Mother of a thousand

Contents

Growing Mother of Thousands: Caring For A Mother Of Thousands Plant

Growing mother of thousands (Kalanchoe daigremontiana) provides an attractive foliage houseplant. Though rarely blooming when kept indoors, the flowers of this plant are insignificant, with the most interesting feature being the baby plantlets continually appearing on the tips of the large leaves.

When growing mother of thousands as an outdoor plant in USDA hardiness zones 9 -11, it may bloom with small, grayish lavender flowers in late winter. The mother plant then dies, but is replaced by tiny plantlets thatcan drop and cause the plant to be considered invasive. For this reason, most gardeners find growing mother of thousands works best in a container.

Mother of Thousands Plant Info

Mother of thousands is of the Crassulaceae family and is related to jade plant and Flaming Katy (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana). It is often confused with the chandelier plant (Kalanchoe delagoensis) but shares similar growing conditions and traits.

According to mother of thousands plant info, Kalanchoe daigremontiana has lost the ability to produce seeds and only reproduces from plantlets. As it is an abundant producer, it can quickly get out of hand when dropping these baby plantlets.

While this provides numerous plants for the propagating gardener, those uninterested in the addition of more plants may find caring for mother of thousands a bit tedious. Don’t worry about disposing of the plantlets though, because more are sure to appear on the healthy, still growing mother of thousands.

This succulent plant can resist drought, though performance is better when regularly watered. Like its relatives, Kalanchoe daigremontiana, does not need frequent fertilization. If you wish to feed when experimenting with how to grow Kalanchoe plants, do so only once every few months.

Caring for a Mother of Thousands

This plant does need good drainage and is best potted in a commercial cactus soil mix. If using standard potting soil, sand can be added for sharper drainage.

When learning how to grow Kalanchoe indoors, locate the plant in bright, but indirect light for several hours per day. When growing Kalanchoe outdoors, avoid direct afternoon sun. Houseplants will benefit from spending the summer outside; just make sure to introduce them to the outside atmosphere gradually and begin their outdoor stay with limited morning sun. Too much direct sunlight may cause leaves to become sunburned. Remember to move the plant back inside before outdoor temperatures drop to the 40 degree F. range. (4 C.).

You’ll find that growing mother of thousands is simple and mostly carefree – a worthwhile gardening experience with limited care to keep it under control.

Mother of Thousands

Botanical Name: Kalanchoe daigremontiana

Mother of Thousands is a succulent that grows from a single stem, covered top to bottom with big, blue-green leaves. Its narrow, pointed leaves can grow to 6 in (15 cm) long and about half as wide. The real attraction are the tiny plantlets that grow along the edges of the leaves, which easily fall off and will root where they drop.

You’ve probably guessed already — that’s how this succulent plant earned its common name. Although a good-looking plant, it can really be a nuisance by spreading itself around. Fortunately, that’s not much of a concern when you grow Mother of Thousands indoors. However, you may find its plantlets sprouting in adjacent pots!

When grown outdoors, it flowers in late winter then dies, with many offspring to take its place. Bell-shaped flowers grow in a circle on a single, tall stem, but you may never see them because this succulent rarely flowers indoors.

Belonging to the Crassulaceae family, they are among a diverse group. Flaming Katy — admired for its clusters of tiny flowers, and Jade Plant — a branched tree covered with plump, shiny leaves are just a couple of common house plants in this family tree. They’re all leafy succulents and easy to care for, so this Kalanchoe is in good company.

Tiny plantlets grow along the edges of Kalanchoe daigremontiana leaves.

Light Tip:

Like most succulents, Kalanchoe daigremontiana grows best in bright light. It will even enjoy some direct morning sun. Move it outside for the summer, if you want. Just make the move a gradual one to avoid scorching its leaves. Be sure to bring it back indoors if the temperature drops below 40°F/4°C because it won’t tolerate any frost.

Mother of Thousands is easy to grow in average room conditions. One thing it doesn’t like is soggy soil, so I’d recommend potting it in a terra cotta pot with drainage holes and using a sandy medium, such as cactus potting mix for fast drainage.

Bell-shaped blooms of Kalanchoe daigremontiana. Image by Jan Haerer

Repot in spring only when it outgrows its pot. But don’t over-pot. Use a container that’s only slightly larger so that it doesn’t hold too much water, which can cause root rot.

All parts of Kalanchoe daigremontiana are poisonous. Keep it out of the reach of children or pets — it may be fatal if ingested.

Buying Tips

You’ll find these succulents for sale by many names: Mother of Thousands, Devil’s Backbone, Alligator Plant and Mexican Hat Plant. Look for the botanical name Kalanchoe daigremontiana to be sure you’re getting this plant.

Mother of Thousands Care Tips

Origin: Madagascar

Height: Up to 2-1/2 ft (75 cm)

Light: Bright light to full sun

Water: Water thoroughly, then allow top 2 inches of soil to dry out between waterings. Cut back on watering in winter, but don’t allow soil to dry out completely. Water the potting mix or water from the bottom to avoid getting the leaves wet because they may rot. Also, remember to always use room-temperature water when watering your houseplants.

Humidity: Average room (around 40% relative humidity).

Temperature: Average to warm room temperatures 65-80°F/18-27°C. If you move your Kalanchoe daigremontiana outdoors for the summer, it will tolerate extreme heat, but not frost.

Soil: Grows best in cactus potting mix because it provides fast drainage.

Fertilizer: Feed quarterly with a fertilizer specially made for succulents.

Propagation: Easily propagated by the plantlets that fall off its leaves. Or you can break them off and set them on barely-moist cactus potting mix. The best time to propagate is in spring and summer.

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Growing the Mother of Thousands Effectively

Mother of Thousands is a curious plant that forms tiny plantlets on the edges of its leaves. It is also known as alligator plant or devil’s backbone. From Madagascar, the Mother of Thousands is a succulent that doesn’t require frequent watering to grow.

Keep this plant in an area where it will receive plenty of bright sunlight, but too much time in the sun can cause sunburned leaves. With many plantlets, it’s easy to grow multiple plants from the mother. Some even view it as a pest for how quickly the plant can spread by dropping plantlets.

