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How To Care For Six-Angled Kalanchoe

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How To Care For Six-Angled Kalanchoe

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Six-Angled Kalanchoe or Kalanchoe sexangularis is an exotic succulent with a very distinctive look. The name "Six-Angled Kalanchoe" comes from the unique shape of the leaves. The term "sexangularis" indicates a six-angled structure, referring to the somewhat hexagonal cross-section of the thick, fleshy leaves. The leaves are usually arranged in a rosette form, with prominent edges that create an angular appearance. Six-Angled Kalanchoe stands out for its vibrant coloration and structure. The leaves are typically bright green but can turn a deep red or reddish-brown when exposed to more sunlight or environmental stress. This color change looks wonderful in plant arrangements and succulent gardens. 

Moreover, Six-Angled Kalanchoe can also produce small yellow flowers that bloom in clusters. These flowers add a pop of color against the backdrop of the plant's slender, green to reddish stems and are one of the appealing aspects of this succulent. In terms of growth habit, the Six-Angled Kalanchoe can reach a moderate height of around 3 feet, making it suitable for a range of settings, from indoor containers to outdoor gardens in warmer climates. It has a compact, tidy growth habit, but as it matures, it may start to branch out, creating a bushier appearance.

Six-Angled Kalanchoe

Kalanchoe sexangularis is native to southern Africa (Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Mozambique), where it grows in rocky areas and arid regions. The natural environment it thrives in is hot and dry, so it can withstand drought and intense sunlight. Like other succulents grown as houseplants, Kalanchoe sexangularis we are growing today has adapted to most indoor environments without requiring any special care. This hardy and low-maintenance succulent is well-suited for even someone new to succulents or people with a busy lifestyle. 

Toxicity

Most Kalanchoe plants, including the Six-Angled Kalanchoe, are known to be toxic to pets such as cats and dogs, as well as to livestock. The primary toxic compounds in Kalanchoe are bufadienolides, which can cause a range of symptoms if ingested. These symptoms can vary from mild to severe and can include gastrointestinal distress, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and, in more severe cases, abnormal heart rhythms or cardiac issues. It's important to keep Kalanchoe plants out of reach of pets and children to prevent accidental ingestion. If you suspect your little one or pet has ingested any part of a Kalanchoe plant, it's essential to seek veterinary attention immediately. Don’t forget to wash your hands after touching the plant, especially if you have sensitive skin or allergies.

General Care

Lighting

Six-Angled Kalanchoe is more versatile than other succulents when it comes it light. Like most succulents, it thrives best under plenty of bright, indirect light, but it can tolerate medium to slightly lower light levels. Lower light conditions however will make the plant become more green then red. Direct sunlight, especially during the hottest parts of the day, can be too intense, leading to leaf burn or discoloration. To avoid this, it's best to place the plant near a window where it can get several hours of bright, indirect light daily.

Succulent Sunburn
Direct sunlight under the hottest parts of the day can lead to leaf burn
Photo via Pinterest

If you are growing your Six-Angled Kalanchoe indoors, a spot near a bright window that receives morning sunlight or filtered light throughout the day is ideal. For outdoor growth, select a location with partial shade to prevent the leaves from getting scorched by the sun's direct rays. Proper lighting not only keeps the plant's leaves vibrant but also helps maintain its compact growth habit. If your Kalanchoe starts to grow leggy, with longer gaps between leaves, it could be a sign that it's not getting enough light. This might require moving it to a brighter location or providing supplemental lighting with grow lights. 

Watering

Six-Angled Kalanchoe has typical succulent watering needs, preferring a "soak and dry" approach. This means you should water the plant thoroughly, allowing the water to penetrate the soil completely, and then let the soil dry out entirely before watering again. The key is to ensure that the plant does not sit in waterlogged soil, which can lead to root rot and other moisture-related issues. 

During the growing season, which typically spans from spring to early fall, your Six-Angled Kalanchoe may require more frequent watering as it is actively growing, and the warmer weather speeds up the soil's drying process. However, it's crucial to monitor the soil's moisture level to avoid overwatering. You can check by inserting your finger into the soil up to an inch deep. If it feels dry, it's time to water; if it's still damp, wait a few more days. In the dormant season, usually during the colder winter months, the plant's growth slows down, and its watering needs decrease. During this time, you should space out your watering intervals, as the soil will take longer to dry. 

Soil And Fertilizer

Six-Angled Kalanchoe thrives in well-draining soil, as its succulent nature makes it prone to root rot if left in overly moist conditions. A cactus or succulent-specific potting mix is ideal for this plant, because it is designed to ensure proper drainage and prevent water from pooling around the roots. To improve drainage further, you can add materials like perlite, coarse sand, or pumice to the soil mix.

When it comes to fertilizing, Six-Angled Kalanchoe does not require heavy feeding. During the growing season, which is typically from spring to early fall, you can fertilize it every four to six weeks with a diluted, balanced fertilizer formulated for succulents and cacti. In the dormant season, usually in winter, it's best to avoid fertilizing, as the plant's growth slows, and it requires fewer nutrients. When applying fertilizer, always water the plant beforehand to avoid root burn and ensure even distribution of nutrients. If you notice signs of over-fertilization, such as brown leaf tips or a white crust on the soil's surface, stop fertilizing and flush the soil with water to remove excess salts.

