Tag Archives: Kalanchoe grandiflora

streetside succulent garden

Some lucky neighborhoods have stimulating examples to study of successful front gardens made without a blade of lawn.
This example is in my hometown, Long Beach, Calif, coastal zone 10, western exposure, December 2015, drought-stricken, irrigation restrictions imposed since last spring.
The garden looks to be of a mature enough age where offsets of original plants have been added to infill and increase the size of individual plant colonies.
Drifts of massed plants, whether herbaceous or succulent, enable strong rhythmic patterns to emerge.
Replanting front gardens that were designed to hold flat planes of lawn is undeniably tricky.
The process needs tinkering and fiddling as some plants fail and others succeed, or the vigorous overrun slower growers. (It’s called “making a garden.”)
The dark mulch on the lower right covers a brand-new landscape next-door dotted with tiny succulents of uniform size, mostly small kinds like echeverias that will take years to fill in.
The garden on the left benefits from big, statuesque plants like ponytail palms, Furcraea macdougalii and Euphorbia ammak, now reaching mature sizes.
There’s also shrubby stuff as a backdrop, like Salvia apiana and Echium candicans, along with the shrub-like succulent Senecio amaniensis.

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Near sunset, the darkened sky was hinting at the rain to come later.

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In this photo alone, I spy several kinds of agaves, including desmettiana, macroacantha, bracteosa, parryi, ‘Blue Glow.’
Panels of small-scale ground covers knit the rosettes together.

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I like the careful buildup of heights and volumes.

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With aloes nestled against agaves. I think the owner has tucked in Salvia nemerosa here, too, for summer bloom.
I also noted some large, shrubby salvias against the house, what looked like the mexicana hybrid ‘Limelight.’

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Agaves ‘Blue Glow’ and possibly stricta.

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Kalanchoe grandiflora and Euphorbia tirucalli

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Good winter color on the Sticks on Fire. We’ve occasionally dipped into the 40s in December.

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On the opposite side of the central path is a beautiful specimen of Euphorbia ammak, a clump of pedilanthus, opuntia, and needle-leaved agaves, possibly geminiflora, stricta or striata.
One of the shrubs as tall as the euphorbia is an overgrown Echium candicans, which has been sheared into a hedge and functions now as a boundary between the two properties.
A young Aloe marlothii is in the foreground. The light was just about gone at this point.

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Not sure whether this is Agave stricta or geminiflora, but it’s set off wonderfully against the rocks and Santa Rita prickly pear.

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Agave potatorum with lots more pups tucked under its skirt of leaves.

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There’s a huge, blooming-size clump of what can only be a puya along the main path to the front door.

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Puya, right?

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Another look at that inflorescence as the sky darkens. Big leaves of flapjack kalanchoes and Kalanchoe synsepela in the foreground.

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Just a great source of inspiration for the neighborhood.

Kalanchoe grandiflora

All succulents can be described as fleshy to some degree, but this kalanchoe is positively indecent, a real fleshpot. A tall, upright succulent to 3 feet.


How to describe the color? There actually exists a means to describe the complex coloring of this kalanchoe’s leaves in one word: Peachblow.

“Of the delicate purplish pink color likened to that of peach blooms; – applied esp. to a Chinese porcelain, small specimens of which bring great prices in the Western countries.”

Turquoise leaves suffused with peachblow. The peachblow will most likely not be as pronounced in summer as with winter temperatures.

I circled around this kalanchoe at California Cactus Center last week, repeatedly tried to walk away, then finally plunged in, carefully stepping through the surrounding pots bristling with spines and spears, grabbed it, and headed directly to the counter before I could change my mind again. Trying to keep a top-heavy, brittle-stemmed succulent upright while driving could probably be added to the list of dangerous activities to avoid at freeway speeds, but way down the list below texting. Possibly similar to having a boisterous pet in the car, though.


San Marcos Growers says its yellow flowers are not reliably produced every spring. (With leaves like that, I think I can bear the disappointment.) SMG’s entry on this succulent includes a charming theory for the etiology of the naming of the genus kalanchoe: “The name Kalanchoe is somewhat of a mystery – there is some thought that it comes from a phonetic transcription of the Chinese words “Kalan Chauhuy” meaning that which falls and grows, likely in reference to the plantlets that drop from many of the species, but others believe it from the ancient Indian words “kalanka” meaning spot or rust and “chaya” meaning glossy in reference to the reddish glossy leaves of the Indian species K. laciniata.” SMG also notes that K. grandiflora is often confused with K. marmorata, another fleshpot but with maroon spots.

My Hortus Third helpfully informs that “The name is pronounced with four syllables.” Kal-an-cho-e.