The Mother of Thousands plant (also known as Kalanchoe daigremontiana) is a striking foliage houseplant native to the tropics of Madagascar.
When positioned indoors, the flowers rarely bloom; however it’s the baby plantlets that continually appear on the tips of the large leaves that are the most attention-grabbing part of this plant.
Caring for a Mother of Thousands
In order for this plant to bloom, it needs good drainage. It is therefore best potted in a commercial cactus soil mix, which can be obtained from your local garden centre.
Once potted, place the plant in a space that receives bright, but indirect light for at least several hours per day. If growing the plant indoors, place close to a window. If you can, you should also move the plant outdoors during the summer months. However, when doing this, it’s important to introduce the plant to the outside world gradually. Too much direct sunlight can cause the plant’s leaves to turn a brown, sunburned hue.
Once in the correct environment, the Mother of Thousands plant is a low maintenance specie, which is easy to care for – ideal for those who may not always be around.
How it grows
This succulent plant grows from just a single stem, which is dressed with big, blue-green leaves, which are both pointed and narrow in shape. These leaves can grow up to six inches (15 cm) long and around three inches wide. Asides from the flowers, the real beauty of the Mother of Thousands plant is its petite plantlets, which grow along the verges of the leaves. These easily fall from the plant and root where they land.
When grown outside, the plant flowers in the late winter before dying. However, it leaves behind an array of offspring in its wake. Its flowers are of a greyish-lavender hue.
The Mother of Thousands plant enjoys average room conditions and moist but not soggy soil. For best results, pot in a terracotta pot with good drainage, similar to that of a cactus pot. You should only repot the plant when it outgrows its home. This should take place in spring and the new vessel should only be slightly larger in size.
The plant flourishes in bright light conditions and must be watered thoroughly. Yet it’s also important to allow the top two inches of soil to dry before watering again. Just avoid allowing the soil to dry out completely. Additionally, you should feed your plant quarterly with a diluted, balanced liquid fertilizer.
Although this particular specie of plant is able to tolerate extreme heat, it does not do well in frost. Keep this in mind if planting outdoors as your plant may not survive long if it is too exposed.
How to propagate the Mother of Thousands
This particular specie of plant has a very interesting reproductive system and as such, it’s relatively easy to propagate this plant if you know how. All that is required is access to a Mother of Thousands plant with plantlets. When you’ve located the said plant, simply pick one or two of these plantlets – more than one is wise.
The next step requires you to store the plantlets in a plastic bag in order to keep them moist. If they dry up, they will die. Once you’ve found them a new home, place the plantlets gently on the surface of the soil (they do not need to be pushed into the soil) around 2cm apart from each other. Then cover the pot with plastic to create a makeshift greenhouse – cling film will work just fine. Place the pot in a sunny place and keep the soil moist. All that is left to do is wait, monitor and watch them grow.
When the plants become a little taller, remove the plastic cover from the pot and allow them to bask in the sun. If you’re lucky, they’ll eventually sprout small purple-pink flowers. When they get too big for their current container, move to a bigger vessel. You need to be careful when transplanting as the roots can easily become damaged – make sure you dig deeply around the base to avoid cutting any roots unnecessarily.