Kalanchoe pinnata is an attractive and resilient succulent with unique features and potential medicinal uses. Here’s how to grow Cathedral Bells Plant!
Also known as Cathedral Bells Plant, Air Plant, or Life Plant, Kalanchoe pinnata is a succulent plant native to Madagascar. It belongs to the Crassulaceae family and is known for its unique features and characteristics. Here’s how to grow it!
Kalanchoe Pinnata Information
Kalanchoe pinnata is a perennial herbaceous plant that typically grows up to 1 meter (3 feet) in height. Cathedral Bells Plant has a rosette growth habit, with thick, fleshy leaves emerging from a central stem. The leaves are dark green, oblong, or lanceolate in shape and can grow up to 15 centimeters (6 inches) long.
One of the most distinctive features of Kalanchoe pinnata is its serrated leaf margins, which have small plantlets (baby plants) forming along them. These plantlets can root upon falling on the ground, giving rise to new plants. This unique reproductive strategy is why Cathedral Bells Plant is also called the “Mother of Thousands”.
Kalanchoe pinnata produces small, tubular, bell-shaped flower clusters on tall, erect stems. The flowers can vary in color from greenish-yellow to orange or reddish-brown. They are typically arranged in terminal inflorescences and bloom during the cooler months, such as late fall or early winter.
Common Names: Life Plant, Mother of Thousands, Miracle Leaf, Cathedral Bells Plant
Here are some common names for Kalanchoe pinnata in different Indian languages:
English: Cathedral Bells, Life Plant, Air Plant, Miracle Leaf
Hindi: पाठीया (Pathiya), पथरचट्टा (Patharchatta), पाथरकुच (Patharkuchi)
Bengali: পাতারচাঁটা (Patar Chata)
Tamil: பத்திரிசேனை (Pathirichennai), முற்கனிச்செடி (Murukanichedi)
Telugu: పత్తరచెట్టు (Pattarachettu), మూడిమడి (Moodimadi)
Kannada: ಗೊಡವಿ ಬೇರು (Godavi beru), ಹನುಮಕಮ್ಮ (Hanumakamma)
Malayalam: എരഞ്ഞെടുക്കാപ്പൊടി (Eranjettukkappodi)
Marathi: पाठी (Pathi), पातरचट्टा (Patharchatta)
Gujarati: પથરચટ્ટો (Patharchatto)
Punjabi: ਪਤਥਰਚੱਟਾ (Patharchatta), ਪੰਥਰਚੱਟਾ (Pantherchatta)
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How to Grow Kalanchoe Pinnata?
It is typically propagated through plantlets or stem cuttings rather than seeds. However, if you have access to Cathedral Bells Plant seeds, here are the steps you can follow:
Collect ripe seeds from a mature Kalanchoe pinnata plant. The seeds are tiny and can be found in the dried flower heads. Allow the flower heads to dry on the plant and gently crush them to release the seeds.
Cathedral Bells Plant seeds have a hard outer coating that can inhibit germination. To improve germination rates, you can perform seed scarification. There are a few methods you can use:
Gently file or nick the seed coat with a file or sandpaper. Be careful not to damage the inner part of the seed.
Allow the Kalanchoe pinnata seeds to soak in the hot water for 5-10 minutes, then drain the water.
Prepare a well-draining germination medium for the seeds. A mix of perlite and peat moss or a commercial seed-starting mix can work well. Fill small pots or seed trays with the germination medium, leaving some space at the top.
Sow the scarified seeds on the surface of the germination medium. Press them gently into the surface, but do not cover them with additional soil. Kalanchoe pinnata seeds require light for germination.
Moisten the germination medium gently with water using a watering can or sprayer. Ensure that the medium remains consistently moist but not soggy. Avoid overwatering, as excessive moisture can lead to fungal diseases.
Place the pots or seed trays in a warm location with indirect sunlight. Maintain a temperature between 21-24°C for optimal germination. Although germination rates vary, Kalanchoe pinnata seeds typically germinate within 2-4 weeks.
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Requirements to Grow Kalanchoe Pinnata
Kalanchoe pinnata thrives in bright, indirect sunlight. Cathedral Bells Plant can tolerate some direct sunlight, especially during the morning or late afternoon, but it’s best to protect it from the intense midday sun, which can scorch the leaves.
Place Cathedral Bells Plant near a sunny window indoors or in a location with filtered sunlight outdoors.
Remember, it is a succulent plant with water-storing capabilities. Kalanchoe pinnata prefers well-draining soil that allows excess water to escape. Water Cathedral Bells Plant thoroughly when the top inch of soil feels dry, but avoid overwatering.
Soggy soil can lead to root rot. During the growing season, water more frequently, allowing the soil to dry partially between waterings. Reduce watering in the winter months.
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A well-draining soil mix is essential for Kalanchoe pinnata. Use a commercial cactus or succulent potting mix, or create your own by combining regular potting soil with coarse sand or perlite.
This soil type ensures proper drainage and prevents waterlogged conditions that can harm the plant’s roots.
Kalanchoe pinnata prefers temperatures between 18-27°C. Cathedral Bells Plant can tolerate slightly cooler temperatures down to 10°C for short periods.
Protect Kalanchoe pinnata from freezing temperatures, as it can cause severe damage or kill the plant. Avoid placing it in drafty areas or near cold windows during the winter.
Kalanchoe Pinnata Care
Cathedral Bells Plant doesn’t require heavy feeding and can do well without regular fertilization. However, to promote more vigorous growth and blooming, you can apply a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer formulated for succulent plants during the growing season.
Dilute the fertilizer to half the recommended strength and use it once every four to six weeks.
Pruning Kalanchoe pinnata is not necessary for its growth but can help maintain its shape and promote bushier growth. You can prune Cathedral Bells Plant lightly after flowering to remove any leggy or withered growth.
Use clean and sterilized pruning shears or scissors to prevent the spread of diseases.
Pests and Diseases
Monitor Kalanchoe pinnata regularly for signs of infestation, such as sticky residue, distorted growth, or visible pests. If detected, treat the affected areas with an appropriate organic insecticide or use a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol to remove the pests.
Overwatering can lead to root rot and other fungal diseases. Ensure proper drainage and avoid waterlogged conditions. If you notice signs of root rot, such as wilting, yellowing leaves, or foul odor, immediately cut off the affected roots and repot the plant in fresh, well-draining soil.
Additionally, Kalanchoe pinnata is susceptible to diseases such as powdery mildew and leaf spot. Provide good air circulation around the plant, avoid overhead watering, and maintain appropriate watering practices to minimize the risk of these diseases.
Uses of Kalanchoe pinnata
Kalanchoe pinnata has been used for centuries in traditional medicine for various purposes. In addition, Cathedral Bells Plant is believed to possess anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antimicrobial, and wound-healing properties.
Extracts from the leaves of Cathedral Bells Plant are used topically to treat burns, wounds, insect bites, and skin infections. However, it is essential to note that the medicinal use of plants should be done under the guidance of a healthcare professional.
Kalanchoe pinnata contains toxic compounds, including cardiac glycosides. Ingesting the leaves or plant sap can cause adverse effects, especially in pets and small children. Keep the plant out of reach and take precautions to prevent accidental ingestion.