The Bryophyllum, to which around 30 different varieties can be counted, belongs to the thick-leaf family and is assigned to the genus Kalanchoe. Most of the descendants are found growing wild in Africa, but the bryophyllum is now also often grown in living rooms at home.
Among these, there are the mother of thousands varieties that are very robust and is rarely attacked by pests.
- 1 Mother of Thousands Varieties
- 1.1 Bryophyllum daigremontianum (Kalanchoe daigremontiana)
- 1.2 Bryophyllum delagoense (Kalanchoe delagoensis)
- 1.3 Bryophyllum fedtschenkoi (Kalanchoe fedtschenkoi)
- 1.4 Bryophyllum gastonis-bonnieri (Kalanchoe gastonis-bonnieri)
- 1.5 Bryophyllum х houghtonii (Kalanchoe х houghtonii)
- 1.6 Bryophyllum pinnatum (Kalanchoe pinnata)
- 2 Choice of Location and Optimal Soil Conditions
- 3 Care: Watering, Fertilizing, Wintering
- 4 Repotting and Pruning
- 5 Unique Method of Propagation
- 6 Pests and Diseases
- 7 Is mother of thousands poisonous?
Mother of Thousands Varieties
Bryophyllum daigremontianum (Kalanchoe daigremontiana)
Also known as Palm tree Bryophyllum, Mexican Hat Plant, Alligator Plant, Devil’s backbone, Mother of Thousands, Chandelier Plant, and Mother of Millions.
It is a slender monocarpic, perennials, glabrous, succulent herb. The cylindrical unbranched shoots are erect, about 25–40 cm tall of up to 1cm thickness and closely marked by leaf scars. The leaves are triangular, glaucous bluish green and faintly marked with brownish black spots.
The bare stems with the upper whorl of leaves give plants the appearance of miniature palm trees. Like other members of the genus Bryophyllum, it is able to propagate vegetatively from minute plantlets that develop on the leaf edges and are shed one after the other. All parts of the plant are poisonous to humans, stocks and small animals.
Bryophyllum delagoense (Kalanchoe delagoensis)
Also known as Mother of Millions, Mother of Thousands, and Chandelier plant.
The “Mother of Thousands” Kalanchoe delagoensis (Sym: Kalanchoe tubiflora) is a peculiar succulent species that reproduces via “plantlets” that grow on the ends of each leaf & drop off…. they fall into the dirt and grow from there.
They grow everywhere, don’t need dirt, they grow, among the spines of cacti, in orchid bark, between the leaves of bromeliads, in leaf litter on a cement patio, as well as in every pot within 15 m of the mother plant. Good thing they don’t have nasty roots- they pull up out of the ground easily.
The plant’s capability for vegetative reproduction, its resistance to drought, and its popularity as a garden plant, have allowed the plant to become an invasive weed in places such as eastern Australia and many Pacific islands.
In optimal conditions, it grows as an annual/biannual and typically grows to about 1 m before blooming in the winter. Plants die back after blooming and new shoots can arise from the roots.
Some similar plants that also produce an abundance of plantlets include Kalanchoe pinnata and Kalancboe daigremontiana. These are fun plants for kids to have and experiment with and provide a good lesson in plant propagation.
Bryophyllum fedtschenkoi (Kalanchoe fedtschenkoi)
Also known as South American air plant, Lavender Scallops, Kalanchoe stonecrop, Fedtschenkoi Kalanchoe, Gray sedum, Amethyst scallops, Aurora-borealis plant, and gray sedum.
It is cultivated in the tropics and as a house plant in temperate regions. The leaves are colored metallic green and may turn pink or red under strong sunlight or drought conditions. The purple or reddish-brown flowers are bell-shaped and hang in loose clusters from upright stems in the winter.
Bryophyllum gastonis-bonnieri (Kalanchoe gastonis-bonnieri)
Also known as Tree of Life, Sprouting Leaf, Sprout Leaf Plant, Palm Beachbells, Miracle Leaf, Leaf of Life, Good Luck Leaf, Giant Kalanchoe, Donkey’s Ear, and Life Plant.
It is popular for its waxy red candelabras and large rosettes of purple-blotched, light green foliage and has some of the biggest leaves of all the species.
Bryophyllum х houghtonii (Kalanchoe х houghtonii)
Also known as Mother of Millions hybrid, Mother of Thousands, Mexican Hat Plant, Good-Luck Plant, and Devil’s Backbone.
