Kalanchoe Beharensis (Elephant Ear Kalanchoe)

Kalanchoe Beharensis Image

Kalanchoe Beharensis has several common names. Elephant’s Ear Kalanchoe and Felt Bush, Donkey’s Ear or Velvet Leaf. It is also known as Napoleon’s Hat, the Maltese cross, Eared Elephant, or Teddy Bear. The plant belongs to the Crassulaceae family and the Kalanchoe genus. The genus is relatively small, with only 14 species, and Beharensis is the largest species in the genus.

The plant is a native of Madagascar, but it has been introduced to other parts of Africa in Kenya, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Zambia, Tanzania, and South Africa. It is now endemic in the Cape Region. Beharensis gets its name from Behara, the town in Madagascar around which this succulent grows in the wild. The plant has also been introduced in many parts of the world besides the African countries mentioned above. It is mainly used as a decorative plant, but it has therapeutic uses.  

  • Other Names: Elephant’s Ear Kalanchoe, Felt Bush, Donkey’s Ear, Velvet Leaf.
  • Sunlight: bright and full light in summer, little sun in winter.
  • Watering: use soak and dry method.
  • Temperature: 15°C to 24°C.
  • Propagation: easily propagated from stem cuttings and leaves.
  • Height: 3 or 4 feet.
  • Width: 2 or 3 feet.
  • Toxicity: non-toxic to adults but alert to pests and kids.

Uses

Besides being a decorative plant, the felt bush has some medicinal properties. People in the areas where it occurs naturally use it to relieve muscle pain. Also, they use it to treat Rheumatism. Besides these two conditions, the Feltbush has some anticancer properties found in the essential oils created from this plant. The oils help to mitigate the symptoms of drug-resistant cancer. You can grow it for decoration on beds, Mediterranean gardens, succulent gardens, or borders, and you can grow it indoors.  

Morphology of Kalanchoe Beharensis

Leaves

This plant’s leaves are relatively large and triangular-lanceolate in shape. The appearance of the leaves gives this plant the common name, ‘Elephant Ears Kalanchoe’ since they look a bit like an elephant’s ears. The color of the leaves is olive-green, and they are covered with a whitish powdery bloom. The leaves are concave facing upwards, velvety on the upper and lower sides. It is the leaf of a succulent in many ways, mainly because it is a succulent leaf. Although the plant sheds leaves, it is not deciduous, and it, therefore, remains green throughout the year. The loss of leaves is part of the natural process of growth.

Stem

A resin bark covers the stem, and they have sharp spikes that typically appear where the leaves were before the plant shed them. Shedding of leaves typically appears on the lower parts of the plant, moving upwards.

Size and growth

The plant is relatively big, reaching three to five feet when cultivated indoors. It doesn’t get so big when grown elsewhere, even when planted outdoors. It can reach twelve to twenty feet in its natural habitat and attain considerable width. Still, we only see it at its most significant when it grows in its natural habitat.

If you are in the United States, the plant is most likely to only grow to a maximum of three or four feet high and about two or three feet wide. This is probably best because you won’t have to worry about too much pruning and grooming if the plant takes up too much space.

Flowers

Kalanchoe Beharensis produces flowers that usually drop to give way to copious amounts of tiny seeds. The flowers can be red-orange or greenish-yellow, and they are urn-shaped. They grow on log woody stalks that only grow in the flowering season. The flowers are clustered and small. The Elephant Ears Kalanchoe fang, as the plant is also called blooms in spring. This is when the stalks and the flowers grow. However, just like the plant’s size reduces when you grow it away from its natural habitat, the transfer will likely affect its flowering. A plant in the US or anywhere other than in the wild will flower.

Toxicity

While this plant is beautiful, it is essential to note that it is toxic to cats. It is also toxic to livestock but not humans; consider this as you position it in the house. The toxicity is because the plant contains cardiac glucosides that cause your cat’s heart rate to change, stomach pains, and excessive salivation. Dogs seem to be unaffected unless you sprayed the plant with chemicals when ingesting it.

Kalanchoe Beharensis Care

Lighting and Placement

Summer is the Elephant Ear Plant’s growth season, and adequate sunlight is essential for its growth. It prefers full sunlight, and it can withstand it even when it is in scorching summers due to its adaptations. The need for sunlight may not be as much in winter because the plant is dormant then, and it doesn’t need too much sunlight, which, as we know, is an essential element of photosynthesis.

Therefore, you can keep the plant under indirect sunlight in winter because it still needs a little of it to survive. Growing the plant outdoors in a Mediterranean or succulent garden would be ideal. In that environment, your plant would get adequate sunlight in season and have most of its water needs provided for through rain, etc.

However, this plant is not cold-hardy, and it 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 get to 41oF (5oC), you should know that your plant can’t survive in such an environment even for much longer than a week.

