Kalanchoe Longiflora – A Succulent Shrub With An Unlikely Outlook

Kalanchoe Longiflora is a multi-colored succulent with green-grey leaves with a tint of pink maroon on the edges. Other common names for it are Tugela Cliff-Kalanchoe or Long Flower Kalanchoe.

Its origin can be traced to South Africa in the central Tugela basin, where it loves growing on cliffs and rocks. This explains why it got its name Tugela Cliff-Kalanchoe, based on its origin and love for cliffs.

Below is the scientific classification of the plant:

Family: Crassulaceae

Subfamily: Sedoideae

Tribe: Kalanchoe

Genus: Kalanchoe

Morphological Features of Kalanchoe Longiflora

Tugela Cliff-Kalanchoe is not your usual kind of plant. It has branches lying low on the ground with tips that grow vertically.

It has fleshy leaves, wedge-like in shape and serrated on the edges. They are grey-green with edges that are pink-maroon. With good exposure to sunlight and as the plant ages, the whole leaf turns pink-maroon.

During summer, the plant blooms and forms yellow flowers above the leaves. If potted, this can be a lovely addition to adorn your interiors.

This plant contains bufadienolides, and it is therefore toxic to cats and dogs. Bufadienolide is a cardiac toxin that causes abnormal heart rate and rhythm. An affected cat will also show signs of gastrointestinal distress such as stomach pains, vomiting, and diarrhea. This plant is, however, not toxic to humans. Kalanchoe Longiflora is a small plant that you will primarily grow indoors, be careful to keep it away from your cats. Call a vet if your cat ingests the plant.

Kalanchoe Longiflora Care

Kalanchoe Longiflora is an easy plant to grow and maintain like other succulents. Below are the conditions necessary for the growth and maintenance of the plant.

Light

Kalanchoe Longiflora blooms and does very well when exposed to sunlight. However, direct sunlight in scorching summers might cause damage to the tips of the leaves that are usually exposed to it, owing to their almost vertical orientation. Therefore, if cultivating the plant outside or placing the pot out, it’s advisable to put it under a partial shade to protect it from sweltering summers.

When using it to adorn your indoors, place the pot where it can get adequate sunlight; eastern and southern windows are ideal because the plant can get sufficient sunlight directly. It is important to note that this is a short-day plant. It only blooms when it gets less than twelve hours of light per day. Therefore, the plant can bloom throughout the year if conditions are maintained. This is why its blooming season is towards the end of winter and early spring.

Soil

Like most succulents, Tugela Cliff-Kalanchoe 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 Longiflora?

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, it may be necessary for you to create French drains to allow any excess water to run off from the roots.

The Pot

If you are planting your Kalanchoe Longiflora in a pot, you will need to consider the type of pot you use carefully. The pot is critical in ensuring your soil will be humus-rich. Whether it is made of metal, porcelain, stone, wood, or any other material, it should have several draining holes at the bottom.

Drainage holes are critical because no matter how well-draining the soil is, the water that gets into the soil needs to get out to avoid waterlogging. Else the water would pass through the soil only to sit at the bottom of the pot. You can also use a breathable pot to enhance the evaporation of water. Unglazed terracotta pots are the best option for growing these succulents.

Watering Kalanchoe Longiflora

The pen wiper plant is drought resistant, and its watering needs are, therefore, minimal. You need to water it moderately. However, you should not take the issue of watering lightly alongside the type of soil. According to the above description, watering and soil are probably the two most important considerations for the plant. This is because the most important diseases that affect this plant are caused by overwatering.

The diseases 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. The relationship between soil and watering is clear because how easily you manage the watering aspect of care for your plant is primarily determined by the type of soil on which you have grown your plant. Well-draining soil will make your watering immeasurably easier to control.

How do you know your plant requires to be watered? The topsoil dryness test is always an effective method. Insert two fingers 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 and vice versa. 

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

The best method to water Kalanchoe Longiflora 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. 

You may be asking yourself, ‘how often should I water my Kalanchoe Longiflora? We are always cautious about giving a definite watering schedule, even for specific seasons. Our caution stems from the fact that environmental conditions of the area where you grow the plant are a significant factor in how long 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, and it can vary in the same season at the exact location from year to year.

Temperature

Kalanchoe Longiflora thrives in warm environments and can tolerate high temperatures but not in excess. Therefore, placing it under a partial shade would work best if planted outside. Full sun may not affect it, but the tips can get affected if exposed to scorching midday sun for long hours.

The plant, however, hates cold temperatures. It’s advisable to place it indoors instead of in outdoor gardens if living in cold climates. During the cold season, you need to move the plant indoors.

Feeding Kalanchoe Longiflora

You can use liquid fertilizer to feed the plant but in minimal amounts. You can do this twice or once a month.

Pruning

Rarely does this plant need pruning, but when the need arises, you can prune it by carefully nipping the leaves from the base. Pruning after its flowering season would be most ideal.

Pests and diseases

Generally, the plant is resistant to most pests but can be affected by aphids and spider mites. These pests are not always visible, but their effects on plants can be seen on the leaves, showing a change of color or having tiny holes. Also, the growth of the plant may stagnate. You can get rid of them by spraying any pesticide available.

You can take a few measures to cure your plant pests. One of the things you can do is rub the infected parts with 70% isopropyl alcohol. Take a piece of cotton wool, dip it into the alcohol, and dab the amount of the plant with the said infestation. If you notice an infestation, you could apply the following organic pesticides.

  1. Neem oil: Neem oil is a systemic pesticide, unlike the other pesticides listed below. 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. It would help if you saw the plant’s reaction before you go all out with spraying. 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.

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Propagating Kalanchoe Longiflora

Kalanchoe Longiflora is an easy plant to grow and maintain when exposed to suitable environments. With little maintenance requirements, it thrives on its own. Below are ways to grow it.

Cuttings

You can use both stem cuttings and leaf cuttings to propagate this plant. Make sure to use a knife or sterilized scissors when cutting. This is to avoid infections. Once you cut, allow the leaf or stem to dry under a shade for about a week. This time will allow a callous to form. After drying out, you can now plant it in a perforated pot with soil that drains water well. Water the plants adequately. In a few weeks, you will notice roots forming, and from there, you can continue treating it as you would a mature Kalanchoe Longiflora plant.

Offsets

As the plant grows and matures, it produces offsets on its own. These offsets can be seen on the surface of the pot, just near the base of the plant. Once you notice this, you can carefully uproot these offsets from the mother plant, transfer them to their pots, and watch them grow to maturity.

Seeds

Using this method is relatively easy but takes the longest to see results. You can buy its seeds or harvest them from a mature plant. Sow them in soil that drains water well. You can cover the pot to maintain humidity, but this is unnecessary. After some weeks, young plants will begin to show on the surface. You can then transplant them to their pots and continue growing them like any other Kalanchoe Longiflora mature plant.

Conclusion

Generally, this plant is a low-maintenance succulent. Given the right conditions, as we have seen, the plant can grow throughout the year. It makes a great addition to your outdoor garden, and you can use it to adorn your interiors.

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Posted in Succulents