Growing Kalanchoe Blossfeldiana.

Latest Update 9th October 2016.

Kalanchoe Blossfeldiana.
  • Kalanchoe Blossfeldiana is a native of Madagascar on the relatively cool plateaus of the Tsarantanana Mountains in rich organic soil.
  • Mine has suffered neglect in a dry hot spot wedged between a concrete path and a brick wall for many years.  Although it struggles through each hot Melbourne summer, it always recovers in winter to give a wonderful display of pink flowers in early spring.
  • New plants can be be propagated from its succulent leaves if they drop off or are separated from the stem and laid on the soil.
  • Parts of the plant are poisonous and can cause irritation when swallowed or touched.
  • I have taken some cuttings this spring and will try to find a better home for this deserving low growing plant.
Details.
  • Binomial Name:                                       Kalanchoe Blossfeldiana.
  • Family:                                                   Crassulaceae.
  • Garden bed type:                                     Drip line irrigated. 
  • Recommended soil pH:                            6.5 - 7.5.  
  • Plant Spacings (centres):                         300mm. 
  • Climate:                                                  Warm Temperate.
  • Geography:                                             Southern Hemisphere. 
Growing Conditions:
  • Best in partial shade but will tolerate full sun.
  • Prefers rich organic soil and adequate moisture.
  • Minimise soil disturbances to maintain a natural soil structure.
Preparing a new bed.
  • Clear a space for your new plant in September and dispose of any organic waste in the compost.
  • When replacing an old plant, choose a spot which hasn't grown them for some time.
  • Apply a 60mm thick top dressing of home made compost and cover with fresh straw mulch.
  • Leave for 4 weeks to boost worm and microbial activity.
Growing Instructions
  • Propagate new plants when they start to grow in winter by taking 100mm long cuttings from the parent plant and removing all the leaves except for a cluster of 5 or 6 of them at the top of each stem.  Score one side of the bottom half of each cutting with a clean knife and plant it 50mm deep directly into the sieved compost of an Eco-propagator
  • Once the new plants are established and growing strongly, make a space for each of them in the mulch of the prepared bed and plant them retaining as large a root ball as possible.  Water them in well with dilute seaweed extract.
  • Water the plants every few days until they are established, and then allow the drip irrigation to take over. 
  • They are slow growing and don't need pruning, just remove any damaged, diseased or unsightly stems.
  • Spray the plant's foliage with aerated compost tea every month at the same time as the edible plants are sprayed.
Organic Pest Control.
  • My deep pink Kalanchoe plant has been pest and disease free for many years, but can be effected by the following:- 
    • Slugs and snails. 
      • Kalanchoe need protection against slugs and snails, and the best control in a drip irrigated garden bed is environmentally friendly iron based slug and snail pellets used sparingly on the soil around the base of the plant.
    • Caterpillars.
      • When mixed with water, Bacillus thuringiensis becomes a potent (organically certified) killer of butterfly caterpillars.  It is sprayed onto the plants leaves, and when ingested, kills them by releasing toxins into their gut.  They stop feeding and die within a few days.
      • I use aerated compost tea as a foliar spray on all my ornamental plants.  I don't claim this is as effective as the bacillus, but after one year using this spray, I seem to have less pests of any kind on my plants.
    • General:
      • Regular foliar sprays of aerated compost tea boosts the natural defences of the plant by colonising the leaf surfaces with beneficial microbes.  These microbes defend it against airborne pests and diseases.
      • Similarly, proper soil preparation including annual applications of home made compost boosts the community of beneficial microbes, which defend the plant's roots against pathogens.

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