Kalanchoe Gastonis-Bonnieri

kalanchoe gastonis bonnieri featured image

The Kalanchoe gastonis-bonnieri, also known as the donkey ear plant, is a short-lived perennial succulent family Crassulaceae. It is a native of Madagascar. It gets its name donkey ear plant from how closely its leaves resemble donkey ears.

Its scientific name was given in honor of the famous French botanist Dr. Gaston Bonnier, the first collector of this species. This fast-growing plant also goes by miracle leaf or leaf of life. It grows about 12 to 18 inches. It is straightforward to propagate and has beautiful blooms. Let us dig into the care of the donkey ear plant.

Morphological Characteristics of Kalanchoe Gastonis-bonnieri


The plant’s stems are erect and smooth, and many of them branch out at the base. Each branched stem then separates into short branches at the edge of each of the branched stems.


The kalanchoe has broad ovate foliage. They grow 12 to 18 inches wide. They have bronze-green leaves covered by a waxy white covering to protect them from direct sunlight. It has spots with maroon blotches, often having small plantlets developing along the leaf margin.


This plant has beautiful flowers which blossom in the fall and winter months. Flowers appear in clusters of pale peach-colored buds that darken and become the calyces holding the darker reddish petals with orange tips and yellow interior. The flowering process lasts nearly two months, at which point the mother plant declines but the many plantlets on the leaves develop rapidly to bloom within 2 to 3 years.

The donkey ear plant has a relatively long stem growing about 18 to 20 inches. They have dry dehiscent fruit called follicles.


The miracle leaf is toxic to humans and pets. Growers should ensure to keep it away from the reach of children.


The kalanchoe is used traditionally as medication in Africa, South America, and Asia to treat: deep cuts and burns. Its radiant flowers and broad green leaves are a lovely addition to your garden.

How To Care For Kalanchoe Gastonis-bonnieri

Lighting and placement for kalanchoe gastonis-bonnieri

Kalanchoe gastonis-bonnieri requires a spot that receives the whole light for most days. However, extreme sunlight may scorch the leaves, causing them to wilt and die off. Therefore, to protect the plant, place the plant in partial shade or a spot with filtered sunlight. From here, slowly and gradually expose the plant to full light in the afternoons. This will help young plants increase their tolerance to the sunlight in a slow-paced manner. It enjoys a warm climate during winter. When the temperature falls below 13° C, you should consider placing it indoors.


This plant is semi-succulent and thus stores some water in its leaves. It can be described as drought-resistant as it can go for long periods without any water. If you forget to water your plants, the Kalanchoe gastonis-bonnieri is your plant. With this plant, you will have to be careful not to overwater.

How do you determine if your Kalanchoe gastonis-bonnieri has all the water it needs? The most efficient way is the 2-inch test. You place your finger into the soil or potting mix to check whether the top two inches have moisture or not. If the top 2 inches are moist, the plant does not need more water. Overwatering can cause root rot and stem rot in these plants.

You should water this plant deeply, and any excess water to be left to drain from the drainage holes at the bottom. The foliage should be kept as dry as possible, and thus a drip irrigation system is recommended.


This plant thrives in light, well-draining soil, which has to contain high organic matter levels for the plant to thrive. The soil’s Ph level is also crucial and should range from 6-6.5. The plants are sensitive to zinc deficiency, which can be aggravated by high phosphorous. But at this pH range, both zinc and phosphorous should be available at suitable levels. They also have high calcium requirements.

For indoor plants, any recommended cacti or succulent mix is effective; moreover, adding pebbles at the bottom of the pot increases the soil’s drainage, enabling the plant to thrive. A blend of sand perlite and peat moss is recommended. To ensure proper drainage and avoid an overly moist environment, you can also plant your kalanchoe in an unglazed clay pot, which can help excess wick water from the soil.

Feeding kalanchoe gastonis-bonnieri

Like many flowering plants, this kalanchoe benefits from fertilizing. It, however, does not require as much fertilizing as most succulents. Outdoor plants should be lightly fed during the spring, while indoor plants need to be provided with a well-blended fertilizer once a month during the summer and spring months. If your plants have sparse flowering, you should consider a fertilizer with a high phosphorous composition to increase your plant’s flowers.

