Have you heard? Flowers are nature’s way of saying, “Hello!”
Many of us find flowers absolutely irresistible. From scenting the room with powerful but subtle fragrances, to the unpretentious beauty of the various shapes and hues, flowers warm our hearts and quietly improve our emotional health. As wonderful as it may be to have fresh flowers brightening up your life every day, they need to be well cared for. They are also expensive in the long run and fresh flowers eventually die.
But what if we told you we know a great, long lasting plant that is easy to maintain and produces vibrantly colored flowers for up to 6 months a year?
Here’s a hint; this drought tolerant plant dominates over Chinese New Year celebrations and is associated with wealth and prosperity. It was also traditionally used to prepare herbal medicine, treat inflammation, rheumatism and infection.
No idea yet? Well, let us tell you all you need to know about Flaming Katy, the ever-adorable succulent you need in your life!
Flaming Katy is an evergreen succulent whose original roots are firmly planted on the plateaus of Mt. Tsaratanana, on the northern part of the island of Madagascar. It has also been spotted sprouting in some parts of Asia and Brazil. Flaming Katy is a famous house plant that can be found at your local farmer’s market under the labels Christmas Kalanchoe, Florist Kalanchoe or Madagascar Widow’s Thrill.
This perennial falls under the genus Kalanchoe, and its full scientific name is Kalanchoe Blossfeldiana. Kalanchoe comes from a corrupted Chinese name for a local plant ‘Kalanchauhuy’ that was recorded by a botanist called Georg Joseph Kamel. Robert Blossfeld, a German botanist and hybridizer introduced the plant in 1932, and the latter part of Flaming Katy’s scientific name is a tribute to him. How cool is that, having a plant named after you?
What Does the Flaming Katy Look Like?
Flaming Katy has been classified as a herbaceous plant, which refers to a plant that does not have a woody stem. It grows slowly and in a bushy, round shape, getting as tall as 30 – 45 cm (12 – 18 inches) and as wide as 10 – 15 cm (4 – 20 inches). Being a succulent, it has fleshy, textured green leaves with a glossy look and a waxy feel. The leaf blades grow between 5 and 10 cm long and have a scalloped edge.
When this succulent gets a good amount of sunshine, the edges of the leaf blush to a light pink outline. This upright budding plant has a multi-branched growing habit, with the leaves arranged in an opposite/sub-opposite manner. The leaves are also extremely brittle and can easily snap off when fiddled with.
What makes Flaming Katy a superstar worthy of its own editorial is its flamboyant flowering ability. Blooming at random times during the year, Flaming Katy displays a full head of flowers available in a variety of dazzling colors including all shades of red, salmon, white, orange, yellow and even gold. The flowers grow in clusters with stalks of equal length springing from a shared connection and forming a curved crown. Each flower cluster is made up of 4 small petals that open up gradually, allowing the plant to bloom for 2 to 6 months a year. See other succulents like this here!
What Temperature does Flaming Katy Favor?
Caring for Flaming Katy is relatively easy to do, considering the plant still abides by the same rules of most succulents. Being a tropical succulent, Flaming Katy prefers warmer temperatures of 60°F to 75°F or 18°C to 24°C. Flaming Katy is extremely sensitive to the cold. If the weather drops to 10°C (50°F), the plant could die within a few hours.
A balcony, patio, window sill or sun room are areas around the home where Flaming Katy can thrive. If planted outdoors, it does well in cool, partially shaded areas. During the summer, Flaming Katy likes to sit by a west or east facing window with filtered light while during the winter, it does better besides a south facing window. If you see Flaming Katy starting to grow tall but there is a lot of space between the stem and the leaves, it means the plant is searching for more light. You might need to utilize a grow light if this is the case.
The succulent should be protected against gusty winds and kept away from the window during harsh winters. The second thing Flaming Katy fears the most after overwatering is frost. It is advisable to keep the plant indoors during the winter. If you must leave your precious succulent outdoors during the winter, try getting something like this to protect them.
