Alligator Plant is a low-maintenance succulent that should be a part of every houseplant enthusiast’s collection. Native to parts of Madagascar, this succulent thrives in warmer regions. It is known by several names, such as Kalanchoe Daigremontiana, Mother of Thousands, or Mexican Hat Plant.
Alligator Plant can grow up to 39 inches or 1 meter tall. This plant has thick green leaves, with purple coloring underneath. The Alligator Plant leaves look unique because the leaf margins have small spurs that grow into plantlets. It is difficult for Alligator Plant to grow flowers, especially when they are being grown as a houseplant, but if they bloom, they will have bell-shaped pink or orange flowers.
- Other Names: Mother of Thousands, Mexican Hat Plant, …
- Sunlight: bright light, little or no direct sun.
- Watering: 14 days if it is grown indoors, more frequently if outdoors.
- Temperature: 18°C to 24°C.
- Propagation: different from other succulent types.
- Height: 1 meter when fully mature.
- Toxicity: keep away from pets or children.
The plant has one hybrid known as Kalanchoe ‘Pink Butterflies.’ This hybrid is also known as Kalanchoe Pink Mother of thousands. It is very colorful and produces numerous beautiful pink flowers on its branches. The flowers appear like a bunch of pink butterflies sitting on the branches. These structures that appear like flowers are plantlets that don’t have chlorophyll. The lack of chlorophyll means that the plantlets don’t abide on the plant for long. They fall off soon after they appear.
Kalanchoe Daigremontiana Care
Alligator Plant is a versatile plant that can be grown indoors and outdoors. Like most other succulents, they need ample sunlight if they are being grown indoors. As a houseplant, they should be placed out in the sun for 5 to 6 hours a day.
If your living arrangements do not allow you to do that, you can place the plant next to a window that allows a lot of natural sunlight to come through. You can also supplement your plant’s light needs with a grow light, especially if you do not receive a lot of sunlight or during winter.
#1. Sunlight Requirements
Alligator Plant can tolerate sunlight well and can be placed in an area with full sun or partial shade. Alligator Plant is succulent; therefore, it thrives in bright conditions. If you’re growing your plant indoors, make sure that it receives several hours of sunlight every single day. You can place the plant outdoors or next to a window that allows sunlight in.
Mornings are the perfect time for Alligator Plant to receive their daily dose of sunlight. You may place your plant outside in the afternoons only if you live in a cooler area. Those who live in areas that experience intense heat should avoid the afternoon sun because it can scorch the plant’s leaves.
If you’re growing the plant outdoors, you can use sunshades to protect your plant from intense heat. You can also DIY a makeshift shade for your plant.
Alligator Plant does not do well in the cold, so they should only be grown as outdoor plant in warmer areas. Those who live in colder climates can still grow Alligator Plant as a houseplant. Your plant will not tolerate freezing temperatures or frost well and will die in lower temperatures. So make sure that you keep your plant indoors during winters.
#2. Soil Requirements
Alligator Plant requires well-draining soil, just like all other succulents. Standard cactus potting mixes can be used for this plant, and you may add coarse sand, pumice, or perlite to the mix for better drainage. Usually, a ratio of 1:1 of cactus mix and perlite/sand should suffice, but if you are still facing issues with standing water, you may add more sand or perlite to the mix.
#3. Watering Requirements
Alligator Plant is drought-tolerant, which means they can survive with little to no water for a prolonged period. Its watering needs are similar to other succulents. They will need to be watered once every 14 days if it is grown indoors. If you are growing your plant outdoors, you may need to water it more frequently.
Depending on the season, you may need to water it even less. The plant will not need much water during winter. During the rainy season, you need not water it at all, but you need to check the plant and see that it is not standing in water for more than a day or two. Too much water will cause root rot in your Alligator Plant and can kill the plant.
The preferred method of watering Alligator Plant is the “soak and dry” way. You should give your plant a good drink of water and allow the top layer of soil to be completely dry before watering it again.
This plant is not cold-hardy and starts showing signs of distress whenever temperatures in the environment go below 55oF (13oC). Many places in the United States and the rest of the western hemisphere experience winters significantly colder than this. When temperatures reach 41oF (5oC), you should know that your plant can’t survive in such an environment for much longer than a week.