>> Get the Mother of Thousands on Amazon <<

What is Mother of Thousands?

Mother of Thousands (Kalanchoe daigremontiana) has several names, including alligator plant and Mexican hat plant.

Photo by Wendy Cutler licensed under CC BY 2.0

It’s a succulent which grows entirely from one stem and part of the Crassulaceae family. The Jade plant and Flaming Katy are in the same family of plants.

Mother of Thousands originated in Madagascar. In its natural habitat, Mother of Thousands can survive droughts by storing water in its leaves. The leaves grow up to 6 in (15 cm) long and are usually 3 in (7 cm) wide. The whole plant can grow up to 3 feet or 1 meter tall.

A unique feature of this plant are the plantlets that grow along the edges of each leaf. These miniatures grow quickly, even developing roots, and later drop off and sprout. This constant production of offspring is where the Mother of Thousands gets its name.

The bumpy appearance of this plant has also given it the nickname, the devil’s backbone.

However, the rate and ease with which this plant creates plantlets can cause a headache for some. Mother of Thousands can spread very rapidly when planted outdoors, which has led some people to consider it a nuisance or even a weed.

When growing Mother of Thousands indoors, this spread isn’t much of a concern. For those wanting to propagate their plant, this property is welcome. However, you may find unexpected new sprouts in the same pot as the mother or nearby pots.

When grown outdoors, the Mother of Thousands produces flowers in late winter and then dies. It is replaced by replaced by one of its many offspring in the following year.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture classifies the plant as suitable for plant hardiness zones 9 to 11 when grown outdoors.

This plant produces flowers that are a gray-lavender color, but indoor plants rarely bloom.

Planting Mother of Thousands

Mother of Thousands needs plenty of bright light and can be taken outdoors on warm spring and summer days. However, make sure you introduce your plant to the outdoors gradually, to avoid sunburn on its leaves.

Soil and Container

When planting your Mother of Thousands, it’s best to use a cactus potting mix. The sandy consistency allows water to drain quickly, which is essential for a succulent plant.

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If you only have a standard potting mix, you can add coarse sand to produce a mix with faster drainage. Perlite, pumice, and vermiculite are also acceptable choices to combine with your potting mix.

Make sure whatever container you use has holes to let any excess water drain out.

Repotting and Propagating

Propagation is easy work with a Mother of Thousands since the plant does much of the work for you. Somewhere along its evolutionary line, the Mother of Thousands plant lost the ability to produce seeds, so now it relies solely on plantlets.

Carefully pull off the small plantlets and repot them in a cactus potting mix. If you let the plantlets fall off the mother plant on their own, there’s a good chance you’ll see sprouts in the same or nearby pots.

This demonstration from Diane Mumm Garden Videos shows how easy it is to collect and plant Mother of Thousands plantlets:

Caring for Mother of Thousands

Mother of Thousands plants are hardy and easy to grow indoors. They need ample light, not too much water, and warm temperatures to thrive.

Light

Mother of Thousands needs plenty of bright light. You can even move the plant outside for summer. Direct morning sunlight is fine with this plant, but it’s best to avoid direct sun in the afternoon when the light is harsher. Avoid leaving your Mother of Thousands in areas with mostly shade or deep shade.

Water

Mother of Thousands plants are sensitive to water, so using well-draining soil is a must. When watering, you should thoroughly saturate the soil and allow the excess to drain out.

Let the top two inches of soil dry out between each watering. Overwatering can cause rot in the plant’s roots, so make sure the soil doesn’t feel moist to the touch before you water.

In the winter, water your Mother of Thousands less, since shorter days will prompt your plant to go into a resting period. However, don’t let the soil dry out entirely.

If you’re trying to coax your Mother of Thousands into blooming, it’s even more important to give it a resting period with less water and cooler temperatures.

Humidity

Mother of Thousands can survive in various types of humidity. Normal room humidity is perfectly suitable for growing.

Temperature

The Mother of Thousands does well in the heat but not the cold. Average, ideal temperatures for growing this plant are 60°F (16°C) to 75°F (24°C). Avoid temperatures below 40°F (4°C).

Fertilizer

This plant doesn’t need much fertilizer. However, if you do decide to feed your Mother of Thousands, only do so once every few months or quarterly. Make sure to use a diluted liquid fertilizer or one intended for cacti.

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A Word of Caution

The Mother of Thousands plant contains daigremontianin, a type of toxic steroid. It’s toxic to cats, dogs, and infants. This plant can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and in rare cases, an abnormal heart beat. If your pet or child consumes any part of the plant, see a doctor or veterinarian immediately.

Mother-of-millions (Bryophyllum species)

Mother of millions is a drought hardy succulent garden plant. It rapidly produces tiny plant-lets that quickly form new colonies.

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How does this weed affect you?

As the name suggests, mother of millions reproduces rapidly, producing hundreds of tiny plantlets which quickly form new colonies. It is adapted to dry conditions and can survive long periods of drought. This increases the plant’s potential to persist and spread. Mother of millions is toxic when ingested by livestock; it is also poisonous to humans and household pets.

Mother of millions, hybrid mother of millions and resurrection plant are all poisonous when ingested. The toxic effects of these plants are due mainly to bufadienolides which cause heart failure. The toxins are present in all parts of the plant however, flowers are five times more poisonous than the leaves and stems.

Mother of millions and hybrid mother of millions are the most toxic however, livestock access should be restricted to all three.

Ingestion of the toxins can be cumulative and livestock eating small amounts, several times within a few days may suffer poisoning. Eating about 5 kg of mother of millions would kill an adult cow. Where the plants are thick, this amount would grow in a square metre.

Poisoning generally occurs when the plants are flowering – between May and October. Livestock are at a greater risk of poisoning if they have been moved to a new paddock, there is a feed shortage or during droving because they are more likely to eat the plant.

If livestock have eaten a large amount of plant, they may die suddenly of heart failure.

If they have eaten smaller amounts over several days, they may develop diarrhoea (sometimes bloody), drool saliva, dribble urine and then die of heart failure. Some affected livestock will recover slowly if small amounts of plant material have been eaten and their hearts are not badly damaged.