It can be identified by the V-shaped leaved. It is a biennial erect, unbranching plant to about 75 cm. It is native of Madagascar, but widely cultivated in gardens in tropical countries. It is now naturalized almost everywhere between the tropics and commonly spreading along roadsides.
The Bryophyllum х houghtonii is a garden escape and a noxious weed in many tropical countries. The plant is spread by seeds and by plantlets that form on the edges of the leaves. It seems indestructible and is very difficult to eradicate as the seeds remain viable in the soil for many years. It is poisonous to stock.
Bryophyllum pinnatum (Kalanchoe pinnata)
Also known as Life plant, Floppers, Air Plant, Miracle Leaf, Goethe Plant, and Cathedral Bells. One of its common names, Goethe Plant, was a result of the great interest that Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, a writer and amateur gardener, had in this plant. He raised them and often gave them as gifts to people who visited his home.
It is a succulent plant distinctive for the profusion of miniature plantlets that form on the margins of its leaves even when the leaves has been detached from the plant, a trait it has in common with the other members of the Bryophyllum section of the Kalanchoe genus.
It’s not difficult to see why some call this plant “Life Plant” or “Miracle Leaf” because of the small plantlets growing from the fringes of the leaves. The plantlets drop off and root, forming many new plants in a single location.
Because of this rapid growth in many areas, they are considered an invasive species. The plant produces bell-shaped blossoms that dangle downward in clusters accounting for the other common name, “Cathedral bells”.
Choice of Location and Optimal Soil Conditions
The mother of thousands is predestined for keeping as a houseplant and is therefore preferred to be cultivated indoors. Here the plant feels particularly comfortable in a light and airy location. A sunny location ensures particularly vigorous growth; In addition, the rays of the sun create a pretty leaf pattern. A place on the windowsill is well suited if it is oriented to the southwest. However, the mother of thousands plant should also be protected from direct exposure to the midday sun.
Dry hot air, on the other hand, does not affect the plant. With high humidity, however, the susceptibility of the plant to various diseases can increase; under these conditions, the plant is particularly often attacked by powdery mildew. The mother of thousands plant can also be cultivated outdoors in summer; then a sunny location should be chosen; But the robust plant also thrives in slightly shady areas in the garden.
However, the mother of thousands should also be protected from strong wind and rain, which is why semi-covered areas are particularly suitable. The plant also thrives on the balcony or terrace. Before the first frost, the plant must then be brought back into the house.
In addition to the optimal location, the substrate for the plant should also be carefully selected, which must have certain properties:
- loose texture
- permeable to water
- light and porous
- slightly calcareous
Soil that is also used for succulents and cacti is best. Mixtures of potting soil and sand in a 1: 1 ratio can also be used. Since succulent soil is quite expensive, the substrate can be made from granules of clay, lava and pumice.
Particular attention should be paid to the pot so that the mother of thousands thrives optimally. Clay pots are particularly suitable; these let through both water and air and thus meet the requirements of the plant.
In the case of plastic flowerpots, however, this permeability does not exist; If such vessels are used, there is a slight risk of rotting, because the soil dries very slowly after watering with too much water. Such plastic pots are therefore only suitable if they are always optimally watered. Saucers are ideal as a catch basin for overflowing liquid after watering. Here you can see the remaining amount of water in the vessel. If a planter is used, however, this judgment is not possible.
1,000 types of succulents with pictures
Care: Watering, Fertilizing, Wintering
As plants native to Africa suggest, the mother of thousands stores a lot of fluid in its fleshy leaves. Accordingly, the plant rarely needs to be watered. During the summer months, it is sufficient to water once or twice a week. Young plants also get a little more liquid if necessary. In winter, a single dose of water per week is usually sufficient to optimally supply the mother of thousands. Basically, you only have to water when the plant is completely dry.
The optimal watering amount is very easy to determine; After irrigation, the entire soil can be completely covered with water for a short time. Any excess liquid that has accumulated in the saucer after about five minutes is to be discarded. This prevents the roots from rotting.
To judge whether or not re-watering is necessary, assess the plant itself. To do this, take the leaves between your thumb and forefinger and carefully press them. If the plant feels firm and full to the touch, watering is not necessary. If, on the other hand, the leaves gradually lose tension and feel soft, they should be watered again. To avoid waterlogging, the bottom of the pot can also be covered with a layer of gravel.
The leaves don’t feel firm again until one day after watering!
