Ultimate Guide: How to Care for a Panda Plant

A panda plant is an elegant indoor houseplant, loved for its velvety heart-shaped leaves and small white flowers. The attractive foliage of a panda plant makes it a great accent for your home or office.

The Panda plant is a wild succulent native to Madagascar. The succulent is characterized by velvety red-rimmed leaves that have unique patterns and a woody stem. Easy on the eyes and touch, the panda plant has earned the nickname Fuzzy Kalanchoe because of its fuzzy hairs. The hairs help to reduce moisture loss and keep pests at bay. The panda plant can grow to massive heights of up to 32 inches in the wild, while indoor growth is limited to about half the size.

This gorgeous plant has quickly become a favorite to many because it is beautiful and vibrant. The plant is also straightforward to care for. There are many varieties to choose from though the Chocolate Soldier is highly popular. Panda plants are a great addition to your indoor plant collection because they offer many benefits such as detoxifying the air, medicinal purposes, and beauty benefits. An excellent choice for beginners, the fuzzy kalanchoe does very well indoors and requires very little maintenance. So let’s get right into it.

Finding the right container

The first step to making sure your plant blooms is to use a container that prevents sitting water. The best container is a pot made out of porous materials as it can quickly dry. However, you can also use plastic or ceramic materials, but you must be careful not to overwater your plant. Drainage is critical; make sure that whichever pot you choose has drainage holes at the base.

Soil

Regular gardening soil is not a good option for panda plants as it can retain too much water. Remember, succulents do not need that much water, especially standing water. Instead, your plant will require a mix rich in minerals, organic water, and air. You can develop a sandy potting mix of 60% loam/potting soil, 25%sand, and 15%perlite. The mixture should be well-draining. Add rocks at the base of the pot for good drainage.

How often should you water your panda plant?

The best part about the fuzzy kalanchoe is the ability to retain water for weeks. So if you are forgetful or have a busy schedule, you are in luck. Panda plants only require watering anywhere from one to three weeks, depending on the humidity levels in your home.

Check your soil’s dryness to confirm whether your plants need watering or not. Place a toothpick or wooden spatula into the soil if it seems dry, then it’s time to water your plant. To ensure that your plant gets enough water, continue watering until it seeps through the drainage holes.

Avoid the water getting in contact with the leaves.

Water the plant from the tips, but avoid the water getting in contact with the leaves. The leaves are susceptible to humidity and can rot when in contact with water. In case the water touches the leaves, quickly soak it up with a tissue. You can also water the plants from the bottom with a base tray; add small amounts until the soil surface no longer absorbs the water. Overwatering can lead to root rot; make sure to drain any excess water.

How much light does a panda plant require

Panda plants enjoy bright and direct sunlight. Though they can tolerate high temperatures, they can’t survive excess heat. Place your plant in the north, south, or west-facing window sills in the morning and move it to areas with less light in the afternoon. All that is required is a few hours of direct sunlight and plenty of indirect light. If your panda lives outside, do not overexpose it to direct sunlight; leave it out for a few hours and move your plant into the shade.

Temperature

Indoor panda plants do well in an average temperature of 15-23°C. Though resilient plants can withstand most climates, they cannot withstand excessively hot or cold temperatures. We recommend humidifiers in dry climates, and you can also water your plant more frequently or place it in a humid corner. If the levels of humidity increase, avoid watering or put it on a dry spot in your home. Move the plant outside during the warmer months but get it inside quickly when cold temperatures kick in or when it gets excessively hot.

Panda plant having indirect sunlight.
Move the plant outside during the warmer months.

How do you trim/prune a panda plant?

If you prefer your plant dense and short, you can prune your panda plant regularly to maintain its shape. You will need scissors or pruning shears. Cut the leaves at the base to allow for new leaves to grow. It all comes down to how you prefer your fuzzy kalanchoe, whether neat and dense or wild and natural. 

Flowering

Flowers rarely bloom in indoor panda plants. There are exceptions where tiny tubular white flowers bloom at the tips of the branches. If the plant is placed outdoors, you will spot flowers once fully mature. The yellowish-red flowers are bell-shaped with a furry texture.

A close up image of a panda plant.
Flowers rarely bloom in indoor panda plants.

Feeding

Generally, panda plants do not require fertilizers to thrive. If you want to add fertilizer, make sure to use diluted liquid fertilizer once a month in spring and summer. Do not use fertilizers during the winter as there is minimal growth, which may damage the roots. Only use succulent fertilizers designed explicitly for cactus and other succulents.

Repotting your panda plant

The Fuzzy Kalanchoe is a slow grower and only requires repotting once every two years. For a mature plant, you can report after three years. Move your plant to a slightly larger pot. To repot your plant, hold it at the base, overturn the pot gently, and smoothly remove the plant. To make repotting easier, you can water the plant first. Move your plant to the new pot, bury the roots and leave a little stem above the surface. Water your plant after a week.

Propagation

Propagation at home is the most economical way to get multiple panda plants. The best time to propagate your plant is during the spring or summer months, as the climate is optimal for your plant to thrive. You will need sharp scissors. Snap off a few leaves; make sure that you don’t snap off too many as this will negatively affect your plant. Make sure no leaf part is left on the stem for successful propagation. Also, do not snap off a single leaf because it may not sustain root growth. 

A young panda plant in a pot.
Make sure no leaf part is left on the stem for successful propagation.

Dry the leaves for about 5-7 days until completely dry and place them in a container. Make sure the cuttings are placed in well-draining soil, such as the perlite mix or sandy soil. Water the plant frequently and move it to an area with indirect sunlight. The leaves develop their first roots after about 3-6 weeks. Move the plant to a pot with standard succulent soil when tiny green leaves start growing and prune them when they begin to grow for a fuller appearance.

Panda plant problems

Root & Leaf Rot

Commonly caused by overwatering and is characterized by mushy yellow leaves and black, soggy roots. If you notice these signs, you can remove the damaged leaves or repot your plant and water it less frequently. Remember, you only have to water your plant if the soil is arid; you can use a toothpick to confirm this.

Pests

Though indoor plants are less susceptible to pests, they can still experience them. The pests include mealybugs and scale insects. Mealybugs hide at the joints of stems and leaves, while scale insects appear like tiny black dots. Inspect your plants frequently to deal with the bugs before it’s too late. If the bugs are few, you can remove them with a pin. On the other hand, for severe infestations, use predators that feed on the bugs, such as ladybugs, or rub 70%isopropyl alcohol on the mealybugs. For the scale insects, you can use insecticides.

A panda plant.
Inspect your plants frequently to deal with the bugs before it’s too late.

Ominous Signs to look out for 

Dried up Leaves

If your panda plant leaves are continuously drying, especially at the base, you might want to check on the amount of water your plants are getting. Dried leaves are a sign of underwatering. So water your plants more frequently and remove any dead leaves.

Yellow Mushy Leaves

As earlier mentioned, this is a sign of too much water. Before adding water, check on the soil moisture content; if damp, avoid watering. Allow the water to dry out before the next watering session.

Black Spots

Black spots can either scale insects or extreme overwatering. If decreasing the amount of water you are giving the plant does not work, use insecticides.

The white substance on Leaves

This white substance could indicate mealybugs. The bugs can be hard to deal with if not detected early. You can rub alcohol on the plants or use an insecticide.

Bottom Line

To sum it all up, if you would like to have a healthy and thriving panda plant, you need to make sure the soil is well-draining, maintain optimum temperatures, provide just enough water, adequate lighting, and be on the lookout for pests. It doesn’t get any easier than this.

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