rotundifolia is a brittle succulent plant which grows up to
1m tall under favourable conditions. Adanson who derived the name
Kalanchoe from the Chinese name for one of the species, described
this genus in 1763. The species name rotundifolia comes from
the Latin and means "round leaves".
It is a common, orange-flowering species with a slender stem.
It has fleshy, rounded or lobed leaves that are 2.5cm broad and
are clustered at the base of erect stems. It must be noted that
some of these plants, although with the species name rotundifolia,
have leaves that are not round. They were grouped together because
they had other similarities. The genus Kalanchoe typically
has a tubular flower. Flowers are borne in an inflorescence with
a long erect stalk. The flat-topped inflorescence consists of yellow
or orange flowers and often become red and conspicuously twisted
when old. The flowering period occurs through autumn and early winter
(February until June).
Kalanchoe rotundifolia is widely distributed in South Africa
It is a delightful little plant that puts up a brave show in clumps
among trees and shrubs. The robust red flowering specimens are rewarding
garden plants, flowering for many weeks.
Kalanchoe rotundifolia is traditionally used by the Zulu
as a charm to make one invisible.
Growing Kalanchoe rotundifolia
This is an easy plant to propagate from both seed and cuttings.
The seeds of these plants are very fine and must be collected as
soon as they are ripe before they disperse. The best time to sow
these seeds will be early spring in order to give them plenty of
time to grow before late autumn. Sowing may be done either in seedling
containers or directly into the garden.
Ideal cuttings for propagating are semi-hardwood and soft tip cuttings.
Cuttings should be planted into river sand and there is no need
to apply root-stimulating hormones. Each leaf is capable of producing
a new plant when it drops to the ground. The rooted cuttings or
seedlings must be planted in dry, shady conditions.
This is a good plant for a low maintenance and waterwise garden.
In summer rainfall regions there is no need to water as rain will
be sufficient. Kalanchoe rotundifolia will successfully seed
itself in the garden and once it is established it will persist
for many years.
Thompson T. Mutshinyalo
Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden