Kalanchoe prolifera


Bryophyllum cochleatum
Bryophyllum proliferum


K. prolifera is native to Madagascar. The plant was introduced and is widespread also into Canary Is., Ethiopia, Jawa, Kenya, KwaZulu-Natal and Zimbabwe. The plant grows in tropical areas on rocky soils and is considered an invasive weed.


K. prolifera is a perennial succulent belonging to the Crassulaceae botanical family. The plant can reach up to 5 cm in diameter and 3 m tall, but when the plant reaches this height it tends to fall and to become procumbent. The stem is erect, quadrangular, unbranched, woody at the base and waxy at the apex. The leaves are large, fleshy, stout, rubbery with purple and toothed margins. The leaves are petiolate and pinnatisect, arranged like a fishbone, pale green in color and can turn on red shades in direct sunlight. Blooming occurs from late winter to early spring, after the plant gets 90 cm tall. The buds are borne at the apex of the plant and the inflorescence is a cyme, candelabra-like. The large inflorescence is a panicle with up to 700 flowers and numerous aborted flowers and bulbils. The flowers are bell-shaped, with a green calyx and a red corolla.


The plant has a fast growth rate but it easy to cultivate. The plant needs a full light sun exposure but is recommended to avoid direct sun-light in the hottest periods. The minimum temperatures that the plant can withstand are 10° C, below this temperature it begins to suffer so it needs to be placed indoors in the coldest periods. The soil should be mixed with pumice, clay and loam to allow the drainage and prevent the root rot, the plant is prone to it indeed. Using a perforating pot, you can drain excess water. Watering can be done regularly in Spring and Summer: during the vegetative period you can water the plant (every 7 days), checking that the soil is completely dry before watering again; in winter you should stop the watering to allow the plant to enter dormancy. About fertilization, for this plant is sufficient to fertilize moderately during the growing season with the specific fertilizers for succulents and stop fertilizing during the winter. If the pot starts to be too small for the plant you can repot the plant in a pot 2 cm wider. Repotting should be done early in the growing season with fresh new potting soil. Be careful to red spiders and mealy bugs.


Propagation can be done by cutting or by seed. By cutting you can make the cut during the spring and then let the cutting dry; after a few days the cut surface will dry and a callus will form, then place the cutting in a mixture of sand, soil and pumice. To increase the success of propagation you can make two or more cuttings at the same time. For cuttings it is recommended temperatures around 20 °C. By seed it is very simple to propagate the plant, it is enough to sow the seed in a sandy loam soil and keep it with a high level of humidity and at temperature of 14 C°. Plants can also spread via underground stolons.


The plant is used against rheumatism in Madagascar and often cultivated in tropical gardens. K. prolifera tends to die after flowering, but the name of the species comes from the fact that in the inflorescence many new seedlings are formed, which will allow your succulent to grow and develop with great ease!

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