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Donkey Ear Plant Care — Top Tips

Donkey Ear Plant Care — Top Tips

Botanically known as Kalanchoe gastonis-bonnieri, this plant is grown for its quirky foliage. Due to the shape of its foliage, this plant has been nicknamed the Donkey Ear Plant.

Along with Donkey Ear Plant, the Kalanchoe gastonis-bonnieri goes by a few other common names.

Specifically, Palm Beachbells, Sprout Leaf Plant, Leaf of Life, and Tree of Life. 

The Donkey Ear Plant is an annual or biennial succulent.

Natively found in Madagascar, this plant is most comfortable growing in subtropical, Mediterranean, or desert-type climates.

Most aspects of this plant’s habit of growth are unique. From their pale leaves that have an epicuticular wax, to the way new growth is formed! 


Donkey Ear Plant Care

Light, well-draining, humus-rich soil is desirable for this plant. Place it in a brightly lit spot but avoid long exposure to direct sun. Water only when the top layer of soil is dry to avoid overwatering.



A light, well-draining soil is best suited for this plant. A soil that is rich in humus is ideal, but an all-purpose potting mix will suffice. Recommended pH levels for this plant’s soil are between 5.0 and 7.0. Key ingredients to a good soil mix are pumice, sand, and loam. 

As a succulent, the Donkey Ear Plant needs to be kept in a light, well-draining soil mix. For best growth results, a humus-rich soil mix should be used. The recommended soil pH level for Donkey Ear Plants is between 5.0 and 7.0. 

Generally, an all-purpose potting mix will work just fine to plant these succulents in. It is also possible to create your own soil mix for this plant. Key materials to include in a mix for this plant are sand, loam, and pumice. 



This succulent needs a minimum of 6 hours of sun per day. Full sun to partial shade is preferred. However, partial sun or filtered light is recommended. Long periods of exposure to direct sun should be avoided as it may be harmful to the plant’s foliage. 

Donkey Ear Plants love the sun. They grow best with a good amount of exposure to the sun every day. Although these plants like the sun, extended periods of direct sun exposure can be harmful to the succulent’s foliage. 

Ideally, you should place your Donkey Ear Plant in a spot where it will receive full sun to partial shade. Although, filtered light or partial sun is recommended to avoid the risk of sun scorch. A minimum of six hours of sun exposure per day is advisable. 



You will need to water these plants once weekly. Less frequent watering is needed in winter and autumn. These succulents are drought tolerant and should not be overwatered. Use the ‘deep and thorough’ method to water your plant. Always check the soil for moisture before you water your plant. 

With its low requirement for water, the Donkey Ear Plant is considered fairly tolerant to drought. That said, it is still important for their soil to be able to drain freely. Pots will also need to have holes for drainage. You can typically expect to water your Donkey Ear Plant once per week. 

In the warmer months of spring and summer, these succulents will need somewhat frequent watering. In autumn and winter, when the temperatures tend to drop, less frequent watering is required.

Because of their minimal water requirement, you should always check your plant’s soil before watering it. 

These succulents do not take kindly to being overwatered. The trick to watering them successfully is to keep a check on the moisture level of their soil.

To check the moisture, simply press your finger into the top layer of your plant’s soil. If you still feel moisture, your Donkey Ear Plant is not ready to be watered. If your plant’s soil is dry to the touch, you can offer your succulent some water.

The best method to use when watering your Donkey Ear Plant is the ‘deep and thorough’ method. To do this simply entails slowly watering your plant until water begins to drip out the bottom of its pot.

Allow some time for the water to drain through your plant’s soil. Once drained of any excess water, empty your plant’s catchment tray. Never leave your Donkey Ear Plant to sit in a puddle of water. 



Donkey Ear Plants are not very demanding where temperatures levels are concerned. They do prefer the climates of hardiness zones 10 to 12. These are tolerable plants that will adapt and grow to various temperatures. Temperatures of 55℉ (13℃) and below should be avoided. 

As these plants grow naturally in Mediterranean climates, they are known to prefer warm temperatures. Typically, the best hardiness zones to grow these succulents in are zones 10 to 12.

Donkey Ear Plants are fairly easygoing when it comes to what temperatures they prefer. These plants are tolerant plants that can adapt to a variety of temperatures. Generally, any temperature above 55℉ (13℃) is acceptable. 



High humidity levels should be avoided. Although the Donkey Ear Plant may be capable of surviving levels of 70% and above, they are not recommended. Unfavorable conditions may lead to fungal diseases. It is best to keep your Donkey Ear Plant in a spot with a lower humidity level.

Like most succulents, Donkey Ear Plants do not enjoy high humidity levels. Although they are likely capable of surviving in humidity levels of 70% and above, it is not advisable. These plants can suffer from fungal diseases as a result of these unfavorable conditions. It is best to keep your Donkey Ear Plant in humidity levels on the lower end of the scale. 



