Laidback Gardener Tip of the Day

Christmas Kalanchoe

(Kalanchoe blossfeldiana)

31 décembreLike most Christmas plants, Christmas kalanchoe blooms under the influence of short days. That is why it is at its most beautiful during the holiday season: the days are the shortest of the year. It is a succulent and therefore has fleshy stems and leaves that store water to counter possible shortages. So water this plant unless others: it really loves to dry out a bit between waterings. Full sun is also required.

The kalanchoe can remain in bloom for months and will subsequently turn into an attractive foliage plant. If you want to see it bloom again next Christmas, though, you’ll have to offer it short days by placing it, in September, in a room that receives no artificial illumination at night.

Once available only at Christmas, this kalanchoe is now found in garden centers and nurseries year round. That’s because growers have found that they can get it to bloom when they want by artificially manipulating the number of hours of light the plant receives. If you want your plant to bloom off season, put it in an otherwise dark room (perhaps a closet) and offer it 10 hours of intense artificial light a day. It will be in bloom within 2 months.

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

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