Pests and diseases

Kalanchoe gastonis-bonnieri is resistant to pests and diseases. If kept outdoors, it could eventually be affected by suck sapping insects, for example, aphids and spider mites. Common symptoms include apart from insects themselves on the crossing of the stems or the undersides of leaves, the presence of honeydew on leaves, creased, faded leaves and webs, or leaves that look torn or bitten.

Non-toxic treatments are recommended because the plant is susceptible to certain chemicals used in insecticides. If you decide to buy a chemical insecticide, ensure you dilute it to half strength to avoid a buildup of salts in the soil, consequently causing further damage to your plant.

Natural ways to get rid of pests

The following are some natural treatments you can employ to treat the plant.

  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 is concentrated 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.

You need to see the plant’s reaction before you spray it all. If the test shows the plant’s reacting adverse effects on the pesticide, you can reduce concentration. Other conditions include discoloration of leaves which is usually a sign of malnutrition.


Pruning the Kalanchoe gastonis-bonnieri is not tricky. They are low-maintenance plants that are frequently clipped to maintain control of their development. At the plant’s base, you should remove dead and damaged leaves. They are unseemly, but they also provide a perfect hiding place for pests. Sharp, clean gardening sheers or ordinary scissors are the best tool to prune your plant. Always ensure you sterilize the tools to prevent infection. You can sterilize your tool by cleaning it using concentrated alcohol or surgical spirit.


You can repot the plant if it grows too big for the pot. Considering this, you don’t need to repot often because the plant grows slowly. The other reason you may want to repot is if the soil is no longer draining as effectively. It is possible for your substrate’s particles that previously created spaces to allow water through to get broken down with time so that the water doesn’t flow as effectively. This is a good enough reason to repot to save your plant from root rot.


Propagating Kalanchoe Gastonis-bonnieri

This plant is commonly propagated through offsets stem cuttings and seeds.

It would help if you had the following things, so put them together before starting.

  1. A sharp cutting tool such as a knife or hand pruner
  2. Alcohol wipes, methylated or surgical spirit, and cotton wool
  3. Five-inch pots depending on the number of plants you want to propagate
  4. Well-drained soil

Offsets are the easiest and most effective way of propagating kalanchoe gastonis-bonnieri. The best time to propagate is during early spring.

Propagation through seeds

Sow seeds on the surface of a porous potting mix in early spring; do not cover the seeds, as they need light to germinate. Put the container in a plastic bag to increase humidity until they grow, which takes about ten days. After about two months, you can transplant the seedling into individual pots or plant them outdoors.

Propagation through stem cuttings

  • Cut a stem segment several inches long from a mature plant using a sharp, clean knife or clippers.
  • Allow the cutting to dry out for a few days or until the end appears to have healed shut and calloused over.
  • Dip the calloused ends of the cutting in a rooting hormone once healed.
  • Plant the cutting in a well-draining potting mix.
  • Let the newly planted cutting sit in bright indirect light, but do not water

The stem should take root within a month, at which point you can care for it as you would a mature Kalanchoe plant.

Propagation by offsets

This is the recommended method of propagation for this plant. As the plant matures, it tends to produce offsets overbearing to the plant. You can decide to cut them down and make new plants from them.

  • Look for a healthy mature leaf from your plant with offsets growing on its margins.
  • Remove the offset at the node at which it joins to the parent plant
  • Allow the cutting to dry out for a few days or until the end appears to have healed shut and calloused over.
  • Dip the calloused ends of the cutting in a rooting hormone once healed.
  • Plant the cutting in a well-draining potting mix.
  • Let the newly planted cutting sit in bright indirect light, but do not water

The offsets will take root in about three weeks, after which point you can replant in a pot or garden, treating it like a mature Kalanchoe gastonis-bonnieri.

Our Take On Kalanchoe Gastonis-bonnieri

As a member of the Kalanchoe genus, this plant is not fussy; it is an easy plant to parent. The plant will keep your home beautiful, and if you are inclined towards alternative medicine, it can remedy some conditions. In a nutshell, you need to remember that the plant is toxic to pets and humans and keep it out of reach of children.

Also, remember that the plant reacts badly to most chemical pesticides, and you should go for the organic pesticides. Watering is one of the most critical aspects of caring for this plant. Always be sure the soil is easy to drain because too much water can cause your plant’s roots to rot. Root rot is arguably the greatest threat to your plant.

Succulent City chief editor


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!

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Posted in Perennial Plants