Donkey Ear Plants do not rely heavily on food. However, they do benefit from the occasional application of fertilizer. Use a succulent specific plant food to fertilize your Donkey Ear Plant. Follow the recommendations on that package for dosage and frequency. 

With an appetite on the smaller side, it is not necessary to feed this plant too frequently. Donkey Ear Plants benefit most from an occasional application of fertilizer.

It is best to use a succulent-specific plant food to feed your plant. For best results, follow the instructions and recommended dosages on the package. 



Donkey Ear Plants have pale green, donkey-ear-shaped foliage. The foliage develops an epicuticular wax along it which results in the plant’s color appearing lighter. Additionally, the foliage features maroon to bronze-colored blotches. The leaves can reach lengths of up to 1.6 feet (49cm).

Known for their oblong-shaped foliage, Donkey Ear Plants are popular ornamental plants. Their leaves are a pale green color that changes gradually with age. They develop epicuticular wax on their leaves which results in their whitish appearance. Their foliage is also characterized by the bronze to maroon-colored blotches that develop randomly along them. 

If kept in their ideal conditions, Donkey Ear Plants can grow particularly well. When mature, the donkey-ear-shaped leaves can reach a length of between 1 foot to 1.6 feet (31cm to 49cm). although they have a reasonably fast rate of growth, these plants can take a few years to mature. 



It is best to grow these plants in clay pots or hanging baskets. Drainage holes are important features for pots for these plants. Repot your Donkey Ear Plant once every two years. Avoid handling the plant’s roots and be gentle with its delicate foliage. 

The Donkey Ear Plant grows well in pots. Clay pots are best used for these succulents. However, they also look great when grown in hanging baskets. The most important feature a pot for these plants should have is drainage holes. 

As with all potted plants, Donkey Ear Plants should be repotted every once in a while. It is recommended that you repot your succulent once every two years. When you repot your Donkey Ear Plant, it is not always necessary to change the size of its pot. Most often all that is needed is for your plant’s soil to be refreshed. 

Caution should be taken when handling your plant outside of its pot. Avoid handling its roots too much. It is also necessary that you take care when handling your plant’s foliage. Your Donkey Ear Plant’s leaves are delicate and can easily snap if not handled with care. 



These succulents do not need very much effort where pruning is concerned. They are low-maintenance plants and are typically pruned to control growth. Dead and damaged leaves should be removed at the base of the plant. Use sharp, clean gardening shears or regular scissors to prune your plant. 

Donkey Ear Plants require a minimal amount of grooming. Most often, pruning is required to control leggy growth. Occasionally, damaged or dead leaves should be pruned away from the base of the plant.

When pruning your Donkey Ear Plant, it is best to use a pair of sharp, clean gardening shears.

Although, a regular pair of scissors will do the trick too! 


Donkey Ear Plant Propagation 

Donkey Ear Plants are best propagated through leaf cuttings. With clean gardening shears, cut a portion of leaf from a healthy plant. Plant the cutting in fresh soil. Once the cutting has died back, remove and plant the young plants that have developed. Propagation is best done early in spring. 

This succulent can be propagated through leaf cuttings. The best time to propagate your Donkey Ear Plant is early on in the spring. In order to take a leaf cutting you will need a clean pair of gardening shears. It is also important that your plant is healthy. 

Choose a leaf on your donkey Ear Plant that is mature and undamaged. Use your gardening shears to cut off a portion of the leaf.

Plant the cutting in a pot of fresh soil and lightly water it. After some time, new growth can be seen sprouting from the leaf cutting!

The leaf cutting will eventually die back. Once this happens, the young plants that have been growing off the cutting can be removed and planted. These young plants should be cared for just as their parent plant should be. 


Common problems with Donkey Ear Plants

These succulents are most commonly affected by spider mites, aphids, and mealybugs. Although these pests are not life-threatening to Donkey Ear Plants, they are a nuisance.

The best way to deal with these pest problems is to gently wipe your plant’s leaves. This should be done with a lightly damp cloth. In severe cases wipe your plant’s foliage with a cotton swap and neem oil

Where diseases are concerned, Donkey Ear Plants are somewhat susceptible to a range of types. The most predominant disease problems are root rot, powdery mildew, and leaf spots. Although possibly life-threatening, these problems can typically be solved. However, it is much easier to prevent these issues. 


Frequently asked questions about Donkey Ear Plants


Are Donkey Ear Plants poisonous?

Despite current research circulating on the possible health benefits this plant can have, it is not recommended that any person attempt ingesting any part of this plant. It is thought that ingesting more than a minimal amount of this plant will result in toxic side effects. of They are also considered poisonous to animals. 


How long does it take to grow a Donkey Ear Plant?

Although Donkey Ear Plants have a reasonably speedy rate of growth, they can take a while to mature. Generally, it is thought that these plants can take up to six years to fully mature. 



These plants are one of the most distinctive succulents around. If you are looking for a conversation starter or just an all-around cool plant, Donkey Ear Plants are the answer!

They are low maintenance and generally easy to please. Any plant lover who does not already own one of these beauties should start looking for a spot to keep one!