Poisoned stock must be treated within 24 hours of consuming the plant. After this period heart function is severely disturbed and stock may be too badly affected to survive. If you suspect livestock could have mother of millions poisoning, consult a vet immediately.

Mother of millions is also toxic to humans and household pets with dogs being particularly susceptible. It is unlikely that humans or pets would eat enough plant material to become poisoned. However, because mother of millions can be found in many gardens, the likelihood of human or pet poisoning is increased.

Where is it found?

Mother of millions is a native of Africa and Madagascar and was introduced to Australia as a garden plant. It is a serious weed on the coast and the northwest slopes and plains of NSW.

Distribution map

  • NSW (image)

How does it spread?

The common name ‘mother of millions’ is based on the plant’s ability to reproduce vegetatively in large numbers. Each plant produces small plantlets along the edges of its leaves which detach and form new plants. This makes mother of millions hard to eradicate and follow up controls are necessary. Mother of millions also produces numerous seeds which can survive in the soil for a number of years before germinating.

What does it look like?

Mother of millions belongs to the genus Bryophyllum. Mother of millions is a succulent perennial plant growing 30 cm to 1 m in height. The stems are pinkish-brown or greyish in colour. The leaves are pencil-shaped, pale green to pale brown in colour with dark green patches and a shallow groove on the upper surface. There are up to seven projections at the tip of each leaf which when broken off can develop into new plants. The flowers are orange-red in colour and occur in a cluster at the top of a single stem. Flowering can occur from May to October.

Look-a-like species

In NSW, there are also two less common Bryophyllum species. These are hybrid mother of millions (Bryophyllum daigremontianum x Bryophyllum delagoense) and resurrection plant (Bryophyllum pinnatum). These plants also produce small plantlets along the edges of their leaves, are adapted to dry conditions and are poisonous. Hybrid mother of millions can be distinguished from mother of millions by the shape of its leaves. Resurrection plant is also a Bryophyllum species, growing sometimes up to 2 m. It can also be distinguished from mother of millions by its leaves and flowers.

Table 1: Summary of livestock toxicity symptoms

Mother of millions
B. delagoense
Hybrid Mother of millions
B. daigremontianum x B. delagoense
Resurrection plant
B. pinnatum
Height (cm) 30-100 30-100 60-200
Leaves Pencil-shaped, pale green to pale brown with dark green patches, shallow groove on the upper surface. Boat-shaped, thick stalks, with notches along the edges of the leaves. Dull blue-green and up to five oval leaflets per leaf with wavy edges.
Flowers Orange-red in colour, occur in a cluster at the top of a single stem.
Flowering occurs from May to October.
Orange-red in colour, occur in a cluster at the top of a single stem.
Flowering occurs from May to October.
Reddish colour often tinged with pink, occur in loose clusters on stalks growing along the upper portion of the stem.
Flowering occurs from June to August.

What type of environment does it grow in?

Mother of millions is commonly found growing on gravel and sandy soils. It is a weed of bushland and disturbed sites such as roadsides, along fence lines, around rubbish tips and abandoned rural dwellings. It also occurs frequently along creeks and rivers where it is spread by floodwaters.

Naughton M and Bourke C (2005). Mother of millions Primefact 45. NSW DPI, Orange.

The authors would like to acknowledge the comments made by Steve Ottaway and Carol Rose regarding the technical content of this publication.

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Control

Preventing the spread of mother of millions is the best control measure. Learn to identify mother of millions and regularly check for it in winter when the plants are in flower and are easier to see. If found remove immediately using a combination of control methods including hand removal, fire, herbicide application and rehabilitation. Regularly check creek lines after floods for new infestations.

Hand removal

For small infestations, mother of millions can be removed by pulling up individual plants by hand. Once the plants have been removed they should be burnt; stored in black plastic bags until completely decayed or buried. All of these procedures will prevent regrowth from leaf fragments. Care needs to be taken when using this method of control as plantlets may detach from the leaves during removal and establish as new plants. Some regrowth will therefore occur and follow-up treatment will be required.

Fire

Permits may be required to light fires – check with your local NSW Rural Fire Service for permit details. For large infestations, fire is the most economical control option available and will kill the plants and much of the seed stored in the soil. Using fire first will reduce the cost of any spray applications. When using fire, fence off infested areas to limit stock access and build up a fuel load. Control burn the area using a hot fire. In following years any regrowth should be spot sprayed. Some groups have reported a 30% reduction in mother of millions each year by using control burning with follow-up spot spraying.

Rehabilitation

Once removal of the infestation is complete the infested area should be revegetated with more desirable plants to provide competition to future mother of millions seedlings and plantlets.

This can be achieved by soil preparation, replanting, fertilising, controlling pests and grazing appropriately.

Some herbicides have a residual effect and this should be checked before attempting to revegetate.

Biological control

Research into new biocontrol solutions is being conducted. Presently the thrips (Scirtothrips aurantii) are the only biocontrol agent established in the field in Queensland and New South Wales

Herbicide application

Thorough spraying of mother of millions with herbicides is effective if sufficient wetting agent (non ionic surfactant) is used to penetrate the waxy outer covering of the plants – especially that of the plantlets. Mother of millions may be controlled with herbicides at any time of the year if the plants are not stressed, but infestations are easiest to see in winter when the plants are in flower. Spraying during flowering also prevents new seeds from developing. Late autumn or early spring may be a better option if the plants are lush and growing well, because they are more likely to readily absorb the chemical. In areas that regularly flood, avoid spraying when flooding is likely.

After spraying, plants may be more palatable to livestock so exclude them from the treated infestation by resting the paddock or erecting temporary fencing. Exclusion of livestock should continue until the plants are dead. It should be noted that dead plants are still toxic and still present a poisoning risk to livestock if eaten.

A number of herbicides are available for treating mother of millions. Spraying with herbicides may not be 100% successful therefore, the site should be monitored for regrowth and an appropriate follow up treatment carried out.

Herbicide options

WARNING – ALWAYS READ THE LABEL
Users of agricultural or veterinary chemical products must always read the label and any permit, before using the product, and strictly comply with the directions on the label and the conditions of any permit. Users are not absolved from compliance with the directions on the label or the conditions of the permit by reason of any statement made or not made in this information. To view permits or product labels go to the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority website www.apvma.gov.au

See Using herbicides for more information.

