From my gardening experience I know that kalanchoe is one of the hardiest flowering houseplants you can encounter, even if gardening isn’t your thing! However as time passes and Kalanchoe plants starts flowering I noticed it’s tendency to become leggy. It’s important to understand why this happens and what you can do to prevent it.
In this blog post, I’ll be sharing my personal experience and expertise on the reasons why is a flowering Kalanchoe plant leggy and provide some tips on how to prevent it. So, let’s dive in!
|Why Is My Flowering Kalanchoe Plant Leggy:
|1. Lack of nutrients
|2. Water Deficiency
|3. Not Enough Sunlight
|4. Incorrect Soil Or Tight Containers
|6. Lack of Proper Pruning
1. Lack of nutrients
As an experienced gardener, I can tell you that a deficiency of nutrients often can result in leggy development of flowering Kalanchoe plants. These plants require a regular supply of nutrients to promote healthy development, and if these are not available, the plant may extend out its stems in quest of what it requires.
Lack of nutrients can lead a blossoming kalanchoe plant to become leggy in various ways:
First a lack of nutrients will favor the growth of the top parts meaning the leaves and stems over the bottom parts of kalanchoe plants, such as the roots.
This happens because the plant recognizes that the upper pars are responsible of photosynthesis, which provides energy while the roots are in charge of nutrient absorption. As a result, trying to compensate for the lack of nutrients, the stem may rapidly extend, leading the plant to become leggy.
Secondly, a lack of nutrients might cause the plant to generate fewer lateral branches and leaves, contributing to its leggy appearance. This is due to the plant’s limited resources being directed toward preserving existing growth rather than developing new development.
Lastly, a lack of nutrients will weaken the plants ability against diseases and pests, and in cause of an attack, kalanchoe will divert resources from growth and toward defensive systems, leading to a lanky appearance.
You need to provide Kalanchoe with a balanced liquid fertilizer with an NPK ratio of 20-20-20 to support it. Give it every two weeks during the growing season (spring-summer).
Make sure you never give too much nutrition. This is harmful to the plant. Check the packaging for the specific amount and never use more than recommended.
2. Water Deficiency
When a plant lacks water, it may stretch out its stem to obtain more moisture and light. Water scarcity can lead a flowering Kalanchoe plant to grow long, thin stems with fewer leaves and smaller blooms. This is due to the plant putting all of its efforts into growing higher rather than creating more leaves and blooms.
Despite the fact that Kalanchoe came to us from warm tropical countries, this plant does not tolerate an excess of moisture. If the soil is constantly too wet, then the roots suffer first of all: the process of decay begins, so watering should be taken seriously.
If a Flowering Kalanchoe plant has become leggy due to a lack of water, the long, thin stems may need to be pruned back to stimulate more compact growth. This can be accomplished by cutting the stem just above a set of leaves, causing the plant to develop new growth and become bushier.
It’s also worth noting that Kalanchoe plants are accustomed to thriving in arid environments and can survive minor water scarcity. On the other hand, prolonged periods of drought or severe water shortages can harm the plant’s health, causing it to become leggy or even die.
It is critical to ensure that a Kalanchoe plant receives adequate water to avoid growing leggy.
During the growth and flowering period you should make sure that the soil is sufficiently moist. A weekly watering is sufficient. However, only water them when the top layer of soil is completely dry.
- Summer: During this time it should be watered once or twice a week.
- Rest of the year: Watering it every 10 or 15 days will be enough for it to grow healthy.
Tip : If you do your Kalanchoe care outside on the balcony, then you should postpone watering to morning and evening. If you water them in the blazing midday sun, their leaves can burn faster.
3. Lack Of Enough Sunlight
From my experience, I can tell you that insufficient light can cause your flowering Kalanchoe plant to become leggy. When a plant doesn’t receive enough light, it will stretch out its stems to reach for more light, resulting in a tall, spindly appearance. This is because the plant is trying to maximize its exposure to the available light source.
