Kalanchoe scapigera (Mealy Kalanchoe) is a small succulent plant with thick, almost circular leaves and scapiform inflorescences bearing…
Kalanchoe loves bright light and a warm location. A south or west-facing window in your home is going to be an ideal spot where it can enjoy the mild direct sun while being safe from the harsh afternoon light.
Remember it’s not a low light plant but it also doesn’t like full direct sun. Rotate the container, once a week, for even light exposure and plant growth. Avoid keeping the plant near doors and air vents to protect it from cold drafts of air.
The plant will do just fine at normal indoor temperature. As it is a flowering plant, it generally blossoms from late fall to spring or up to early summer sometimes. The optimum temperature range for the plant is 60-85 F (15-30 C).
Kalanchoe appreciates well-draining soil and does quite well in it. While you can use your regular houseplant soil, it would be best if you add a 50% succulent or cactus mix in it. Additionally, merge a bit of compost in the mix and you’ll have a great medium to grow these plants!
As the plant is a succulent with fleshy leaves, it will store water according to its requirements, so you don’t have to water it often. Just keep an eye on the topsoil and only water when it appears dry. Also, avoid wetting the foliage or misting as you do with other plants.
Note: Don’t forget to clean the leaves of your indoor kalanchoe plant from time to time, if you find dirt on them.
Origin and Habitat: Province of Namibe, Angola
Altitude range: 50-60 metres above sea level.
Habitat and Ecology: Kalanchoe scapigera is widespread in stony desert and dry places. It grows among rocks and in rock fissures.
Description: Kalanchoe scapigera is a small perennial succulent plant (20-)40-150 cm tall with thick almost circular laves with scapiform inflorescences bearing fleshy, bright yellow flowers. The whole plant is glabrous and covered with a white powder. The first description by James Britten was published in 1871.
Similar species: K. scapigera is often confused with Kalanchoe farinacea with red flowers. These two plants look very much alike but K. scapigera comes from Angola while K. farinacea comes from the island of Socotra (Yemen).
Stem: Thick, slightly branched, cylindrical and somewhat lignified, 2.5-7.5 cm long transversely rugose with the scars of the fallen leaves.
Leaves: Subrosulate at the summit of the stem very thick obovate obtuse subpetiolate or nearly orbicular and sessile, 2 to 4 cm long and 1.2 to 2 cm wide, dull green, reddish or yellow-copper-coloured. Tip blunt to rounded. Base constricted to half amplexicaul.
Inflorescence: Peduncles scapiform rising from the rosette of leaves solitary or two together 12-35 cm long erect cylindrical with one or two pairs of opposite deciduous bracts bearing one or two trichotomous cymes at the summit. Cymes dense 8-15 cm long. Pedicels 2-6 mm long rigid bracteoles about 1 mm long thick, lanceolate, almost triquetrous.
Flowers: Upright, rather fleshy, bright yellow. Sepals very short scarcely 1-2 mm in length deltoid-ovate to lanceolate, acuminate or rather obtuse, thickened on the back. Corolla tube four-edged not exceeding 12 mm in length. Corolla lobes ovate acuminate about 3 mm long and 1 mm wide. Squamulae linear 2-4 mm long. Stamens attached above the middle of the corolla tube not protruding from the flower. Anthers egg-shaped 0.6 mm long. Nectar glands poited 2 to 4 mm long. Carpels, elongate, (5-)8-10(-18) mm long free from the corolla tube. Style 0.5 to 0.7 mm long.
Bibliography: Major referencens and further lectures
1) Daniel Oliver “Flora of Tropical Africa” Volume 2 L. Reeve1871
2) Urs Eggli: “Sukkulenten-Lexikon. Crassulaceae.” Eugen Ulmer, Stuttgart 2003
3) Sajeva & Costanzo “Succulents” The Illustrated Dictionary, 1994
4) James Cullen, Sabina G. Knees, H. Suzanne Cubey “The European Garden Flora Flowering Plants:A Manual for the Identification of Plants Cultivated in Europe, Both Out-of-Doors and Under Glass” Cambridge University Press, 11/ago/2011
5) Werner Rauh “The Wonderful World of Succulents: Cultivation and Description of Selected Succulent Plants Other Than Cacti” Smithsonian Institution Press, 1984
6) Hermann Jacobsen “A handbook of succulent plants: descriptions, synonyms, and cultural details for succulents other than Cactaceae, Volume 1” Blandford Press, 1960
7) Vera Higgins “Succulent Plants Illustrated” Blandford Press, 1949
8) Doreen Court “Succulent Flora of Southern Africa” CRC Press, 01/Jun/2000
9) Kakteen & Sukk. 52: 336, 2001
10) Bernard Descoings: Kalanchoe scapigera. In: Urs Eggli : “Sukkulenten-Lexikon. Crassulaceae (Dickblattgewächse).” Eugen Ulmer, Stuttgart 2003
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Cultivation and Propagation: Kalanchoe scapigera is a popular plant among landscape designers because of attractive colours and texture of the plant. It is very easy to cultivate and makes an interesting plant in any collection and is rewarding. It is also easy to take care as indoor plant. Since it doesn't get very large it's an easy plant to move inside/outside.
Potting mix: They thrive in nutrient poor soils consisting of equal parts of loam and sand, with pumice or lava grit added to ensure good drainage.
Exposure: Plant in full sun along the coast to a light shade inland.
Watering: It needs moderate watering in autumn and spring while in summer it should be watered thoroughly and allowed to dry before watering again. In winter give only occasional watering (only when the plant starts shriveling), but it will generally grow even in winter if given water. These plants will survive on neglect. Over-watering is the most common cause of plant failure.
Frost resistance: Prefers warm temperatures, minimum winter temperature 5° C.
Uses: It makes a nice landscape plant in warmer climates because it does not require much maintenance. In colder climates, Kalanchoe scapigera can be grown as outdoor pot plant in summer and a nice indoor accent plant in winter.
Propagation: It is propagated by removal of small offsets at the base of the main plant or by leaf and stem cuttings. It grows easily roots at the end of a leaf stalk which has fallen onto ground. New plants are ready within months.