How to grow and care for Devil's Backbone Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe daigremontiana) Indoors

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Devil's Backbone Kalanchoe, Kalanchoe daigremontiana

Botanical name: Kalanchoe daigremontiana
Synonmy: Byrophyllum daigremontianum, Kalanchoe daigremontianum
Family: Crassulaceae
Common names: Devil's Backbone Kalanchoe, Mother of Thousands Kalanchoe, Alligator Plant, Mexican Hat Plant

Devil's Backbone Kalanchoe Description

Devil's Backbone Kalanchoe also called Mother of Thousands Kalanchoe, Alligator Plant or Mexican Hat Plant is a monocarpic succulent which bears thick fleshy leaves with numerous bulbils on the teeth.

The Mother of Thousands Kalanchoe leaves vary in size, color and shape. They are dark-green to purplish-green with brown-red spots and held up by 2 in. long petioles.

The common name, 'Mother of Thousands Kalanchoe', is in reference to the plantlets that form along the edges of the leaves.

Whereas, these plantlets make propagation of this plant easy, they cause it to be invasive in some regions as they easily drop and begin to grow anywhere there is soil. It is recommended to grow this plant in a container to minimize spread.

Devil's Backbone Kalanchoe Size

The Devil's Backbone Kalanchoe can grow to a height of about 3 ft and the leaves are about 8 in. long.

Devil's Backbone Kalanchoe Flower

Devil's Backbone Kalanchoe flowers are greyish-pink or reddish to purple and bell-shaped. They are umbrella-like terminal inflorescences which appear in summer after which tiny follicles containing the seeds are formed.

Devil's Backbone Kalanchoe Origin

Devil's Backbone Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe daigremontiana) is native to southwest Madagascar.

Buy beautiful and healthy Kalanchoe Plants from Etsy.

Devil's Backbone Kalanchoe, Kalanchoe daigremontiana

Photo Credit: World of Succulents

Devil's Backbone Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe daigremontiana) Care Indoors

Devil's Backbone Kalanchoe Light Requirements

Devil's Backbone Kalanchoe grows best in bright light to full sunlight. It can also grow under a grow light where the natural light is not sufficient.

Should you choose to grow your Mother of Thousands Kalanchoe outdoors, gradually acclimatize it and place it in a shaded place to avoid scorching the leaves. Check out this guide on understanding light for houseplants.

How to Water Devil's Backbone Kalanchoe

Water Devil's Backbone Kalanchoe thoroughly during the growing season and allow the top 2-3 in. of soil to dry out between waterings. Water very infrequently in the cold season as growth is minimal at this time.

Ensure the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy as it can lead to root-rot disease.

Avoid wetting the leaves of your Alligator Plant as it can lead to rotting. Water from the bottom instead.

Being a tropical plant, cold water will cause it to go into shock. Therefore, always water Devil's Backbone Kalanchoe with water that is at room temperature. Read more on how to water houseplants.


Temperature for Devil's Backbone Kalanchoe

Average warmth temperatures between 16-260C are ideal for Devil's Backbone Kalanchoe.

The sudden change in temperature between day and night is excellent for this succulent plant as it mimicks its natural environment.

Protect Mother of Thousands Kalanchoe from cold draughts to avoid sudden drops in temperature as they can lead to leaf drop. Check out this guide on understanding temperature for houseplants.

Humidity for Devil's Backbone Kalanchoe

Devil's Backbone Kalanchoe has no need for high humidity. Average room humidity is adequate for this plant.

Fertilizer (Feeding) for Devil's Backbone Kalanchoe

Feed Devil's Backbone Kalanchoe monthly during the growing period with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer.

Withhold feeding in the cold season as growth is minimal at this time and feeding at this time can cause fertilizer burn. Read more on how to feed houseplants..

How to Repot Devil's Backbone Kalanchoe

Repot the young Devil's Backbone Kalanchoe at the beginning of the growing season. Use a shallow rather than a deep pot as the plant has shallow roots.

The pot should be only 1 size larger than the current one. Ensure the pot has a drainage hole to avoid getting soggy soil as it can lead to root-rot disease.

A clay pot for Mother of Thousands Kalanchoe is preferable as it is porous which allows the soil to dry out faster, therefore, preventing it from getting soggy.

