How to grow and care for Pen Wiper Plant Indoors

Houseplant, Pen Wiper Plant

Botanical name: Kalanchoe marmorata
Family: Crassulaceae

Pen Wiper Plant is a popular foliage houseplant. It is grown for its large scalloped and brown-blotched leaves. It grows to a height of 16 in. and about 16 in. wide. The flowers are starry white, four-petalled and are sometimes tinged with pink. The name marmorata refers to the marbled surface of the leaves. Pen Wiper Plant is native to Central and West Africa, from Zaire to Ethiopia, Sudan and Somali.

Many varieties of Kalanchoe are grown for their flowers like Kalanchoe blossfeldiana (Flaming Katy). Apart from Pen Wiper Plant a few other Kalanchoe plants are grown as houseplants for their striking foliage. They include Kalanchoe tomentosa (Panda Plant), Kalanchoe beharensis (Velvet Leaf Plant) and Kalanchoe thyrsiflora (Paddle Plant) among others.

How to Grow Pen Wiper Plant

Light

Pen Wiper Plant grows best in bright light to full sunlight. Should you choose to take it outdoors, gradually acclimatize the plant and place it in a shaded place to avoid scorching the leaves. Learn how to ensure your plant receives the correct light in this guide on understanding light for houseplants.

Water

Water Pen Wiper Plant thoroughly during the hot season and allow the top 1-2 in. of soil to dry out between waterings. Water very infrequently in the cold months. Avoid waterlogging which may lead to root-rot. Avoiding wetting the leaves as it can lead to rotting. Watering from the bottom is safer. Use room temperature water to avoid shocking the plant. Learn more on how to water houseplants.

Temperature

Average warmth temperatures between 16-260C are ideal for Pen Wiper Plant. The sudden change in temperature between day and night is excellent for this succulent.

Humidity

Average room humidity is adequate for Pen Wiper Plant. The plant has no need for high humidity.

Feeding

Feed Pen Wiper Plant monthly during the growing period with a water-soluble fertilizer. Withhold feeding in the cold season as growth is minimal.

Repotting

Repot Pen Wiper Plant only when the plant becomes pot-bound. Use a shallow rather than a deep pot; they have shallow roots. The pot should be only 1 size larger than the previous one. Ensure the pot has a drainage hole to avoid waterlogging which can lead to root-rot. A clay pot is preferable because it is porous and therefore allows the soil to dry out faster. Also ensure the soil is loose and free-draining.

Pruning

Pruning Pen Wiper Plant requires the removal of dead and diseased leaves to maintain the plant neat and tidy.

How to Propagate Pen Wiper Plant

Pen Wiper Plant can be propagated at the beginning of the growing season from leaf cuttings as they root easily. Allow the cuttings to dry (callous) for 1-3 days before planting. Stick the cut end into moist free-draining soil. Place the set up in a warm shaded place. Water sparingly, only when the soil is dry; avoid waterlogging as it can lead to rotting.

Common Problems in Growing Pen Wiper Plant

  • Leaf drop
  • Overwatering or underwatering are the cause of leaf drop in Pen Wiper Plant. Water Pen Wiper Plant thoroughly during the growing season and allow the top soil to dry out between waterings. Avoid overwatering by ensuring that the pot has a drainage hole and the soil is free-draining. Significantly to reduce watering during the cold season. Never allow the soil ball to dry out completely.

  • Leggy plants
  • A leggy Pen Wiper Plant is an indication that the lighting is inadequate; this is an attempt by the plant to reach for light. Move the plant to a brighter spot.

  • Rot at base followed by yellowing and shriveled leaves
  • Rotting plant base followed by yellowing and shrivelled leaves in Pen Wiper Plant is an indication of basal stem-rot disease which is brought about by overwet conditions. Avoid overwatering, ensure the pot has a drainage hole and the soil is free-draining.

  • Pests
  • Common pests in Pen Wiper Plant are Mealy Bugs and Scale Insects. Isolate the affected plant to reduce spread to other houseplants.

Toxicity

Kalanchoe Plants contain cardiac glycosides which are toxic to animals. Keep them away from the reach of pets.

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