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Native to Madagascar, Kalanchoe plants belong to the Crassulaceae family and have over 100 varieties. They grow thick fleshy leaves for water storage purposes, allowing them to thrive even in neglect and are generally covered in fine hairs.
Panda plant makes a nice addition to any succulent plant collection
There are two main colors of Kalanchoe tomentosa: grayish blue, which are the Panda Plants and golden brown called the Chocolate Soldier. There’s also a variety that comes in more whitish-gray leaves that are called the kalanchoe eriophylla (Snow White Panda Plant), which is considered slightly more cold hardy compared to the other two.
1. Sunlight needs
Although Kalanchoe Tomentosa loves bright sunlight, they need shades as they intend to dry out due to excessive exposure to sunlight. So if you wish to grow them indoors, the perfect spot for this furry plant is a bright windowsill where it can get a few hours of shade in the morning or afternoon.
Panda plants are known to enjoy bright, direct sunlight
But outdoors, Kalanchoe Tomentosa prefers to be placed where their leaves can be protected from extreme heat and scorching sun, especially if you live in a warm climate. So make sure to put them in a shady and cool spot in the afternoon hours.
2. Watering Requirements
When it comes to watering, Kalanchoe Tomentosa is pretty much like most other succulent plants. They still thrive even if you forget to water them for a week or 2. However, this doesn’t mean that they can be neglected.
A good rule of thumb is to only water Kalanchoes when the soil is dry. So make sure to check their soil every few days by using a moisture meter or by sticking your finger in it and feel if the top 2-inches of soil is completely dry. If it is, then it's time to give them a good drink by top watering them until the soil is completely wet. You can also bottom water these furry plants by pouring some pouring water in their saucer, allowing them to absorb it for at least 10 to 15 minutes and make sure to remove all the extra water that was not absorbed to avoid problems like root rot.
3. Soil Requirements
A succulent or cactus potting soil is perfectly adequate for growing a Panda plant
Since Kalanchoe Tomentosa are prone to root rot, especially when left sitting on wet soil for too long, usage of cactus and succulent potting mix that has good drainage capabilities is highly recommended. This should avoid any problems to occur to your furry friend due to overwatering.
4. Ideal Temperature
Just like any other succulents, Kalanchoe Tomentosa prefers steady conditions. The most favorable temperature in growing Kalanchoe Tomentosa is between 60°F and 75°F. Slightly lower or higher than these temperatures can still be tolerated by Kalanchoe Tomentosa, but extreme conditions like cold weather and excessive heat would most likely kill them. So make sure to transfer them indoors during winter and water them more frequently and put them in a shady area when it becomes too hot for them to prevent harming them.
You can also read this blog post to see How to prepare your succulent plants for winter
Since Kalanchoes are desert plants, they can still flourish without fertilizing them. But if you do give them some feeding, make sure to do it during their growing season, which usually happens in Spring until the end of Summer using a diluted liquid succulent fertilizer.
Propagating Panda Plants is an easy process
Propagating Kalanchoe Tomentosa is very standard. This can be done through leaf and stem cuttings, and usually being performed during their growing season (Spring) for a higher success rate. And although both methods can be done easily, most find it easier to do it by stem cuttings as it would only take them about 15 to 20 days to root.
To do this, all you have to do is to make a clean cut just above the leaf or stem node. Make sure to choose a healthy and mature one (a few inches long with at least two leaves is highly recommended). After that, you have to let it dry out for about 1 to 3 days and plant it in a soil mix that drains quickly.
For leaf propagation, be sure to get a healthy and clean pull one by gently twisting the leaf from the stem. Make sure that there’s no part of the leaf left behind on the stem to give you a better chance of successfully propagating your Kalanchoe Tomentosa and allow them to callous over for at least 2 days before laying them over on your well-draining soil mix.
After that, place your leaf or stem cuttings on a south-facing window, where they can get bright, indirect light as they are very prone to getting sunburn at this point. Keep their soil moist as well using a spray bottle or just give them a light watering as soon as you see that they're getting dry.
Once you notice your leaf or cuttings have established some roots, you can begin caring for your Kalanchoe like a full-grown one by following the aforementioned above.
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