Sunlight is crucial for plants since it is a source of energy used in photosynthesis. The mechanism by which plants make food and grow is known as photosynthesis.
A kalanchoe plant will not be able to produce enough food to support its growth if it does not receive enough sunlight. As a result, as it tries to stretch towards the light source, it will become leggy.
Being a representative of succulents, the plant needs good lighting. If there is not enough light, the shoots begin to stretch upward, become more fragile. In parallel with this, the leaves become smaller, and the lower ones even fall off.
As a result, foliage remains on the branches only at the top, and they themselves can no longer maintain a vertical position without support due to their height.
To avoid becoming leggy you must place the Flowering Kalanchoe in an area that gets at least six hours of bright, indirect sunshine daily.
The solution to this issue is to provide your Kalanchoe plant with more light. Ideally, Kalanchoe plants prefer bright, indirect light, so placing your plant near a south-facing window or under a grow light can help it thrive.
However, be careful not to expose your plant to direct sunlight for extended periods, as this can scorch the leaves.
- During the dormant period, that is, from March to September, in the morning and afternoon hours, the plants are provided with the maximum possible lighting, and at midday, when the risk of burns is high, the bushes are shaded.
- In autumn and winter, there is little natural light, so shading is not required, and in cloudy weather or when Kalanchoe stays on the northern windows, it is better to arrange additional lighting.
4. Incorrect Soil Or Tight Containers
A lack of proper soil or tight containers is one of the factors that can lead kalanchoe plants to become leggy. When a kalanchoe plant is placed in an insufficiently sized container, it can quickly outgrow the available soil, resulting in stunted growth and legginess.
Moreover, soil that is too compacted or deficient in nutrients might contribute to leggy leaves. When a plant lacks nutrition, it may stretch to reach the light, giving it a lanky appearance.
Tight containers can also lead kalanchoe plants to grow leggy since they do not have enough space to distribute their roots and grow appropriately. As a result, the plant may extend upwards to obtain more light and room, leading it to become lanky.
To prevent legginess in kalanchoe plants, ensure they have enough soil and area to grow. Using the proper size pot for the plant and a nutrient-rich soil mix can guarantee the plant has the resources it requires to develop healthily.
Kalanchoe loves a neutral, loose and slightly acidic soil that passes water well. It is best to purchase ready-made soil designed for succulents that contains plenty of organic matter and perlite and avoid soils that are too heavy or compacted
Or you can prepare the soil mixture yourself by mixing peat, sand and leafy soil in a ratio of 1:1:2:4. Another option is to add sand to the universal soil.
The Kalanchoe needs to be able to grow freely, so it needs to have a fairly generous space. Although some varieties grow only a few centimeters, there are other species that can reach more than a meter in height.
Over-watering can lead kalanchoe plants to become leggy due to a lack of appropriate oxygenation in the soil. Overwatering a plant causes the soil to get saturated with water, causing the roots to become waterlogged and unable to absorb oxygen. As a results kalanchoe’s roots cannot carry nutrients and water to the rest of the plant without oxygen.
Another way overwatering can cause leggy leaves in Kalanchoe plant is by creating a weak and shallow root structure. This is due to roots being constantly saturated with water and unable to access the oxygen they need to grow strong and deep. This will cause an unstable root system that cannot support the weight of the Kalanchoe plant, leading to leggy growth.
Being unable to absorb nutrients by the roots it will allocate its energy into growing taller in an attempt to reach more light, rather than growing fuller and more compact. This can result in leggy growth with stretched-out stems and leaves.
As a result, as it tries to reach for more sunshine and nutrients, the kalanchoe plant may begin to stretch and grow taller. The plant may become leggy, with long stalks and few leaves. Overwatering can also cause root rot and other fungal infections, harming the plant.
The flower should be watered moderately, avoiding both waterlogging and over drying of the soil.
