The Latin name is Kalanchoe, it is a genus consisting of little more than a hundred plants, belonging to the succulent and succulent family of African and Asian origin; in fact the cultivation of these plants has become so widespread since the time of their discovery, which dates back to the 1800s, that some species are now widespread in nature even in South America and Australia.
In Italy generally we refer to the kalanchoe with the common name kalancola, or calancola, indicating however a single species, or Kalanchoe blossfeldiana, the most widespread in cultivation, of which there are also numerous hybrids and cultivars.
These are small succulents, which do not exceed 25-35 cm in height, consisting of a dense erect rosette of large triangular leaves, with a wavy, fleshy and thick, rigid, bright green color; during the spring and summer from the center of the rosette of leaves rises a thin stem, also fleshy, which brings numerous small star-shaped flowers, gathered in corymbs, of various colors, from pure white to deep purple, passing from all shades of yellow and red; there are also varieties with striated flowers or even double and stradoppi flowers, very appreciated for their abundant flowering.
At home or in the garden?
The Calancole are succulent plants, and like most of these plants, they tolerate drought very well; for this reason they are perfectly adapted to the apartment, where the air is dry; not requiring large watering, they are also perfect for those who do not have too much time to take care of plants at home, or for those who tend to forget watering and fertilizing. In fact most of the kalanchoe sold in Italy are intended to brighten up shelves or windowsills of the house, and will never be placed outdoors.
These plants share a characteristic with the Christmas stars, that is they begin to bloom only after having spent a good period in an area characterized by a few hours of daylight; this feature allows nurserymen to make it bloom the calancers at any time of the year. In this way the period of sale of flowering Kalanchoes is uninterrupted throughout the year, and they are among the most sold flowering plants during the winter months, when it is difficult to find house plants in full bloom.
This practice tends to shorten the life of small plants, but the easy availability of flowering plants of this genus ensures that most of the Calancole is grown as an annual: at the end of flowering they are left to perish, or replaced by specimens in full bloom.
The cultivation of these graceful succulents does not necessarily have to happen in this way, it is also possible to use them for the flowerbeds in the garden; in fact they are plants that fear frost, but if placed in the flowerbeds of the garden at the end of winter they will give us a much longer flowering, and at the end of this the leaves will continue to grow and develop. In autumn they can be kept in a tempered greenhouse or at home, with minimum temperatures above 5 ° C, so as to keep them for the following year.
How to cultivate the Calancole
These plants are easy to grow, as they have very few needs, and they tolerate drought or nutritional deficiencies very well; it is clear that, if we wish to make our kalanchoe survive over the years, and we also want it to flourish again, it is appropriate to cultivate it to the fullest, without forgetting its existence; in addition to this, many calancas are forced to develop and flourish rapidly, they are essentially "pumped"; if they suffer the shock of passing through a nursery where they are pampered, fed, watered and lighted in the best possible way, at home, where we put them on the highest shelf, forgetting them, clearly that their life will certainly be short.
First of all, if we want our kalanchoe to survive over the years, let's buy it in late winter or early spring, when even in nature these plants are in bloom; so let's position it in a well-lit area of the house, where they can enjoy a few hours of sunshine a day; if the climate is warm, and the night temperatures are above 5-8 ° C, we can also prepare a kalanchoe flowerbed in the garden.
Plants grown in the garden should be moved away from the cold towards the end of autumn.
The other Kalanchoes
More than one hundred species of plants belong to the kalanchoe genus, Kalanchoe blossfeldiana is the most widespread, but it is not the only one that is cultivated in Italy, especially by enthusiasts; in nature there are shrubbery calves, which reach 5-6 meters in height, and also calanets with foliage covered by a thin down, like Kalanchoe tomentosa.
In general they have all the typical triangular leaves, which may be of various colors, from light blue gray to white, sometimes with a streaked edge or dotted with red or brown; some develop as Kalanchoe blossfeldiana, or forming a thick rosette of leaves, in other cases the foliage is arranged on a thin fleshy stem, generally not very branched.
The flowers are always gathered in inflorescences, in some species they are small flowers with four star-shaped petals, in others they have a tubular shape, and they can also be pendulous.
Some species of kalanchoe, such as Kalanchoe daigremontiana, show a very particular type of completely asexual propagation, as each plant develops an incredible number of "suckers" or "bulbils", or tiny plants with their own root system; the particularity of these plants lies in the fact that they develop on the leaf margin, on the larger leaves, which will break, causing the tiny plants to fall to the ground, which take root instantly.
Anyone who has ever grown a kalanchoe of this type in the garden, in the greenhouse, on the terrace, knows precisely what is the speed of development of these small plants, which can quickly become real weeds, also developing in saucers, on the edge containers inside the pot holders; if left unchecked they become a myriad, especially in protected conditions such as can be found in a greenhouse.
Pests and diseases of kalancole
We said that the calancers they are succulent plants native to Africa and Asia Minor that love high temperatures and dry climates. In most areas of Italy, however, the continental climate with cold winters and abundant rainfall throughout the year does not allow for the outdoor cultivation of these species and makes the cultivation of the calanders difficult. These plants can be cultivated practically only in the apartment but you need to be sure to ensure the plants all the features they need if you want to get good results.
If the plants do not live in a place with the climatic characteristics they need, they can fade and become sick. Let us now look at the main diseases to which kalancole are subject.
Kalancole with dry leaves
One of the most frequent phenomena observed in kalancole is leaf dehydration: the leaves become soft and dry up in spots. These phenomena occur when the soil remains wet for too long due to excessive water or in any case not suitable for the temperature.
One of the most useful remedies in this case is to suspend the irrigation of the calender plants and wait for the soil to dry, perhaps putting the seedlings in a sunnier place.
One of the most frequent diseases on the calanets, when they are grown in a warm, humid and poorly ventilated environment is the cochineal. The cochineal develops on the leaves and if present in small quantities, on a limited number of plants, it can also be removed mechanically from the leaves. Alternatively, when you have so many seedlings to treat, you can use mineral oil based products. These products create a patina on the leaves that suffocates and dries the scale insects but during the summer (and when the temperatures are high) their vicariates should not be used or used for the summer (same products but less suffocating for the leaves).
Calancola - Kalanchoe blossfeldiana: Watering of calancholes
It is fundamental to water these plants only when the soil is well dry, following the rule that it is better once less, rather than once too often; therefore, we check the substrate with our fingers, if it is dry we water, if it is damp, we postpone watering. This may mean that in winter we will water once a week, or even less, while in July we will water every day.
From March to September we add to the water of the fertilizer for succulent plants, rich in potassium and poor in nitrogen; after flowering we cut the stem that carried the inflorescence, and if necessary repot our plant, using a very well drained soil, consisting of universal soil mixed with pumice stone or lapillus, to increase its drainage.
Kalanchoe is a plant with succulent foliage, native to Africa, Asia and Australia. Since you take them
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