Kalanchoe Tubiflora - MOTHER OF MILLIONS
If there was ever a cool plant, the Mother of Millions, Kalanchoe Tubiflora has my vote. It starts out as this tiny little plantlet
Blooming Kalanchoe Tubiflora that drops off ts mom to begin its life. It then grows to be this gawky, strange looking straight up growing pile of stick leaves. What makes this plant so cherished is the adorable mass of little plants that spring up on the ends of those stick like leaves. It finally delivers an amazing array of pinky peach blooms that lasts for months before it finally stops growing and completes its life.
Native to Madagascar, these plants are often nicknamed the "chandelier plant" due to the way the clusters of orange or red, 1-inch blossoms hang down vertically from the top of the stem in an umbrella shape. You will sometimes find this plant listed as Bryophyllum tubiflora. Do not confuse the Mother of Millions with its cousin, the Mother of Thousands, Kalanchoe Daigremontiana which has wider leaves than Tubiflora. Though they both grow little plantlets on their leaves and share the same beautiful blooms, Tubiflora is distinctive in its own rights!
I rank this plant right up there with my super easy to grow succulents, however there are a few tips that will ensure your plant lives and blooms in all its glory.
Covered with little plantlets
Light - Tubiflora loves bright light and warmer locations. Place the plant where it will receive light all day but stays out of any direct sunlight as this plant is known to scorch. Place as close to a sunny window as you can! If your plant begins to lean, you may want to rotate your plant slightly each week to help keep it straight. If the plant experiences leggy growth with pale leaves and less marbling, give the plant more sunlight. To keep them really happy, they need approximately 4-6 hours of bright light per day. If your indoor space does not receive adequate lighting no matter where you move the plant, consider using a grow light. Grow lights can help supplement your plants’ lighting requirements especially during those long, dark winters.
Before moving the plant outdoors or increasing the amount of sunlight it receives, it is better to acclimate the plant by gradually increasing the amount of sunlight it receives until it is fully acclimated to the more intense sun. Keep in mind that even when the plant is already acclimated to full sun, it can still get sunburned during a heatwave or intense heat. The leaves will thin out and dry up under intense heat.
Temperature - Kalanchoe Tubiflora loves the heat! Mother of Millions thrives best in temperatures ranging from 60 to 85F. I like to take my plants outdoors Memorial Day weekend and let them enjoy our area's weather during the summer months. I find it thrives and this helps it to bloom best. Remember, being a tropical, it hates it cold, and 50 degree night time temperatures is cold to this plant. Plan to bring your plants back indoors before the 15th of October to prevent any chance of chilling.
Water - Being a succulent, this is a low demanding plant, however you do have to water your Kalanchoe Tubiflora regularly. It does best with a drink once or twice per week from the spring to fall, and less in winter. This plant does not need a lot of water when you do water it. Water just enough to cover the surface of the pot, and do not water it so much water comes out the bottom of the pot. Avoid overwatering and remember not to let the pot stand in excess water. If leaves begin to droop and shed premature young plants, it is a sign of overwatering. Come October, give the plant a rest and allow it to dry out thoroughly before watering again. Resume regular watering starting in April.
Humidity - The Mother of Millions loves it dry! This plant will happily reside in your home all winter without any special humidity provided it gets tons of light.
Soil - To ensure success with your Kalanchoe Tubiflora soil is the secret. The Mother of Millions grows in harsh environments in its native Madagascar which is probably why it has evolved to grow those awesome cool little plants on the ends of its leaves as a insurance plan in the event it dies. To make your plant happy, use a mixture of 1/2 potting soil and 1/2 sand. Go heavier on the sand side so that when you water, it drains quick. The Kalanchoe is well adapted to picking up water fast and storing it in those succulent leaves. Planting is straight potting soil will keep too much moisture around the plants roots and will set you up for root rot. Root rot will eventually lead your plant to die. If you suspect root rot, remove your plant from its pot to help the soil dry out. If this does not work, carefully remove the soil around the plant's roots and completely replace the soil and repot.
Fertilizer - Again this plant is not demanding on food, however if you want those blooms, fertilizer will help them grow. I prefer Miracle Grow Bloom Buster, 10-52-10. Mix at 1/2 strength and feed from April to September every other watering. There is no need to feed your Kalanchoe Tubiflora during the winter months as it slows down and enjoys a rest.
Re-pot - Your Kalanchoe Tubiflora loves to be pot bound and will produce flowers only when it has grown enough to fill the pot it is living in. Because this plant grows so tall, it has a tendency to become very top heavy. If it is in too small a pot, it may tip over. But on that same note, if the pot is too large for the plant, you will have problems with overwatering as larger pots tend to retain water much longer. A tip for sucess, add rocks in the bottom of your pot. This will act as a counter weight helping to hold down the pot, and it will help fill up the pot with good drainage. REMEMBER< only pot up one size. Too large a pot will slow down flowering and will lead to root rot and death!
Maintenance - This is a nearly maintenance free plant, but it still needs attention. Those adorable little plantlets that makes this succulent special can be quite annoying if it sits too close to other plants. You will find them EVERYWHERE and in EVERYTHING. To prevent this from driving you up the wall, remove the little buds as they mature on the ends of mom's leaves. I go through regularly and pop off the babies and save them to propagate them to make more plants. Because this plant can reach up to 4' tall, I pinch mine back at about 24". I prefer plants I can manage and in my house, there is no room for monsters! Just take your fingers and pinch off the top of the plant to just a little short of where you want it to be. Soon it will branch out and offer you multiple branches where you pinched. And more branches means more flowers!
Pests - Very few bugs bother Kalanchoe Tubiflora, however I have had issues with mealybug setting up house on mine. I have a few tips on dealing with mealybugs and how to tackle them.
Propagation - Kalanchoe Tubiflora multiply easily anywhere it lands, giving them their rightful name ‘Mother of Millions’. You really do not need to do much as it will do the work for you by itself. You just need to wait and see, and you wouldn’t even need to wait that long. It propagates by dropping the little plantlets or baby plants that grow on the tips of the leaves. These little plantlets will root and grow wherever it lands (literally everywhere). Their seeds are also known to survive long after the plants are pulled out. In reality, you probably need to keep an eye on this plant to contain it and prevent it from growing and taking over all your plants.
Take all those little plantlets you have been gathering to prevent it from setting up home in unwanted places and set them on the top of your cactus soil mix. Yes just set them on top and within the week you will see little roots taking hold. Its that simple!
You can also propagate Kalanchoe Tubiflora from cuttings very easily. Remember to allow the fresh cuts to "heal over" before sticking them into your soil. Let them sit overnight and scab over. Within the week you will have a new addition to your collection.
Potential Problems - The biggest problem is too little light which causes the leaves to bend down and the plant to decline. Move closer to your light source. Another big issue with Kalanchoe Tubiflora is overwatering. Remember to allow your plant to rest in the winter. Back off watering to just a few drinks monthly. Its always easier to revive a dehydrated plant then it is to save a rotten one.
Special Notes - According to the ASPCA and the pet poison helpline, Kalanchoe Tubiflora are considered toxic to pets. Kalanchoes contain cardiac toxins (bufadienolides). The level of toxicity is generally mild to moderate and rarely severe. When ingested by dogs and cats, the most common symptoms are gastrointestinal irritation or upset. If large amounts are ingested, there is a higher risk of more severe symptoms such as changes in heart rate and rhythm. When in doubt, do not leave this plant near pets. If you suspect poisoning, contact your local veterinarian immediately or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435.