Flaming Katy – Kalanchoe blossfeldiana

Flaming Katy, with its clusters of bright flowers, will provide colour for several months. Originally from Malagasy, Flaming Katy is a succulent plant with thick fleshy, spoon-shaped leaves. Some leaves develop thin red edges, which add to the decorative interest of this flowering plant. The leaves form a compact mound from which grow long thin stems carrying dense clusters of flowers.

Flowers and flowering

Flaming Katy flowers from winter through to early summer. On each flowering stem there are up to 50 tiny flowers. Originally the only colour available was scarlet, but now you can buy plants with flowers in shades of orange, red and yellow.

If you reduce the number of daylight hours you can persuade these plants to flower all year. However, once they have stopped flowering it may be difficult to bring them into flower a second year. You can take cuttings from them and grow new plants which will provide colour the following year.Flaming Katy - Kalanchoe blossfeldiana

These plants are compact in size, growing usually to about 30cm (12in) high.

Varieties

They are available in a range of colours. Dwarf varieties are also available, which grow to about 15cm (6in) high.

Display

Several different coloured plants will brighten the gloom of mid-winter. Place them in a copper trough or round copper bowl to emphasize their fiery colours.

Propagation

You can make new plants by taking tip shoots, side shoots, stem cuttings or leaf cuttings. Tip shoots are the easiest and most successful means of growing new plants.

Tip shoots

1. Take a tip shoot that is 5cm (2in) long.

Remove the lowest pair of leaves, moisten the tip shoot and plant in a peat-based rooting compost.

2. Provide a temperature of 21°C (70°F) and the cuttings will root after about 2 weeks.

3. Pot the cuttings on in a soil-based compost. To make compact bushy plants pinch out the tips of new shoots. Commercial growers treat these plants with a growth retardant to keep them below 30cm (12in) — your plants may grow larger.

Plant Problems

A cork-like formation on leaves is a sign of cold. Prevention: Place in a warmer spot, out of draughts.

Aphids may attack the growing tips and leaf shoots. Inspect regularly. Treatment: Use soapy water for a mild attack.

PLANT CARE

These plants are easy to care for but difficult to persuade to flower a second year. They are easy to propagate but remember to nip out the growing tips of new plants to make them compact and bushy. Remove faded flowers.

Potting: Pot cuttings into a well-drained soil-based potting mixture.

Never overwater these plants. Allow the potting mixture to dry out before you water.

Feeding: While in flower apply a standard liquid house-plant fertilizer regularly every month.

GROWING CONDITIONS

  • Light: This plant needs plenty of light or the flowers will become pale and lose their brilliance. A sunny window would suit it well.
  • Temperature: Normal room temperatures will be suitable but don’t let temperatures drop below 15°C (60°F) in winter.

When to buy

These plants

  • are available for most of the year, and make popular Christmas gifts.

  • Buy plants with compact bushy shapes. Check that the leaves look green and healthy, and if possible choose plants with plenty of flower buds.

  • These plants are

usually thought of as throw-away gift plants. They are easy to look after but after flowering once they rarely flower the following year.

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