Supermarket kalanchoes (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana) are succulents you grow mainly for their flowers. They have been hybridized and sold as flowering plants long before succulents in general became popular.
Succulents are plants that look like flowers, and although all succulents produce them, they’re generally not the reason people buy them. Yet this one succulent has been commercially grown—and sold—for its bright, cheery blooms for decades.
Kalanchoe blossfeldiana has dark green, scalloped leaves, forms a 12-inch-diameter shrub, and produces bouquet-like flower clusters off and on (mainly fall-winter). Hybrids come in every warm hue as well as shades of cream, white and multicolored blends. Because Kalanchoe blossfeldiana tolerates conditions that would kill most nonsucculent plants, it has great commercial value.
A variety known as Calandiva has ruffled petals. Each dime-sized floret resembles a tiny chrysanthemum.
For an eye-catching floral display, tuck several supermarket kalanchoes into a window box or flower bed.
Kalanchoe blossfeldiana plays well with other succulents, adding bright pops of color for weeks at a time.
And when you combine several of the same kind in one pot, you’ll get what looks like one big, lush plant massed with vivid blooms.
For best results:
As with most succulents, supermarket kalanchoes want good air circulation, three or four hours of bright but not hot sun daily (morning sun is best), protection from frost and extreme heat, and soil that’s moist but not soggy.
— Let the plants rest until the next round. If these succulents have a downside, it’s that they’ll bloom themselves to the point of exhaustion. With TLC they’ll recover.
— Deadhead spent flowers. This seems obvious, but the plants are repeat bloomers. They’ll perform better and look best with old flowers out of the way.
–Combine with rosette succulents to create floral-style compositions. Supermarket kalanchoes with cream or pastel blooms look especially good with rose, pink and/or teal echeverias.
— Growers keep an inventory of Kalanchoe blossfeldiana in flower year-round because they control the bloom cycle. Put simply, the plants will rebloom dependably every six weeks if given 14 hours of total darkness and eight hours of sunlight daily. This makes the plants “think” they’re in their winter-spring bloom cycle.
— Those in the garden will rebloom in spring. If you want to force flowering, cover them with a box at night and uncover in the morning, so they get those all-important 14 hours of darkness.
— Feed monthly with a dilute liquid fertilizer per package directions.
– If, after successive bloom cycles, your supermarket kalanchoes go downhill, take cuttings if you want the same color again, or simply discard the plants. Replacements are easy to come by.
Sources: If you’re in the San Diego area, Weidner’s Gardens nursery in Encinitas is one of the top growers of Kalanchoe blossfeldiana hybrids, and their plants are perfection. Otherwise, you can usually find Kalanchoe blossfeldiana in the garden section of big box stores…and of course, in supermarkets.
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