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Also known as Kalanchoes, Widow’s thrill are breath-taking African natives (originating in Madagascar).

Over the recent decades, these gorgeous blooming plants have gained fame as popular exotic house plants in North American homes and, indeed, all over the world.

Read on below and explore everything you need to know about how to care for Widow’s Thrill… 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)

They are stunningly unique flowering plants, and truth be told, their beautiful and plentiful bloomage is why we want them in our homes and gardens.

Fun fact: Widow’s Thrill is technically a succulent, not a typical flower, but is capable of producing more than 50 flower-blooms in a single plant AND blooms all year round.

Kalanchoes are technically succulents and are popular for their fascinating scalloped leaves – besides their uncommon blooms.

Interestingly, they are easy to grow, generally speaking, but you must be cautious maintaining them – which is where our guide comes in and helps you!

Let’s have a look at all of the essentials for proper Widow’s Thrill succulent care:


flaming käthchen, flowers, thick-leaf plant - widow's thrill under direct light.

Widow’s Thrill plants need ample sunlight and should always be moved in the direction of light, doing this rewards you with more blooms.

That means south-facing and west-facing windows are the best location for them, indoors.

You can read more about how much sunlight plants of other species need in an older post of ours.

Another consideration, for those who don’t have enough light from windows in their homes, is setting up an LED plant light or two.


Hand of crop unrecognizable person with watering can pouring water into flowerpot with green plant near glass vases with leaves - possible a widow's thrill.

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’s Thrill plants 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.


The Widow’s Thrill plant needs well-drained and sandy soil. Nevertheless, heavy soil can be amended with cactus mix or sand to provide good drainage.

Dig holes that are deep enough to cover the roots – a couple of inches typically does the trick – whether in the garden, flowerbeds, or containers.

The species grows better outside than indoors if you live in an all-year warm climate. But, if you reside in a cold area, it is better to grow them indoors – but follow the same procedure. 


The Widow’s Thrill succulent is wonderfully easy to propagate (like its cousin the Housekeeper Succulent) 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 don’t require any special equipment or material and are easy for any plant enthusiasts to take on.


Widow’s Thrill plants need low to moderate watering, in comparison to other flowers. But, avoid watering the leaves as this can cause the leaves to rot.

Fertilize lightly in their new periods of growth and at the end of the blooming season – avoid feeding with each watering.

During the winter when the plant is dormant, you should fertilize it less and water it less – this allows it a rest.

Pro tip: Phosphorus promotes better blooming so choose a well-balanced plant fertilizer.


How to care for widow's thrill: keep it out of chilly temps, and out of direct sunlight.

No matter what else you do, avoid exposing your Widow’s Thrill to temperatures below 40 degrees.

Just a few hours of any genuinely chilly weather can quickly kill them – they are extremely sensitive to cold.

That said, at the same time, too much heat is just as bad as low temperatures.

Your kalanchoe may end up looking like the wilted flowers above if you leave them in direct sunlight for too long.

Grooming and Maintenance

well-maintained and cared for kalanchoe, flowers, pink flowers (widow's thrill).

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

Pruning your Widow’s Thrill helps the plant conserve energy rather than wasting it attempting to sustain an already dead flower.

Even more, trimming the stems also helps maintain the most attractive shape possible.

3 Pro Tips for Widow’s Thrill Care

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

1. Propagating Widow’s Thrill Through its 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.

Kalanchoe pups must also be removed from the parents or else they start competing with the parent for space and nutrients. 

Alternatively, you can purchase healthy Widow’s Thrill seeds and grow more of these beauties that way!

2. Trick the Kalanchoe Plant into Blooming Again 

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.

Here are 5 easy steps:

  1. First, place flowers in the correct lighting and let them rest (that means no food, water, or pampering).
  2. Next, move them somewhere with much less light than they typically need (but somewhere warm).
  3. Skip feeding or watering for 6 weeks straight at this point (and soon the flower buds start popping).
  4. After the six weeks is over, promptly move the plant back to a well-lit area (or back under lights)
  5. Finally, resume watering and feeding as well as removing faded flowers (to encourage even more new blooms).

3. Stay on Top of Pest 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.

Further, for brown scales, which are relatively common for Widow’s Thrill leaves, just scrap them off.

Widows’ thrill can be attacked by diseases like powdery mildew, root rot, and fungal diseases. To prevent or cure these conditions, avoid overwatering, use well-drained soil, and avoid getting the leaves wet.

Also, check the recommended fungicides for flower species like the Kalanchoe.

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 Is my Widow’s Thrill’s Leaves Curling?

A yellow widow's thrill being lifted out of it's green container - you can see the direct and perlite formed around the roots in the shape of the container.
Checking the roots on a Widow’s Thrill we picked up at a local supermarket. (Aug 2021)

This is always a sign when your plant is in distress. Stress is typically caused by a lack of water or fungal diseases when it comes to Widow’s Thrill. Lift your plant up out of its container, and check for brown slimy 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  65F and 85F degrees and not more than 45F 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. So, either purchase seeds from a garden nursery or a well-known online retailer.

Can I Cross-pollinate Widow’s Thrill to Create Hybrids?

You may cross-pollinate two or more of your Widow’s Thrill plants. Keep in mind that cross-pollination results in a hybrid with mixed characteristics. It’s always exciting to see what cross-breeding offspring will look like! Plant the seeds directly into the warm soil slightly moist. Include cactus mix with half the 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.

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