Panda Plant can be an alternative succulent houseplant besides cactus. This plant is known for having beautiful foliage and attractive forms of shrubs. More good news is, almost everyone can have this plant at home because its growing and caring procedures are not that difficult. Here you can learn more about the characteristics of Panda Plant, the best environment to grow one, as well as the right procedures to take care of it.
About Panda Plant
Identified as a succulent shrub, Panda Plant (Kalanchoe tomentosa) belongs to the family of Crassulaceae. The plant is native to Madagascar and found largely on granite rocks. Clearly, just like any other types of succulent shrubs and herbs, Panda Plant prefers a dry environment. In its natural habitat, the plant’s height can reach up to 45 centimeters.
One of the best features in Panda Plant is its foliage. Bearing on woody and sturdy stems, the foliage has oval, rosette forms with the length of 3-8 centimeters. The foliage’ color is silvery white with a bit of green shade. Each of them has some kind of random patches which frame the edge. The patches usually come in orange during the early stage of growth, but turn into brown once the plant grows older.
Because of its pretty foliage, Panda Plant is often selected as a decorative indoor plant. However, as attractive as it is, growing Panda Plant in pots comes with some limitations; the plant cannot bear flowers. When it grows on natural soil in outdoor space, the plant usually produces feathery, bell-shaped flowers during the spring and summer. This is unlikely to happen in indoor planting, so the owner can only enjoy the plant for its foliage.
Variety of Panda Plant
Panda Plant goes by several other names, including Cocoon Plant, Plush Plant, White Lady, and Velvet Leaf Kalanchoe. In addition, the plant has a number of varieties with slight differences of characteristics. The most popular variety of Panda Plant is ‘Chocolate Soldier’. It is a perennial succulent plant with hairy foliage and robust stem. This variety can grow up to 80-centimeter tall, but may grow smaller if it is planted indoor in a pot.
Where and How to Grow Panda Plant
Growing Panda Plant is quite easy. All you have to do is finding a suitable environment that more or less resembles its natural habitat. In terms of the temperature, the plant will grow better in the range between 15 to 23 degrees Celsius, but can tolerate higher temperature as well.
As a houseplant, Panda Plant can be placed in a standing or hanging pot. The type of the pot does not really matter; what matters more is where you should place it. Because it is classified as a succulent shrub, Panda Plant needs to be placed in a bright location with enough doses of sunlight. The ideal place for Panda succulent is where you can give the plant both direct and indirect rays.
In addition to indoor growing, Panda Plant can be planted in the garden with the minimum temperature of 10 degrees Celsius. However, when growing Panda Plant outdoor, you must keep the plant in dry condition and protect it from frost or heavy rainfall. The plant may decay if it is exposed too long in cool air.
In both indoor and outdoor growing, Panda Plant needs porous soil with good drainage. To create such composition, you can mix garden soil with one part of loam and two parts of sand. For better result, you may include an ample amount of small gravel in the pot or planting area. As for indoor growing, the plant needs to be placed in a pot with a maximum diameter of 13 centimeters.
Panda Plant Care Guide
The basic rule of Panda Plant care is cleaning its leaves or foliage. You need to keep them spotless and free from dust. On a regular basis, the cleaning process can be done by brushing the leaves gently using a small paintbrush or toothbrush.Moreover, when it comes to taking care of Panda Plant, you need to include the following activities, from watering, feeding, to propagation.
Panda Plant is succulent, meaning that the leaves store water for a long period of time, just like a cactus. For that reason, Panda Plant should not be watered frequently, otherwise the leaves may rot. You only need to water the plant if the soil looks dry. Don’t pour water directly into the leaves. Instead, pour it to the soil or at the bottom parts of the plant, and let the leaves absorb the water by themselves.
Feed Panda Plant with a diluted fertilizer every four weeks. However, please note that the plant can only be fertilized in the spring and summer. During the rest of the year, fertilizing is not recommended.
Panda Plant Propagation can be done in the spring or summer. To propagate the plant, cut and trim the leaves depending on the size you like. Let the trimmed leaves dry for about a week, and then place them on soil, moss, and sand inside a small-sized pot (approximately 8 centimeters in diameter). Water the young plant at a sufficient amount of water until it is strong enough to hold the root and grow.
Caution and Problems
It is important to mention that Panda Plant is poisonous. Because of this, don’t let pets consume any part of the plants or be in direct contact with it. As for the problem, the biggest enemy of Panda Plant is a pest named mealy bugs. The bugs’ attack can cause the leaves to rot. To prevent this from happening, you need to spray systemic insecticides every now and then or when you water the plant.
Having Panda Plant at home can benefit you as the owner. In addition to its attractive features that can serve as a home decoration, the plant is easy to care and can last for a long period of time. Now that you know the right procedures of growing and taking care of Panda Plant, you can consider getting and having one at your own home.