712 Kalanchoe fedtschenkoiCommon Names: South American air plant, lavender-scallops, gray sedum Family: Crassulaceae (orpine Family)
South American air plant is a perennial succulent with upright flowering stems and decumbent, spreading sterile (non-flowering) stems that take root wherever they lie on the ground. It grow to about 2 ft (0.6 m) tall and half as wide. The glabrous (hairless) blue green leaves are thick and fleshy. They are oblong, and 1-2 in (2.5-5.1 cm) in length with 2-8 conspicuous teeth around the edges. The purple or reddish brown flowers are bell shaped, about 3/4 in (1.9 cm) long and hang in loose clusters from upright stems.
The popular cultivar, 'Variegata' is more bushy and erect than the species and has leaf margins that are creamy white and scalloped instead of toothed.
Despite the misleading common name, the South American air plant is native to Madagascar. Kalanchoe fedtschenkoi has escaped cultivation and become established in parts of South Florida (and perhaps South America, too!)
CultureLight: Grow South American air plant in partial shade. Indoors, it does best in bright light, but not direct sun through a window.
Moisture: Requires moderate watering during the growing season and very little water in the winter. Moisture: Requires moderate watering during the growing season and very little water in the winter. Hardiness: USDA Zones 9 - 12. South American air plant cannot tolerate hard freezes. Propagation: Stem cuttings are easy to root. Even a single leaf stuck into the soil or potting medium will take root!
South American air plant is used as a ground cover in South Florida. It also is used in cactus/succulent or rock gardens. In colder climates, South American air plant is often seen as a potted houseplant. Note that South American air plants have a tendency to spread and leaves that break off can start new plants in adjacent pots.
There are some 200 species of Kalanchoe, and many are popular container plants.
Steve Christman 4/11/00; updated 6/20/04