Ask a Question forum: skinny Mother of Thousands

Views: 283, Replies: 15 » Jump to the end
Ann Arbor, MI
Zina
Mar 11, 2018 4:12 PM CST
I have a Mother of Thousands that has grown to almost a foot tall, but whose stem has remained skinny. I had given my daughter some of the plantlets last year, and those are already about a foot and a half tall, with very thick stem and large leaves. Hers are on the sill of a frosted window in a bathroom that faces north on an alley! Mine is planted in a cactus mix as well. I recently transplanted it (a couple of weeks ago), because it was so tall and thin that it was bending over, not standing up. The present pot doesn't have a hole at the bottom, but I put in at the bottom a bunch of large glass "pebbles", almost 1/2" diameter each.
The leaves seem healthy, not limp, but the stem is staying skinny, and the leaves are staying narrow and immature-looking. What to do? (The colors in the attached images are more dull than the actual colors.)

Thumb of 2018-03-11/visitor/6515e7


Thumb of 2018-03-11/visitor/0ac140

Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
Image
DaisyI
Mar 11, 2018 4:40 PM CST
Welcome!

I can't comment on why your daughter's plants are doing well in a north window, except to say that if the walls in the alley are light colored, the plants could be benefitting from reflected light.

Your plant needs more sun and less water. A pot with pebbles in the bottom is asking for rot from water collecting on top of the pebbles. And a pot with no drain hole is a double whammy. Find it some sunshine and a pot with a drain hole. Don't use pebbles.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

Webmaster: osnnv.org
Ann Arbor, MI
Zina
Mar 11, 2018 4:52 PM CST
Thank you. I do have a plant light on it and in a southern window. I will transplant to a different pot, but I think I have to wait a while, as this transplant was only a few weeks ago. Right? But the thing is that this problem already existed, in fact was worse, in the previous pot, which did have drainage hole. ?
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
Image
DaisyI
Mar 11, 2018 5:11 PM CST
In your old pot, did you wait for the soil to be dry almost to the bottom of the pot before you watered? When you did water, was the soil absorbing the water - you would have had to check that by sticking your finger into the soil after you watered.

The problem with a pot with no drainage hole is that the roots need to dry somewhat and breath between waterings. That never happens in a pot without drainage. The pebbles exacerbate this by holding water in the soil to saturation before the water trickles into the pebbles. If your plant is looking better now, it may be that the soil was not absorbent in the old pot.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

Webmaster: osnnv.org
Oxford UK (Zone 8a)
Image
longk
Mar 11, 2018 5:37 PM CST
The leaves look perfectly correct for Kalanchoë delagoensis,
As far as the skinny stem goes I would say too much heat for too little light. If they are warm they will try to grow but lack of good light results in weak growth (thin stems). I keep mine in an unheated porch and they have good healthy stems despite us having similar daylight hours to you. Could be that your daughters bathroom is cooler.
I keep the plantlets for Kalanchoë daigremontiana, Kalanchoë delagoensis and Kalanchoë x houghtonii on some dry compost in the shed over the winter. They seem hardier than larger plants and don't try to grow until the spring.
Salvia and anything unusual
Ann Arbor, MI
Zina
Mar 11, 2018 5:51 PM CST
Thank you both for the replies. It's possible that I didn't have the soil dry all the way down; I only tested to 2 inches down. Is it okay to transfer to a pot with drainage hole this soon after having transplanted only a few weeks ago? Also, RE: the issue of cold or heat, my room is kept at 67 degrees, and this plant is at a window because of which the pot is cold to the touch. In fact, I think it gets too cold, and I wrap the pot in some felt...so I don't think cold is the problem....
Oxford UK (Zone 8a)
Image
longk
Mar 11, 2018 6:08 PM CST
67°f is 19.5°c which (in my humble opinion) is way too warm when there is only eight hours of daylight. Now that you're up around twelve hours of daylight more heat is fine. Mine went down to 2 or 3°c overnight in the porch, daytime between 2 and 10°c. It has nice sturdy stems, some slightly withered leaves from the cold, plantlets are forming but it is also in bloom now as well................
Thumb of 2018-03-12/longk/b2331cKalanchoë delagoensis by longk48, on Flickr

