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Raising Mother Of Thousands: How To Grow Kalanchoe daigremontiana

Kalanchoe daigremontiana is a unique plant – that’s mildly toxic – with an interesting aesthetic. In this post, we’re sharing all the advice you’ll need to know to raise a Kalanchoe daigremontiana.

What Is Kalanchoe daigremontiana?

The Kalanchoe daigremontiana– also called the mother of thousands, Mexican hat plant, and the alligator plant – is famous for thousands of bulbous, succulent-like leaves growing out of a single plant. The leaves of the mother of thousands are bluish-green on top with purple undersides. Previously, it was called Bryophyllum daigremontianum.

This unique plant is a succulent and perennial that thrives in gritty and quick-draining soil. It grows well in a location that receives morning sun, such as an east-facing window.

The Kalanchoe daigremontiana is more than just a houseplant; it can be grown outside in certain climates. USDA hardiness zones 9b to 11 are the ideal locations for this plant, but it does not like cold or regularly wet weather.

Kalanchoe daigremontiana Origin And Family

The mother of thousands is part of the Kalanchoe genus in the Crassulaceae family. It is native to the Androhibolava mountains and the Fiherenana River valley of southwest Madagascar’s rocky and arid environments. As a unique houseplant that is pretty easy to care for (as long as you don’t overwater), it has become a favorite for many indoor growers.

Mother Of Millions vs. Mother Of Thousands

While often mistaken for each other, the mother of thousands and the mother of millions (also called the devil’s backbone) are different plants. The mother of thousands has a wider leaf shape that grows in pairs, while the mother of millions has narrower leaves. 

The plantlets of the plants grow differently as well; with the mother of thousands, tiny plantlets emerge from the edges of the leaves, while the mother of millions has plantlets that grow from the tips of the leaves.

Did You Know?
In some places, the mother of thousands plant is banned because of its toxicity and ability to grow invasively in many regions. While not a quick grower, it can eventually crowd other plants and overwhelm a local ecosystem. For this reason, it’s usually recommended that you grow a mother of thousands as a houseplant.

Where To Buy Mother Of Thousands

There are several ways to find a Kalanchoe daigremontiana for sale. You could buy a cutting or seedling at the nursery, but you can also order fully grown plants online. One option is to purchase on Etsy.

For very affordable prices, you can buy a Kalanchoe daigremontiana for about $8.00 up to $35 (in some rare situations).

If you’re more interested in growing greens and herbs inside, look at our Gardyn review for some basic hydroponics suggestions.

Kalanchoe daigremontiana Plant Size

At its maturity, the Kalanchoe daigremontiana grows about 2-3 feet tall and up to three feet – with each of the fleshy, blue-green leaves growing up to eight inches apiece. 

Considering this plant’s growth potential, light needs, and average humidity requirements, you should place it in a location that receives morning sun, such as an east-facing window.

Kalanchoe daigremontiana Care Needs

The main thing to remember about Kalanchoe daigremontianas is that they hate to be overwatered. I will say it a lot in this article: choose gritty and well-draining soil, and don’t overwater your mother of thousands!

During the summer months, only water your plant once every 1-2 weeks. Even consider doing this less if you see yellowing on the leaves. When you do water, keep pouring until you see drops coming out of the drainage hole (you absolutely need a pot with drainage holes). And if using a catch plate, be sure to empty it to avoid root rot.

Check out this more detailed guide to care for your Kalanchoe daigremontiana!

Kalanchoe daigremontiana Care Difficulty

In terms of care difficulty, the Mexican hat plant is typically pretty easy to care for (as long as you don’t overwater it!). The primary growing consideration is the well-draining soil, which we’ll discuss in detail.

Kalanchoe daigremontiana Growth Rate

The mother of thousands grows to a mature height of 2-3 feet as a houseplant. Typically, you will notice faster and bushier growth in the spring through early fall.

Most Kalanchoe species, including the daigremontiana, grow fairly slowly, taking anywhere between 2-4 years to reach maturity rate.

Kalanchoe daigremontiana Potting

This mother-of-thousands plant has adjusted well to indoor living. It can thrive in almost any type of potting material. For most growers, a terracotta pot is recommended due to its porous nature – but plastic or ceramic works too.

Regarding sizing, you’d typically want to use a small-to-medium pot about two inches wider than the plant’s roots. Again, be sure to choose a pot with proper drainage holes.

