If you were to ask someone about their favorite wild animal, they might tell you that it’s the lazy Panda. But, did you know that you could have a houseplant that is named after the iconic, black and white bear?
Why were they given this name in the first place? Pandas don’t eat these plants. Instead, it refers to the soft, fuzzy lining of hairs along the foliage.
Their velvety appearance may have reminded scientists about the bamboo-eating bear.
At first glance, you might be surprised to find that these types of flora are actually succulents. Those hairy, fleshy leaves held to store water when in the midst of a drought.
They technically belong to the family Crassulaceae, or the Stonecrops.
The Panda plant (Kalanchoe tomentosa) is native only to the island of Madagascar, making them a rare endemic species. Housing these floras indoors is a lot easier than you think, as long as you keep their basic needs met.
So then, keep reading for a happy and charismatic succulent!
- 1 PANDA PLANT BASIC CARE
- 2 PANDA PLANT LEAF EATERS AND OTHER ENEMIES
- 3 PANDA PLANT TELLTALE SIGNS OF STRESS
- 4 5 STEPS FOR A HAPPY, THRIVING PANDA PLANT
- 5 PANDA PLANT FAQ
PANDA PLANT BASIC CARE
Kalanchoe tomentosa is a great houseplant to add to your collection for a number of reasons. They don’t take up too much space, add a touch of desert flair, and aren’t all that picky in terms of their needs.
To help you out, you’ll want to know about the different aspects of basic care involved with the Panda plant. We’ve touched on these below!
The best soil mix to use for your plant is one that is specifically designed for cacti and succulents, as desert plants need different types of nutrients when compared to other houseplants. You can even make your own potting mix, if you know what to add.
This generally involves perlite, loam, and clay. The most important aspect is that the pot should have lots of drainage holes. These are so that your plant won’t sit in water.
The roots of a succulent are not able to do this. Growing in a desert lacks this tolerance to water.
Those velvety leaves that you find on a Panda plant do need quite a bit of sunshine in order to grow, but perhaps not as much as you would expect. Succulents in general are avid light lovers.
Direct sunshine can do wonders for your Panda plant. Just make sure not to overdo it. Too much light can have negative consequences, particularly with the leaves.
Putting your succulent in a location that gets a mixture of both shade and sunlight is the best of both worlds. This will ultimately stop the leaves from becoming burned.
The best tip that anyone can give you when it comes to watering a succulent or desert plant is to do so infrequently. We’re not saying that you should leave it alone entirely.
All plants need some liquid here and there.
Overwatering can be a worse problem than if you were to forget about it altogether. You should expect to provide water about every three to five weeks.
This amount of time will be enough for the plant to dry out. You never want to add moisture when the soil is damp. This can quickly turn into root rot.
As long as the potting mix you chose is well draining, you should be fine. Be sure to keep a close eye on the overall condition of the plant. It will tell you if you’re overwatering.
Fortunately, raising a Panda plant indoors is fairly simple, especially with the temperature that you need to provide. The ideal temperature range for these desert plants is anywhere between 15 and 23 degrees Celsius.
They have been known to be fairly okay when dealing with temperatures that are slightly higher or lower than this range. Living in the desert, these individuals are forced to face a wide range of temperatures.
The only thing that they can’t really handle is when it dips below freezing. Living in a house, which would likely never be the case.
As we had mentioned earlier, water isn’t really a big concern for the Panda plant. The less that they get, the better off they tend to be. Most houseplant owners find themselves having to implement a misting regimen.
This succulent would suffer from a number of issues if you were to do the same. The average house generally has about 40 percent relative humidity.
Honestly, these are the best conditions to raise a Panda plant. We suggest avoiding rooms in the house that have abnormally high levels of humidity such as the bathroom.
Depending on the time of year, you shouldn’t add any food to your Panda plant. Succulents are different from flowering plants in regards to the nutrients found in the soil. Most of the time, they lack in Nitrogen.
This means that you can’t offer them just any fertilizer. Find ones that are specifically designed for cactus, succulents, and other desert-living flora. It should be diluted and given at four-week intervals.
