Flaming Katy: Our Guide to Effective Care

Last update: January 29, 2021

The flaming Katy is an easy-to-grow succulent plant. Its vibrantly colored flowers give it its distinctive name. Succulents make an excellent choice for a houseplant that can tolerate average indoor conditions well. You can also grow this plant outdoors if you are in the zone. It can add a welcome bit of color to your landscaping. Read on to learn more about this plant.

What Is the Flaming Katy?

The flaming Katy (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana) is a member of the Crassulaceae or Stonecrop Family. You’ll likely recognize other members of this group, including the jade plant and sedum. They are succulent plants that have a lineage that goes back about 100 million years. They are survivors. These plants are well adapted to dry and sometimes unpredictable conditions.

You may see the flaming Katy called Kalanchoe by its genus name. That term may also apply to other succulents in the same genus. This one is distinctive for its colorful flowers. You’ll find it with red, orange, or yellow flowers. They produce long-lasting blooms as long as their needs are met. Fortunately, they are tolerant of a variety of conditions including the occasional neglect.

Planting Flaming Katy

You can grow flaming Katy outdoors if you live in USDA Hardiness Zones 7 through 11. While it tolerates a lot, cold is its kryptonite. Temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit are deadly. Otherwise, you can grow them indoors as a houseplant as long as you provide similar conditions. It is an easy to take care of, making it an excellent beginner choice.

Care and Maintenance

If you examine the plant, you’ll see some of the adaptations it has evolved through the ages to get it to its present state. It has thick, fleshy leaves that allow it to store water to get it through those dry patches. Its flowers are small. Producing blooms takes a lot of plant resources. The flaming Katy conserves them with smaller flowers. What it lacks in size, it makes up with color.

Light and Temperature

Its genus, Kalanchoe, originated in Madagascar. Its preferences for light and temperature reflect what it knows best. The flaming Katy is a sun-loving plant that likes bright indirect light. You’ll get the most blooms from a plant that is getting adequate sunlight. Average household temperatures of 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit will suit it just fine. It’ll tolerate conditions on the warm side too.

Moisture Needs

As you may guess, a succulent has this water issue down pat. It is, after all, its evolutionary strength. It is drought tolerant. You needn’t worry about misting it as average household humidity is fine. In fact, you should avoid wetting its leaves when you water it. You can let the soil dry between waterings. Avoid over-watering it to prevent root rot. That’s its other Achilles heel.

Over-watering creates conditions favorable for fungus development. The flaming Katy is certainly not the only plant susceptible to it. It is a concern with any potted plant. That’s why proper drainage with both the soil and the container are essential for plant health. The problem with root rot is that it’s difficult, if not impossible, for a plant to recover once it has taken hold.

Soil Conditions and Fertilizing

The key to keeping the flaming Katy plant happy is well-draining soils. You can plant it in a container with a soil mixture specially formulated for cacti and succulents. And as always, make sure the container has adequate drainage. The flaming Katy will fare well in terra cotta pots that can help meet its needs for drainage and moisture.

It is a moderately dense plant that will grow in a rounded form. It’ll reach a height under one foot but may spread to 1 ½ feet. The flaming Katy is a slow-growing plant, so it will only need fertilizing a few times during the active growing season. Plants rely on the photoperiod or day length to signal when it’s time to go dormant in the cooler months and later flower.

Maximizing Flower Production

As we mentioned earlier, adequate light will support flower production. It needs that energy from the sun to fuel plant growth. You should also deadhead spent blooms during the flowering season. It will keep your plant looking good and encourage more blooms. The flaming Katy will flower throughout the season, albeit, not always predictable. Think of it as a surprise.

Fitting In

The flaming Katy is not an invasive plant, so you needn’t worry about it taking over your garden if you have it outdoors. Its foliage will add some interest to your garden over the winter. However, the plant is toxic to both cats and dogs. Accidental ingestion can cause vomiting and diarrhea, and in some cases, more serious complications.

We said that the flaming Katy is tough, which also applies to its resistance to disease and pests. The one issue you may encounter is mealy bugs. You’ll notice the obvious signs of distress such as plant damage and wilting. Prevention is always easiest. However, a thorough application of an insecticidal spray can control an infestation. You can also remove them by hand.

Special Care Notes

You can easily propagate the flaming Katy as you can with many other succulents from cuttings from stems and leaves. Sometimes, it’ll do the job itself with baby plants. Take care of the little ones as you would the established plants. Bright indirect light and moist soils will give the new plants a good start.

This video from the University of Wyoming Extension discusses the wide variety of succulents and how to propagate new plants to spread the love.

The flaming Katy is a delightful plant that offers striking colors and low maintenance for the home gardener. As a succulent, it can tolerate dry conditions and the occasional neglect. With adequate light and moisture, it will continue to produce gorgeous blooms that will make it a stunning centerpiece for your garden or home.

Photo by Hans licensed under CC0.

Also Read: Rat Tail Cactus

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