PERMIT 14877 Expires 30/09/2024
Glyphosate 360 g/L with Metsulfuron-methyl 600 g/kg (Various products)
Rate: 10 g metsulfuron-methyl plus 200 mL glyphosate in 100 L of water
Comments: Apply just prior to flowering, add a surfactant.
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: M, Inhibitors of EPSP synthase
Resistance risk: Moderate

2,4-D 300 g/L (Affray 300®)
Rate: 70 mL in 10 L of water
Comments: Thorough even coverage of leaves
Withholding period: 7 days.
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate

2,4-D amine 625 g/L (Amicide® 625)
Rate: 400 mL per 100 L of water
Comments: Thorough, even coverage of leaves and plantlets is necessary. Add a wetting agent.
Withholding period: 7 days.
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate

Fluroxypyr 200 g/L (Starane™)
Rate: 600 mL per 100 L of water
Comments: Actively growing seedlings and young plants before flowering.
Withholding period: 7 days.
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate

Fluroxypyr 333 g/L (Starane™ Advanced)
Rate: 360 mL in 100 L of water
Comments: Apply to actively growing seedlings and young plants before flowering
Withholding period: 7 days.
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate

Picloram 100 g/L + Triclopyr 300 g/L + Aminopyralid 8 g/L (Grazon Extra®)
Rate: 500 mL in 100 L of water
Comments: Apply at flowering, add a surfactant.
Withholding period: Where product is used to control woody weeds in pastures there is a restriction of 12 weeks for use of treated pastures for making hay and silage; using hay or other plant material for compost, mulch or mushroom substrate; or using animal waste from animals grazing on treated pastures for compost, mulching, or spreading on pasture/crops.
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate

Triclopyr 300 g/L + Picloram 100 g/L (Grazon® DS)
Rate: 500 mL per 100 L of water
Comments: Apply at flowering, add a surfactant.
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate

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Biosecurity duty

The content provided here is for information purposes only and is taken from the Biosecurity Act 2015 and its subordinate legislation, and the Regional Strategic Weed Management Plans (published by each Local Land Services region in NSW). It describes the state and regional priorities for weeds in New South Wales, Australia.

Area Duty
All of NSW General Biosecurity Duty
All plants are regulated with a general biosecurity duty to prevent, eliminate or minimise any biosecurity risk they may pose. Any person who deals with any plant, who knows (or ought to know) of any biosecurity risk, has a duty to ensure the risk is prevented, eliminated or minimised, so far as is reasonably practicable.
Central Tablelands Regional Recommended Measure*
Land managers should mitigate the risk of new weeds being introduced to their land. Land managers should mitigate spread from their land. The plant should not be bought, sold, grown, carried or released into the environment.
Protect conservation areas, natural environments and grazing land that is free of mother-of-millions
Central West Regional Recommended Measure*
Land managers should mitigate the risk of new weeds being introduced to their land. Land managers should mitigate spread from their land. The plant should not be bought, sold, grown, carried or released into the environment.
Hunter
Land managers should mitigate the risk of new weeds being introduced to their land. Land managers should mitigate spread from their land. The plant should not be bought, sold, grown, carried or released into the environment. Land managers reduce impacts from the plant on priority assets.
Regional Recommended Measure*
North West Regional Recommended Measure*
Land managers should mitigate the risk of new weeds being introduced to their land. Land managers should mitigate spread from their land. The plant should not be bought, sold, grown, carried or released into the environment.
This Regional Recommended Measure applies to Bryophyllum delagoense
Riverina Regional Recommended Measure*
Land managers should mitigate the risk of new weeds being introduced to their land. The plant should be eradicated from the land and the land kept free of the plant. The plant should not be bought, sold, grown, carried or released into the environment. Notify local control authority if found.
Western
Exclusion zone: whole region except core infestation area of maintained gardens
Regional Recommended Measure*
Whole region: Plant should not be bought, sold, grown, carried or released into the environment (except in maintained gardens). Exclusion Zone: The plant should be eradicated from the land and the land kept free of the plant. Land managers should mitigate the risk of the plant being introduced to their land. Core infestation: Land managers should mitigate spread from their land.
This Regional Recommended Measure also applies to Bryophyllum hybrids
*To see the Regional Strategic Weeds Management Plans containing demonstrated outcomes that fulfill the general biosecurity duty for this weed

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For technical advice and assistance with identification please contact your local council weeds officer.
For further information call the NSW DPI Biosecurity Helpline on 1800 680 244 or send an email to [email protected]

Reviewed 2019

Mother of Thousands, Kalanchoe daigremontiana: Controlling the Population Explosion!

Part of what makes this plant so intriguing is the many different common names by which it is known: Mother of Thousands, Mother of Millions, Alligator Plant, Mexican Hat Plant, Devil’s Backbone, Piggyback Plant (or Pick-a-back Plant, depending on the region), Panda Plant, and Maternity Plant. Its scientific name is Kalanchoe diagremontiana, though it is also sometimes classified as Bryophyllum daigremontianum. It is native to the mountains of Madagascar, which stirs my curiosity. I wonder how it came to be a common house plant, so far from home!

This unusual specimen is a fleshy succulent with narrow, pointed, serrated “leaves” forming in opposing pairs on alternating sides of the fleshy, flexible stems. The leaves are generally green on the upper surface, and either a lighter green, or green streaked with purple on the lower surface. These are actually not really leaves at all, but rather leaf-like stems known as phylloclades or cladodes. All along the edges of these “leaves” are little jagged spurs, which have the unusual ability to asexually develop little plantlets on each point, complete with two pairs of leaflets and roots. These little plantlets are genetically identical progeny, since there is no cross-pollination with other plants involved.

As a child, I was particularly fascinated with these tiny plantlets. This form of vegetative propogation isn’t terribly common in the plant world, though it is by no means unique to this plant. I loved to “zip” the little baby plants from the leaves and press them into the damp surface of the soil after watering the parent plant. If I allowed them to stay on the leaves long enough undisturbed, they would actually begin forming roots, and then drop from the leaves to the soil of the pot (or into other plants on her shelves below, where they would quickly colonize the neighboring plants’ pots as well.)