In spring and summer, watering the plant will take place as follows:
- Kalanchoe is watered with cool water (it is advisable to keep one glass jar, constantly replenishing it: it is better to water with old water).
- Therefore, the water remaining in the pan is poured out, and between waterings the top layer of soil is allowed to dry out (in winter, after the soil has dried, you should wait three or four days).
- 2-3 times a week.
- In winter: 2-3 times a month.
6. Lack Of Proper Pruning
Kalanchoe plants are well-known for their brightly colored flowers and thick, succulent leaves. When not pruned regularly, they can grow leggy and lose their appealing shape.
Leggy growth happens when the plant’s stem elongates disproportionately, and the leaves are spaced too far apart, resulting in a sparse and unkempt appearance. This is a natural response of the plant to low light levels or overcrowding. The plant tries to expand toward the light to enhance its potential to photosynthesize.
Pruning helps to prevent this by removing the plant’s apical meristem, or developing tip, which fosters the formation of lateral branches and more compact foliage. Pruning can also eliminate older, woody stems and foster new growth, resulting in a fuller, more appealing plant.
Flowering Kalanchoe plants might become leggy and ugly if not appropriately pruned, impacting their health and capacity to produce flowers. As a result, it’s critical to trim and prune your kalanchoe plants regularly to keep their shape, stimulate healthy growth, and encourage flowering.
To make Kalanchoe to become compact again you need to prune it. All extended branches should be removed, and the lateral buds will emerge. Kalanchoe will be lush again in a few months. However, stretching may be avoided by supplying the flower with adequate yet diffused illumination.
When the Kalanchoe has faded, it is cut off using a sharp knife. Be sure to remove dried inflorescences, damaged and diseased branches and leaves.
To limit apical growth and activate the growth of lateral shoots, pinch the tops. As a result, the bush will be compact and lush.
Once every few years, it is recommended to carry out a radical pruning to rejuvenate the plant. In this case, the stems are cut almost completely, leaving only small petioles.
How to prevent Flowering Kalanchoe from being leggy
There are several things you can do to prevent a flowering Kalanchoe plant from becoming leggy:
- Provide adequate light: Flowering Kalanchoe plants require bright light to grow strong and healthy. Make sure to place the plant in a location that receives bright, indirect sunlight for at least 6 hours per day.
- Choose the right soil: The soil should be well-draining, nutrient-rich, and provide good support for the plant’s root system. Look for a soil mix that contains plenty of organic matter and perlite, and avoid soils that are too heavy or compacted.
- Water regularly: Overwatering can cause leggy growth, so allow the soil to dry out partially between waterings. Water the plant when the soil is dry to the touch, and be sure to provide proper drainage.
- Fertilize regularly: A flowering Kalanchoe plant requires regular fertilization to maintain healthy growth. Use a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer every two weeks during the growing season, and reduce fertilization during the winter months.
- Pinch and prune: To encourage fuller growth and prevent legginess, pinch back the tips of the Kalanchoe plant’s stems regularly. This will stimulate the growth of new lateral branches and promote bushier growth.
Frequently Asked Questions
Pruning can and should be done during the flowering period to encourage flower production and to give the plant a tidier appearance. The first thing to do is remove any withered or fading flowers as soon as they appear
The Kalanchoe does not grow taller than 30 cm and grows very bushy. Some breeds are smaller or can be described as mini. Unfortunately, they don’t keep the compactness for long and get bigger again over time.
It is especially important to cut off unhealthy and dried leaves, because the flower will waste nutrients on them. In this case, it will not be surprising that the plant does not have enough strength to bloom. Do not forget that after the Kalanchoe has faded, old and dry flower stalks should be removed immediately.
Other species, such as the Flaming Katy, are propagated by cuttings. These are cut in summer with two to three pairs of leaves and placed in a soil-sand mixture. At a good 20 degrees Celsius, they soon form roots.