The donkey ear plant, scientifically named Kalanchoe Gastonia-bonnier, is a flowering plant. This plant originates from the island of Madagascar. The name Donkey ear plant comes from the shape of its leaves, which resemble a donkey’s ear. Another common name this plant has is Palm Beachbells.
This plant’s leaves are thick, waxy coated, deep green with brown spots. The leaves can grow 20 inches (51 cm) long. This greenie is a fast-growing succulent. New plantlets form at the end of the leaves and weigh them down or drop to the ground by themselves. In fall and early winter, this plant will flower, producing tall beautiful red or yellow flowers. The flowers can grow to a height of about 7.9 inches (20 cm).
How To Grow?
You can plant and grow this succulent outside in the USDA Hardiness zones ten to twelve. This greenie loves warm weather, the ideal temperature for it to thrive would be around 85 °F (30 °C). If the temperature won’t drop below 55 °F (12.8 °C) the plant should grow and live just fine.
Low humidity levels are also appreciated by this plant, meaning humidity levels below 50 are going to be a big help in growing a healthy Donkey ear plant. Bring the plant indoors in the winter or cover it with protective cloths to help fight off the winter frost.
Donkey ear plant leaves contain compounds that can be harmful to humans and pets if ingested in large amounts. Keep the plant from the reach of children and pets.
The Donkey ear plant is rather easy to care for due to its low water requirements. In the summer, when the temperatures rise, water your succulent once a week. In the winter, when the temperatures drop, water the plant once or twice a month. The watering frequency depends on the rate of evaporation. To be even more precise, wait for the potting mix’s top two inches (5 cm) to dry in-between watering.
In the sun department, the Donkey ear plant is quite needy. This succulent will need lots and lots of sunlight to truly thrive. They will need indirect bright sunlight or direct sunlight. Indoors place it near a window, in a garden place it far from the shades of other plants and buildings. When first planting this greenie make sure to not place it directly under the sun. Place it somewhere with partial shade and over time as it grows move it to a full sun spot. This way your succulent won’t dry up and get sunburned.
Soil And Fertilizer
It is important to remember that the soil has to be able to let the air circulate freely and prevent waterlogging. You can mix pumice, sand, and loam together to create your potting mix. Also, a reliable soil to use would be well-draining soil with lots and lots of humus.
If the succulent is healthy it shouldn’t need any fertilizer. However, if you can’t grow the plant with the needed requirements fertilizer is a great way to help your plant thrive. Mix an all-purpose fertilizer with its recommended amount of water and use that instead of plain water. Water with that mix every two to three months.
Propagation can be done with cuttings:
- Use sterilized and sharp scissors or sheers;
- Choose a mature Donkey ear plant leave and cut a piece of said leaf;
- Make sure to have a pot or container with the required soil ready;
- Plant the cutting into the soil;
- Place the container with the cutting somewhere it can get enough light;
- Water it regularly;
- The best temperature for this fresh cutting to thrive would be around 77 °F (25 °C);
In about two weeks you should see new growth.
The Donkey ear plant should be repotted once a year or if the succulent doubles in size. The best pots to use would be clay pots or even hanging pots. The most important requirement for this plant’s pot would be drainage holes. If the succulent doesn’t double in size it is still necessary to repot it.
Repotting for the Donkey ear plant is important because of the fresh and nutrient-rich soil it will receive. You don’t always need to repot the plant into a bigger pot. Be careful when repotting the Donkey ear plant, try not to handle the roots or the leaves too much. Both are delicate and can break easily.
A great way to keep your succulent from getting leggy is to prune it. You can prune this greenie any time of the year. Pruning should be done with a pair of clean and sharp scissors or sheers.
Cut off any damaged or diseased parts at the base of the plant. Pruning will also help the Donkey ear plant to hold its beautiful shape without falling to one or the other side.
The biggest threat you will encounter with this succulent would be powdery mildew, root rots, leaf spots, crow rots, bacterial rots, and other virus diseases. These diseases can cause your plant to die entirely. Most of these diseases can be avoided by repotting the succulent, giving the plant new and fresh soil in doing so.
To prevent these diseases make sure to care for your succulent accordingly and keep an eye on it to spot the disease early on. When spotted make sure to remove any diseased parts and repot the plant into fresh and new soil, using a clean new pot.
The primary pests you might encounter while caring for this succulent would be aphids and mealy bugs. To get rid of these pests use an eco-friendly pesticide. You can also use a wet cloth to remove any small-scale infestations.
For aphids specifically, you can use an insecticidal soap mixed with water. Spray the solution onto your succulent once a week. Keep an eye on your plant to spot the infestation early on for easy removal.
The Donkey ear plant is an easy plant to care for as long as it gets enough sunlight. The drought-tolerant plant will look great in any garden or living space, especially when it blooms and gifts its owners with majestic flowers. This succulent is a perfect way to ease yourself into the gardening world.