Kalanchoe daigremontiana, more commonly known as the mother of thousands plant, Bryophyllum daigremontianum, alligator plant, Devil’s backbone, Mexican hat plant, mother of millions plant, or crown of thorns plant, is a succulent houseplant native to Madagascar and South Africa.
The key to this succulent’s unique name lies in its unique ability to propagate new plants from its leaves and roots, without any assistance from the grower. When propagating the mother of thousands plant in your home or office, you’ll want to make sure you know how much light each plant requires and whether it needs full sun exposure or prefers partial shade.
Kalanchoe daigremontiana is known as the Mother of Thousands plant because it has the ability to reproduce and propagate itself by giving birth to small offspring (babies) that grow attached to its leaves until they fall off and take root, eventually becoming independent plants.
It’s funny how one single mother can give birth to thousands of babies! Kalanchoe daigremontiana, or Mother of Thousands plant, gets its name from its nearly magical ability to reproduce on its own without the need for seeds or any other human help.
As a succulent, Kalanchoe daigremontiana can store water in its thick leaves and stems, allowing it to survive in harsh conditions and reproduce without the need for watering, a trait that’s common to many succulents but not all species are as prolific as this one!
When its leaves touch the ground, tiny roots emerge and grow into new plants with just an inch or two of growth.
Origin and distribution
Kalanchoe daigremontiana is an Old World succulent species native to the arid zones of Madagascar. In Madagascar, it is called in French Kalanchoe diagremontiane or Kalanche diagreme. Other common names include devil’s backbone, alligator plant, and Bryophyllum diagreme.
The plant can be propagated from stem cuttings and will root readily even under poor conditions. It can also be grown as a potted plant.
Kalanchoe daigremontiana produces numerous little plants around the parent plant. These plants are referred to as Mother of Thousands and continue to spread on their own if separated from the parent plant by only a few inches.
Devil’s backbone originates in Madagascar where the locals use it for medicinal purposes. It has many uses including cures for headaches, fevers, stomach pain, ulcers, and urinary tract infections.
Kalanchoe daigremontiana propagation
Kalanchoe daigremontiana is propagated by cuttings. One cutting can produce hundreds of plants over time. Cuttings should be made during spring and summer when new growth is at its peak. A cutting is best taken with a rooting hormone, which aids in root development.
Mother of millions plant cuttings should be placed in dry peat moss with only the top leaves exposed. The medium must have excellent drainage to prevent overwatering and the death of the cutting.
Placing the container on a heat mat will also help promote quicker growth.
The cuttings may need some type of stake to support them if they are too heavy for their own stems. The Bryophyllum daigremontianum plant does not require much water, but it may need fertilizer from time to time.
Kalanchoe daigremontiana care information
Keep your kalanchoe daigremontiana away from sources of intense heat like fireplaces and vents. During winter, it’s a good idea to place them in cool, dimly lit areas.
To help them stay hydrated, you can mist their leaves with a spray bottle or simply place them in an area where they will receive indirect sunlight and a slight breeze.
Kalanchoe daigremontiana needs plenty of light, but not direct sunlight, if you plan to grow kalanchoe daigremontiana as a houseplant, provide it with bright light or moderate sunlight.
A couple of hours in the full sun each day is best for overall plant health and growth. Light-starved plants may have slower leaf growth and produce smaller blossoms than those getting enough light.
Place your Mother of Thousands plant in an area where its leaves will be exposed to direct sunlight for at least six hours daily if possible.
Kalanchoe daigremontiana thrives in soil with a pH between 5.5 and 7.0. If your soil is too acidic or alkaline, you can add either potting mix or limestone to adjust it before planting.
This plant prefers well-drained soil and performs well in a regular potting mix that includes organic matter such as peat moss, leaf mold, and bark chips.
As its name suggests, the Bryophyllum daigremontianum has an extremely invasive root system so make sure the container has ample drainage holes and the pot is large enough for the roots to spread out comfortably.
Some plants like the mother of thousands need special care when it comes to watering. Since they don’t have any true leaves, their water must be delivered through their stems and roots. Using a watering can with a fine rose will ensure that your plant gets an even amount of water each time you water it.
Over-watering these plants will cause them to rot and die, so make sure you are providing just enough water without overdoing it.
If you’re going to be growing your mother of thousands in a hydroponic setup, then you don’t need fertilizer. If you are growing it in soil, then it needs to be fertilized every two weeks.
