One houseplant that indoor growers should consider is the Kalanchoe pinnata. It is tropical, reasonably easy to care for, and is well-loved among plant enthusiasts worldwide.
This detailed care guide will discuss everything you need to know about raising your Kalanchoe pinnata. Continue reading to learn more about this Kalanchoe’s interesting characteristics and where you can buy one!
Table of Contents
- 1 What Is Kalanchoe pinnata?
- 2 Kalanchoe pinnata Plant Size
- 3 Kalanchoe pinnata Care Needs
- 4 Kalanchoe pinnata Growth Rate
- 5 Kalanchoe pinnata Potting
- 6 Kalanchoe pinnata Soil
- 7 Kalanchoe pinnata Water
- 8 Kalanchoe pinnata Light
- 9 Kalanchoe pinnata Fertilizer
- 10 Humidity And Aeration for Kalanchoe pinnata
- 11 Kalanchoe pinnata Temperature
- 12 Flowers
- 13 Is Kalanchoe Pinnata Toxic?
- 14 Conclusion
What Is Kalanchoe pinnata?
Kalanchoe pinnata, commonly known as cathedral bells, miracle leaf, and the living plant, is popular among plant lovers for its fleshy green leaves and the small plantlets around its phylloclades (flattened stems that photosynthesize).
In its homeland it has many names, including falatanantsifaona, malainana, rendadiaka, sodifafana, and tsilafafa. Meanwhile, in the Philippines, it is referred to as katakataka or kataka-taka, an adjective that means ‘astonishing’ or ‘remarkable.’
Kalanchoe pinnata is a medicinal plant widely used in folk medicine or traditional medicine for various ailments, including kidney stones, gastric ulcers, pulmonary infections, and rheumatoid arthritis. The fresh leaves can relieve backaches, headaches, and styes. In contrast, pounded leaves can be applied as a poultice to treat infections, burns, eczema, and other skin conditions (always contact a doctor before using plants as medicine).
This fascinating plant should be placed around an east or south-facing window to flourish indoors. Outdoors, it thrives in hardiness zones 10-12.
Kalanchoe pinnata Origin And Family
Cathedral bells belong to the Kalanchoe genus, which includes about 120 species- and are part of the Stonecrops or Crassulaceae family. Natively, it’s from Madagascar.
First identified in 1786 by Pierre Sonnerat, this tropical plant has recently gained popularity among indoor growers. During the summer, with enough light, it yields a cluster of small red-orange blooms.
Did You Know? The Kalanchoe pinnata is the host plant for the Red Pierrot butterfly, also native to Madagascar.
Kalanchoe pinnata Plant Size
When grown indoors, the Kalanchoe pinnata grows to six feet when it flowers.
Kalanchoe pinnata Care Needs
With appropriate care, most plants, including Kalanchoe pinnata, are simple to cultivate at home.
It favors partial sunlight and relatively dry soil and should only need water when the top two inches of soil are dry.
Kalanchoe pinnata Care Difficulty
As long as you have well-draining soil and don’t overwater it, the Kalanchoe pinnata is easy to grow and care for.
Kalanchoe pinnata Growth Rate
The pinnata plant grows up to six feet when grown indoors. Its growing season is typically considered the summer and fall.
Most Kalanchoe species, including the pinnata, have a moderate growth rate.
Kalanchoe pinnata Potting
For your Kalanchoe pinnata’s container, you want a pot made of plastic, terracotta, or clay that’s small or medium-sized. Read our section below for repotting.
Kalanchoe pinnata Repotting
Typically, the need to repot occurs once a year or when the plant doubles in size.
When repotting, you can use a new batch of cacti and citrus potting soil, the ideal growing medium for your Kalanchoe pinnata.
Kalanchoe pinnata Soil
A cacti and citrus potting soil is the most recommended option for the miracle leaf. Use cactus mix, peat moss, and perlite for a better soil mix. Adjust the ratio accordingly so that the final mixture is well-aerated. Remember that this plant prefers a growing medium that stays relatively dry.
The soil type should always support good drainage to avoid rot and other diseases. We suggest choosing potting mixes such as the following:
Kalanchoe pinnata Water
Your cathedral bells will want the soil to stay relatively dry between watering schedules. Feel the soil with your finger and check when you notice the top two inches of soil dry. If this is the case, thoroughly drench your plant until water seeps out 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 cathedral bells. Use well-draining soil and a pot with drainage holes to ensure your plant’s roots aren’t drowned.
Kalanchoe pinnata Light
This easy-to-care-for houseplant prefers bright indirect or direct light for six hours daily. If there’s excessive light, you might see its leaves start to burn. If there’s a lack of light, the glossy leaves will likely fade and become more matte-colored.
Kalanchoe pinnata Fertilizer
Pinnata plants, like people, need more food when they are actively growing because they are using up a lot of their energy. This growth spurt usually happens in summer and fall. During this time, you can apply a balanced succulent fertilizer diluted to half-strength fertilizer once a year during the summer.
In the winter, you should not fertilize because plants’ roots usually go dormant in the cold, so they won’t need extra food for growth.
