Alligator Plant

alligator plant

Alligator Plant: General Info

Alligator Plant is low maintenance succulent that should be a part of every houseplant enthusiast’s collection. Native to parts of Madagascar, this succulent thrives in the warmer regions. It is known by several names, such as Kalanchoe daigremontiana, mother of thousands, or Mexican hat plant.

Alligator Plant can grow up to 39 inches or 1 meter tall. This plant has thick green leaves, with purple coloring underneath. The Alligator Plant leaves look unique because the leaf margins have small spurs that grow into plantlets. It is difficult for Alligator Plant to grow flowers, especially when they are being grown as a houseplant, but if they bloom, they will have bell-shaped pink or orange flowers.

Alligator Plant
By Gmihail at Serbian Wikipedia – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0 rs, Wikimedia

Growing Alligator Plant Indoors

Alligator Plant is a versatile plant that can be grown indoors and outdoors. Like most other succulents, they need ample sunlight if they are being grown indoors. As a houseplant, they should be placed out in the sun for 5 to 6 hours a day.

If your living arrangements do not allow you to do that, you can place the plant next to a window that allows a lot of natural sunlight to come through. You can also supplement your plant’s light needs with a grow light, especially if you do not receive a lot of sun or during winters.

Sunlight Requirements

Alligator Plant can tolerate sunlight well and can be placed in an area with full sun or partial shade. Alligator Plant is a succulent; therefore, it thrives in bright conditions. If you’re growing your plant indoors, make sure that it receives several hours of sunlight every single day. You can place the plant outdoors or next to a window that allows sunlight in.

Mornings are the perfect time for Alligator Plant to receive their daily dose of sunlight. You may place your plant outside in the afternoons only if you live in a cooler area. Those who live in areas that experience intense heat should avoid the afternoon sun because it can scorch the plant’s leaves.

If you’re growing the plant outdoors, you can use sunshades to protect your plant from intense heat. You can also DIY a makeshift shade for your plant.

Alligator Plant does not do well in the cold, so it should only be grown as an outdoor plant in warmer areas. Those who live in colder climates can still grow Alligator Plant as a houseplant. Your plant will not tolerate freezing temperatures or frost well and will die in lower temperatures. So make sure that you keep your plant indoors during winters.

Soil Requirements for Alligator Plant

Alligator Plant requires well-draining soil, just like all other succulents. Standard cactus potting mixes can be used for this plant, and you may add coarse sand, pumice, or perlite to the mix for better drainage. Usually, a ratio of 1:1 of cactus mix and perlite/sand should suffice, but if you are still facing issues with standing water, you may add more sand or perlite to the mix.

Watering Requirements for Alligator Plant

Alligator Plant is drought-tolerant, which means it can survive with little to no water for a prolonged period. Its watering needs are similar to other succulents. They will need to be watered once every 14 days if it is grown indoors. If you are growing your plant outdoors, you may need to water it more frequently.

Depending on the season, you may need to water it even less. The plant will not need much water during winters. During the rainy season, you need not water it at all, but you need to check the plant and see that it is not standing in water for more than a day or two. Too much water will cause root rot in your Alligator Plant and can kill the plant.

The preferred method of watering Alligator Plant is through the “soak and dry” way. You should give your plant a good drink of water and allow the top layer of soil to be completely dry before watering it again.

How To Propagate Alligator Plant

Alligator Plant has a completely different propagating system, unlike most succulents that need to be propagated through leaf or stem cutting. The plantlets that grow on the leaves will become full-fledged plants if you properly care for them. This propagation method is similar to the succulents that produce offshoots, but there are some marked differences.

To propagate your Alligator Plant, you need to pick out a few plantlets from the leaves. You may choose several of these plantlets to increase the chances of success. Unlike stem or leaf cuttings, you cannot allow the plantlets to dry up. Once they dry, they die. So keep them in a plastic bag so that they can retain their moisture.

Find a suitable pot that can hold several of the plantlets and fill it with well-draining soil. Then place the plantlets on the soil’s surface and make sure there is some distance between them. Cover the pot with a bag of plastic material so that it works like a mini greenhouse. Place the pot out in the sun and keep the soil in the pot moist. In a few weeks, the plantlets will start to grow. Once they are tall enough, remove the plastic from the pot. You can move the new plants into separate pots now.

plantlets
Plantlets – By Aurélien Mora – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia

Pests

Alligator Plant can get infested by pests such as aphids, mealybugs, and scale insects. If you see that your plant has a mealybug infestation, you can clean up your plant using rubbing alcohol. You can simply wipe the bugs off with a cotton swab. Aphids removal is fairly easy – all you need to do is spray them with water from a hose or a sink sprayer. Scale insects can be manually removed with the help of a plastic card.

Alligator Plant and Toxicity

Alligator Plant has a toxin called daigremontianin. It should always be kept away from pets or children. Ingesting the plant can cause gastrointestinal issues, and in large amounts, can have severe side effects such as tremors, heart palpitations, and seizures. If a pet or a child has consumed some part of the plant, you need to call poison control to seek their help immediately.