Monday, May 16, 2011

Random plant event: Kalanchoe prolifera

It's not a huge deal, but my Kalanchoe prolifera has now matured to the point where it's producing pinnate leaves.

For comparison, this is what it looked like eight months ago:

Most of the stem actually died and had to be cut off; the stuff you can see in the picture is mostly growth from buried or almost-buried nodes that came up after most of the stump was dead, when it was becoming questionable whether anything was going to happen at all.

So far, K. prolifera looks like one of those plants that's never pretty, but is really vigorous and easy to grow, like Euphorbia tirucalli or Pandanus veitchii. Which is okay by me. I mean, most of my favorite plants fit that general description.


Sentient Meat said...

Hi Mr S, looking good!

Yeah I have to agree... it's not a pretty plant, but it's vigorous and somewhat strange.

The flowering stage follows in the same mold: the whole plant bolts upward and produces strands of box-shaped blooms, sometimes with a slight reddish blush.

Again, I find the flower stage even less pretty -- the plant elongates, loses its balance, and looks like a tall weed.

Any stems which flower appear to die off. But by that time, you typically have enough side stems to take cuttings and keep the plant going.

Jenn said...

Pinnate. That's cool.

I'm slowing coming to love the Kalanchoe clan. Got fried on the ubiquitous grocery store plant while in Michigan - I could never get the light levels high enough without supplementing, and that just wasn't going to happen.

Here in Phoenix, I'm having more success and have several of them in pots around the yard.

I'm going to keep an eye open for this one. That leaf.

I'm always looking for 'analogs' for the plants I've left behind. Albuca stands in for snowdrops, the Lady Banks rose is available in lovely primrose yellow...

This leaf reminds me of a fleshy sumac.

Ivynettle said...

Are you saying Pandanus isn't pretty? My DLSP (Damn Little Screw Pine) and I beg to differ!

mr_subjunctive said...

Sentient Meat:

I did fix the error in the post you mentioned in the comment I deleted. I don't know WTF was going on there; last night when I was writing it, the second picture stopped showing up because the big mess of code that Blogger inserts for all photos had web addresses stuck in it at random. Which makes me wonder if I'd actually stopped in mid-sentence or if something got deleted that I didn't intend to delete.

Which I would have seen earlier in the day, but the power was out -- AGAIN -- when I woke up this morning, which threw my whole day off something terrible.

But so thanks for letting me know.


Pretty much any part of the plant, allegedly, is capable of sprouting a new plant, so if you want one, I can send you a piece to try to root. If you're not able to find it down there before winter, or whatever.


What stands out about Pandanus for me is not the beauty, no: the spines make more of an impression in my mind. (And sometimes also scratches in my arms.)

Sentient Meat said...

@Jenn: Hi!

I love genus Kalanchoe, too, even the proliferating Bryophyllum clan (with reservations -- I don't mind volunteers but I don't want invasions).

My favorites are graceful, architectural shrubs and sub-shrubs with big, fleshy foliage, like K beharensis, K gastonis-bonnieri, K synsepala esp. var dissecta, and of course K luciae (in spite of its unappealing monicker "Flapjack Plant").

Jenn said...

Hey, Sentient!

The flapjack was the plant that got me looking at the clan again. Put that plant in a complimentary pot and just enjoy. It came through last year's cold spells just fine (outdoors under the eave in Phoenix)

I've managed to do in the K beharensis cutting I was given. Not sure it ever rooted. Still learning to cut back on water... being originally from Michigan it's hard to pass by a dry pot. But I'm learning.

The other two you mention look like more for my wish list.

Google can be cruel sometimes, I suspect the fantastic color on this plant is cold stress?


Sentient Meat said...

@Jenn : I followed your link and I think you're right. I think that great, red color is cold stress. I don't get that on my K synsepala dissecta, but I do get great color on my K luciae.

I don't blame you for loving K luciae -- one of the best in the genus.

Speaking of other Kalanchoes, K beharensis has many cultivars. Although I love the huge species type, I think my favorite is 'Rose Leaf', which is rumored to be a hybrid with K tomentosa "Panda Plant" (another common plant, and a good one). 'Rose Leaf' is smaller than the species type but still reaches 6' tall. Its blue-gray tomentum is very attractive, and the dark brown accents on the tips add appeal.

Which brings me to that rumored ancestor... My favorite K tomentosa is 'Chocolate Soldier'. Its flowers are green and brown: masculine, strange and otherworldly.

Sentient Meat said...

I almost forgot Kalanchoe orgyalis. I am always drawn to strange plant colors and textures, and the coppery tomentum on this species is one of the strangest and most appealing. It's not as fuzzy as K beharensis -- like well-worn suede rather than new velvet. And the leaves of K orgyalis are stiff as rawhide, unlike the leaves of K prolifera, which are soft like thick latex rubber.

Derek said...

I'm just amazed we've all been able to look at that second photo without making a dick joke.

Everyone but me, I mean.

Jenn said...

Welcome, Derek!
We've all been waiting for you!

@SM: Kalanchoe orgyalis - OOOOOO!