Devil's Backbone Kalanchoe Soil

The best soil for Devil's Backbone Kalanchoe should be rich in organic matter, loose and free-draining to avoid getting soggy soil. The soil should be loose enough to allow water to drain out fast enough.

Cactus and Succulents soil is ideal for Mother of Thousands Kalanchoe. Buy quality Cactus and Succulents Soil for your Devil's Backbone Kalanchoe from Etsy.

How to Prune Devil's Backbone Kalanchoe

Pruning Devil's Backbone Kalanchoe requires the removal of dead and diseased leaves to maintain the plant neat and tidy.

Devil's Backbone Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe daigremontiana) Propagation

Devil's Backbone Kalanchoe can be propagated at the beginning of the growing season from plantlets that form along the edges of the plant.

It is important to note that Mother of Thousands Kalanchoe is a monocarpic plant which means it flowers only once and then dies. The plant takes about 2 to 5 years to mature.

However, it produces numerous plantlets which develop into new plants. These plantlets have roots attached and they root easily.

How to propagate Devil's Backbone Kalanchoe from plantlets

Carefully detach the plantlets from the mother Devil's Backbone Kalanchoe while ensuring that they have adequate roots.

Immediately, plant the plantlets in moist, free-draining soil in small holes. Only the roots should lightly touch the soil.

Slightly firm the soil around the roots and cover the set up with clear polythene to raise humidity inorder to hasten establishment.

Place the set up in a warm, well-lit place away from direct sunlight to avoid cooking the plants. Water sparingly, only when the soil is dry.

Ensure the rooting container has adequate drainage to avoid getting the soil soggy as it can lead to rotting.

Once the Mother of Thousands Kalanchoe plantlets are well established, remove the plastic cover and pot them in individual pots.

Place the new Devil's Backbone Kalanchoe plants in a warm, brightly-lit place and begin routine care.

Devil's Backbone Kalanchoe, Kalanchoe daigremontiana

Photo Credit: Amazon.com

Devil's Backbone Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe daigremontiana) Problems Indoors

Devil's Backbone Kalanchoe falling (dropping) leaves

Devil's Backbone Kalanchoe falling (dropping) leaves are due to incorrect watering; either overwatering or underwatering.

Water your Mother of Thousands Kalanchoe thoroughly during the growing season and allow the top 2-3 in. of soil to dry out between waterings.

Avoid overwatering your Devil's Backbone Kalanchoe by ensuring that the pot has a drainage hole and the soil is free-draining.

Significantly reduce watering during the cold season and never allow the soil ball to dry out completely.

Devil's Backbone Kalanchoe drooping leaves

Devil's Backbone Kalanchoe drooping leaves is due to underwatering. Immediately water your Devil's Backbone Kalanchoe thoroughly and it should perk up.

Thereafter, water Devil's Backbone Kalanchoe thoroughly during the growing season while allowing the top 2-3 in. of soil to dry out between waterings.

During the cold season, water Mother of Thousands Kalanchoe very infrequently but never allow the soil to dry our completely.

Devil's Backbone Kalanchoe leggy growth

Devil's Backbone Kalanchoe leggy growth is an indication that the lighting is inadequate. This is an attempt by the plant to reach for the light.

Move your Mother of Thousands Kalanchoe to a brighter spot where it will receive bright light with some direct sunlight or instal a grow light where the natural lighting is not adequate.

Devil's Backbone Kalanchoe rotting base, yellowing and shriveled leaves

Devil's Backbone Kalanchoe rotting at the base followed by yellowing and shriveled leaves is an indication of basal stem-rot disease which is brought about by overwet conditions.

Avoid soil soggy by ensuring that the pot for your Mother of Thousands Kalanchoe has a drainage hole and that the soil is free-draining.

Devil's Backbone Kalanchoe pests

Devil's Backbone Kalanchoe is rarely attacked by pests but weak plants can be infested by Mealy Bugs and Scale Insects. Isolate the affected plant to reduce spread to other houseplants and treat it appropriately for the pests.

Is Devil's Backbone Kalanchoe toxic?

iNaturalist.org says that, Devil's Backbone Kalanchoe like other plants in the Bryophyllum subgenus contains a very toxic steroid called daigremontianin which is toxic to both humans and pets.

Keep your Alligator Plant away from the reach of children and pets to prevent any mishaps.

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