A Thorough Guide on Kalanchoe Marmorata Care, Propagation & More

Kalanchoe Marmorata is a uniquely colored succulent plant with green leaves with purple spots. From this appearance, it got its name marmorata, as the name “Marmor” in Latin means ‘marble’.

It is classified under the Family: Crassulaceae, Subfamily: Sedoideae, Tribe: Kalanchoeae, and Genus: Kalanchoe. Other common English names for it are pen wiper plant and spotted Kalanchoe.

Its origin is traced to Madagascar. It also occurs naturally in Central and East African countries such as Congo, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Sudan. It does well in areas with tropical climates and mainly grows on slopes.

Morphological Characteristics Of Kalanchoe Marmorata

Stem

The pen wiper plant has straight stems which are challenging but fleshy. The stems usually have a reddish-brown hue, and they tend to run perpendicular to the ground before turning upwards at the extremities. The orientation of these stems is typically referred to as being decumbent.

Leaves 

As if protruding from the top of the stem, the leaves grow almost vertical. They are usually green when the plant is young, but their color changes as they mature. They turn into a blueish-green or yellowish-green hue. Whether it turns bluish-green or yellowish-green, the leaf is always glaucous. Besides a change in the general color, the mature Kalanchoe marmorata leaf develops some purple spots portraying marble-like patterns making it very attractive.

Flowers

Occasionally this plant produces tall flowers which have four petals and are white. Though white, they start with a cream-yellow tone, and the pure white hue only comes when they are fully open. The white color is quite fitting since the flowers open towards the end of winter when it may be snowing, so they blend perfectly with the weather. When cut, the flowers last relatively more extended, and they are an excellent idea for adorning your house when put in a vase.

Toxicity

Thou beautiful, this plant is toxic to animals and humans, like all other plants in the Kalanchoe genus. There have been reports of animals being lost in the areas where the plant grows naturally after ingesting it. While it is toxic to all animals, dogs appear to be more adversely affected by the plant’s cardiotoxic effects. They suffer from increased heart rate and distortion of the heartbeat’s rhythm. Some of the signs that your pet may have ingested the plant include diarrhea, stomach upsets, and related gastrointestinal conditions.

Kalanchoe Marmorata Care

Soil

Like other succulents, the pen wiper plant needs porous soil with a pH of 6 to 6.5. This provides a suitable environment both for water and air to flow easily. Porous soil prevents rots which can lead to the death of the plant.

If you are planting this succulent in a pot, we recommend going for the pre-mixed pottage available commercially. The pottage is already well-draining, but you will need to make it even easier to drain. You can increase the porosity of the soil by increasing its grit component to between fifty and seventy percent grit. Grit could be coarse sand, perlite, or pumice. The soil should be capable of remaining moist without getting soaked for the seasons when the plant will need such conditions.

On the other hand, if you grow the plant outdoors in a Mediterranean garden, a succulent garden, a rock garden, or 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 the right kind of soil in the planting holes to allow your water to drain quickly. Also, you may need to create French drains and employ other measures to enhance the soil’s trainability to allow any excess water to run off from the roots.

Ideal pot for Kalanchoe Marmorata

The pot is always a vital facilitator to help you attain your plant’s drainage needs. Therefore, if you are planting your Kalanchoe marmorata in a pot, you will need to consider the type of pot you use carefully. The pot should have several draining holes at the bottom because the water that gets to the soil needs to get out of the pot to avoid waterlogging. The pot’s material is not a critical factor, provided it has adequate drainage holes. However, you can also use a breathable pot to enhance the evaporation of water from the sides of the pot, as this would enhance the suitability of the soil. In this regard, unglazed terracotta pots are the best option.  

Watering Kalanchoe marmorata

The pen wiper plant is drought resistant, and its watering needs are, therefore, minimal. It would help if you watered it moderately. However, you should not take the issue of watering lightly alongside the type of soil, which 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 to know when you should water your Kalanchoe Marmorata?

How do you know your plant needs watering? 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 Marmorata 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 arrangement of leaves which can allow water to lodge in the space between them and the stem. Water trapped in this position can easily cause the leaves to rot.

How often should you water your Kalanchoe Marmorata?

You may be asking yourself, ‘how often should I water my Kalanchoe Marmorata? 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 same place from year to year.

Light and placement

Kalanchoe Marmorata 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 outside, 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 adequate 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.

Temperature

This plant grows well in average temperatures of between 64°F to 68°F (18°C to 20°C). Cold temperatures lead to its death. The plant is so sensitive to cold that it can die within a few hours of exposure. It is advisable not to place it near air-conditioners, and during winter you can move it indoors.

Feeding Kalanchoe marmorata

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.

Pruning

Rarely does this plant need to be pruned, but when necessary, pinch the leaves from the stem carefully. It would be better to do pruning after flowering.

Repotting

You can repot the plant after a few years. Please make sure you repot soil that drains water quickly and provides good airflow. Also, handle the plant carefully because the leaves are fragile and easily break.

Pests and diseases

Kalonchoe Marmorata is generally resistant to pests and insects, but it may be susceptible to some of them, like aphids and spider mites when planted outside.

Some signs of infection include; wilted leaves, small insect bites and webs on the surface of the leaves or below them, and honeydew on the leaves. It is advisable to use organic or non-chemical insecticides. We have listed some examples of such pesticides below. 

  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.

If no organic pesticides are available, you can rub the infected parts with isopropyl alcohol with 70% concentration. Take a piece of cotton wool, dip it into the alcohol, and dab the part of the plant with the said infestation.

Kalanchoe marmorata Propagation

Kalanchoe Marmorata is propagated using leaf cuttings.

The following are items you will need for propagating:

  • A pot that is perforated and whose saucer drains water easily
  • Porous soil
  • Cutting tools such as scissors, knives, or shears
  • Disinfectant
  • Cotton wool
  • Mature pen wiper plant
  • Water

Leaf propagation

Below are steps you can follow for propagating the plant.

  1. Put porous soil in the perforated pot.
  2. Sterilize the cutting tools. You can rub the cutting tools with the disinfectant using cotton wool. This step is essential as it prevents the transfer of diseases from one plant to the other. Also, the leaf needs to be healthy for the plant to start rooting.
  3. Take the mature pen wiper plant and carefully cut a healthy leaf from where it connects to the stem that is at the base.
  4. Take the leaf and leave it under a shade or indoors for 4-7 days to dry and form callous.
  5. After it has dried, place the leaf in the pot upright, the cut side down. Rooting will take approximately a month, and from there, the plant will continue to grow.
  6. Water the plant adequately. Please note you will only need to re-water it once the soil feels dry to the touch.
  7. Place the plant under a partial shade outside to get enough sunlight or indoors next to a window where it’s bright and sunny.

Tips for propagating Kalanchoe marmorata

Below are some tips that may be helpful while propagating the plant:

  • This plant does very well in a clay pot. It would be advisable to use one if you plan to grow it in a pot.
  • Avoid over-watering. Too much water will cause the roots to rot, which will eventually cause them to die.
  • After placing the cutting in the pot, providing it with heat from the bottom will speed up the rooting process.
  • It is better to propagate the plant during warm months instead of winter or cold months. The plant grows faster in warm environments.
  • Ensure the plant gets enough sunlight to bloom and do well throughout the year, whether growing indoors or outdoors. However, avoid direct sunlight and put it under a partial shade if outside.

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Conclusion

Kalonchoe marmorata is a beautiful and uniquely colored succulent plant. You can use it to adorn both indoors and outdoors. As a bonus, when it blooms, its bright and long-lasting flowers can be used to decorate your interiors.

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Posted in Succulents