It has basically been dry since November.
Salvia and anything unusual
Ann Arbor, MI
Zina
Mar 11, 2018 6:49 PM CST
So the leaves don't get much broader on this type of mother of thousands? Or is yours also kind of young?
Ann Arbor, MI
Zina
Mar 11, 2018 6:54 PM CST
Yours actually looks like a different variety when I zoom in. I don't think mine blooms, from all the other people I know who have the same one only bigger and hardier. ? Just btw, we've had more than 10 hours of daylight for quite some time. It doesn't ever get down as low as 8 hours. But anyway....
Oxford UK (Zone 8a)
Image
longk
Mar 12, 2018 3:17 AM CST
Zina said:So the leaves don't get much broader on this type of mother of thousands? Or is yours also kind of young?
There are a few species that have the common name of Mother Of Thousands (MOT) which is why I stick to Latin names. The leaves are normal for the species that you have.

Zina said:Yours actually looks like a different variety when I zoom in. I don't think mine blooms, from all the other people I know who have the same one only bigger and hardier. ? Just btw, we've had more than 10 hours of daylight for quite some time. It doesn't ever get down as low as 8 hours. But anyway....
I'm starting to feel like I'm picking on you - I'm not, honest *Blush*
I just checked my figures re daylight and you're correct, it was just under 9 hours at the winter equinox *Blush*
Regarding the lack of blooms, they all bloom. A cool spell starts this off with all the MOT species (and a lot of other Kalanchoe species).
Kalanchoe x houghtonii in January...............
Thumb of 2018-03-12/longk/dfd387Kalanchoe x houghtonii by longk48, on Flickr

Kalanchoe daigremontiana in late January...............
Thumb of 2018-03-12/longk/4abf1eKalanchoe daigremontiana by longk48, on Flickr

For reference here's the foliage of Kalanchoe daigremontiana...............
Kalanchoe daigremontiana by longk48, on Flickr

Yours doesn't look massively unhealthy, just a bit weak. The good news is that you'll be sorting out the growing medium so that's good.
Personally I wouldn't describe any of them as hardy or think of them as perennial. I grow the plantlets on and then plant them out the following spring once any risk of frost has passed. They make a terrific annual in the borders. Here's a photo of Kalanchoe x houghtonii in the garden in June 2014..........
Thumb of 2018-03-12/longk/80372aKalanchoe x houghtonii by longk48, on Flickr

Maybe @Baja_Costero could take a look and offer his advice?

Salvia and anything unusual
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
Cactus and Succulents Seed Starter Foliage Fan Xeriscape Container Gardener Bromeliad
Hummingbirder Native Plants and Wildflowers Garden Photography Region: Mexico Plant Identifier Forum moderator
Image
Baja_Costero
Mar 12, 2018 9:46 AM CST
I agree with what longk and Daisy have said. As mentioned above, you can't expect the plant to be healthy long term in a pot without a hole, and the large glass "pebbles" at the bottom do not actually do anything to improve the situation. You can make a pot without a hole work if you water very very carefully, but even then it's limited over time. When you can't flush the soil (as you would with a pot that has a hole at the bottom) the salt in the water (and especially any fertilizer) just continues to build up in the soil.

The plant looks like it needs more light. If it can "see" the sun for hours a day, great. The light that counts is what the plant receives from the sun straight through the window, not the reflected or diffused (ambient) light further away from the window. A spot right next to your sunniest south-facing windowsill ought to work. Sometimes when light is an issue you have to actually look first hand at the way light enters your house, to see what outside the window might be blocking it (this changes with the seasons) and exactly how long it is hitting your plants. Speaking from experience, what you expect to happen does not always come to pass given the constraints of the real world, so direct observation is really helpful.

