Raising Felt Bush: Kalanchoe beharensis Care Tips You Should Know

kalanchoe beharensis

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Kalanchoe beharensis, or felt bush, is an eccentric-looking and easy-to-care-for succulent shrub. Like many Kalanchoe plants, it has a unique look and has grown in popularity in recent years.

In this post, we’re hashing out what it takes to keep the Kalanchoe beharensis at its happiest!

What Is Kalanchoe beharensis?

Kalanchoe beharensis is the botanical name for elephant’s ear kalanchoe, velvet leaf, felt bush, and felt bush. It is known for crinkled green leaves with brown leaf hairs and a triangular and almost lanceolate shape.

It can be placed as a houseplant near a south-facing or east-facing window, and it can also be grown outside in container gardens in hardiness zones 10 – 12. That said, in this article, we’ll primarily be focusing on indoor growing.

How To Pronounce Kalanchoe

Growers tend to pronounce Kalanchoe a few different ways, but, using the International Phonetic Alphabet, the American way to pronounce it is ka·luhn·kow·ee (the “kow” sounds like “co” and now “cow”). The British pronunciation for this genus is ka·luhn·chow (the “chow” sounds like “cho” instead of “chow”).

Medicinal Uses For Kalanchoe beharensis

While more research is needed on its uses and effects, the Kalanchoe species have been used to combat infections, rheumatism, inflammation, and tumor suppression, as part of traditional medicine. Kalanchoe extracts also inhibit the immune system and have been reported to treat hypertension.

Kalanchoe beharensis Origin And Family

The elephant’s ear kalanchoe is a member of the Kalanchoe genus in the Crassulaceae family. It is indigenous to the forests of southwestern Madagascar (natively called mongy, rongy, and tavitavy). It is known for its long-stalked leaves and greenish-yellow flowers.

Where To Buy Kalanchoe beharensis 

I believe the best way to purchase a Kalanchoe beharensis plant is from Etsy, as the competition of that platform helps lower prices. But if you’d rather shop in person, a nursery will likely also have this Kalanchoe available.

Beharensis Kalanchoe is typically very affordable, ranging from $5 for smaller plants to $50 for larger or rare cultivars or hybrids.

Kalanchoe beharensis Plant Size

The elephant’s ear kalanchoe grows approximately 2-3 feet indoors. In its native environment, it can grow larger. 

It grows well near a south-facing or east-facing window and likes moderate humidity. 

Kalanchoe beharensis Care Needs

The Kalanchoe beharensis is very easy to care for. The main consideration is the amount you water it. The beharensis wants to be almost completely dry between waterings. To help with this, you should also have well-draining soil that supports aeration.

Read on for more Kalanchoe beharensis details.

Kalanchoe beharensis Growth Rate

The growth rate of a felt bush is slow, taking a few years to reach maturity. It will reach a mature height of about 2-3 feet indoors.

Kalanchoe beharensis Potting

Kalanchoe plants prefer a pot with good drainage. Use a small unglazed terracotta pot no more than two inches wider than the root ball of your plant. Drainage holes are important to keep excess water from drowning the roots of your elephant ear Kalanchoe beharensis.

Kalanchoe beharensis Repotting

Since the beharensis Kalanchoe is a slow grower, you only need to repot it every 1-2 years. Use your fingers to feel the root ball in the soil. 

You should consider upgrading to a larger container if there’s one inch or less space between the pot edge and the root ball.

Kalanchoe beharensis Soil

A succulent or standard commercial potting soil is best for the velvet leaf plant. Sand, pumice, perlite, potting soil, and even small stones are the ideal components for the soil. 

Aeration and drainage are necessary for this plant, as it likes to be relatively dry. 

Here are some excellent growing medium options to choose from:

Kalanchoe beharensis pH

You’ll want your soil pH to be between 6.5 and 7.5. There’s not much reason to be concerned if you’re using succulent potting soil or standard commercial potting soil. This medium’s pH level is usually within the ideal range.

Kalanchoe beharensis Water

Proper watering is an essential factor for houseplants. Too much, and you might invite diseases like fungal infections and root rot. For optimal health, elephant’s ear kalanchoe generally prefers mostly dry soil.

One way to check for the moisture is to stick your finger in the pot. When the soil feels completely dry, you’ll know it’s time to give your plant a drink. 

Drainage holes and well-drained soil are must-haves for elephant ear kalanchoe beharensis.

Kalanchoe beharensis Light

Coming from the forests of southwestern Madagascar, this plant can thrive in either full sun or partial sun. In an ideal indoor setting, at least six hours of direct sunlight is typically recommended for your Kalanchoe beharensis.

