Mother of Millions

mother of millions

Kalanchoes 

Madagascar native Kalanchoe genus includes some of the most beloved varieties of succulents. They are characterized by vibrant green, fleshy leaves and colorful, pendular flowers that bloom consistently. Most members of the Kalanchoe family typically share similar traits, making it difficult to differentiate between them. 

The most popular species are K. blossfeldianaK. manginiiK. porphyrocalyx, and K. beharensis, but when it comes to the most sought-after succulent in the family, Kalanchoe Delagoensis is the undisputed superstar. 

Kalanchoe Delagoensis, also known as Mother of Millions, although wildly popular, is often confused with another species of the Kalanchoe genus – Mother of Thousands. 

So, it’s easy to confuse the two because of their apparent similarities. Since their scientific names are also similar sounding, a lot of people do not even know that they are two different species. Even in adverse conditions, both plants spread rapidly – a trait responsible for their names, Mother of Millions and Mother of Thousands.

To clear the air of all confusion and disinformation, here is a succinct guide to differentiating between the Mother of Millions and the Mother of Thousands.

Blossoms of Kalanchoe delagoensis
Blossoms of Kalanchoe delagoensis (synonym K. tubiflora); greenhouse in Hockenheim, Germany – By Das Nili – Self-photographed, CC BY-SA 2.5, Wikimedia

Mother of Millions versus Mother or Thousands

Similarities

Care

Since they are technically cousins, both Kalanchoe children thrive in similar conditions. Natives of tropical Africa are comfortable in bright light but ideally shouldn’t be placed in direct sunlight. They prefer adequately moist but loose, well-draining soil. Owners usually prefer homemade potting material rather than a commercial cactus potting mix for this reason. 

Both succulents prefer a similar watering schedule: infrequent but intensive watering, depending on the weather conditions. In addition, both are extremely easy to care for, hence are popular with gardening beginners.

Propagation

Because of their prolific multiplying capacity, both plants are easily found nearly everywhere. From pavements to home gardens, they grow effortlessly. They can survive harsh climatic conditions, be it wet, frosty, or arid. The succulents start photosynthesizing and developing roots even before they detach from their Mother. So, when they hit the ground, they are already baby plants.

Both plants produce colorful orange and yellow flowers but not very often. This is because the succulents have evolved to prefer propagation through bus rather than seed. After all, the former is more efficient. This is to say, even their seeds survive years after they have sprouted.

Because of this, they have gained the reputation of being weeds. Due to their tendency to effortlessly propagate, they overtake other plants in the surroundings.

Toxicity

Both Mother’s siblings are noxious and poisonous, which means it is essential to keep them contained to your garden or balcony. Both Kalanchoes have bufadienolide cardiac clycosides, which causes cardiac arrest. Not only the milky sap within their stem is toxic, but also their flowers and hybrid variations can prove to be fatal.

Mother of Millions has been associated with mass cattle death in Australia. Not only cattle, even if domestic pets like cats, dogs, and birds ingest it, they can also be at the risk of gastrointestinal irritation or worse. If an event like this occurs, remember to call your veterinarian immediately. For this reason, it is advisable to grow succulents outdoors. Growing and caring for these plants is an easy job but, containing them is the real challenge.

Differences

Leaves

The biggest difference between both plants is the shape of their leaves.

Mother of Thousands has wide, teardrop-shaped leaves. These leaves usually grow in pairs, with each leaf growing on the opposite side of the stem. They display an alternate growth pattern to ensure they receive maximum direct sunlight. The edges of these broad leaves are filled with ridges. These tiny ridges grow into baby plantlets or buds and help with propagation. There are two situations wherein a Mother of Thousands plant will show signs of propagation: either when it is fully healthy or when it is on the verge of dying.

On the contrary, Mother of Millions, also known as Devil’s Backbone and Chandelier Plant, have considerably narrow leaves. Instead of alternating and growing in pairs, they grow from the same node on the stem. Plantlets grow on the tip of leaves. Instead of a full complement of babies, each leaf only has 2-4 plantlets.

Mother of thousands
Mother of Thousands – Photo from Amazon

Growth

Another difference between both plants is that they display distinct growth patterns.

With several stalks growing upwards out of the same plant, the Mother of Millions forms bushy, patchy structures. On the other hand, the Mother of Thousands has a central stalk that grows vertically towards the sun. This single stalk is often weighed down by its leaves, but it keeps growing nevertheless.

Because of their tendency to grow in the most demanding climate conditions easily, they are confused with weeds. Their rapidly growing nature is a nuisance to their surroundings. Although genetically, they might not be what we call ‘weeds’ in daily life, they behave a lot like them.

Photo from Amazon

Kalanchoe Diffirentiation

The rapidly multiplying Kalanchoe subgenera grow relentlessly in harsh environments with minimal care. They are quite a nuisance to many, but their unique design makes them popular within succulent-loving circles. 

Mother of Millions is undoubtedly the most beloved species in the family, and it doesn’t come as a surprise – who wouldn’t love a cluster full of bright flowers on their balcony? Because the Mother of Millions shares commonalities with another Kalanchoe sibling, Mother of Thousands, it is a little difficult to separate the two. However, with this succinct guide to differentiating between the two, you will be well on your way to bringing the right Mother’s plant to your home. 

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