I don’t know about you, but I’ve always struggled with caring for succulent plants. When you have a house filled with monsteras and mother of thousands, understanding how much water and light that a succulent needs can be confusing!
After writing this article, I feel much more equipped to properly care for a succulent plant, and I became curious about the beautiful flowering plant of the kalanchoe genus, the flaming katy.
The kalanchoe blossfeldiana plant also goes by the names of Christmas kalanchoe, florist kalanchoe, flaming katy kalanchoe, or Madagascar widow’s-thrill. Though it has pretty specific growing conditions, it is still a very popular, ornamental house plant.
The flaming katy, though it doesn’t bloom super readily, is valued for its glabrous, beautifully arranged leaves and attractive growth habit. If you’re looking for types of lovely and excellent potted plants, look no further than the flaming katy kalanchoe!
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What do Flaming Katy Plants Look Like?
One of the most wonderful aspects of the kalanchoe plant, is its flowers. They will usually bloom every 6 months, and will provide a flourish of color for up to 6 weeks each time! Flower buds will usually emerge around the late summer.
Members of the genus kalanchoe have flowers that are borne in terminal peduncles. These inflorescences occur higher up than the leaves on tall flower stalks.
Each flaming katy will have around 4, ovular petals that meet in pointed tip that overlap. They can come in a variety of colors, from dark red, to pink flowers, orange, golden, or white flowers.
Flaming katy leaves are also marvellously attractive. They are evergreen, meaning that they will persist and remain green all year long.
Leaf blade are 2-4 inches in length, they are ovate in shape and have a scalloped margin. These leaves are very similar looking to those of a jade plant, only jade plant leaves have smooth margins.
Leaves are oppositely arranged or sub-oppositely arranged. They are glabrous, meaning that they are without hair, and exhibit a very shiny, bright green, glossy texture.
Flaming katy plants are evergreen, perennial, succulent plants. They are also known for being very slow growing, and will only achieve heights occurring between 12 and 18 inches in 2-5 years.
They exhibit a rounded growth habit, and will spread anywhere from 4-20 inches around. Leaves stay closer to the surface of the soil, whereas flower inflorescences rise up above the leaves on longer flower stalks.
Where is the Flaming Katy Native to?
A flaming katy is quite the tropical looking plant, which makes sense, seeing as it is a native plant to Madagascar. It grows specifically in the cooler plateaus of the Tsarantanana mountains there.
Though there are very few places in the world that can match these growing conditions, and it is rare for a flaming katy to become naturalized to an area, it is possible to keep them as a house plant. It can exist in USDA hardiness zones 7 through 11.
How do you Propagate a Flaming Katy Plant?
Now that we know a little bit about the aspects of the kalanchoe plant species, let’s get into how you can grow one of your own. Though it is possible to propagate through seed, it is highly recommended to propagate through stem cuttings or leaf cuttings.
Pick a Cutting
If you’ve propagated a succulent before, then you should have no trouble. Remember to pick healthy looking cuttings, and let them dry out for a few days before planting them.
By propagating through cuttings, this means that they subsequent plants will carry the same genetic material as the mother plant, so make sure you pick the best looking leaf cutting!
The next step is to plant your cutting. Ensure that you have a rather sandy potting mix that is properly well drained. Place your stem cuttings into the soil so that just the tips are sticking up (they need sunlight to help them take root).
Roots should start forming under the soil in just a couple of weeks! You’ll be able to tell because new growth will start to form on your cutting. At this point, you can keep them where they are, or attempt transplanting to their permanent home.
At this point, there are a few things your young flaming katy will need to stay happy. The most important to remember is that they will perish if they experience frost or temperatures lower than 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Ensure that your plant has full sun exposure, whether it’s living indoors or outdoors. And finally, do not over water your plant. This is the quickest way to make your flaming katy upset.
What are the Growing Conditions of Flaming Katy Plants?
Just to prepare you, the flaming katy does have some pretty specific growing requirements. However, they aren’t too outlandish and are quite easily accomplished even by a novice gardener.
If you pay attention to your plant, growing flaming katy will reward you with long periods of unique and vibrant color tones, and interestingly shaped foliage.
Though they can tolerate a variety of soil types, the kalanchoe species definitely prefers to grow in humus soil that is well drained. They also appreciate sandy soils for their good drainage.
A way to ensure that your potting mix has proper drainage is by incorporating it with plenty of large grit. This way water can drain freely through and will prevent root rot.
The trickiest part of managing a flaming katy is maintaining the right water level. These plants are completely intolerant to being overwatered, so take care.
Flaming katy plants rarely need to be watered unless there is a very very long dry spell and very hot days. When you do water your specimen, apply water at the base of the plant (ie. pouring water into the pot holder so that water is absorbed from the bottom).
This method is important to help prevent leaf rot and root rot. Any easy way to tell that your flaming katy has been overwatered, is by wilting leaves that are yellowing, or if you see powdery mildew on the leaves.
Wait until your plant’s leaves are slightly wrinkled, and water from the bottom. Or, wait until soil is completely dried out before watering it again.
Flaming katy plants are sunlight loving plants. They prefer to exist in full sun exposure, meaning a minimum of 6 hours of direct sunlight per day.
If your specimen is living indoors, ensure that it is placed in a south facing windowsill without being blocked by any curtains. They can tolerate bright indirect sunlight, though this can possibly result in fewer flowers.
Another requirement that the flaming katy has is warm temperatures. It is not cold tolerant in the slightest, and the lightest frost can easily kill the plant.
This plant prefers to exist in temperatures between 65 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit, but will perish if temperatures go anywhere below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. They can exist in USDA growing zones 7 through 11.
Though not entirely necessary, your flaming katy specimen will benefit if it receives a monthly dose of fertilizer during its blooming season. A diluted, flowering plant food fertilizer should do the trick!
Flaming katy plants tend to exhibit a very neat and manicured plant growth habit all on its own, so the only pruning that needs to be done is deadheading dead flowers after their flowering period, and pinching off yellowing leaves to keep it tidy and healthy.
So, there you have it. Though flaming katy plants seem to have many intolerances, the conditions that they do require aren’t too difficult to maintain. Plus, they provide a beautiful spray of color as a reward for your efforts.
Simply remember that the flaming katy in intolerant to over watered soil, intolerant to shade, and intolerant to frost and freezing.
How are Flaming Katy’s Used?
Just as the leaves start to change in the fall and winter seems to be approaching, gardeners feel the sadness of the ending growing season.
A way to combat the gloomy days ahead it by caring for your very own flaming katy. They provide a much needed splash of color just as all of the other perennial plants are fading away.
With a blooming season that extends into the late fall, and evergreen leaves that bring color to your space all year long, the flaming katy is a specimen of interest all year round.
They can be grown both indoors as a houseplant and outdoors, as a container plant, a potted plant, as a specimen in a warm rock garden, or as a temporary garden plant that brings interest before being brought indoors for the colder winter months.