The stem of the mother plant wasn’t very rigid, and as the upper leaves got larger and heavier, they would cause the stem to form interesting curves and bends, often draping lanquidly over the edges of the pot. If the stems touched the soil, roots would quickly form there as well. Even if a curve dipped NEAR the soil, roots would form on the lower edge of the curve and begin reaching for the surface. After a while, new stems would begin to grow from the roots, forming a new plant alongside the original parent plant.

I have never seen a Kalanchoe daigremontiana flower, though as I researched it for the article, I learned that they do occasionally send up an umbrella-like stalk with a cluster of downward facing pink or purple bell-shaped flowers. These flowers, however, do not produce viable seeds. As with many succulents, the bloom appears to be the last gasp before the plant dies, often in the autumn. There are several pictures of the blooms submitted by Dave’s Garden members available on the Plant Files entry, which is available by clicking here.

When I looked the plant up in Plant Files, I was surprised to see the many negative ratings associated with its prolific tendency to spread. Apparently, I am fortunate that I live in a climate cold enough in the winter to require me to keep my Kalanchoe in a pot indoors. I have limited space, so mine tends to be relegated to a fairly small pot that doesn’t give it much encouragement to grow rapidly. It resides in a clay pot, in succulent potting soil with fairly sharp drainage. It thrives without frequent watering, which makes it an easy houseplant for a busy household like ours. Even with my benign neglect, I’ve noticed new sprouts popping up in other pots, where they’ve dropped from the mother plant. I’ve had difficulty removing them from my beloved Christmas cactus, and have since relocated the little offender to a location more removed from my favorite plants. Upon further research, I’ve learned that it not only colonizes the pots of other plants, but also negatively affects their growth, and can leave a residue in the soil that reduces the rate of growth of other plants. It even suppresses the growth of its own plantlets, which I suppose is one method of encouraging the kids to move out of the house!

When planted outdoors in a more temperate climate, however, the plant ceases to be cute, and becomes a terribly invasive thug. Given its ideal warm, somewhat dry growing conditions, the plant can shoot up to 3 feet (approximately one meter) tall, and drop plantlets at an alarming rate. Each new plant then forms scores of plantlets along each of its leaves, compounding the problem if not eradicated quickly. It has been listed as a noxious invasive in many arid areas worldwide, including Texas, Florida, and parts of California in the United States, and Puerto Rico, Australia, Venezuela, South Africa, and parts of the Caribbean, among others.

Even in my climate and limited houseplant environment, I’ve discovered another cause for concern. I had decided to move my Kalanchoe to the kitchen, as it seemed to be yellowing and shriveling a little in the cool conditions of our sunny enclosed porch during the winter months. I set it in a north-facing kitchen window, where it did indeed begin to return to its former rich green color. My husband noticed, however, that the plantlets were dropping from the leaves and landing in our dog’s bed below. He asked if it was dangerous if she would happen to eat one. When I looked it up, I was alarmed to see that all parts of the Kalanchoe is, in fact, highly toxic. It contains the cardiac glycoside daigremontianum, which can even be fatal for small children and pets, so exercise extreme caution if you decide to grow this plant. In the wild, it presents a very real danger to grazing livestock and wildlife. Once I knew of its toxic properties, I decided it was safer to keep it behind closed doors on the chilly enclosed porch, where my pets wouldn’t be able to access it. If I had to chose between losing a plant or losing a pet, the plant would have to go!

To read more about Kalanchoes, see this article, by PalmBob: http://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/view/2673/

Scientific name

Bryophyllum delagoense (Mother-of-millions)

Bryophyllum delagoense (Eckl. & Zeyh.) Druce

Synonyms

Common names

Mother-of-millions, chandelier plant, finger plant.

Family

Crassulaceae

Origin

Native to Madagascar.

Naturalised distribution (global)

Locations within which Bryophyllum delagoense is naturalised include southern and eastern Africa, South America, south-eastern USA and some oceanic islands with warm climates.

Introduced, naturalised or invasive in East Africa

Bryophyllum delagoense is invasive in parts of Kenya, naturalised in Uganda (A.B.R. Witt pers. obs.) and in Tanzania (Henderson 2002). This species has been found growing prolifically in parts of Nairobi National Park.

Habitat

Bryophyllum delagoense is a widespread weed of pastures, grasslands, open woodlands, waste areas, disturbed sites, fence lines, roadsides, embankments, and railways in subtropical, semi-arid, tropical and warmer temperate regions. It is commonly found growing in rocky sites or on poor soils. It prefers rocky outcrops in dry savannas and urban open spaces.

Description

Bryophyllum delagoense is a long-lived (perennial) fleshy (succulent) plant with upright (erect) stems usually growing 30-180 cm tall, but occasionally reaching 2.5 m or more in height. The whole plant is not hairy.

The stems are hairless (glabrous), mostly unbranched, and greyish or pinkish-grey in colour.

The greyish coloured leaves are fleshy (succulent) in nature (15-150 mm long and 2-6 mm wide) and almost cylindrical (terete), but with a small lengthwise (longitudinal) groove. There are several (3-9) ‘teeth’ located at or near the tip of each leaf (apical notches). The leaves, and sometimes also the stems, have a darker mottling (they are variegated) and tiny plantlets form in the ‘teeth’ at the leaf tips (in the apical notches).

The bell-shaped (tubular) flowers (2-4 cm long) are either red, orange-red or pinkish-red in colour and the four petals are fused for most of their length (into a corolla tube). They are drooping (pendulous) and grouped into tightly branched clusters (10-20 cm wide) at the top of the stems (in terminal corymbose inflorescences). These flowers also have four partially fused greyish coloured sepals (5-13 mm long), a four-lobed ovary, four styles and eight stamens. They are borne on individual stalks (pedicels) 5-20 mm long.

The dry, papery fruit is a ‘follicle’ (about 10 mm long) and remains enclosed in the old flower parts. It is deeply-divided into four sections (carpels) and contains numerous minute brown-coloured seeds (less than 1 mm long).