One thing to bear in mind is that in early winter, the sun is at its lowest point in the sky and the days are their shortest. So that is when light tends to become limiting for indoor succulents, and winter is when they tend to stretch and generate weak, elongated growth. A couple of months afterwards (around now) is when you really would see the effects. In comparison the months ahead are brighter and the days are longer, so you will probably see an improvement in the plant if it continues to get better light. Right now the light is increasing at close to its maximum rate, so the changes are fairly dramatic from week to week.

As for blooming, the flowers appear at the end of the stems and generally only after they have gotten relatively tall, so you will have to wait until your plant is older before you can expect any action there. The flowers should be quite attractive and there are some good examples of Kalanchoe blooms above.
[Last edited by Baja_Costero - Mar 12, 2018 9:58 AM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #1658064 (11)
Ann Arbor, MI
Zina
Mar 12, 2018 7:17 PM CST
Thank you all very much. I will definitely follow the advice. One last thing: I asked above if it's okay to repot the plant when it has only been a few weeks since the previous repotting. What do you think?
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
Cactus and Succulents Seed Starter Foliage Fan Xeriscape Container Gardener Bromeliad
Hummingbirder Native Plants and Wildflowers Garden Photography Region: Mexico Plant Identifier Forum moderator
Image
Baja_Costero
Mar 12, 2018 7:29 PM CST
I think so. If/when you do repot, do it when the soil is dry. Be careful how you handle the roots (minimum intervention is best, leave the root ball intact) and do not water afterwards for a week or so. Good luck! Smiling
[Last edited by Baja_Costero - Mar 12, 2018 8:01 PM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #1658548 (13)
Name: Signet
South Western Ontario , Canada (Zone 6a)
Image
signet
Mar 13, 2018 6:35 AM CST
Very interesting post Thank You! . I had no idea there were other varieties of Mother of Thousands. I have Kalanchoe daigremontiana and it has bloomed and bloomed all winter long for me . This is the first time I have seen blooms. They are all drying up now but at the axils of the leaves on the plant it appears to be putting out more bloom spikes. Will try to post a picture a little later
http://www.asnailspacedaylilie...

Spent most of my time in the garden the rest of it I've wasted
Name: Tiffany purpleinopp
Opp, AL 🌵🌷⚘🌹🌻 (Zone 8b)
Houseplants Organic Gardener Composter Region: Gulf Coast Miniature Gardening Native Plants and Wildflowers
Tropicals Butterflies Garden Sages Cactus and Succulents Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Image
purpleinopp
Mar 15, 2018 4:48 PM CST
It sounds like your daughter's plant in less light is stretching, etiolating. This may cause her plant to be much bigger. In tons of great light, growth will be more slow and much more compact, each leaf pointing up at the tip. Looks like K. delagoensis to me.

Weak light, lack of air movement against which a plant must strengthen to stay upright, and bouts of severe thirst can contribute to weak stems. But, since this plant can take root at any point, it's ready, willing, and able to fall over & suddenly turn into a patch instead of an individual. It's not really in this plants' best interest to develop a strong stem, though they will lignify with old age.

Kals are the star of the show, IMVHO/E, for winter bloomers. That's why I keep so many of them around. The blooms have a "wow" factor and last for months.
https://garden.org/thread/go/1...
https://garden.org/thread/go/7...
👀😁😂 - SMILE! -☺😎☻☮👌✌∞☯🐣🐦🐔🐝🍯🐾
The less I interfere, the more balance mother nature provides.
👒🎄👣🏡🍃🍂🌾🌿🍁❦❧ 🍃🍁🍂🌾🌻🌸🌼🌹🌽❀☀🌺
☕👓 The only way to succeed is to try.
Ann Arbor, MI
Zina
Mar 15, 2018 7:04 PM CST
Thank you all; I will report back after the repotting. I'll also post a photo of my daughters plants.

« Garden.org Homepage
« Back to the top
« Forums List
« Ask a Question forum
Only the members of the Members group may reply to this thread.

Member Login:

Username:

Password:

[ Join now ]

Today's site banner is by TBGDN and is called "Tall bearded iris "Vanity""