Fertilizer should only be added during the spring and summer months, as the plant does not need any food in the winter. If you’re altogether unsure about the act of giving your plant this additional help, simply forego it.
They don’t necessarily need fertilizer to survive. If you notice that the leaves aren’t growing as healthy, explore the option again.
There’s an easy way to get new plants without having to take a trip to the store and buy a whole new Panda plant. If you have an individual who you’re fond of, it might be wise to copy it through the act of propagation.
Fortunately, the Panda plant is pretty easy to do this with. Leaf cutting is among the most well known methods involved in this process.
You can also choose to do this through seed germination, though this may take a good deal longer.
Essentially, all you need to do is to cut the leaves into sections and plant them into a pot with freshly laid soil. Still unsure about the steps involved?
That’s perfectly fine! We will discuss this later on in detail!
One of the appeals to owning a member of Crassulaceae is that they don’t tend to get too large. This can be beneficial, regardless of if you want to plant them indoors or in the garden.
Did you know that these individuals grow different depending on how they’re raised? For instance, those allowed to stretch out a bit will grow vertically more so than a plant kept indoors.
When grown within a container, the plant only reaches about one or two feet in overall height. They have a width of around two feet. The woody base is what allows individuals grown outdoors to reach a larger size.
They aren’t all that much taller, instead expanding in width compared to their houseplant counterparts.
The first major aspect to consider about potting is the soil that you use. We touched on the fact that it should be able to properly drain and have a mixture of soil, sand, and loam.
The next point to note is the overall size of the pot itself. When transferring these plants to a new container, you’ll want to choose one that is only a few inches larger than the previous pot.
This will keep your Panda plant on the smaller size without making sure that the roots aren’t cramped. You won’t have to worry about the root system being too weak.
Just be mindful of them when you repot them.
Repotting is a process that should be done once every two or three years. This will ensure that you have a safe and healthy plant.
Curious on how to transfer your Panda plant successfully? Look at our article on repotting a plant!
PANDA PLANT MOISTURE CONTENT
It is a well known fact that succulents don’t really need to have water. At least, not as frequently as some of your other indoor plants. You may remember us saying that less is more.
This is the golden rule for the Panda plant! The plant should be allowed to completely dry out before adding more water.
Any moisture that stays within the pot can ultimately do harm to the overall plant, mostly in the form of root rot.
The leaves are specifically designed to absorb and retain water, something that is useful for their wild ancestors. Despite being watered frequently, this adaptation still exists.
For this reason, you will want to limit the amount of water that you give to your Panda plant. We suggest implementing a schedule of about three to four weeks.
This may not work for every individual.
Keep a close eye on the pot, making sure that it drains properly. Another useful tip is to water even less during the winter months. They aren’t losing as much water due to evaporation during this time.
PANDA PLANT PROPAGATION
Copying an individual from the parent plant may sound more complicated than it actually is, especially for those who are new to the process.
But taking the time to propagate your Panda plant can actually be a great way to ensure that you have a healthy specimen for your home.
There are a number of tips involved such as choosing the right time of year and using the correct tools.
Panda plant propagation, as with most plants, should be during the spring and summer months. You’ll also want to use sharpened scissors to make any incisions. That being said, here are the steps involved with leaf propagation!
PROPAGATION THROUGH LEAF CUTTINGS
With sharp scissors, find a few leaves that have grown to be quite healthy and full. Don’t take more three or four, as this can leave your plant damaged.
Place these leaf cuttings into a pot with freshly laid soil, the best results usually being with a perlite mixture.
Don’t add any water just yet. Wait a week so that the Panda plant cuttings are able to dry out. Don’t wait any longer than that or else they won’t root.
Your cuttings will do better when placed into a spot that gets plenty of indirect sunlight. Once the soil has been completely dried out, you can mist the leaves. You won’t want to do this to an adult, but fresh growth is a separate story!
Watch closely for roots to form. This will likely be within three to five weeks. This will also be accompanied by the development of new leaves.