Reproduction and dispersal

Bryophyllum delagoense reproduces by seed and by tiny plantlets that are produced at the tips of its fleshy (succulent) leaves. Dislodged leaves and broken leaf parts can also take root and give rise to new plants. This species is commonly spread in garden waste. The tiny seeds are probably wind and water dispersed and its leaves and plantlets may also be dislodged and spread by animals, vehicles, machinery, soil and slashers.

Similar species

Bryophyllum delagoense is very similar to Bryophyllum x houghtonii (hybrid mother-of-millions) and Bryophyllum daigremontianum (mother-of-thousands)These species can be distinguished by the following differences:

  • B. delagoense has relatively small cylindrical (terete) leaves (usually less than 10 cm long and only 2-6 mm wide) that are always simple. These leaves are greyish in colour with some darker patches (they are variegated) and have a few teeth at their tips (apical notches).
  • B. x houghtonii has relatively small boat-shaped or folded leaves (4-8 cm long and 8-20 mm wide) that are always simple. These leaves are greyish or greyish-green in colour with some darker patches (they are variegated) and have numerous teeth along their margins (marginal notches).
  • B. daigremontianum has relatively large boat-shaped or folded leaves (often more than 10 cm long and 25 mm wide) that are always simple. These leaves are greyish-green in colour with some darker patches (they are variegated) and have numerous teeth along their margins (marginal notches).

Economic and other uses

Bryophyllum delagoense has been introduced to many parts of the world as an ornamental plant. However, these uses cannot compensate for this plant’s overall negative impacts.

Environmental and other impacts

Bryophyllum delagoense is considered to have a negative effect on biodiversity in Kenya’s National Parks and minor environmental weed in private gardens. This species is well adapted to dry environments and able to survive droughts. It forms very expansive populations in grasslands and open woodlands in inland regions and spreads during flood events.

B. delagoense very poisonous to livestock and humans and almost certainly also to wildlife. Cattle deaths resulting from ingestion of this species are quite common in Queensland, Australia. This species commonly invades rangelands and pastures, replacing grasses and legumes, and can significantly reduce the productivity of these areas.

B. delagoense has been listed a noxious weed in South Africa (prohibited plants that must be controlled. They serve no economic purpose and possess characteristics that are harmful to humans, animals or the environment) and in the Australian states of Queensland and New South Wales.

Management

The precise management measures adopted for any plant invasion will depend upon factors such as the terrain, the cost and availability of labour, the severity of the infestation and the presence of other invasive species. Some components of an integrated management approach are introduced below.

The best form of invasive species management is prevention. If prevention is no longer possible, it is best to treat the weed infestations when they are small to prevent them from establishing (early detection and rapid response). Controlling the weed before it seeds will reduce future problems. Control is generally best applied to the least infested areas before dense infestations are tackled. Consistent follow-up work is required for sustainable management.

For larger infestations a controlled burn can be effective. This is the most economical control, encourages grass competition and lessens the problem for years requiring only spot follow up activity to remove reinfestations. removal with selective herbicides. Bryophyllum delagoense is susceptible to a variety of herbicides. Optimum time for treatment appears to be when plants flowering although they can be treated at any time. When using any herbicide always read the label first and follow all instructions and safety requirements. If in doubt consult an expert.

A number of potential biological control agents have been considered for release against B. delagoense (Witt et al. 2004).

Legislation

Not listed as a noxious weed by the state or governments in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.

Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). www.ars-grin.gov/npgs/index.html. National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, National Genetic Resources Program, Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Beltsville, Maryland, USA. Accessed March 2011.

Global Compendium of Weeds. www.hear.org/gcw. Hawaiian Ecosystems at Risk Project. Accessed March 2011.

Henderson, L. (2001). Alien weeds and invasive plants. A complete guide to declared weeds and invaders in South Africa. Plant Protection Research Institute Handbook No. 12, 300pp. PPR, ARC South Africa.

Henderson, L. (2002). Problem plants in Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Final Report to the NCAA.

Editors

Agnes Lusweti, National Museums of Kenya; Emily Wabuyele, National Museums of Kenya, Paul Ssegawa, Makerere University; John Mauremootoo, BioNET-INTERNATIONAL Secretariat – UK.

Acknowledgments

This fact sheet is adapted from The Environmental Weeds of Australia by Sheldon Navie and Steve Adkins, Centre for Biological Information Technology, University of Queensland. We recognise the support from the National Museums of Kenya, Tropical Pesticides Research Institute (TPRI) – Tanzania and Makerere University, Uganda. This activity was undertaken as part of the BioNET-EAFRINET UVIMA Project (Taxonomy for Development in East Africa).

Contact

BioNET-EAFRINET Regional Coordinator: [email protected]

Mother of Thousands Plant, Kalanchoe daigremontiana

This Kalanchoe succulent, nicknamed “the mother-of-thousands” is as prolific as it is maternal By Anna Laurent

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Photo by: Neelima Sinha/UC Davis, Stephen Clancy/flickr.

Kalanchoe daigremontianaPurchase this plant on Amazon.com

  • Common name: Mother-of-Thousands
  • Zones: 9-11 (or as a houseplant elsewhere)
  • Site: Outdoors avoid direct afternoon sun, indoors place in bright, indirect light
  • Soil: Good drainage is important, cactus mix works well for this plant
  • Characteristics: Drought resistant, easy to propagate from plantlets

My mother laughed when she read the Kalanchoe daigremontiana’s identification tag. “Mother of Thousands! You have my sympathies,” she sighed and patted its plantlet-fringed leaf. Keeping a close eye on her developing progeny, the mother-of-thousands is as prolific as it is maternal—hundreds of tiny plants actually grow on the mother’s arms. When released, each plantlet falls to the ground to take root on its own—now the next “mother” in the lineage, never too far from home.

The mother-of-thousands is a superlative nurturer by necessity; somewhere on the evolutionary timeline, the unique succulent lost the ability to produce viable seeds, and so the burden of reproduction fell to its leaves. As the plant matures, spoon-shaped spurs develop along the periphery of its leaves, each yielding a miniature clone of the mother. These adventitious plantlets grow larger and form roots, all the while clinging to the mother’s leaves, which now hang heavy under the weight of so many young plants.