How do you position your Kalanchoe Beharensis in light of these winters? There are two possible ways; you can plant it outdoors only if you live in a place where winters don’t get as cold. Also, you could plant the plant indoors, where you will be able to regulate your temperature even when the winter is cold. This is possible even for this otherwise huge tree because, as we had said earlier, it grows much smaller when domesticated.

Place your velvet plant next to the windows that enable it to access direct sunlight in summer. Keep the plant within one foot of the window to enjoy as much sunlight as possible. It may be necessary to move it around to windows facing different directions for it to benefit maximally from the sunlight.

Another practice that can benefit the plant is to move it outdoors for some hours in summer. These opportunities allow it to grow healthy.

Ideal Soil For Kalanchoe Beharensis

This plant does well in well-draining soil, and waterlogged soil can quickly kill it. If you are going for a commercial pottage, buy cactus or succulent soil on sale commercially. That soil is already well-draining, but you will need to make it even easier to drain. You should add fifty to seventy percent grit. Grit could be coarse sand, perlite, or pumice. The soil will always be moist, not dry, but not entirely wet either. The use of commercial pottage mix is best when growing your plant in a pot.

On the other hand, if you grow the plant outdoors in a Mediterranean garden or as a hedge, you will need to ensure the soil is well-draining. The plant can handle rock ground, so that should not be a problem. If the soil in your area has more clay than grit, you can introduce soil in the planting holes to allow your water to drain quickly. Also, it may be necessary for you to create French drains to allow any excess water to run off from the roots.

Pot for Kalanchoe Beharensis

If you are planting your Kalanchoe Beharensis in a pot, you will need to carefully consider the type of pot you use. This is because the pot is critical in ensuring your soil will be well-drained. It should have several draining holes at the bottom because the water that gets to the soil needs to get out to avoid waterlogging. You can also use a breathable pot to enhance the evaporation of water. Unglazed terracotta pots are the best option for growing these succulents.

Repotting

Repotting is not highly recommended because you will break the stems when doing it, and it is also likely to stress the plant. It may be necessary to repot a plant for any or all of the following three reasons.

  1. The plant has grown too big for the pot.
  2. The soil has lost its permeability.
  3. The soil has become too lean for the plant.

The Coin and Strings is a small plant whose roots usually don’t grow too long, and the first reason is likely to apply.

Your substrate loses its permeability, and the soil becomes too lean for the plant. These two reasons the more likely to necessitate repotting for this plant. As you water the soil and the plant’s roots grow, some of the bigger particles in the substrate break down. Spaces in your pottage become smaller and smaller, reducing the openings through which additional water is meant to escape. Your plant is likely to suffer from the root rot when this happens.

Take a dull knife or a flat stick 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 and turn it upside down and hold the plant’s roots with the other hand. 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.

Watering Kalanchoe Beharensis

The Velvet Plant is drought resistant, like most other succulents. Watering and soil are probably the two most important considerations for the plant because the most important diseases that affect this plant are coming from overwatering. These include root rot and fungal infections on the leaves. Although the plant generally requires little water, you will need to water it more often in hotter seasons than in colder ones due to evaporation. How easily you manage this aspect of care for your plant will largely be determined by the type of soil on which you have grown your plant. Well-draining soil will make your watering immeasurably easier to maintain.

How do you know when your plant needs watering? The topsoil dryness test is always an effective method of knowing whether your plant requires some watering. Insert a finger into the plant’s soil or potting mix to feel whether or not the top two inches of the soil is dry. Your soil needs more water if dry since moisture from the previous drink has dried up.

When you notice the bottom leaves of the plant start to wrinkle and slightly wilt when the plant is severely arid, and it needs urgent watering.

The best method to water Kalanchoe Beharensis is the soak and dry method. Insert the plant into a large container filled with water and allow the plant to soak in the water for at least half an hour. After removing the plant, let the excess moisture drain from the drainage holes at the bottom of the container for another half an hour. Water again when the soil is dry.  

Dipping your plant in a tab is more applicable to this plant due to the structure of its leaves. The leaves are cupped and velvety, so if you pour water on them as you water the plant, it will be retained on the leaf, and the leaf’s surface makes

We are always cautious about giving a definite watering schedule even for the various seasons because environmental conditions are a significant factor in how well the soil can retain water. Ambient temperature, for example, determines how fast water in the soil evaporates. Even in the same seasons, this temperature varies from place to place.

Humidity

Kalanchoe Beharensis will do well under typical roofing under typical humidity in a room. The plant may also survive in relatively dry environments, but too much humidity is detrimental to its good health. Humidity is a challenge because it facilitates the growth of fungi on the leaves. These fungi cause plant diseases that will deny you the benefits you are seeking from the Velvet Plant.

Fertilizer

The felt bush is one of those plants that can survive under pretty harsh conditions, including lean soil. You shouldn’t feed it with chemical fertilizer if your plant gets enough sunlight, especially if it grows without potting. The natural cycles give the soil adequate nourishment throughout. The substrate used to grow this plant, on the other hand, can get severely depleted if the plant remains on the same pottage for a while.