Temperatures And Humidity

Six-Angled Kalanchoe thrives best in warm temperatures, and it can grow in most indoor environments where temperatures range between 65°F and 80°F.  During colder months or in regions with lower temperatures, it's important to keep the plant indoors or in a greenhouse to avoid exposure to frost, which can damage or even kill it. This succulent does not like temperatures under 50°F, so make sure your Kalanchoe is kept in a warm and protected environment.

Regarding humidity, Six-Angled Kalanchoe doesn't like high moisture levels in the air. It can tolerate typical indoor humidity, which ranges from 30% to 50%. This plant is well-suited to dry climates and can even benefit from slightly lower humidity. Excessively humid conditions, on the other hand, can lead to issues like fungal diseases or root rot. To prevent this, ensure proper air circulation around the plant and avoid overwatering. 

Extra Care

Potting And Repotting

The most important thing when it comes to potting your Six-Angled Kalanchoe is good drainage. Start by choosing a container with one or several drainage holes at the base, allowing extra water to escape easily. It's best to use soil that drains efficiently, and if you can, select a pot made from materials like ceramic or concrete that promote good air circulation around the roots. Make sure the soil remains aerated. You can gently loosen the soil around the plant's base with a small tool to create space for the roots to access water, nutrients, and air easily.

Repot when Six-Angled Kalanchoe has outgrown its current pot or if the soil has lost its nutrient content. A general guideline is to repot every two to three years, ideally in spring or summer when the plant is in its growth phase. Select a new pot that's slightly larger than the current one—about 10% larger or one size up—to provide enough room for continued growth without causing waterlogged problems. 

Pruning

Pruning is best done in the spring or early summer when the plant is actively growing. Start by using. To prune, identify any dead or dying leaves, damaged stems, and spent flowers. Remove them with clean, sharp scissors or pruning shears to reduce the risk of damage or infection. This encourages new growth and helps prevent disease. 

You can also trim away any excess growth to maintain the plant's shape or to keep it from becoming too leggy. Moreover, if your Six-Angled Kalanchoe has become too tall or is starting to look a bit unruly, you can cut it back to a desired height. Make sure to cut just above a leaf node or branching point to encourage new shoots to form.

After pruning, it's a good idea to let the plant rest and heal before watering to prevent rot at the cut points. Pruning is also a good opportunity to check for signs of pests or diseases.

Propagation

Six-Angled Kalanchoe can be propagated using three primary methods: stem cuttings, leaf cuttings, and seeds.  When propagating from cuttings, start by selecting a healthy stem with a few leaves. Use a sharp, clean knife to cut a section about 4 to 6 inches long. Let the cuttings dry and callus over for a few days to prevent rot when planting. Once the cut ends have hardened, place the cutting into well-draining succulent soil. Keep the soil lightly moist, and soon, roots will begin to form, signaling successful propagation.

To propagate with leaf cuttings, you can choose one or more mature, healthy leaves and gently twist them off the plant. Allow the leaves to dry and callus for a few days. Place the leaves on the surface of a succulent soil mix. Keep the soil lightly moist, and eventually, small plantlets will start to form at the base of the leaf. As these plantlets grow, they can be separated from the parent leaf and transplanted into their own pots.

Photo via Flickr

Seed propagation, while less common, is also possible with Six-Angled Kalanchoe. To collect seeds, wait for the plant to produce seed pods after blooming. Once the pods have dried on the plant, gently open them to gather the seeds. Spread the seeds on a tray filled with well-draining soil mix and lightly press them in. Keep the soil consistently moist, and cover the tray with a plastic cover or plastic wrap to maintain humidity. With regular ventilation to prevent mold, you should see seedlings sprouting within a few weeks. Once they grow larger, they can be transplanted into individual pots.

Common Problems

Overwatering is a frequent issue, leading to root rot and mushy leaves. This plant prefers well-draining soil and occasional watering, allowing the soil to dry out between watering sessions. If overwatering occurs, it's crucial to cut back on watering and ensure the soil drains effectively.

Another common problem is pest infestations. Pests like mealybugs, scale insects, and spider mites can attack the plant, causing damage to the leaves and stems. If you notice a sticky residue, white cotton-like spots, or fine webbing, it could be a sign of pest activity. Treatment with insecticidal soap or neem oil can help control infestations.

Moreover, if your Six-Angled Kalanchoe is exposed to too much direct sunlight, especially in hot climates, its leaves can be sunburnt and develop brown or crispy edges. It's best to provide it with bright but indirect sunlight to avoid this problem. If sunburn occurs, move the plant to a shadier location.

Temperature fluctuations can also be harmful for Kalanchoe. This succulent prefers warmer temperatures and can be sensitive to cold drafts or sudden temperature drops. If it is exposed to cold, this plant might show signs of stress, such as discolored or soft leaves. Keeping it in a consistent, warm environment helps to avoid this issue.

 

 

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