Native to southwestern Madagascar, the mother-of-thousands is also a popular succulent for the home, and thrives in warm, dry landscapes. It does not flower frequently, or reliably, but when it does, the blossoms are stunning. A chandelier inflorescence of small bell-shaped pink flowers hangs over the central stalk, which has grown taller for the occasion. The tubular blossoms also attract hummingbirds.

It should be noted that the mother-of-thousands does not extend the same kindnesses to the young of other species: all parts of the plant are poisonous, and can be fatal if ingested by small animals or infants.

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Caring for Succulents

Kalanchoe daigremontiana, commonly known as Mother of Thousands, is one of the easiest succulents to grow. It is perfect for beginners. The common name comes from the little plantlets that form along the edge of the leaves of this plant. While these plantlets make propagating this plant easy, they also cause it to be an invasive species in some parts of the world. For this reason, most gardeners find growing this plant works best in a container. Its other common names include Alligator Plant, Mexican Hat Plant, and Devil’s Backbone.

When growing Mother of Thousands as an outdoor plant in USDA plant hardiness zones 9b to 11b, it may bloom with small, grayish pink flowers in late winter. The mother plant then dies.

Growing Conditions and General Care

This succulent loves to receive a good dose of the direct morning sun. It can take any amount of humidity but the one thing it cannot take is soggy soil. To prevent this, only plant Mother of Thousands in a soil mix for succulents or create your own. Also, only plant your Mother of Thousands in a terracotta pot that has a drainage hole. This will reduce the chances of overwatering. As far as watering this plant goes, water until moisture comes out the bottom of the pot and then do not water until the first 2 inches (5 cm) of soil is dry.

Photo via etsy.com

In the spring, begin to take your plant outside to harden off. This succulent loves the warm weather of summer but not gradually exposing your plant to the outdoors will cause scorching of the leaves.

Before the first frost of the year, bring your Mother of Thousands indoors but do this gradually. A drastic move from the outside in will cause plant stress.

Feeding this plant should occur every 3 months and should consist of a balanced liquid fertilizer that has been cut in half.

Propagation

Propagating Mother of Thousands is very easy. You can just let the plantlets fall where they may. If you look at them while they are on the plant, you will notice that the plantlets have little roots that easily root where ever they fall. While this makes it easy for the gardener, it does have its downfall. Allowing the offspring to the root where ever they may cause plants to pop up in undesired places, which includes out in the yard and inside other pots. A better approach for those who do not want the Mother of Thousands everywhere is to handpick off the plantlets before they fall off. Using this approach allows the gardener to plant the plantlets in the proper soil and in locations that they are desired.

Source: weekendgardener.net

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What is the difference between Mother of Thousands and Mother of Millions?

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These are two popular plants that get talked about all the time! However, both species have tons of common names. Which Mother is which? What’s the difference? Where can I get them??

Read on to find out everything you need to know about these two kool Kalanchoe.

Table of Contents

Which plant is which?

People often confuse these plants, either because they don’t know to use the correct name, or because they don’t know that they are two different plants!

That’s why we have scientific names.

They are supposed to clear up confusion created by people calling the same plant different names.

Unfortunately, in this instance, the scientific names of these plants are also in flux!

The plants were previously part of the Kalanchoe genus, but have been reorganized into the Bryophyllum genus. This causes even more confusion!

So we made a list of the names of the two “Mother” plants you are likely to encounter.

Mother of Thousands Mother of Millions

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Alligator Plant Chandelier Plant
Devil’s Backbone Devil’s Backbone
Mexican Hat Plant Bryophyllum delagoense
Evil Genius Bryophyllum tubiflorum
Bryophyllum daigremontianum Kalanchoe tubiflora
Kalanchoe diagremontiana Kalanchoe delagoensis

Now that you’ve got an idea of which plant is which, you can read on for some information about the two!

Get Your Mother Here!

What are the main differences between Mother of Thousands and Millions?

The biggest difference is the shape of their leaves.

Thousands

Mother of Thousands has broad, tear-shaped leaves. You’ll notice that they always grow in pairs, each leaf on opposite sides of the stem.

The next pair of leaves rotates 90 degrees, so that the new leaves don’t block the sun from the old ones! This alternate leaf pattern is common in plants, and helps ensure all the leaves get sunlight.

If you look at the edges of the leaves, you’ll see they have little ridges. That is where the baby plantlets form! These plantlets, or buds, grow all along the edge of the leaf. A happy, healthy leaf will have a full complement of babies around the edge of it.

Leaves also rush to grow babies if they are damaged or think they’re about to die.

Millions

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Mother of Millions, on the other hand, has very narrow leaves. You’ll notice that it has 4 leaves that all grow from the same place on the stem (the node).

These don’t alternate like the Mother of Thousands. The plantlets on these leaves only grow at the end of the leaf, near the tip. Usually there are between 2-4 babies on each leaf.

Mother of Millions is considered a noxious weed in parts of Australia and Africa because of its rapid growth and spreading, in even the most adverse conditions.

The final difference in these two Mothers are the behaviors of their growth. Mother of Thousands usually has a central, single stalk that grows up towards sunlight.

It will often fall over due to the weight of its heavy leaves, and continue growing. Mother of Millions often has several stalks rising from the same plant. While they primarily grow upwards, they can form bush-like patches.

Get Your Mother Here!

What are the similarities?

Since they are in the same genus, they are very closely related. They are both from Madagascar, and as such, enjoy the same treatment as most succulents in regards to sun, water, and soil.

They thrive in bright direct sunlight, though they can also do pretty well in indirect light. These two Mothers appreciate the same watering schedule that most succulents do (infrequent, heavy waterings). In the soil department, they want loose, fast draining soil.

Despite all their preferences, these plants seem to thrive on neglect. I’ve spotted them growing in sidewalk cracks in Charleston, South Carolina. They’ve sprouted up in a dark corner after falling from their mother.

I’ve seen them thrive in places that are perpetually wet, a feat unheard of in the succulent realm.

