Kalanchoe hildebrandtii is also known as Silver Teaspoon; its country of origin is southern and southwestern Madagascar. It grows on rocky soil in its natural habitat, usually on the fertile soil between these rocks. This soil is typically rich in organic matter from decomposed vegetative matter.
The succulents also grow in open woodlands, usually 700-1400 meters above sea level. It is also known as Kalanchoe Gomphophylla, and its best-known common name is the Silver Teaspoons owing to the spoon-like shapes of its leaves and their ashen/silvery color.
It has a unique, beautiful appearance, and it is. Therefore, it has moved from its native Madagascar to many parts of the world as a home decorative plant. The plant grows very slowly. This slow growth has implications for the care regime of the plant, as we shall see later.
Morphological Characteristics of Kalanchoe Hildebrandtii
This plant is shrubby like many succulents, and it has silver-grey leaves.
Stem: The stems are woody, and the flowers are bell-shaped and small. It usually grows to a maximum of about three feet in its natural habitat. The plant’s stems are woody and erect; thus, they proceed vertically from the ground like an ordinary tree. The plant’s stem also branches in various directions.
Leaves: Kalanchoe hildebarandtii’s leaves’ shape ranges from circular to obovate, and they have a harsh surface and are typically thick, as one would expect of a succulent. The leaf size can vary anywhere from 16-40 mm long, and its width is often 15-20 mm wide.
The tip of the leaf can either be rounded or obtuse. The silvery color of the leaf is due to the presence of flour, and the leaf itself is green. Therefore, the leaf has a total appearance of grey-green. Some of the less glaucous leaves may be greener than others. Also, the leaves have ciliate hairs that appear velvety and a little soft to the touch.
Flowers: The flowers produced by this plant are pretty non-remarkable and tiny. They can be anything from white to yellow-green. These flowers grow on dense cymes, and they are usually erect.
Like other plants in the genus, the Silver Teaspoon plant is toxic to birds, animals, and children. It is vital to keep the plant out of reach of children.
Flour on the leaves means the plant can withstand intense sunlight and high temperatures. The ciliate hairs enable the plant to imbibe the tiniest water droplets from the environment. This adaptation makes the plant able to survive prolonged periods without water. Cold is the one thing to which the plant isn’t hardy. Move it indoors or cover it when experiencing freezing winters.
The plant blooms in spring. Warmth is energy-intensive; they need some sunlight because it facilitates photosynthesis.
It would help if you gave this plant time to rest for the best results. This period usually starts when the flowers dry up. Cut back the dry flowers in a process commonly known as deadheading and let the plant rest. Reduce watering during this period; new buds will form over time and produce new flowers. Allowing the plant to rest this way will enable it to bloom beyond its natural season. It may even bloom throughout the year.
The Difference between Kalanchoe Hildebrandtii and Kalanchoe Bracteata
Most people confuse it with Kalanchoe bracteata, but you can differentiate them with the flowers they produce. Kalanchoe bracteata produces attractive red flowers, while Kalanchoe hildebrandtii produces white to greenish-yellow flowers, which aren’t as catchy as their Hildebrandtii counterparts.
Kalanchoe Hildebrandtii Care
This plant does not need a lot of care. It’s pretty easy to grow and maintain; however, you must consider a few things for this plant to grow as expected. We shall discuss them below.
This plant does well in a lot of light for potted plants. Place it by a window that allows enough light. It does well under both direct and indirect sunlight. Sunlight scalds it if it is too intense. Due to its adaptations, it prefers full sunlight and can withstand it even during scorching summers.
You can keep the plant under indirect sunlight in winter because it still needs a little to survive though it is dormant then. 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.
How do you position your Kalanchoe hildebrandtii 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 succulent indoors, where you can regulate your temperature even when the winter is cold.
Place your plant next to the windows that enable it to access direct sunlight in summer if you plant it indoors. Position 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 to benefit maximally from the sunlight. You can place the plant behind a sheer curtain in the unlikely, even the UV rays affect the plant negatively.
Watering Kalanchoe Hildebrandtii
This succulent plant stores water in its leaves; you should not constantly water it. It is drought-resistant, like most other succulents. Watering and soil are probably the two most important considerations for the plant because most of the most important diseases that affect this plant are caused by overwatering. These include root rot and fungal infections on the leaves. Although the plant generally requires little water, you must water it more often in hotter seasons than 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 your plant requires to be watered? 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. If dry, your soil needs more water 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 dehydrated and needs urgent watering.
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.
The root system is short so overwatering will cause root rot and fungal infections. Once you water your plant, allow the soil to dry completely before you water again, you can do so by inserting your finger, and the top layer must feel completely dry. Always ensure that you water the soil; do not apply water on the leaves because you may cause the leaves to rot or have fungal infections.
Like most succulents, this plant needs porous soil. This is to allow good airflow and excess water to drain freely. Regular cactus mix when planting it in a pot would work best. It can be produced outside, provided the soil drains water well.
Waterlogged soil can quickly kill it. It denies the roots oxygen, causing them to rot. If you don’t remedy root rot quickly, it can easily cause your plant to dry up. So which is the best soil for Kalanchoe hildebrandtii?
