Kalanchoe tomentosa ‘Panda Plant’
Kalanchoe tomentosa ‘Panda Plant’ is native to Madagascar where the plant grows on rocky soils.
Kalanchoe tomentosa ‘Panda Plant’ is a beautiful perennial succulent belonging to the Crassulaceae botanical family. The plant has an erect habit and can reach up to 1 m in height in nature. The stem is erect, woody and branched at the base, bright green in color and covered with hairs. The leaves are alternate, sessile, arranged in an apical rosette, fleshy, oval and covered with whitish to blue-green hairs. The margins are rounded, toothed and tinged with brownish. The dense down of hairs is useful to the plant to decrease the transpiration and to withstand the drought. Blooming occurs during the spring and the blossoms are borne near the apex of the stem. The inflorescence is a panicle with cymose branches, up to 30 cm tall. The flowers are bell-shaped, small, greenish-yellow but it is rare for the plant to bloom indoor. The cultivar ‘Panda Plant’ is very similar to the normal Kalanchoe tomentosa but differs for thicker leaves, teeth more defined and a denser rosette of leaves.
The plant has a slow growth rate but it is easy to cultivate. The plant needs a bright exposure, indirect sun-light, so is suitable for indoors. Long exposure to direct sun-light can cause burns and burnt spots. Temperatures below 8° C can damage the plant so it is best to shelter it or place it in a cold greenhouse during the winter. Too low temperatures can cause the stem or leaves to break due to water freezing inside the tissues. Temperatures between 10 and 15 °C allow the plants to enter vegetative rest which is essential for the flowering of the following year. Plants should not be placed inside the house where average temperatures of 20 degrees prevent vegetative rest. 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. The pumice should always be placed on the bottom of the pot. Remember to use a perforating pot to drain excess water. Watering can be done regularly during the vegetative period. Irrigation is proportional to the size of the pot, the position and the season. In Spring and Autumn the plant can be watered with a glass of water every 7-10 days; in summer it can be watered every 3-5 days. Decrease the amount of water if the plant is kept indoors or if the pot is smaller than 12 cm. The plant is used to growing in poor soils, for this reason it does not need abundant fertilization, it is sufficient to fertilize once in spring and once in summer. 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; it is usually done every 3-4 years. Be careful to red spiders and mealy bugs.
The easiest and fast method of propagation is to use leaf cuttings but by seeds is also possible. For leaf cutting you can cut some healthy leaves and plant it in a pot with sand and loam. Place the pot in a warm and bright environment and in 1-2 months the cuttings will be ready to plant. To increase the success of propagation you can make two or more cuttings at the same time. It is advisable to use rooting hormone at the base of the cut to energize root development. For cuttings it is recommended temperatures around 20 °C. Propagation by seed it is not recommended for this species because it is very slow. To fast the propagation, you can try to immerse the seeds in water for 1 day. Sow the seeds in a sandy loam and keep them in warm, humid conditions.
The succulent is also called “antistress plant” for its soft and cuddly appearance. The specific epithet “tomentosa” meansdensely woolly. In Madagascar, it is a popular belief that a flowering plant of this taxon is an indication of richness and prosperity for the household.
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