Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Posted by Daricia McKnight
Kalanchoe tomentosa is also known as Panda Plant, Teddy Bear Plant or Pussy's Ears. Caterpillar Plant wouldn't be a bad common name either, would it?
Kalanchoe tomentosa is native to southern Madagascar. The species name tomentosa refers to the velvety hairs which are so thick they make the leaves look almost white. This abundance of hairs forms a barrier between the plant and the dry air, conserving the little bits of moisture it takes from the soil. The light color helps deflect some of the heat of the sun as well.
I bought Kalanchoe tomentosa 'Chocolate Soldier' at Lowe's last fall and kept it in a south-facing window all winter. I watered it less than my non-succulents, but maybe a little more than it needed. Still, it has doubled in size! When I accidentally knocked off a couple of lower leaves, I put them back on top of the soil underneath the plant. Now tiny, fuzzy, whitish-green sprouts are coming up at the bases of the leaves! Will I wind up with an army of little Chocolate Soldiers? Only time will tell.
The plant pictured above lives at the McMillan Greenhouse, UNC Charlotte.