If you are going for a commercial pottage, buy cactus or succulent soil in nurseries or other related shops. That soil is already well-draining, but you will need to make it even easier to drain by adding fifty to seventy percent grit.
Grit could be coarse sand, perlite, or pumice. You can even improvise by grinding coconut shells and mixing them with the soil. The soil should be moist most of the time for the benefit of the plant, but it shouldn’t be soaking wet, either. The use of commercial pottage mix is best when growing your plant in a pot.
If you grow the plant outdoors in a Mediterranean garden or as a hedge, you must 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 sand in the planting holes to allow your water to drain quickly. Also, you may need to create French drains to allow any excess water to run off the roots.
This plant has a susceptible root system; therefore, your soil should be well-draining and contain peat moss, perlites, and sand. Ensure that you put pebbles at the bottom of the pot to allow air to pass through.
Feeding Kalanchoe Hildebrandtii
We mentioned the plant’s natural habitat has fertile soil, which is the environment to which it is adapted. You might need to feed your plant continues to enhance productivity. Give the flower NPK during the growing seasons. You can feed it once per month, with the quantity determined by the size of the plant. Regularly, the fertilizer should have a ratio of 3:1:3, but you should change it to 3:1:4 or 2:1:4 in spring when the plant is blooming. If you deadhead it to enhance continuous blooming, feed it with the 3:1:4 or 2:1:4 when it buds.
Temperature and Humidity
It does well in warm temperatures. Extreme temperatures, whether hot or cold, affect the plant negatively. Freezing temperatures cause frost injury and may cause your plant to die quickly. If you live in icy areas, take your plant indoors if it is potted. You can cover it with frost cloth if it’s an outdoor plant.
With humidity this plant does well in almost all levels of humidity. Humidity will only determine how much you water your plant. Water less when the humidity is low and water more when the humidity levels are high.
You rarely 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 the older Silver Spoon cultivars as the newer ones bloom more readily on themselves.
The plant is slow-growing, so 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 Silver Teaspoon on a fresh substrate after a while to replenish the nutrients available to the plant. 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 removing it from the pot easy.
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.
Place your plant next to the windows that enable it to access direct sunlight in summer if you plant it indoors. Position 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 to benefit maximally from the sunlight. You can place the plant behind a sheer curtain in the unlikely even the UV rays affect the plant negatively.
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 succulent indoors, where you can regulate your temperature even when the winter is cold. This is possible because the plant grows much smaller when confined in a pot.
Pests & Diseases
This plant can withstand a majority of the pests that trouble other plants. It rarely gets attacked by pests when planted indoors. However, it is susceptible to mealybugs, aphids, plant scales, 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.
You can take a few measures to cure your Kalanchoe hildebrandtii 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.
- 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.
- 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 carefully on the affected parts to protect your skin and eyes.
- 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 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 and garlic. You need to see the plant’s reaction before you spray it all. You can reduce concentration if the test shows the plant’s reacting adverse effects on the pesticide.
Kalanchoe Hildebrandtii common problems
Other common problems besides pests and diseases emanate from inadequate care. The following are the most likely to occur.
If you don’t mitigate this problem, it may lead to the death of your Silver teaspoon. Yellow leaves show that your plant is either overwatered or underfed. The elimination method makes it easy to determine the cause of the problem. Dip your finger into the substrate; if the water is soggy, your plant is overwatered and could suffer from root rot. Stop watering and drain off the extra water from the pottage. On the other hand, if the soil is not soggy, your plan needs additional nutrients. Feed it using suitable fertilizer as earlier discussed.
If the leaves curl, assuming an unnatural position, your plant will lose its beauty. Leaves curl when your plant is overwatered or isn’t getting adequate light. Check the amount of water in the soil and reduce it as necessary. You should move the plant to a window sill to get adequate sunlight. The leaves will return to normal soon as you change the conditions. Sometimes when the sun is too intense for the leaves to withstand, they turn crisp and curl.
How to Propagate Kalanchoe Hildebrandtii
- Take clean garden shears.
- Cut the leaf or the stem tip.
- Allow it to dry for one day.
- Dip your cutting in a growth hormone
- Plant your cutting.
- Water the plant.
Kalanchoe Hildebrandtii FAQ
Why Is My Kalanchoe Hildebrandtii Wilting?
Having your Kalanchoe hildebrandtii wilt will likely have something to do with water. It has either been overwatered, which has led to root rot or under-watered, causing it to wither. The problem may also be that the soil is impervious, and it is, therefore, making the plant prone to waterlogging and root rot. A pot with sufficient drainage holes may help keep this problem at bay if all other factors are in place.
Why Is My Kalanchoe Hildebrandtii Dying?
The reasons we have mentioned above could also be why your Kalanchoe hildebranndtii is dying. Accumulating chemical salts in the soil due to inadequate flushing after using fertilizer could be another reason.
If you have ever parented a succulent successfully, you already know what you need to know to take care of this plant. However, there is a vital difference between Kalanchoe hildebrandtii and other succulents. It requires much more nutrients. This means feeding is a regular part of the plant’s care regime. However, this is not a fussy plant; it is easy to manage, beautiful, and unique.
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