Native to Madagascar, the Panda plant is a member of the Kalanchoe genus. It is one of the most-loved succulents across the world. The panda plant is known for its interesting pattern and relatively soft feel. In fact, its botanical name translates to “covered with fine hairs” in English. Like many succulents, the panda plant is less fussy and can thrive even with neglect. A mature plant can be up to two feet tall.
So, how do you take care of a panda plant? Well, like other succulents, this plant doesn’t love being overwatered. Too much water can cause irreversible root rot due to the relatively large size of its leaves that store water for many days. You should only water it when the soil is completely dry. The plant requires at least six hours of bright sunlight daily, although it can withstand partial shade. If you are looking to fertilize your panda plant, do so sparingly since overfertilizing can cause root rot and other issues. Feed your panda plant with a liquid fertilizer during the active growing season. Ensure the temperature doesn’t fall below 65 degrees Fahrenheit and only repot once every two or three years.
This article discusses everything you need to know about caring for a panda plant. Read on to learn more.
Panda Plant: General Overview
The panda plant is a perennial succulent that grows in Madagascar. Its leaves are grey-green with brown edges and are usually covered in silver hairs. These hairs are called trichomes. Its botanical name is kalanchoe tomentasa.
Decorative year-round, this succulent makes a beautiful addition to every succulent garden. It makes a perfect houseplant for heated properties even though it rarely flowers indoors.
Like other succulents, the panda plant is highly tolerant of dry air and doesn’t require frequent watering to thrive. Just give it plenty of direct sunlight, and it will remain healthy for many years.
The two main panda plant varieties are the velvet-leaf panda (Kalanchoe tomentosa) and the felt-leaf panda (Kalanchoe beharensis).
Panda Plant Care Guide
Now that you know a bit about the panda plant, let’s talk about how to take care of it properly.
This succulent is drought-tolerant and doesn’t need too much water to thrive. You should wait until the soil is completely dry before watering it. The amount of water required will depend on the time of year and the temperature.
During the summer, it will need to be watered more often than in winter. Generally, you should water your panda plant once every two weeks because the evaporation rate is relatively high.
But make sure you check the soil before watering. To do this, insert your finger at least one inch into the soil.
If it’s still moist, wait for a few days before you check again. You can also use a moisture meter to accurately measure the moisture content in the soil.
During winter, cut down the watering to once a month. Since the days are shorter and cooler, your panda plant will need less water and sunlight to thrive.
Keep in mind that excessive watering will lead to root rot. Catching root rot in a panda plant may be difficult since it usually takes many months for the rot to appear on the leaves.
However, some early signs of root rot are yellow or discolored leaves, wilting or drooping stems, and an unpleasant smell.
The panda plant needs plenty of bright light for optimal growth, but it can also tolerate partial shade. It does best when placed in a south-facing window with direct sunlight for at least six hours daily.
An east-facing or west-facing windowsill can still serve the purpose if you don’t have a south-facing windowsill in your house.
Closely monitor the amount of light your plant gets and adjust accordingly since too much or too little sunlight can cause problems.
If your home doesn’t get enough natural light, use artificial grow lights to provide your panda plant with the right amount of light it needs. Keep the lights on for at least 12 hours during summer and 8 hours in winter.
Temperature and Humidity
The panda plant prefers relatively warm temperatures and high humidity levels. The ideal temperature range for this succulent is between 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit (18-24°C).
If you live in a cold climate, it’s best to keep your panda plant indoors during winter. Ensure the room temperature doesn’t fall below 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15°C).
Be careful with introducing it to sunlight after winter. If you place it in direct sunlight straight away, the leaves will sunburn due to a sudden increase in temperature.
The best way to do it is to gradually increase the amount of sunlight your panda plant gets. Start by placing it near a window where it will get bright indirect light for a few days, then move it closer to the window until you can place it in direct sunlight.
Humidity levels should ideally range between 40 to 50 percent. Feel free to use a humidifier to achieve this or mist your plant regularly with lukewarm water.
Fertilizer and Soil
Like other succulents, the panda plant needs soil that has excellent drainage properties. Use a potting mix specifically designed for succulents or make your own mixture with equal parts of topsoil, perlite, and coarse sand.
Your panda plant needs fertilizing once or twice a year. Consider usingan organic fertilizer with balanced nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium levels, or get a liquid houseplant fertilizer designed for succulents. Just dilute it to half its recommended strength before use.
Be careful with the amount of fertilizer you use since too much fertilizer can burn the plant’s roots.
Panda plants can be propagated by stem cuttings and leaf cuttings. Simply take a few healthy stems or leaves off the main plant and place them in moist soil. Ensure the soil is well-drained; otherwise, root rot may occur.
Keep the newly planted cuttings in a warm, bright spot, and soil moist but not saturated. You should see roots appearing on the stem or leaves within a few weeks.
Once you see new growth on the stem or leaves, you can start watering it normally.
The panda plant is a relatively slow grower and can survive in the same pot for up to three years.
When it’s time to repot your plant, use a slightly larger pot than the current one. Ensure the new pot has plenty of drainage holes at the bottom and use well-draining succulent soil for optimal growth.
The size ratio of the new pot to the old one should be about 1.5 times larger for optimal growth. For instance, if the old pot had a diameter of four inches, the new one should have six inches.
You can repot your panda plant any time, but spring is the best time since it’s the start of its growing season.
Gently remove the root ball from its pot and gently break up the soil around the roots to loosen them up. Then, place the root ball in the new pot and fill it with succulent soil.
Panda plants don’t need much pruning, but water can help keep the plant healthy. Prune away any dead, yellow, or damaged leaves with a pair of scissors sterilized with alcohol.
Consider pruning the stem to create fuller and bushier growth. Simply snip off new shoots at the stem’s base, and the plant will start to branch out.
You can also take stem cuttings for propagation, as mentioned above. Use sharp scissors or pruners and sterilize them with alcohol before each use to prevent the spread of disease.
The panda plant loves considerable space around it to thrive and grow. Ensure there is at least eight inches of space between other plants and the panda plant to ensure good airflow.
If panda plants dominate your garden, consider leaving a space of 2-3 feet between the plants for better results.
Pests & Diseases
The panda plant is relatively resistant to pests and diseases. But watch out for mealybugs, spider mites, and scale insects which can attack your plant if it’s not taken care of.
You may also experience root rot due to overwatering or poor drainage. To prevent this, ensure you water your plant only when the soil has dried out and use a well-draining soil mix.
If you notice any pests or diseases, take the necessary action to eliminate them immediately. Use insecticidal soap or remove the affected parts of your plant.
The panda plant is a stunning succulent with unique fuzzy leaves, making it stand out from other houseplants. If you give it the right care and attention, you can enjoy this lovely plant for many years.
It’s an easy-care plant that requires bright indirect light, well-draining soil, regular watering, and occasional fertilizing. To encourage bushier growth, you can prune healthy stems or take stem cuttings for propagation.
Repotting your panda plant once in two or three years is also necessary to ensure optimal growth. With the right care, you’ll soon have plenty of healthy, beautiful panda plants!
Last update on 2023-07-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API