Colourful kalanchoe the perfect cold weather choice
Lots of people think that nothing much flowers in winter and you really need to wait until spring before you can achieve any colour in the garden.
How wrong this is. Camellias, pansies, violas, poinsettias, cyclamen, cymbidium orchids and a host of other plants are in full bloom right now.
One of the best options for winter colour, inside or out, is kalanchoe blossfeldianna. Perfect for pots, rockeries and sunny garden beds, kalanchoes have fleshy succulent leaves that are lovely and round, with slightly scalloped edges and no dangerous sharp or pointy bits like some other succulents.
In winter, they produce erect stems held above the plant, with up to 30 brilliantly coloured flowers on each stem.
The colour range is extensive, with whites, pinks, reds, yellows, oranges and some multi-coloured flowers too.
The plants are quite small, usually growing no more than 30-45cm high, including the flower stems. So you don't need much room to accommodate one of these cheerful winter-flowering beauties.
Kalanchoes are widely used as flowering indoor plants throughout Europe, because they are pretty, hardy and flower for a long time.
Pop a kalanchoe in a pot and enjoy the long-lasting flowers for months, inside or out. They don't need much water and will grow in full sun, part shade or a brightly lit position indoors. Cut off flower stems after the blooms have faded to keep the plant looking neat and to encourage more flowers.
If you want to plant your kalanchoe into a sunny position after a period indoors, you'll need to accustom it gently to the sun by moving it progressively into a sunnier position week by week. Although they will grow in full sun, I think that, like many succulents, they do appreciate a little protection from the harshest sunshine.
Not much is required in the way of care. Allow the plant to dry out a little between waterings, especially during winter, and use a liquid fertiliser regularly according to the directions on the pack. They will be damaged if temperatures drop below zero, so are best kept indoors over winter.
They're not bothered by many pests or diseases, making them a great choice for the time-poor or novice plant lover. Over-watering is the most common problem and that's easily avoided.
The hardest thing about kalanchoes is deciding on a colour and choosing a pot.
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