Once roots have formed, you can transfer your new Panda plant to a larger container, continuing caring for it as if it were an adult.
PANDA PLANT LEAF EATERS AND OTHER ENEMIES
An unfortunate part to owning a plant is the fact that they can get infested with bugs and disease. Indoor flora species are less susceptible to such pests, though they can still experience them.
The potting mix that you may have bought at the store, or even an open window sill. These are just a few ways that they can hop onto your plant.
Let’s start by looking at the insects that you might find on the leaves of your Panda plant. The most common are mealybugs, scale insects, and red spider mites.
Mealybugs are found where the leaves and the stems join together.
You can treat these little buggers by spraying down the plant with rubbing alcohol. Only apply this to the affected areas. Scale insects look like little black dots and are generally treated through insecticides.
Spider mites require that you either hose down the leaves and stems, or use bug-killing sprays.
The only disease that you really have to watch out for with a Panda plant is root rot. Fortunately, this can be easily avoided. Remember how these succulents don’t take well to being overwatered?
Well, this is your answer. If you are mindful of how often you water your Panda plant, you shouldn’t have a problem. Root rot is a result of the plant having to sit in water for too long.
If you catch it early enough, you can treat root rot by running the bottom portion of your plant under water after removing it from its container.
PANDA PLANT TELLTALE SIGNS OF STRESS
Even if you’re careful, chances are that you’ll run into one problem or another. Plants are great at telling us what’s wrong if we know what to look for. Here are the signs of an unhappy Panda plant!
TELLTALE SIGN #1: LEAVES DRYING UP
Succulent leaves can go through phases of dying back and being revived. But, if you see a continuous problem of dried leaves, particularly at the bottom, you’ll want to figure out a solution. This is generally because of not enough water.
Remove any dead or dying leaves first. You will then want to implement a more frequent watering schedule.
TELLTALE SIGN #2: LEAVES THAT ARE YELLOW AND MUSHY
This combination is a way of telling you that you have given it too much water.
Overwatering is an easy fix. Simply allow the water to dry out between watering sessions. Take note of the soil and how damp it is before adding moisture.
TELLTALE SIGN #3: BLACK SPOTS ON FOLIAGE
The presence of black spots can either be one of two things. You either have scale insects, or the plant has been extremely overwatered.
We suggest trying to figure out if it is the water problem before moving on to the potential of a bug infestation. If holding back on moisture doesn’t work, invest in some insecticides.
TELLTALE SIGN #4: WHITE WEBLIKE SUBSTANCE
This white substance forming on the leaves of a Panda plant are hints that you may be dealing with mealybugs. These can be somewhat tricky to get rid of if not caught early on.
Mealybugs are pesky insects. Rubbing alcohol tends to work well. You can apply it through a cotton ball to the affected areas. Another method is to use pesticides. Just be sure to do your research first!
5 STEPS FOR A HAPPY, THRIVING PANDA PLANT
Little and mighty, the Panda plant makes for a great addition to any household. They’re conveniently small, velvety, and easy keepers. Here are the most important aspects when caring for these succulents!
1. Provide your plant with a potting mix that is designed for succulents!
2. Panda plants require an area that has a mixture of both shade and sunshine.
3. Your home should stay somewhere between 15 and 23 degrees Celsius.
4. Don’t overdo it on watering, only adding more moisture once the plant has dried out completely.
5. Keep an eye out for pests such as mealybugs, scale insects, and red spider mites!
Want to keep with the desert theme? Read our article containing the best indoor cacti!
PANDA PLANT FAQ
Is the Panda plant poisonous?
The Panda plant is, in fact, considered to be poisonous. If you were to ingest this flora, you may experience bouts of vomiting, diarrhea, and decreased energy.
Are there different varieties of the Panda plant?
A fun aspect for many plant lovers is that they can pick and choose which flora they’d want to have accent their home. The Panda plant comes in several different colors, usually ranging from blue to green.
What makes the Panda plant a succulent?
One of the biggest ways that you can tell that it is a succulent is by those fleshy leaves. A lot of desert dwellers have them to store water!
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.