Kalanchoe daigremontiana Repotting

While the mother plant rarely needs to be replanted (about once every 1-2 years to refresh the soil), the plantlets can be repotted when they fall off the mother plant.

While repotting, give your Kalanchoe refreshed nutrients by adding a new cactus mix or other well-aerated potting soil.

Kalanchoe daigremontiana Soil

Kalanchoe daigremontiana grows well when grown in a cactus mix potting soil. Still, using a standard potting soil or potting mix is also fine. If you want to make your own, add peat moss, perlite, pumice, and vermiculite instead of purchasing a medium. The mother of thousands likes its soil to stay mostly dry, and good drainage is your friend.

Additionally, adequate drainage is critical to avoid fungal diseases, root rot, and other issues.
These are some soil options we recommend:

Photo Title Price Buy
Miracle-Gro Indoor Potting...image Miracle-Gro Indoor Potting Mix 6 qt., Grows beautiful Houseplants, 2-Pack $13.37 ($0.03 / Ounce)
Burpee, 9 Quarts...image Burpee, 9 Quarts | Premium Organic Potting Natural Soil Mix Food Ideal for Container Garden-Vegetable, Flower & Herb Use for Indoor Outdoor Plant $12.99 ($0.04 / Ounce)
Sun Gro Horticulture...image Sun Gro Horticulture 8-Quart Black Gold 1310102 Purpose Potting Soil With Control, Brown/A $16.28 ($0.06 / Fl Oz)
Miracle-Gro Potting Mix,...image Miracle-Gro Potting Mix, Potting Soil for Outdoor and Indoor Plants, Enriched with Plant Food, 2 cu. ft. $34.26
FoxFarm Ocean Forest...image FoxFarm Ocean Forest Potting Soil Mix Indoor Outdoor for Garden and Plants | Plant Fertilizer | 12 Quarts | The Hydroponic City Stake $23.99 ($0.06 / Fl Oz)

Kalanchoe daigremontiana Water

Too much water will kill your mother of thousands, so keep it mostly dry between waterings. Feel the soil with your finger and plant only once every 1-2 weeks – even during the growing season. 

Water your plant with room temperature until you see it drip from the bottom of the pot.

Overwatering is one of the most common causes of plant death indoors. When in doubt, it’s usually preferable to underwater than overwater mother of thousands. 

Use well-draining soil and a pot with drainage holes to ensure that your plant’s roots aren’t getting drowned.

Kalanchoe daigremontiana Light

This houseplant prefers bright indirect light for at least six hours a day. If there’s excessive direct sunlight, it may result in the bulbous leaves scorching. If there’s a lack of light, it can become very leggy, and the leaves can grow thinner.

If your Kalanchoe daigremontiana isn’t getting enough light, you can move it closer to a window or consider investing in LED grow lights. Here are recommended products for you to choose from:

Kalanchoe daigremontiana Fertilizer

The Mexican hat plant’s growing season is spring through early fall. During this time, fertilize your plant monthly using a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted to half-strength.

When this plant’s development naturally slows in the colder seasons, you should not fertilize. If you spend much time caring for your mother of thousands, you might be doing it wrong. This plant loves some neglect.

Propagating Kalanchoe daigremontiana

It’s easy to propagate a Kalanchoe, as the small plantlets form their own roots and fall off the mother plant – ready to be planted. But here are the steps to make new plants from the mother plant.

  1. When the mother plant enters dormancy in late winter, the little plantlets will naturally detach from its large leaves. You can also gently remove the baby plantlets from the main leaf.
  2. Treat the mother of thousands of plantlets similarly to other baby succulents by placing them on well-draining soil, such as a cactus soil mix, and exposing them to sunlight. 
  3. Keep the soil moist, but ensure it’s not drowning in water. Soggy soil does not mix well with the mother of thousands.
  4. After the plantlet has established a root system, transplant it into a small pot filled with a cactus mix or well-draining potting soil.

Humidity And Aeration for Kalanchoe daigremontiana

Kalanchoe daigremontiana is a fleshy plant that loves average humidity. Keep the humidity level between 40% (similar to most homes in the United States) at all times.

Use a simple hygrometer to check the air moisture level in your Kalanchoe daigremontiana’s area. If the reading is too low, you can improve the humidity through the following methods:

• Plants release moisture from their leaves through the process of transpiration, so they’ll benefit from each other if you keep your mother of thousands close to your other plants.