The mother of thousands plant hardly needs any additional care; usually no fertilization is required. During the summer months, however, a liquid fertilizer for succulents can be used for improved growth, which is added to the irrigation water. The fertilization can be done monthly during the warm season. No fertilization is necessary in winter. In addition, watering is reduced at cool temperatures.
The wintering of the mother of thousands takes place at around 10 °C; pretty inflorescences then form in spring, especially on larger plants. Only at these temperatures does the mother of thousands grow compactly. In contrast, heated rooms are less suitable; here the mother of thousands forms long and thin shoots in winter. In addition, flower formation is severely restricted.
Repotting and Pruning
Repotting and regular pruning are part of the care of the mother of thousands. When repotting certain aspects must be observed:
- Repotting is necessary when the roots grow out of the holes in the bottom of the pot.
- The best time to repot is in March after hibernation.
- The new pot should have 1-2 inches of space for new soil.
- In the course of repotting, pruning is recommended.
The plant is pruned to reduce dehydration. This can affect not only the stem, but also all other parts of the plant or the entire plant. The species Bryophyllum pinnatum, which often dries up completely, is particularly endangered. A sharp knife must be used for pruning; a small saw can also be used. After pruning, the exuding sap should be carefully wiped off. The cut surfaces should be treated with a healing substance like cinnamon. After pruning, new shoots form in a flash, which settle near the cut surface.
With regular pruning, the mother of thousands will grow bushier.
Unique Method of Propagation
The propagation of the mother of thousands is unique and is one of the most important features of the plant. In this way, the plant is able to reproduce vegetatively. Fully developed small young plants – also called plantlets – grow on the leaf margins, which often even develop small roots.
These small plants can easily be removed and potted. For this, the plants are to be placed on moist soil and moved to a sunny place. The substrate must then always be kept slightly moist, but should never be wet. The roots usually develop very quickly.
After six months, the mother of thousands usually produces small daughter plants itself. The mother plant loses the plantlets if they are not separated for the purpose of reproduction. When the daughter plants then get on the ground, they root themselves within a very short time. The plantlets can also be removed from the mother plant if no propagation is desired; if the small plants are separated regularly, the vigor of the plant is better preserved.
In addition to the cultivation of daughter plants, classic methods of propagation can also be used. After flowering, the mother of thousands forms plenty of seed capsules that contain hundreds of tiny seeds that can be used for propagation.
Some varieties, for example, Bryophyllum fedtschenkoi, can also be propagated via shoots; these grow out of the earth. But side shoots are also suitable. In addition, plants that have grown too big can be “beheaded”, especially if the mother of thousands has become too big and the stems are only a long, bare stick. On the upper part of the separated plant, roots quickly form again, and the bottom stem also forms new shoots again.
Pests and Diseases
The mother of thousands is rarely attacked by diseases and pests. However, mistakes in care and location can have a negative impact on the plant. If the plant is in a too moist location, the roots rot and it encourages the development of springtails. Drastic damage is generally not to be expected from this pest, because it is a normal soil organism.
However, if the population is very high, springtails sometimes also eat fiber roots. A very simple measure is available for effective control: place the pot in a larger cachepot in the sink and fill it with water; the springtails will float on top and can be removed by rinsing with water. However, deliberately keeping the plant dry also decimates the pest population.
If the plant is cultivated in a location where there is persistent high humidity, the plant can also easily be attacked by powdery mildew. This disease shows a very characteristic damage pattern:
- white or gray spots on the parts of the plant
- rolled leaves
- poor stature
- discoloration of the covering in later stages
The powdery mildew can be combated with mild fungicides; lecithin preparations and products based on sulfur are primarily available for this purpose. Various plant strengtheners can be used preventively so that an infestation does not even occur. Broths made from garlic or horsetail help just as well as specifically sprayed salt water.
In addition to the excessively high humidity, other care mistakes can lead to damage to the plant. Too warm overwintering and over-fertilization also have a negative effect on the crop; The mother of thousands develops long thin shoots with such care errors. In addition, it will lose its characteristic growth and not be able to form flowers.
Is mother of thousands poisonous?
Parts of mother of thousands plant are poisonous if ingested. All members of Kalanchoe are toxic for livestock, birds and small animal, due to the presence of cardio-active glucosides. Based on North American studies using chickens, Kalanchoe fedtschenkoi, Kalanchoe daigremontiana, and Kalanchoe delagonensis were the most toxic; the toxic dose was 8–12g /kg b.w. (Williams and Smith 1984). Dogs are reported to be particularly sensitive to the cardiotoxic effects of Kalanchoe.