How do you position your Kalanchoe daigremontiana in light of these winters? There are two possible ways; you can plant it outdoors only if you live where winters aren’t as cold. Also, you could plant the plant indoors, where you can regulate your temperature even when the winter is cold. This is possible even for this relatively small plant grows much smaller in a pot. Another practice that can benefit the plant is to move it outdoors for some hours in summer. These opportunities allow it to grow healthy.
How To Propagate Alligator Plant
Kalanchoe Daigremontiana has a completely different propagating system, unlike most succulents that need to be propagated through leaf or stem cutting. The plantlets that grow on the leaves will become full-fledged plants if you properly care for them. This propagation method is similar to the succulents that produce offshoots, but some marked differences exist.
To propagate the Kalanchoe Mother of Thousands, you need to pick out a few plantlets from the leaves. You may choose several of these plantlets to increase your chances of success. Unlike stem or leaf cuttings, you cannot allow the plantlets to dry up. Once they dry, they die. So keep them in a plastic bag so that they can retain their moisture.
Find a suitable pot that can hold several of the plantlets and fill it with well-draining soil. Then place the plantlets on the soil’s surface and make sure there is some distance between them. Cover the pot with a bag of plastic material so that it works like a mini greenhouse. Place the pot out in the sun and keep the soil in the pot moist. In a few weeks, the plantlets will start to grow. Once they are tall enough, remove the plastic from the pot. You can move the new plants into separate pots now.
You seldom need to prune this plant’s branches in the ordinary growth course. Pruning is only necessary if a branch is drying up or infested with pests and diseases. The most common form of pruning is removing dead flowers and woody stalks to facilitate further flowering. You can pinch out some of the branches to encourage more branching. Pinching branches this way is necessary for young plants as the newer ones bloom more readily on themselves.
The plant is relatively slow-growing; it can fit in one pot size for years. However, it needs more fertile soil than many of your typical succulents. Owing to the continual need for fertile ground, you may need to plant the Alligator plant on a fresh substrate after a while to replenish the nutrients available to the plant. Take a dull knife, a flat stick, or another slim tool and run it around the pot where it comes to contact with the soil. This move will loosen the soil and make it easy to remove it from the pot.
Hold the pot in one hand, turn it upside down, and hold the plant’s roots with the other. The best step should be to remove as much soil from the roots and plant the plant in the new pottage. Water the new plant and give it the best possible conditions to thrive.
You can use fertilizer during the growing stage of the plant. A liquid fertilizer would work best but in minimal amounts. The plant can still grow to maturity even without being fed. The best time to feed it is during its growing season and dilute the fertilizer to half. Applying the fertilizer without diluting can scald the plant, and applying the fertilizer during the succulent’s dormancy would lead to the accumulation of harmful salts into the soil.
The Kalanchoe mother of thousands can get infested by pests such as aphids, mealybugs, and scale insects. If you see that your plant has a mealybug infestation, you can clean up your plant using rubbing alcohol. You can simply wipe the bugs off with a cotton swab. Aphids removal is fairly easy – all you need to do is spray them with water from a hose or a sink sprayer. Scale insects can be manually removed with the help of a plastic card.
The ‘Mother of Thousands’ plant has a toxin called Daigremontianin. It should always be kept away from pets or children. Ingesting the plant can cause gastrointestinal issues and, in large amounts, can have severe side effects such as tremors, heart palpitations, and seizures. If a pet or child has consumed some part of the plant, you must immediately call poison control to seek their help.
Alligator Plant is a low-maintenance plant that blooms beautifully during the winter. Adding it to your indoor or outdoor garden will make it look unique. It is relatively easy to parent- to shelter it in winter and water it appropriately. You will then enjoy all the beauty it offers.
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Richard | Editor-in-chief at Succulent City
Hey everyone! I’m Richard. Welcome to my blog, which is all about succulents, cacti, and a bit about air plants. Ten years back, in 2013, I began my journey with succulents. It started as a simple hobby, crafting and selling charming succulent-themed pins and decorations. But as time passed, my fascination with these remarkable plants grew, and I gained extensive knowledge about them. Therefore, Succulent City is the blog as you see it is now. Enjoy your visit and happly planting!