When you first encounter a mother of thousands plant, it’s difficult not to be captivated. This succulent is not only a stylish addition to your houseplant collection, but it’s also a durable, low-maintenance curiosity. In this essay, I’ll introduce you to this remarkable plant and provide you with all the information you’ll need to cultivate your own growing, healthy mother of thousands plant.
What is a plant called a mother of thousands?
This plant’s common name originates from its appearance, although it also goes by various names such as devil’s backbone, Mexican hat plant, and alligator plant. Mother of thousands refers to two plant species: Kalanchoe daigremontiana (syn. Bryophyllum daigremontianum) and Kalanchoe x laetivirens.
Both species belong to the Kalanchoe genus (which is part of the larger Crassulaceae family), and they appear quite similar. The most visible distinction is that the former has black lines on the backside of the leaves, whilst the later has entire green leaves. The mother of thousands plant is genuinely unparalleled, regardless of which of these two kinds you grow.
One of the most distinctive succulents
Humans have brought the plant throughout the world, and it has now naturalized in other tropical places. The plant is native to the African island country of Madagascar (which is a hub of incredible biodiversity, with over 90% of its animals having developed in isolation). It is now found in South America, South Africa, Florida, and even Hawaii. It has grown invasive in several of these locations, displacing native plant species. If you reside in one of these areas and decide to cultivate it, make certain that the plant does not escape cultivation.
The tiny plantlets that grow around the margins of the leaves are what distinguish this plant. On a single plant, thousands of them can exist (hence their common name, of course). The luscious, blue-green leaves of this drought-tolerant, succulent plant species can grow up to 8 inches long. Plants can grow to be around 3 feet tall, however, they usually stay smaller when kept as a houseplant. Few houseplants can compete with this plant’s ability to attract attention.
Where can a mother of thousands plant be grown?
While this plant may be grown outdoors if you reside in a tropical environment with no cold weather (USDA hardiness zones 9-11, for example), most plant enthusiasts cultivate it as a houseplant. The mother of thousands plant is not cold hardy and will die quickly if temps drop below freezing.
It may be transported outside during the summer months if cultivated as a potted houseplant. Just remember to bring the pot indoors in early October, before the chilly nights start. For the first several weeks after placing it outside, choose a location that receives direct sunshine for many hours in the morning but provides partial shade in the warmest part of the afternoon. You may progressively expose the plant to more afternoon sun once it has adjusted to outside circumstances. Just don’t apply it too rapidly or the foliage may burn or bleach.
The best light for a mother of thousands of plant
Choose an indoor place that receives morning sun. An east-facing window in the northern hemisphere provides the optimum exposure by offering full sun in the morning and diffused light in the afternoon. Another alternative is to place the plant a few feet away from a south-facing window that gets direct sunlight during the warmest portion of the day. In other words, if you plant it in a south-facing window, keep it out of direct sunshine, especially throughout the day.
North-facing windows are a bad choice since they don’t get enough light to grow this plant. Spindly plants indicate a lack of light.
When will a mother of thousands bloom?
Because succulents are typically planted for their gorgeous foliage, many people are startled when they blossom. The mother of thousand plant, like its relative the jade plant, does produce blossoms on occasion. They are sporadic and only appear when the plant receives adequate light. The flower stalk grows erect and bears small, bell-like blooms that range in colour from pink to orange. If you leave the plant outside during the summer, it will occasionally bloom shortly after you bring it back inside for the winter.
How frequently should you water, and how should you do it correctly?
There is no need to water this succulent variety religiously because it is drought resilient. In fact, I’ve found that the plant thrives when given a little more attention.
To begin, ensure that there are drainage holes in the bottom of the pot to allow surplus irrigation water to exit easily. I prefer to plant mother of thousands in terracotta pots since they are porous and look nice, but plastic or ceramic pots also work well. The plant will suffer if the roots absorb too much moisture too frequently. One of the secrets to keeping the plant happy is learning how to water a mother of thousands plant. Here’s what I mean:
Water every 14 to 21 days during the spring, summer, and fall.
Water the plant every 21 to 28 days throughout the winter months, when it is not actively developing.
Water the plant every 5 to 7 days if it is grown in a container outside during the hot summer months.
Take the pot to the sink and turn on the water to properly water a mother of thousands plant. Allow room temperature water to drain from the holes at the bottom of the pot by running it through the soil for several minutes. Allow the pot to drip in the sink for 15 minutes after the soil has been properly moistened before re-displaying it.
Another approach is to water your plant from the bottom. Here’s additional information on how
What is the finest potting soil for the mother of thousands plant?
Because the mother of thousands is a succulent, a free-draining, gritty potting mix is the ideal choice. Instead of a peat moss-based soil mix, use a cactus mix that has a blend of bigger particles including sand, perlite, pumice, and vermiculite. If desired, top the dirt with a layer of stones for décor.
Fertilizing your plant’s mother of thousands
A mother of thousand plants does not require regular fertilising. Don’t worry if you fail to complete this challenge. I try to fertilise my plant once every 6-8 weeks or so using a liquid houseplant fertiliser or a succulent plant fertiliser, but I typically end up doing it whenever I think of it. Remember that this is a strong plant that does not need to be coddled.
The most important thing to remember when feeding a mother of thousands plant is to do it only while the plant is actively developing, which is from spring through autumn. Winter fertilisation is not recommended. I begin fertilising in mid-March in Pennsylvania and continue every 6-8 weeks until early September. This strategy delivers nutrients to the plants without overdoing it during their peak development season.
The easy proliferation of the mother of thousands plant is well recognised. While still linked to the plant, the small plantlets that sprout along the margins of its leaves create roots. They fall or are knocked off by passing animals or wind and take root. This is one of the natural ways the plant spreads. If you wish to produce new plants to share with your friends, you may help with the propagation process as a gardener.
Simply pluck a couple of the young plantlets from the leaf edges while holding the leaf stem gently. For the job, use your fingernails or plant tweezers. Place the little plantlets gently in a clean container with a pre-moistened ordinary potting mix. Make sure the bottom section of their small stem is in contact with the soil if they have not yet formed roots. Roots will appear fast.
For 2 to 3 weeks, mist the plantlets and soil and cover the entire pot with a transparent plastic bag. Place the pot near an east-facing window, but not directly in the sun. When the time is over, remove the bag, but continue to spritz or water the soil every few days.
Additional precautions and a warning
All sections of the mother of thousands plant contain a harmful substance, so if you have small children or dogs that like to nibble on plants, consider growing an alternate plant or placing the pot on a high shelf where they cannot reach it. Cattle toxicity has been reported in areas where it grows wild.
If your plant becomes too tall for its surroundings, you can cut the stems back to half their original height. Place the severed stem portions in a container of potting soil and they will take root, giving you more plants to share with your friends.
The mother of thousands plant, unlike tropical houseplants, does not require high humidity levels.
Keep the plant away from forced air heating ducts and other hot or cold gusts that might harm the plant’s overall health or cause the young plantlets to die prematurely.
This unique plant, also known as the mother of thousands, the Mexican hat plant, the alligator plant, or the devil’s backbone, deserves a spot on your favourite plant shelf.