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Mr. Smarty Plants - I have a plant with plantlets on its leaves. What is it?

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Monday - April 14, 2008

From: Minneapolis, MN
Region: Midwest
Topic: Propagation
Title: I have a plant with plantlets on its leaves. What is it?
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

Pardon my inexperience. I received a plant as a gift, that is quite similar to aloe, yet smaller. It "bloomed" with tiny paired leaves sprouting from each of the serrations along the larger leaves. These tiny pairings dropped to the soil, and took root. Since then, the mature plant died, but I have been able to keep two of the tiny sprouts alive. They are quite large now, but are very lanky compared to their mother. They have begun to sprout roots high up the stem. An initially stout, compact succulent (I believe) has become a sprawling, almost vine like creature. I fear I've been over watering. I was told once that the plant was called "woman of 1000 babies" or something to that effect, but have been unable to find any listing by that name. I am really fascinated by this plant, and would like to bring it back to a healthy state. Does any of this ring a bell? What can I do?

ANSWER:

From your description, I would say that you have a Kalanchoe which certainly is a fascinating plant. There are some who would call it Bryophyllum. A second bone of contention is how does one pronounce Kalanchoe?

Kalanchoe, a member of the family Crassulaceae, is a tropical genus with over 126 species and is native to Madagascar. There are some species that occur in Florida, Texas, Puerto Rico, and Hawaii where they are considered invasives.

The production of plantlets along the margins of the leaves narrows our selection to two possibilites; Kalanchoe delagoensis or Chandelier Plant, and Kalanchoe daigremontiana or Devil's Backbone or Mother of Thousands.

The planlets are capable of growing into a mature adults once they have fallen onto suitable substrate. This is a means of vegetative or asexual reproduction for the plant and is referred to as vivipary. The plant can also produce flowers and seeds.

You are dealing with a tropical succulent plant; this usually means high light and sparse water. You describe your new shoots as being lanky which could be a result of too little light. This could aslo account for the roots high up the stem. Water sparingly; let the top of the soil become dry to the touch before adding more water. This is a prolific reproducer and can be a problem in your greenhouse or your flower garden.



 

 

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