again to see. I have had some rot and others right next to them grow roots!

Debbie Yarbrough

Monday 6th of September 2021

kalanchoe blossfeldiana plant healthy this is the plant that I have mine has the big leaves with purple on the tips of the leaves what indication is it telling me

Carol Speake

Tuesday 7th of September 2021

I have not seen this happen in my plant but succulents can turn red or purple due to being underwatered.

Jessica Guess

Saturday 23rd of January 2021

So I’ve been searching and searching to identify my kalanchoe, and it’s definitely like the one in the Photo after it reads, “ Kalanchoe blossfeldiana stores water in its waxy leaves. This is a great way to deal with drought in its native habitat.”

I’ve had mine for four years now and it’s long leggy, and has tons of small thick leaves. The little tag it has said miniature kalanchoe. So now from reading and reading I have realized I have a lighting problem. But the way it’s been thriving with its Length everyone loves it. So i guess I can just live with that. But I do think I should propagate future stems...?

So then, recently I noticed it has this white residue substance on many of the leaves. It started on one stem with the thickest leaves and now the majority of the loopy stems it has have leaves that are covered in this white substance. It looks like white dust. I wonder however if it’s because I repotted it from its original 6in plastic pot to a 10” terracota pot. I repotted it in October/November 2020 and now the long and leggy stems are bare and the leaves are drying up and falling at a faster rate than the top new babies that come out can grow. I’m so sad and worried, what should I do?

Carol Speake

Thursday 28th of January 2021

I don't diagnose any plants without seeing them in person.

Shilan

Thursday 15th of October 2020

Hello. My grasses were yellow, and the flowers were sinised. What can I do with them? And I'll water it once every four days

Carol Speake

Thursday 15th of October 2020

This plant is not a grass plant and I don't know what you mean by sinised flowers. The plant that I am discussing is a succulent type of plant and doesn't need to be watered this often.

Sarah

Sunday 6th of September 2020

I put my tiny white kalanchoe in my office and within days the area was infested with tiny black gnat-like insects. Where are they coming from and why? And most importantly, how do I get rid of them?

Carol Speake

Sunday 6th of September 2020

If there are no other plants in your office, it is likely the plant was infested when you brought it in. It's hard to treat a plant problem without seeing it in person. If they are actually gnats, insecticidal soap will help.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small commission from the sale, but the price is the same for you. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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