• Place a flat tray of pebbles and water underneath your mother of thousand’s pot. The evaporating water provides some nourishment to the plant.

• Purchase a humidifier for your mother of thousands. This will constantly release steam and raise the humidity in a room.

Kalanchoe daigremontiana Temperature

The ideal temperature for your mother of thousands is 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit. This unique houseplant will appreciate being kept in slightly cool locations.

More importantly, ensure you avoid any sudden spikes or temperature drops. Don’t use cold or hot water to water your mother of thousands so its roots won’t go into shock.

Flowers

When the mother of thousands receives enough light, the Kalanchoe daigremontiana can sporadically produce umbrella-shaped pink (or sometimes orange) flowers. You shouldn’t expect flowering annually, but when it does occur, it’s usually in the warmer season. 

Is Mother Of Thousands Toxic?

Be on guard if you have small children or pets in your home. Due to the leaves and stem containing a steroid called daigremontianin, the Mexican hat plant is highly hazardous to pets, including cats, dogs, and humans. 

If ingested, you can expect the following symptoms: gastric distress and gastrointestinal irritation, which can cause diarrhea and vomiting. It can also cause heart palpitations in rare situations. This plant can be considered life-threatening in some situations, especially to infants and small animals. I do not recommend this houseplant if you have little ones or pets.

GuideCare Specifics
Botanical NameKalanchoe daigremontiana
Common Namemother of thousands, Mexican hat plant
Plant FamilyCrassulaceae
Originthe Androhibolava mountains and the Fiherenana River valley of southwest Madagascar
Plant Typesucculent perennial
Leaf Shapenarrow and pointed oval
Leaf Colorgreenish-blue
Recommended Home Placementin a location that receives morning sun, such as an east-facing window. A bathroom or kitchen can help with adding a little humidity too
Growth Rateslow growth rate, taking anywhere between 2-4 years to reach maturity
Lightmany hours of bright indirect light
Soila cactus mix or other well-aerated potting soil
When To WaterWater only once every 1-2 weeks - even during the growing season..
When To Fertilizeonce a month during growing season
Preferred pH6.5-7.5
Humidity Range40% (this is pretty similar to most homes in the United State)
Toxic To Pets?Yes - symptoms include gastric distress and gastrointenstical irritation, which can cause diarrhea and vomiting. It can also cause heart palpitations
Common Pests & Diseasesroot rot, aphids, mealy bugs

Pests, Diseases, And Other Problems for Kalanchoe daigremontiana

The Kalanchoe daigremontiana is a plant resistant to several bugs, issues, and diseases. In the sections below, I’ll outline some common issues for the Kalanchoe daigremontiana and some tips and tricks for treating them.

Aphids

Aphids are tiny bugs that will eat the leaves of your Mexican hat plant, resulting in black and brown patches.

Apply insecticidal soap or neem oil to treat an infestation on this succulent plant. Weak concentrations of dish detergent can also kill aphids without harming your plant. Choose a product that is free of fragrances, such as Ivory Liquid.

Start by diluting one teaspoon of dish soap in one gallon of water, then increase the ratio as necessary. Spray this solution on your affected plant, especially on the underside of leaves where aphids can usually be found.

Mealybugs

Mealybugs can potentially infest your mother of thousands. They leave a white powdery film, and they secrete honeydew which causes black sooty mold on the leaves. Plants infested with mealies will have yellow droppings on the leaves.

Remove adult mealies from your mother of thousands using a cotton bud dipped in rubbing alcohol. They usually die and turn an orange color upon contact. Proceed to spray the rest of the leaves with diluted alcohol.

There are so-called root mealies that will bury themselves and target the roots. Dehydrate them by sprinkling Diatomaceous Earth powder on the topsoil of the mother of thousands between waterings. You can also add a few drops of hydrogen peroxide when you water.

Root Rot

Root rot is a common killer of the mother of thousands, and the rotting starts at the roots and quickly spreads to the stem and foliage. Remember, you should only water only once every 1-2 weeks – even during the growing season.

Another cause of root rot is poor drainage in the soil. This unique plant requires a cactus mix or other well-aerated potting soil that stays primarily dry.

Conclusion

If you’re looking for a fascinating plant with an interesting aesthetic, the Kalanchoe daigremontiana is an excellent choice. Follow the tips we’ve shared above, and you’re on your way to reaching your plant’s full growing potential!

Can’t get enough of Kalanchoe plant guides? Check out these other options from Two Peas In A Condo!

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