Fuzzy Kalanchoe tomentosa up close

I'm eager to share with you my fondness for fuzzy kalanchoes! The varieties and design uses of these unusual succulents are diverse and wonderful. I've included important tips to ensure your success with them.

The first time I saw a fuzzy kalanchoe, of course I had to touch it. It proved as photogenic as it was pettable. When backlit, velvety, fingerlike leaves glowed. Brown dashes along leaf margins suggested the stitches of a plush toy.

Face pot w Kalanchoe tomentosa (Children's garden at San Diego Botanic Gdn) Face pot of Kalanchoe tomentosa (panda plant) at the Children's garden at the San Diego Botanic Garden.

Tomentose (fuzzy) kalanchoes thrive in pots, and look good solo or combined with crassulas, sedums and other small succulents. Their pet-me texture is striking in contrast with smoother leaves and glossy pot glazes. Most make good gifts for kids and adults alike.

In this post you'll see and discover:

  • Silvery-blue Kalanchoe tomentosa (shown above)
  • Golden-brown 'Chocolate Soldier' and 'Teddy Bear'
  • Dainty white Kalanchoe eriophylla 
  • Kalanchoe orgyalis (copper spoons)
  • Kalanchoe bracteata (silver teaspoons)
  • Treelike, tricky-to-grow Kalanchoe beharensis (felt bush).
  • A desirable one I saw on the Laguna Beach garden tour (want!).

Where can you find them?

If you're in Southern CA, see my list of succulent specialty nurseries. If you're buying online, your best bet is Mountain Crest Gardens (affiliate link).

Kalanchoe eriophylla Kalanchoe eriophylla

Above: Snow White panda plant (Kalanchoe eriophylla) is a diminutive novelty succulent useful for adding interest to container gardens.

Why the fuzz?

Fine hairs help to shade the plant, deflect the sun's ultraviolet rays, keep pests away, and lessen moisture loss.

Fuzzy Kalanchoe tomentosa 'Teddy Bear'

Kalanchoe tomentosa 'Teddy Bear' 

Above: Kalanchoe tomentosa 'Teddy Bear' is an Altman Plants introduction.

Kalanchoe tomentosa (panda plant)

Kalanchoe tomentosa (panda plant) and its cultivars are among the easiest succulents to grow and excellent for beginners. One small nursery plant, after a year's growth, will yield three or more cuttings you can use to start new plants.

Kalanchoe tomentosa, texture repetition I love the color and texture repetition of this pot pairing, don't you?

The Kalanchoe tomentosa in the photo above is getting a bit leggy---meaning rosettes perch atop denuded stems. Fuzzy kalanchoes typically need refreshing sooner or later. See how, step-by-step, on this site's Kalanchoe page.

Kalanchoe tomentosa 'Chocolate Soldier', pairing by Diana Clark Above: Kalanchoe tomentosa 'Chocolate Soldier' repeats aspects of a one-of-a-kind art pot. Pairing by Diana Clark.

Silvery-blue panda plant---the most common of the fuzzies---is a go-to succulent when I want to repeat a container's blue-gray hue. Golden brown cultivars of Kalanchoe tomentosa provide a similar effect in warmer-toned pots.

Kalanchoe tomentosa, pot by Alicia Iraclides of Potted Arts This Kalanchoe tomentosa graces a hanging pot by Alicia Iraclides of Potted Arts. See us at the nursery making plant selections, and watch how they came together in the video: How to Pair Succulents with Hanging Pots (5:45).

See panda plant in my "terrific succulents" video

Kalanchoe tomentosa in video Kalanchoe tomentosa (panda plant) is one of "Ten Terrific Colorful Succulents" I show in a presentation, above, at Roger's Gardens nursery. See it beginning at 5:25. 

Felt bush and 'Fang'

Kalanchoe beharensis (Napoleon's hat) Kalanchoe beharensis (felt bush, Napoleon's hat). Photo from my book, Designing with Succulents (2nd ed.)

