Panda Plant Care: How to Grow Kalanchoe Tomentosa

Ed Wike
Written by
Last update:

Quick Care

The panda plant is easy to grow if you can provide it with bright sunlight and a dry floral potting soil with plenty of drainage. Panda plant care also involves watering it about once a week and dusting its leaves regularly to keep them dust free. The panda plant tolerates room temperatures during its rest period but will prefer 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit during its active growing season. Keeping this plant in a bright window with moderate, indirect light for an entire day should suffice. When the plant is inactive, it is important that you reduce the amount of light it receives.

For the panda plant, keep the soil lightly moist but do not overwater. Underwatering a plant or allowing it to get standing water around its base will kill it. When the plant is dormant during the winter, the soil can get dry to the touch but do not stop watering the plant. This plant prefers dry soil until it begins to grow and produce new leaves.

The panda plant prefers dry sandy soil. If the plant is kept too wet, it may become infected with fungi, sooty mold, or root rot. Fungi typically attack the plant when the roots become too cool or when the plant is kept too wet for too long. To avoid this, plant the panda plant in soil with good drainage and give it plenty of light and air circulation.

Panda Plant Care

People love to grow and learn about all kinds of plants. One of the most popular and fun plants to grow is the Kalanchoe Tomentosa, commonly called the Panda Plant, Mother of Thousands, or the Devil’s Backbone. The Kalanchoe is an attractive plant with a unique growth pattern. This plant looks as if it is made up of many small plants. The plant often has small white polka-dots throughout the leaves. However, it is a single plant that will send off off-shoots from its base and look as if it has small specimens below.

The leaves of the Kalanchoe Tomentosa have an interesting texture. They basically look like they are covered in dark polka-dots. The leaves have a heavy texture with a scaly edge and underside. The plant is a fairly tall plant growing above 2 feet in a variety of settings. This plant is also easy to plant and maintain.

Light

Place your panda plant near a bright window, but make sure it’s not directly in the sun. Light shade is the best to keep your plant healthy and prevent sunburn.

If your plant is in a window with direct sunlight, move it to a place where it is in light shade.

If necessary, use a sheer curtain, such as lace, or a plant cloth to filter the sunlight.

Watch your plant for signs of sunburn. Leaves will turn yellow if the plant is getting too much sun.

Water your plant with a mix of warm water and plant food every two weeks.

Water

Water the panda plant when the soil has dried out. The plant prefers to drain well in its soil and needs to be watered just enough to moisten the soil a bit. If you have a heavy, rich soil, you can increase the amount you water this plant; just make sure to do so in stages so the soil does not stay saturated. If you stick a finger down into the soil, it should feel moist but not damp.

Keep an eye on the plant; more often than not, it requires less water than most other types of plants. You also want to ensure that the plant sits in a location where it will get nice and bright light and that drains well.

You can use a potting mix with a decent amount of organic material in it or a mix that uses soil that drains well. Some choose to use a cactus mix. Whatever mix you decide on, ensure that it is slightly acidic.

Soil

Before you buy a plant for your collection it’s important to know that while all kalanchoe are succulents they don’t all thrive in the same environments. Some kalanchoe species require alkaline soil. Others need more acidic soil. You can create different types of soil by using recipes from the internet or make one that is easy for you to use and will allow you to grow any kalanchoe plant(s).

The recipe does need to contain something a bit more complex than regular soda powder or potting soil. You can try recipes of 1 part compost and 1 part potting soil. Others may take not quite so many pots and simply buy soil with compost in it. For a fresh, moist, active soil mix, use the following one: 2 parts sphagnum peat moss, 1/4 part vermiculite, 1/2 part potting soil.

Keep in mind that this recipe is still an alkaline soil even with the compost added in. Some websites may recommend adding 2 tablespoons of baking soda to the above recipe to create an alkaline soil. For the most part, most kalanchoe species do well in this recipe because it contains both peat moss and potting soil, both of which are good for maintaining a constant pH level in the soil.

Fertilizing

When and how to fertilize your Kalanchoe is a question that frequently crops up among specialized plant lovers. This plant can do well with low level fertilizers that are applied monthly. The best way to bloom these plants is maintenance free. The Kalanchoe thrives in average soil, high in both nitrogen and phosphorous with the optimum pH level of 6.0 to 6.7. It is a plant that requires enough light for its uptake of nutrients. The best way to ensure enough light for your plant is by placing it where it gets quite a bit of direct sun light. It also appreciates the presence of other plants around it to help in the absorption of the light. If this plant is exposed to a lot of sunlight and is not able to photosynthesize the nutrients provided, it might wilt. It can be very good as a ground cover for pots. The pots can be placed near sunny windows and they will deal well with the lighting. The plant is also able to take a lot of moisture in the soil. However, this moisture should never be at the root level. The combination of plenty of light and plenty of moisture is what the plant needs to flourish well.

Propagation

When you breed plants, you take the best of both parents to create a superior offspring. That's what you'll do by propagating the Panda Plant.

If you don't want to wait and wait and wait for the plant to bloom, just let it flower and then use the seeds from that flower.

I don't have any firsthand experience with this, but I do know that Kalanchoe seeds stay viable between 2 and 5 years, so you'll have plenty of time.

Simply break the seeds out of the dead flower and pot them up if you want to give them a head start.

If you don't know what to do with your freshly germinated seeds, wait until they are in the ground and begin regular watering and fertilizing. Let the seedlings grow from tiny to tiny.

Since you'll have them in the ground while they are tiny, you can be sure that whatever hybridization helps the plant to grow better will be passed on to its offspring.

Once the offspring are grown to about the size of a nickel, pull them out of the ground. Prepare a pot with 2 parts coarse sand to 1 part potting soil. Mix with a bit of fertilizer and water.

Pruning

Like most succulent plants, panda plants do not need to be pruned. However, some people do prune them. In general, the general rule is to remove any damaged sections of the plant, extend new growth, or remove offshoots that are too low to the ground. Use a surgical hand pruner to make clean and precise cuts. Avoid pruning off more than 1/3 of the plant.

Troubleshooting

How can I fix dying plant leaves? If this happens, get rid of the leaves as soon as possible. Without leaves, the plant can tank up and get healthier. It might seem drastic, but it is the only way to make the panda plant thrive. If the reason that the leaves are dying is because you are over-watering, or keeping the plant in an area that isn't getting enough light, you will need to fix those issues.

What do I do if my plant has wilted leaves? If your cuttings end up wilting, you probably didn't give it enough water during the cloning process. You can try floating it in water to revive the leaves, but it may not work. The best thing to do is start over.

My leaves are brown and dying. What do I do? Chances are that you are having too much sun in the area where the panda plant grow. There may also be a chemical or an oil in the air that is causing the leaves to burn. If this is the case move the plant to another area or another room to see if it changes anything.

Pests

Aphids, spider mites, mealybugs, and thrips. These common pests are most often the cause of leaves turning yellow or brown, brown spots on the plant leaves, wilted kalanchoe, or some combination of those issues. These pests are commonplace in greenhouses and home gardens alike, and are attracted to Kalanchoe because they offer a tasty, juicy, and sap-filled meal without any effort.

In order to prevent a pest infestation, keep the plant away from areas of high moisture. Do not over water your plant as is one common cause of mealybug infestation. Be careful with the insecticides that you use as well.

If you do acquire a kalanchoe plant with pests, you can loosen the soil to make it easier to remove the bugs. Spray the plant with water to loosen the pests from the foliage. Crush the pest or spray with a strong stream of water to remove the pests entirely.

FAQs