Thursday, September 13, 2012

Kalanchoe tomentosa: One Sweet Panda

K. tomentosa, the Panda Plant
 I admit, I have a penchant for fuzzy plants. Los Tres Amigos, the Mystery Mesemb, T. magnusiana.... Today's fuzzy wonder is Kalanchoe tomentosa from Madagascar, commonly known as "The Panda". Why it's called the Panda, I have no idea. Pandas are not generally pale green and brown, with polka dots.  But it is cute and fuzzy. Could just as easily have been called "The Koala" or "The Fuzzy Lemur".

K. tomentosa is very easy to grow, and much more polite than its cousin, the Kalanchoe "Mother of Millions". It grows well, but fairly slowly. It's easy to propagate, but doesn't try to take over your yard and the planet. I've been growing a few from some stray leaves. I dip them in rooting hormone, plant them in basic succulent/cactus mix, and off they go.

A stray Panda leaf.
Here they are; these have been growing for several months.
Can you spot the tiny lizard in the crevice?? He loves the Panda, too, apparently.

They thrive in sun and warmth, and can grow outside in Zones 9-12. They grow very well indoors in a sunny window. I water them once every 4-5 days, but they are in a very porous mix, so if regular potting soil is used, once a week should be fine. I use acidified water (9 drops vinegar to one liter filtered water), or rainwater, and cactus fertilizer diluted to half every month or so. They like less water in wintertime. Now I want to take a look at that shy lizard again!


  1. Cool plant and great to know they're easy to propagate from leaf cuttings. Cool little lizard shots, hehe and pretty pot too. :)

  2. They are popular plants, not at all rare, but I think they have a place in a succulent collection-they really are pretty plants, and botanically interesting as well. And that lizard visits us every morning, I think I'll have to name him soon!

  3. PS: Thanks for the compliment on the pot. It's my "collage" technique, using small odd shapes of very thin clay in the same manner as papier mache'. Not all survive to the kiln!

  4. Marla, thank you for this post. I have not thought of "Mother of Millions" for many years. When I was a little girl I loved looking at the tiny new plants attached to the larger leaves of the mother plant. Very small plants and creatures of all kinds intrigued me then and still do today. Great photo of the that little lizard admiring the new pandas. Gail

  5. Thanks, Gail! Kalanchoe propagation is indeed amazing. Never seen anything quite like it. And you'll be seeing that cute lizard again soon!