The next letter in my series called The ABCs of Plants in My Garden is K. K is for Kalanchoe, which is a succulent native to southern Africa.
While researching these, I was surprised to find I had a total of six different varieties of kalanchoe as opposed to the two I already was aware of.
They are so easy to grow and propagate that other gardeners share them generously. They are monocarpic, blooming just once and then producing offsets. As with most succulents around here I keep these on the deck and away from the hungry herd of deer that regularly browse my yard.
Let's meet them one by one. The names on this list are based on labels or my own research so feel free to point out corrections as needed.
K. blossfeldiana: The kalanchoe most familiar to me, and I call this one "supermarket" kalanchoe since that's where we often see them for sale. This yellow bloomer fits nicely in the top of a strawberry pot.
K. diagremontiana: Mother of Thousands or Alligator Plant, a commonly shared plant in among gardeners in this area. The long pointed leaves with the little plants growing along the edge does look a bit like an alligator and the only one we'll see this far inland except at the zoo. I like the structure and this one will survive a mild winter in the warmer parts of town where it can also be somewhat invasive.
K. gastonis-bonnieri: Donkey Ears, the mottled pattern and soft texture of these leaves makes it a favorite. Look closely to see new plants forming at the end of the very long leaves. The leaf in front is 18"/7cm. Long floppy ears work well in this wire basket.
K. laetivirens: Called 'Big Momma' and it is similar in structure to the K. diagremontiana with larger, greener leaves. It also produces new plants along the edges of the leaves.
Most of these can be propagated by pushing a broken piece of leaf in soil, such as this one in the pocket of a strawberry jar. The new plant popped up within a couple weeks.
K. luciae: Paddle shaped kalanchoe, This is a pretty little plant is in the new succulent window boxes I'm trying out this year.
K. pumila 'Frosty Pink': This is a tiny one that can fill in the window boxes like a ground cover.
Kalanchoe are all frost-tender and will need to come indoors during the winter. I'm getting so many plants needing winter protection now it's a good thing we are adding a screen room to the deck which I will convert to a winter greenhouse for our few months of cold weather we have each year.