Treelike Kalanchoe beharensis, named after Behar, a town in southern Madagascar, grows to about six feet tall. Arrowhead-shaped leaves average 18 inches long. A wonderful aspect of this large succulent and its whiskery cultivar 'Fang' is that you can grow new plants from a single leaf. Lay it atop potting soil in bright shade, and as the leaf shrivels, a baby plant will grow where stem meets leaf.

Kalanchoe beharensis 'Fang' Kalanchoe beharensis 'Fang'

It's tempting to plant treelike kalanchoes in the garden as focal points, but they can be tricky. Felt bush and 'Fang' prefer temperatures between 40 and 85 degrees, and coastal conditions like those of Santa Barbara, Laguna Beach or Coronado.

In less than ideal conditions plants lose too many leaves, exposing a spindly trunk lined with divots where leaf stems were attached. Conversely, if Kalanchoe beharensis is too happy, heavy leaf clusters can cause weak limbs to break. If necessary, prop up the branches.

Copper spoons and silver spoons

Kalanchoe orgyalis (Copper spoons) Kalanchoe orgyalis (Copper spoons)

These oval-leaved shrub succulents seem to do best in coastal gardens. Leaves of copper spoons are velvety brown on top and silvery gray underneath; tubular, upright flowers are bright yellow on branching stems.

Silver spoons (Kalanchoe bracteata, below, with red flowers) looks similar to Kalanchoe orgyalis, but leaves are silver-gray. It's often confused with nearly identical Kalanchoe hildebrandtii, which has greenish-yellow flowers.

Kalanchoe bracteata Kalanchoe bracteata in bloom

Above: Isn't this a gorgeous garden? In it the designer used several different fuzzy kalanchoes. See it in my video: A Colorful Succulent Garden to Copy (3:51).

The fuzzy kalanchoe on my wish list

Kalanchoe tomentosa 'Super Fuzzy' Kalanchoe tomentosa 'Super Fuzzy'

I ran across Kalanchoe 'Super Fuzzy' on a Laguna Beach garden tour ages ago. I've since looked for it everywhere. If you have a source, would you kindly LMK? Thanks!

Care and cultivation

The care, cultivation, propagation and refreshing of tomentose kalanchoes is the same for non-fuzzy varieties. Learn more on this site's Kalanchoe page.

Kalanchoe mother of thousands

Kalanchoe: Details, Photos and Varieties

Kalanchoe: Details, Photos and Varieties Native to Madagascar, kalanchoes thrive outdoors in zone 9 (and higher if in dappled shade). Protect from frost. >> Jump Down to the Gallery About Kalanchoes Kalanchoes are beautiful soft succulents, easy to propagate from cuttings, with showy flowers. It’s a highly diverse genus, so to help you make sense of…

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5 Comments

  1. Christy Zemke on July 31, 2020 at 11:47 am

    I must be a super failure in this department. I have never been able to have one survive in my possession for more than a couple months. I love the teddy bear fuzziness.

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on July 31, 2020 at 11:50 am

      Hm. I wonder what’s going on. As succulents go, they seem pretty average in the cultivation department. I wonder if anyone else is having difficulty. Do you mind sharing a bit more…like your city or region and any other clues as to why they may have failed?

      • Kristin Newton on July 31, 2020 at 5:36 pm

        I use to have trouble with the fuzzy panda. I live in North East Georgia and found it to be exceptionally hot in July and August. I have since given in only morning sun and a shaded, breezy location in the afternoon. Give it good air flow also. They are doing great now.

        • Debra Lee Baldwin on July 31, 2020 at 6:45 pm

          Perfect! Thanks, Kristin.

  2. Heather on October 18, 2020 at 12:22 am

    Kalanchoe Super Fuzzy is available for sale on the Etsy ship “LoveSuccsLLC”.

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