The Q&A Archives: Plant Identification

Question: My mother was recently given a gift plant with no identifying tag and none of us knows what it is! Can you help? It is a greenish-grayish-silvery succulent-appearing plant with fairly long stems. The leaves are flat, opposite, and have serrated edges. The flowers are pinkish-purplish and are on stalks.

And if you can identify it, can you tell me how to take care of it? I really appreciate any help you can give. Thank you.

Answer: I'm going to venture a guess that it's Kalanchoe. This is a popular gift plant, easily cared for, with long-lasting flowers. There are many Kalanchoe plant varieties. Some are grown for their flowers and others are grown for their interesting foliage. The most commonly grown is K. blossfeldiana, which normally flowers in spring but can be forced to flower at almost any time. The leaves of this plant turn reddish in sunlight and the large flowerheads last for many weeks. This Kalanchoe needs a rest period. After flowering prune the tops down and place the pot on a shady windowsill. Keep the compost nearly dry for a month and then put the plant in a well-lit spot and water normally.

To keep your plant in tip-top shape, provide average household warmth (minimum 50F in winter). Place in an east or west facing window from spring to autumn and a south facing window in winter. Water thoroughly when actively growing, allowing the soil surface to dry between waterings.

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