If the light is too bright for your Kalanchoe’s liking, the leaves may burn, especially in the afternoon sun. When this happens, move your plant away from the window, or use curtains and blinds to filter the light coming in. 

If your beharensis is not getting as much light as it needs, it will grow spindly in low-light conditions. In this case, you can move your plant closer to a window and supplement it with grow lights. We recommend the following artificial lighting products:

Kalanchoe beharensis Fertilizer

Feed your Kalanchoe once a month during spring and summer. A balanced liquid fertilizer will work best for your felt bush. 

If you’re using a more potent fertilizer, you may need to dilute it first. 

You should not feed the Kalanchoe in the colder months, as is typical for most houseplants.

Propagating Kalanchoe beharensis

Like many plants in a succulent garden, propagating the Kalanchoe beharensis is incredibly easy. You start by removing healthy leaves from the mother plant in the early spring or summer. Let these stem cuttings dry out for at least 2-3 days. Place these fleshy leaves in a new terracotta pot with sandy and well-draining soil. 

Water sparingly and place the pot in bright indirect light.

Humidity And Aeration for Kalanchoe beharensis

Kalanchoe beharensis is a unique evergreen perennial that needs moderate humidity. We recommend keeping the air humidity levels around 40-50% for best results.

Aside from absorbing water through its roots, your plant will also need nourishment from the moisture in the air. You can keep bowls of water to evaporate nearby, or you can invest in a humidifier that is more consistent in improving humidity for your plant. 

Kalanchoe beharensis Temperature

Your felt bush will prosper in a warm area, so keep the temperature between 65-75 – but it can tolerate temperatures down to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Like most Kalanchoe plants, this eccentric-looking houseplant will appreciate consistent temperatures throughout the year. Avoid using hot or cold water when watering your plant. Keep it away from heat sources (such as furnaces and vents) and cold (such as open windows during the winter).

beharensis Flowers

Although a rare occurrence indoors, you might witness your elephant’s ear kalanchoe producing greenish-yellow flowers or red-orange blossoms. When grown outdoors, the Kalanchoe beharensis flower typically grows in the springtime. 

Is Kalanchoe beharensis Toxic?

Keep an eye out if you have small children or animals. The velvet leaf is dangerous to pets like cats, dogs, and people. If ingested, the following symptoms can be expected: abnormal heart rate, cardiac arrhythmias, collapse, death, decreased heart rate, depression, diarrhea, dilated pupils, drooling, increased heart rate, lethargy, loss of appetite, nausea, seizures, tremors, unsteady gait, vomiting, and general weakness. 

It may be life-threatening for young children or small animals, so contact a doctor or vet if you suspect any part of the plant has been ingested. 

GuideCare Specifics
Botanical NameKalanchoe beharensis
Common Nameelelphant's ear kalanchoe, velvet leaf, felt bush, feltbush
Plant FamilyCrassulaceae
Originsouthwestern Madagascar
Plant Typeevergreen perennial
Leaf Shapelanceolate or triangular
Leaf Colorgreen (but mature leaves turn a bronze color)
Recommended Home Placementnear a south-facing window
Growth Rateslow
Lightfull sun is best but bright indirect sunlight is fine
Soilsucculent potting soil or standard commercial potting soil
When To WaterWater when the soil is completely dry.
When To Fertilizeonce a month during growing season
Preferred pH6.5 and 7.5
Humidity Range40-50%
Toxic To Pets?Yes - symptoms include Abnormal heart rate Cardiac arrhythmias Collapse Death Decreased heart rate Depression Diarrhea Dilated pupils Drooling Increased heart rate Lethargy Loss of appetite Nausea Seizures Tremors Unsteady gait Vomiting Weakness, according to wagwalking.com
Common Pests & Diseasespowder mildrew, scale insects, root rot, aphids, mealy bugs

Pests, Diseases, And Other Problems for Kalanchoe beharensis

Overall, I would say that the Kalanchoe beharensis is a disease and pest-resistant plant. Here are some quick tips for curing common ailments and general suggestions to keep this plant healthy.

Powdery Mildew

Powdery mildew is a common fungus that can cause powdery white patches on the leaves of this lovely houseplant. The plant gets increasingly vulnerable and weak as the fungus spreads.

Powdery mildew prefers warm and humid conditions. Even though your felt bush isn’t particularly sensitive to powdery mildew, it can still be problematic if you mist your plant too much or allow water to stay on its leaves.

Prevention is, once again, your best bet. Good air circulation through an electric fan can keep mildew and other fungal diseases at bay. Watering directly on the soil instead of the leaves is also a good idea.

Scale Insects

Adult scales are sedentary and covered in a waxy coating, but they will give birth to extremely small crawling bugs.