Growing Flaming Katy
Like most succulents, Flaming Katy prospers in well-draining soil. A cactus mix, succulent mix, or light sandy soil is the best for growing this plant. It should only be watered once every two weeks during the summer, when the soil feels completely dry. You should not, at any cost, leave Flaming Katy swimming in water, let alone any other succulent plant. It will lead to root- rot, which is the fastest succulent killer. During the winter, you can go up to 3 weeks without watering. When the plant is in-between blooms, you can mist the soil but be careful to avoid leaving drops of water on the leaves.
Flaming Katy develops best in 8” to 12” clay pots with drainage holes. You can add some rocks and gravel (we just bought these for the office succulent the other day) at the bottom of the pot to help dry out the potting soil. When planting this succulent in the ground, you should dig a hole that is deep enough to cover the roots. Place the plant in the hole and fill up the sides with extra soil. You can press the soil down lightly to pack the plant and in a few weeks, your succulent should start looking up to the sun.
Propagating Flaming Katy
Flaming Katy’s roots grow with vegetative shoots, which is how the plant is reproduced in flower nurseries for commercial use. The plant can also be replicated through stem and leaf cuttings. The best time for propagation is during late spring to early summer. With a clean knife, cut out one of the vegetative stems of the plant, double check the stem you are cutting is about 8 cm long and has no flowers. If you want to grow a new plant from a leaf, make sure you pick a plump, firm leaf because shriveled leaves will not grow.
Let the cuttings dry out for a few days and then place them in potting mix. You could use rooting powder to dip the tips of the leaf or stem before planting. Once the cutting is in the soil, you should see your baby Flaming Katy popping roots after just a few weeks! If you don’t know what rooting powder is, check it out here.
How to Make Flaming Katy Bloom
Although most people choose to discard the plant after it blooms, with a little TLC, this succulent can pop a new head of buds. Flaming Katy is part of the photoperiodic plant family and the buds tend to react to low-light days. By simulating natural winter light conditions in your home for 6 weeks, new buds should be crowning on your old plant.
The plant needs to be kept in complete darkness for 14 hours a day and let out to bask in light for 10 hours a day. If you do not have a room dark enough to keep the plant in, you can put it in the closet or you can get a plant cover and then can cover it completely with a dark blanket or maybe a succulent blanket. If you faithfully follow the light and dark sequence, after 6 weeks, you could bring it back to normal light conditions and enjoy your fresh new blooms!
Next time you are at the farmer’s market and you see a Flaming Katy you would like to take home, make sure you pick a plant with unopened buds. This will give you a longer flowering season with the plant. Dead headings or spent (wilting) flowers can be trimmed at the stem and this will help maintain vigorous flower production. Use this trimmer for the best cut, we’ve been using this for a few months and it’s awesome!
Is Flaming Katy Toxic?
It would be important to note that Flaming Katy does come with a disclaimer for pet owners. Some parts of Flaming Katy are highly poisonous when ingested, with the flowers containing the highest toxin levels in the plant. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has cautioned that if the plant is consumed, it may cause vomiting and diarrhea in cats and dogs.
If you have one of those bad tempered cats that like to destroy everything but you still want to have a Flaming Katy… Get rid of the cat! No, we’re only joking. We suggest that you sprinkle a little cayenne pepper on the plant and the smell will dissuade any advances the cat might have on your plant!
Now that you have all you need to know about Flaming Katy and what a remarkable, low-maintenance, and fine looking gem it is, save yourself from buying fresh flowers for a couple of months and immerse yourself in the beautiful blooms of the Kalanchoe Blossfeldiana!
Find some Kalanchoe plants on Amazon with a free 30 day trial of Amazon Prime here! You’ll be able to get free 2 day (sometimes 1 day) shipping. The faster you get your plants the happier you’ll be right!?
Have some awe-inspiring photos of your succulents that you’d to share with the world? Tag us on Instagram and we could share your photos on our page!
Thanks for reading, and happy planting! ?