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Also known as Kalanchoes, Widow’s thrill are breath taking African natives (from Madagascar) and over the recent decades have become famous as exotic house plants in North American homes and, indeed, all over the world.

They are the best flowering plants, and truth be told, their beautiful and plentiful bloom is the only reason we all want them in our garden.

Widow’s Thrill can have 50 or more blooms in a single plant that blooms all year round. They are succulent and popular for their fascinating scalloped leaves. Kalanchoes are easy to grow but cautious in maintaining henceforth making them fantastical interesting house plants.

So, If you are curious to know more about how to properly care for the widow’s thrill, read on for everything you need to know… and then some!

How to Care for Widow’s Thrill

A minature widow's thrill plant growing on a wooden shelf, it has dark green leaves and bright yellow petals along with numerous unbloomed buds.
Our latest Widow’s Thrill blooming with beautiful yellow flowers this August (2021)

Lighting

They need ample sunlight and should always be moved in the direction of light, doing this will reward you with more blooms. That means southfacing and westfacing windows are the best location for them, indoors.

You can read more about how much light plants of other species need on an older post of ours.)

Watering

A problem that many people have when trying to grow kalanchoes is that they overwater them. They should instead be allowed to go 2 weeks before being watered again, or wait until the ground dries out to add water.

However, do not allow the widow thrill plant to sit or soak in excess water, their roots are delicate and can rot easily.

You can read about how much water other plants need over here on one of our very first posts.

Soil

They need well-drained, open-air-spaced Sandy soil. Nevertheless, heavy soil can be amended with cactus mix or sand to provide good drainage. Dig deep holes enough to cover the roots. They grow better outside than indoors because they prefer warm climates. But if it’s a cold area, it is better to grow them indoors but follow the same procedure. 

Propagation

They are wonderfully grown from leaves or stem cuttings. Kalanchoes can also be grown from seeds but it’s more complicated and generally less successful.

The easiest way is to propagate them through leaf cutting and you dont require any special equipment or material and are easy for any plant enthusiasts to take on.

Feeding

They need low to moderate watering but avoid watering the leaves as this can cause the leaves to rot. Fertilize lightly in their new period of growth and the end of the blooming season.

During the winter when the plant is dormant you should fertilize less and water less to give it a rest. It has been determined that more phosphorus promotes better blooming so choose a well-balanced plant fertilizer.

Temperatures

Avoid temperatures below 40 degrees, just a few hours of any sort of chill can kill them. They are extremely sensitive to cold.

Grooming and maintenance 

If well taken care of, kalanchoes are very beautiful. The blooms last quite long but you can Trim off deadheads or wilting flowers from stem to maintain a vigorous and continuous production.

It will help the plant not to waste energy trying to sustain an already dead flower, Trimming the stems also helps in maintaining an attractive shape.

Pro Tips for Widow’s Thrill

Widow's thrill flowers in midst of blooming, yellow, pink, and orange petals.

1. propagating through offsets

This is the easiest way to propagate a kalanchoe by offsets or the pups. After the parent is mature, baby kalanchoes will start to grow from the base of the parent or sometimes at the edge of leaves.

They must also be removed from the parents or els they start competing with the parent for space and nutrients. 

2. Trick the kalanchoe to blooming 

If you need your widow’s thrill to bloom at a specific time like Christmas then you will need to trick it into thinking it’s at a different time of the year, first, they will require a bit of rest time and correct lighting. You’ll then need to keep them warm and in a less lit area or room.

Do not feed or water for 6 weeks and as soon as flower buds start popping, move it to a well-lit room or area and resume watering and feeding, removing faded flowers to encourage new blooms.

3. Pests and disease control

Common pests like aphids, mealybugs, and brown scales can be a problem, remove the aphids by hand and use a little bit of alcohol to wipe off the mealy bugs. And for brown scales, you’ll just scrap it off.

Widows’ thrill can be attacked by diseases like powdery mildew, root rot, and fungal diseases. To control this, avoid overwatering, use well-drained soil, and avoid getting the leaves wet. Check the recommended fungicides.

FAQs About Caring for Widow’s Thrill

Gorgeous neon pink and orange widow's thrill in full bloom.

Is Widow’s Thrill poisonous to pets and animals?

Yes, they are poisonous. Even though many gardeners and florists vow the plant is safe for animals, the truth is they contain a glycoside that is highly toxic to pets like birds, dogs, cats, and other ruminant livestock like horses, cows, and goats. Can cause vomiting and diarrhea.

Why are my widow’s thrill leaves curling?

A yellow widow's thrill being lifted out of it's green container.
Checking the roots on a Widow’s Thrill we picked up at a local supermarket. (August, 2021)

This is always a sign that your plant is in distress. It can be caused by lack of water or fungal diseases. Lift your plant up out of its container, and check for brown slimey roots. If they are white, there is no root rot and your plant simply needs more light or water.

What temperature is required to grow a widow’s thrill?

Ideally, they don’t do well in frost, so if they are growing outside in the summer be sure to bring them in in winter. And the recommended temperature should be between  65 F and 85 F degrees, and not more than 45 F degrees for outdoor planting. 

Can I grow widow’s thrill from seeds?

Yes, you can. Widow’s thrill seeds are very tiny, about 2.5 million seeds per ounce. You can either choose to purchase the seeds from any garden nurseries or cross-pollinate two or more of your widow’s thrills that will give you a hybrid of different characteristics. 

It is always exciting to see what cross-breeding offspring will look like and what flowers will appear in your flower. Plant the seeds directly into the warm soil slightly moist. Include cactus mix with half soil.

The warmth and humidity of the dirt will activate the growth hormones and provide nutrients for the baby Widow’s thrill that will start sprouting after some time.

Suggested Reading: GROWING ROSES: A QUICK GUIDE

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