Armored scales can be scraped off, but you will need to do it gently using an old ID card or with your fingers. Take care not to rip the leaves of your Kalanchoe beharensis.

Use insecticidal soap, horticultural, or neem oil to suffocate scale insects. When you see active crawlers, spray your plant with a general pesticide. Follow it up with a second application after a week. We recommend some products below:

Photo Title Price Buy
Demon WP Insecticide...image Demon WP Insecticide 2 Envelopes Containing 4 Water-Soluble 9.5 Gram Packets Makes 4 Gallons Cypermethrin 40% $19.57
Trifecta Crop Control...image Trifecta Crop Control Ready to Use Maximum Strength Natural Pesticide, Fungicide, Miticide, Insecticide, Help Defeat Spider Mites, Powdery Mildew, Botrytis and Mold on Plants 32 OZ Size $27.95 ($0.87 / Fl Oz)
Central Coast Garden...image Central Coast Garden Green Cleaner 8 Ounce - all Natural Pesticide - Exterminates Broad Mites and Russet Mites - Soybean Oil Based $31.89
PetraTools Crop Defender...image PetraTools Crop Defender Super Concentrate Pesticide, Miticide, Plant Fungicide, Insecticide for Indoor Plants, Spider Mite Spray, Powdery Mildew Spray For Plants, Predatory Mites - Makes 128 Gallons
Humboldts Secret Flower...image Humboldts Secret Flower Shield – Powerful Insecticide – Pesticide – Miticide – Fungicide – Bug Spray – Spider Spray – Plant and Flower Protection – Healthy Treatment for Pests and Fungus (1 Gallon) $257.50


Aphids are small insects that suck the sap of your velvet leaf, felt bush. Some aphids are crawlers, and some are winged. They may come in brown, black, red, green, white, and many others. 

Look for aphids on the underside of leaves, on shoots that have not unfurled yet, and on delicate areas of the stem. If you find these insects (usually in a cluster), act quickly before they spread to other houseplants! 

First, cover the soil with a plastic bag. Then, give your plant a thorough wash using soap and water, and you can even use a sponge to ensure all surfaces are covered. After washing, isolate your plant in a shaded area with good airflow so its leaves won’t burn from the soap.

If the aphids come back, spray your velvet leaf with neem oil, horticultural oil, or rubbing alcohol. Remember to dilute these products first. 


Mealybugs may infest your felt bush. These tiny parasites weaken your plant by sucking on the sap. The honeydew that they secrete can also invite fungal diseases.

Mealybugs are visibly oval bugs that appear as cottony masses on all parts of plants. They will either stay immobile or crawl slowly.

To fight against a mealybug invasion, take a cotton swab, soak it in rubbing alcohol, and rub it over the lanceolate or triangular-shaped leaves or any affected areas of the pant. I also recommend neem oil mixed with water as a preventive spray.

Root Rot

Root rot is a prevalent cause of death for the felt bush. Too compact soil will become water-logged and eventually rot your plant’s roots. Because this disease is difficult to stop, prevention is the best course of action. 

The simplest way to prevent root rot is to reduce the amount and frequency you water your Kalanchoe

In terms of potting material, porosity is a property that allows air to pass through and dry the soil while also allowing excess moisture to escape. Porous pots can be made of clay, baked terracotta, ceramic (unglazed), or concrete. Make sure you choose one that has drainage holes at the bottom!

Similar Plants to Kalanchoe beharensis

Love elephant’s ear kalanchoe? Here are some other similar plant options you should try:

Mother of Thousands: The Kalanchoe daigremontiana, or the mother of thousands, is known for its many large, succulent-like leaves that stick out of a single plant. The leaves are bluish-green on top with purple undersides.

Kalanchoe beharensis fang: Tall and with silky silver leaves, “Fang” is a beharensis hybrid between Kalanchoe beharensis and Kalanchoe tomentosa. Each leaf has tiny tubercles or “fangs” on its underside and edges of the leaves.


The Kalanchoe beharensis, with crinkled triangular leaves and velvety texture, is the perfect addition to an indoor garden. Using the tips in this article, you can easily grow the felt plant in your home.

Whether you’re just starting out as an indoor gardener or a long-time hobbyist learning more about this particular plant, we hope you’ve learned some helpful tips from us to grow your Kalanchoe beharensis successfully!

Help us grow! This post contains affiliate links, which means we receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something recommended. All opinions, however, are our own, and we do not accept payments for positive reviews.

Let's grow together!

Patrick Chism

Patrick likes to pretend that urban gardening is just a hobby, but he’s actually prepping for the apocalypse. He’s a practical grower, specializing in hydroponics systems and grow lights. His dream is to one day feed his family with just the food he grows in his Chicago-based condo.

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