Humidity And Aeration for Kalanchoe pinnata
Kalanchoe pinnata is a fascinating perennial that loves average household humidity. We recommend keeping the air humidity levels around 35-55% 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 pinnata Temperature
Temperature ranges between 60 °F and 85 °F degrees Fahrenheit are best for your Life Plant.
Sudden temperature swings can be fatal for your Life Plant. During the winter, close windows and seal any openings where cold drafts may enter. Don’t place your plant near appliances that emit heat.
In the summer, the Kalanchoe pinnata produces a cluster of flowers called a terminal inflorescence, which bears many red-orange flowers.
The peculiar flowers of Kalanchoe pinnata (Goethe plant)… pic.twitter.com/IDpshTHlvZ
— Mayank Kumar (@mayankkumarIN) February 22, 2023
Is Kalanchoe Pinnata Toxic?
Due to ingestion, Kalanchoe plants are toxic to animals, and livestock losses have been reported in South Africa and Australia. Dogs are especially susceptible to the cardiotoxic effects of Kalanchoe. While toxic doses of Kalanchoe species other than K. blossfeldiana have been identified in livestock and birds, they have not been determined for small animals. A case of an iguana that died after consuming an entire Kalanchoe plant was reported.
In most cases, the pinnata is likely non-life threatening. But it’s better to be safe, so always call a vet or doctor if you expect your pet or child to have ingested any part of a Kalanchoe pinnata plant.
|Toxic To Pets?||Care Specifics|
|Botanical Name||kalanchoe pinnata|
|Common Name||cathedral bells, miracle leaf, life plant|
|Plant Family||Stonecrops or Crassulaceae|
|Leaf Shape||elliptical with a serrated margin|
|Leaf Color||glossy green|
|Recommended Home Placement||around an east or south-facing window|
|Light||bright indirect light|
|Soil||cacti and citrus potting soil|
|When To Water||Water when you notice that the top two inches of soil is dry.|
|When To Fertilize||once a year during the summer during growing season|
|Preferred pH||6.0 to about 6.5|
|Toxic To Pets?||Yes - cardiotoxic effects|
|Common Pests & Diseases||spider mites, scale insects, root rot, aphids, mealy bugs|
Pests, Diseases, And Other Problems for Kalanchoe pinnata
The Kalanchoe pinnata is a disease and pest-resistant plant. Here are some common diseases, problems, and pests, along with how to treat them.
Houseplants can sometimes bring in unwelcome visitors to your home in the form of pests. One example of such is the spider mite. The larvae will not be visible, but adult mites can be seen quickly scampering around when disturbed.
Spraying diluted neem oil on your plant’s leaves can help eradicate spider mites at their larval stage. There are also organic Pyrethrin sprays which are effective in killing adult mites. When spraying any pesticide indoors, make sure you choose products that are non-hazardous for humans when inhaled.
Scales are insects that feed on plant sap. What sets them apart from other bugs is that the adult scale will latch onto one part of the plant and stay put. They are called armored scales and may appear as brownish lumps on the stems or petioles of a plant.
As a preventive measure, you can dilute a teaspoon of neem oil in 500 mL of water and spray it on your plant’s leaves to discourage scales from latching onto your Kalanchoe pinnata.
Aphids are usually found as a cluster of bugs on your miracle leaf, and they could be colored green, black, red, brown, yellow, orange, or white. They multiply extremely fast and can weaken your plant within a matter of days!
Aphids are particularly attracted to new shoots, flower buds, and new growth areas. They will leave behind unsightly black and white splotches as they feed on the sap.
If you spot these icky crawlers, immediately isolate your infected plant from the others. Give your plant a strong spray of water to dislodge the aphids, but remember to cover the soil with plastic to catch any falling bugs and their eggs. Dispose of the plastic somewhere far away from your garden.
An insecticidal soap spray, neem oil, or horticultural oil can solve the problem. Still, you may need to repeat this several times until you’re sure that the aphid population has been completely eradicated.
Mealybugs may infest your Life Plant. 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 infestation, use a cotton swab soaked in rubbing alcohol, and rub it over the elliptical leaves or any affected areas of the pant. Neem oil is also an option as a preventative spray.
Root rot is an incredibly common killer of the Life Plant. Some indoor gardeners might get overzealous with their watering or need to remember to provide adequate drainage for their plants, and these two mistakes are the two leading causes of root rot.
Because root rot is difficult to treat, prevention is the best option. If you don’t have a soil meter device, get comfortable touching your soil to feel for moisture. If the top few inches do not feel dry, skip the watering for later!
Use pots high in porosity (such as clay, unglazed ceramic, and concrete) to allow excess moisture to escape from the sides. Give your plant a well-aerated soil mix to let its roots breathe and grow freely.
If you’re looking for an easy-going plant with exciting leaves and beautiful flowers, the Kalanchoe pinnata is a lovely choice.
You can’t get enough of Kalanchoe plant guides, can you? Check out these other posts from Two Peas In A Condo and see what else we have to offer!
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