Be careful not to over-fertilize; if your plant gets too much nutrition, leaves will develop only at certain spots and not grow fully. Too little and leaves will never develop at all.
Place your Kalanchoe daigremontiana plant in a bright, but indirect area of your home. Kalanchoe requires temperatures between 50 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal growth.
While you don’t want to subject it to freezing temperatures, you also don’t want it to become overheated or sit in direct sunlight. The ideal temperature is around 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you live in an area that is prone to hot spells in summer, move your kalanchoe outdoors during these months.
Kalanchoe daigremontiana thrives best in moist conditions. In winter, when a plant is dormant, reducing watering and allowing it to dry out a bit will actually help keep your mother of thousands plant healthy.
While we’re talking about water, you may be wondering why some succulents are called cacti when they look nothing like cactus.
The ideal humidity range is 50-70%. You can place the pot on a dish filled with pebbles and water or use an electric humidifier to regulate the moisture level.
Once Kalanchoe daigremontiana plant starts to become crowded with babies, you can thin out its seedlings. Before pruning, wait until spring or early summer so that new growth has appeared, and avoid cutting back babies that have already sprouted in the wintertime because they may die before new growth appears.
To keep your plant neat and tidy, remove unwanted branches by snapping them off at their base. If a stem has grown too long, cut it back by about half the length. Finally, snip away leaves that are yellowing or dying.
When to repot
Repotting mother of thousands is a good idea when their health begins to decline. The plant often goes into decline due to a lack of nutrients and water. Before you repot, take a look at your plant’s roots: if they are decaying or mushy, it is time to move on to a new pot!
Keep in mind that repotting should not be done until there are 10 or more babies growing off of one stem. When the baby plants grow too large for their pots, the stem will bend over, making it easy to identify which ones need transplanting.
The procedure for transplanting is simple: just remove the larger plants from their pots and set them aside while planting the smaller ones in their place.
Once transplanted, water thoroughly but sparingly so as not to disturb the soil around the root ball too much.
Many succulents and cacti require a cold, or dormant, period each year to fully bloom. This dormancy can also be triggered by changes in temperature or by light levels, humidity, and airflow.
If a plant doesn’t get enough of what it needs in terms of light, temperature, and water during dormancy, it may not survive. Before you bring your succulent plants inside for winter rest, you need to make sure they are healthy and have a well-established root system. Be careful!
Kalanchoe daigremontiana flower & fragrance
Widely used as a houseplant, kalanchoe is a flowering succulent with attractive foliage and tiny flowers. These little blossoms grow in clusters and have colors ranging from white to pink to red. This plant’s colorful blooms are also highly fragrant, which makes it a great choice for an indoor garden or flower bed.
The mother of thousands grows fast. It can grow a few inches in one week. The plant produces offshoots, or pups, around its edges which become full-sized plants that are genetically identical to their parent plant.
However, if you want to propagate new kalanchoes, it’s recommended that you snip off pups and replant them in the soil so they have an opportunity to grow roots on their own before they run out of nutrients in their original containers.
Mother of thousands poisonous ability
The mother of thousands plant is a succulent plant native to Madagascar. While it may look like your typical houseplant, Kalanchoe Daigremontiana has gained notoriety for its toxic nature.
If ingested by animals or humans, it can be potentially fatal as it contains cycloprop-2-ene-1,1,-dicarboxylic acid and mucilaginous lectins that are poisonous.
These compounds prevent cells from dividing, causing intestinal disruption and therefore death.
USDA hardiness zones
Kalanchoe daigremontiana t6hrives best in USDA hardiness zones 8-11. They are not frost tolerant and can survive outside during the summer as long as they are brought inside when the temperature drops below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
It does well in full sun to partial shade and is drought tolerant once established. You can propagate kalanchoes by cutting off a leaf and placing it into moist soil where it will root.
Pests and diseases
The mother of thousands plant is susceptible to a variety of pests and diseases. If you’re interested in keeping a kalanchoe daigremontiana as an indoor plant or are growing one outdoors in your garden, keep an eye out for these common problems.
The most common pests include mealybugs, mites, and aphids. These tiny insects have the ability to quickly infest and destroy the plant, so it’s important to use chemical control before they get too big.
Aphids secrete a sticky substance called honeydew that can lead to mold growth on the leaves if left unchecked. Some symptoms of this mold growth include discoloration and stunted leaf growth; take care when removing this fungus because it may spread to other plants nearby.