You can bolster the nutrients available to your plant by adding some organic matter. Including organic matter in the substrate of your plant is a great strategy to ensure the plant remains nourished and that the soil maintains a bit of moisture for the plant’s use when watered.

Pests, Diseases, and Other Problems of Kalanchoe Beharensis

This plant can withstand a majority of the pests that trouble other plants. Deer, for example, is taken care of the fact that the plant is poisonous to animals. However, it is susceptible to mealybugs, aphids, plant scale, and spider mites. You can protect the plant from these pests by keeping the plant clean and well aired. Removing drying leaves is one way of ensuring protection because these pests like to hide in them.

Always keep the plant healthy, healthy plants can repel pests more effectively, but hungry plants are usually vulnerable to these pests. Isolate any plant in your Mediterranean garden infested by any pest to keep it from infecting others.

How to get rid of pests

You can take a few measures to cure your kalanchoe Beharensis of pests. You can rub the infected parts with alcohol at 70% concentration. Take a piece of cotton wool, dip it into the alcohol, and dab the part of the plant with the said infestation. You can also use chemical pesticides, but it is better to use organic pesticides.

If you notice an infestation, you could apply the following organic pesticides.

  1. Neem oil: Unlike the other pesticides listed below, neem oil is a systemic pesticide. It gets into the plant and poisons it against the bugs so that they don’t survive or reproduce when they attack the plant. Pure Neem Oil is made from the neem plant. Therefore, it is entirely natural and not harmful to humans.
  2. Hot pepper spray: Hot pepper is quite irritating when it gets on your skin and eyes, and it has the same effects on the bugs infesting your succulents. Spray it directly on the affected parts being careful to protect your skin and eyes.
  3. Garlic spray: A concentrated garlic spray can have the same effects on the bugs as pepper spray. You can manufacture the garlic spray by crushing garlic cloves and putting them in hot water. Put just a little hot water so that the end product has enough to destroy the pests. Remove the garlic residue, put the pesticide in a sprayer, and spray away on the infected parts of the plant.

Always spray a small part of the plant with the pesticide you want to use before spraying on the whole plant. This precaution applies when using contact pesticides, i.e., hot pepper spray and garlic spray. It would be best to see the plant’s reaction before spraying it all. If the test shows the plant’s reacting adverse effects on the pesticide, you can reduce concentration.

Pruning and Grooming

This succulent doesn’t need much pruning because it is a slow grower. The only pruning necessary is removing dry leaves if, by any chance, they haven’t fallen by themselves.

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Propagating Kalanchoe Beharensis

You can propagate this plant using stem or leaf cuttings.

Follow the following process:

Propagation through leaves

Follow the following steps.

  1. Cut a healthy, mature leaf from the plant. The best leaves for propagation are always the ones on the lower side of the plant. Make sure they aren’t dried up with age, as some of the leaves in the plant are wont to do as part of the natural growth process.
  2. During this season, you should assess the leaf to ensure it doesn’t dry too much. Allow the leaf under a shade for about three or four days. Reduce the hardening time if necessary.  
  3. Put the leaf-cutting in the potting soil. The soil should be suitable for the growth of the succulents according to the characteristics we shall discuss later.
  4. Keep the soil moist but not too wet, as this is the ideal watering condition for the plant.

Propagation through stem cuttings

If you are propagating using a cutting, cut it with a clean, sterilized knife from a healthy stem. There should be nodes in the cuttings because rooting happens at the node. Treat your cutting the same way you treat the leaf as described above. Rooting should occur in three to four weeks, after which you can transplant. Check to see if your seedling is established enough to grow on its own before transplanting.

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Final Thought

This plant is easy to manage and most attractive for its unusual appearance. It is the kind of plant that any parent can easily take care of. Check the water and soil; remember, it is toxic to your cats.

Succulent City chief editor

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Succulent City

Hey everyone! Welcome to Succulent City! We are all about succulents, cacti, and a bit about air plants. Ten years back, in 2013, we began the journey with succulents. It started as a simple hobby, crafting and selling charming succulent-themed pins and decorations. But as time passed, our fascination with these remarkable plants grew, and we gained extensive knowledge about them. Therefore, Succulent City is the blog as you see it is now. Enjoy your visit and happly planting!

2 thoughts on “Kalanchoe Beharensis (Elephant Ear Kalanchoe)

  1. Appreciated the info–being in Southern Calif., I’ve grown many different succulents but never the Kalanchoe beharensis. I’ve received a gift of one, and have placed it in a very large pot with lots of growing room. But the pot looks quite bare, and I’m wondering if you might have a suggestion for some companion succulent plants. Obviously, I don’t want to plant succulents that need more water than this particular Kalanchoe. Many thanks.

    1. Hi Marsha,
      Yes, I am happy to help. To grow with Kalanchoe beharensis, I recommend plants like Aeonium ‘Zwartkop’ or Aloe striata. These plants also do not require more water than the ‘Elephant Ear’ Kalanchoe itself. I hope the information is helpful enough. Thanks for reading!

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