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It follows that Mother of Thousands and Mother of Millions are considered by some to be weeds. While “weed” is a subjective term for a plant people don’t want around, these two plants sure do act like weeds.

Their method of propagation is extremely efficient, so much so that it has a tendency to overtake other plants and crowd them out. The plantlets that form on their leaves are literally miniature plants.

They are already growing and photosynthesizing while attached to their mother. Most even produce roots in addition to their leaves. By the time they hit the ground, they’re already a plant!

That’s a huge advantage on those lame, regular plants that have to grow from seeds.

They do produce seeds, although you’ll probably never see them. Their flowers are quite pretty, often orange or red, and sprout from a central stalk.

Get Your Mother Here!

The Mother plants don’t flower too often though. It’s easier and more efficient to propagate via buds!

Both Mother of Thousands and Mother of Millions are poisonous, unfortunately. The milky sap secreted when the stem is broken carries a toxin that is dangerous to pets and children.

In fact, Australian cattle frequently die from grazing on Mother of Millions, so the plant has a very bad reputation there. They are aesthetic house plants elsewhere, but you have to be vigilant that they do not spread to other pots or outside your home.

Where can I get these plants?

Just about anywhere. If you spot one in a public place, you could snag a couple plantlets off a leaftip (ask for permission though). All dedicated succulent owners have come across the Mother of Thousands and Mother of Millions.

If they kept one, they certainly have plenty of babies or saplings to give away. Check succulent Facebook pages that swap plants and succulents in your area.

They are easy to grow succulents, and much loved by beginners.

You can also buy them online, though they are sometimes hard to find because they are considered weeds in some places.

Get Your Mother Here!

Check also at your local home improvement stores in the succulent section, as these show up from time to time (although always mislabeled).

Is there any other information you want to know on Mother of Thousands or Mother of Millions? Tell us below in the comments!

Mother of millions, originally from Madagascar, made their home in the desert

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It’s easy to remember them as M.O.M.s, the succulent known as “mother of millions.” Originally classified under genus Kalanchoe, it is now Bryophyllum, yet sold under both genera. The two common species here in the desert: Bryophyllum delagoensis and B. daigremontianum. They are both endemic to Madagascar, an island off the southeast coast of Africa. Many a succulent grower has called them pernicious “weeds” because once established, they’re here to stay.

Lately MOMs have been showing up in swanky succulent compositions. They were rarely if ever sold at retail because even the smallest plant can start an invasion. Yet they’re so darned easy to love and hard to kill that they would inevitably reach the market. I spent countless hours pulling them for Clark Moorten while working at the garden, but we all knew they’d be back in no time.

Like so many succulents and cacti that hail from arid zones, MOMs reproduce vegetatively. Though they flower, beautifully, scarcity of rainfall limits seed germination. To keep the species from extinction, growing plants drop a piece of themselves to the ground where it roots and starts a new individual. Jumping cholla cactus do this in the desert. MOMs do it to survive conditions in southeastern Madagascar where goats, wildlife and drought have forced unique adaptations.

More: What colors tell us about the history of Mexico

MOMs have another tool for protection: caustic sap. Like that of many Euphorbias, this sap is dangerous to children and pets. MOMs naturalized in Australia long ago and cattle still frequently die from consumption of B. daigremontianum/delagoensis. This is one of the few plants that is banned from South Africa due to cattle and its potential to naturalize where others fail.

What makes MOMs so special is they are world class procreators. The species is highly variable with a wide range of forms, but all of them produce little bulbs or plantlets on the edges of mature leaves. When mature and loaded with babies, each one is programmed to drop off when they get too heavy/large to hold on. In the garden, the slightest movement while raking or weeding causes them to shed babies prodigiously. Most of these will root and grow into new MOMs of very large families ready to make your yard their new home.

More: The architecture of mounding in your garden

Because weeds are plants whose virtues we have not met, the beauty of this succulent is in urban homes as houseplants – their original role. When grown outdoors in the summer they flower on exceptionally tall stalks with many vivid coral red blossoms. Fast growth gives you big bold plants in one season … and a million babies. The leaf patterns and shapes are always great-looking house plants for textural effects inside during the winter months.

Above all, the greatest benefit is that you become a MOM yourself if you decide to propagate the progeny. Use a shallow container and fill with clean moist sand. Detach and poke your bulblet into the sand. In just a few weeks they’ll be twice as big, well rooted and ready to go outside. When you find a special variety, know the purchase price will be offset by a million babies to pot-up or give away.

More: Let the lava flow for your succulents

Anyone in a frost-free zone should think twice before introducing these plants. Ditto the Pacific Coast. Without frost to keep them in check they invade everything. Keep an eye out for hitchhiking bulblets on your new nursery-grown succulents as that’s how many spread.

I am sure that the plants I weeded at Moorten Botanical Garden in Palm Springs were planted by Clark’s mom, Patricia Moorten. They have persisted continuously for over 60 years, wherever there is moisture and shade. With them, her son Clark learned the science of vegetative reproduction in desert plants and why seeds fail in extreme climates. Clark has fought their presence since the beginning. The MOMs are still asserting themselves, weedy and beautiful as ever, all these years later.

Mother of Thousands (bryophyllum daigremontianum) is a beautiful and interesting house plant, and one of my favorites. If you have one of these plants in your home, you’ll want to know how to care for it, so it thrives for years to come.

In this guide I’ll cover everything you need to know about caring for your Mother of Thousands. But first, a quick summary of mother of thousands plant care.

How to care for mother of thousands: Mother of Thousands should be planted in a well draining potting mix, watered infrequently but thoroughly, and kept in bright, indirect sunlight with low humidity at 65 to 75° F. The tiny plantlets that grow along the edges of the leaves will need to be managed as they try to take root wherever they happen to land.

What Is A Mother Of Thousands Plant?

Mother of Thousands is known by numerous other names – Mexican Hat Plant, Alligator Plant, and Devil’s Backbone. A native of Madagascar, the plant is a succulent that grows up from one stem. The large blue-green leaves are pointed and narrow and grow up to 6-inches long and 3-inches wide. The plant itself can grow as tall as 18 to 35-inches if you let it.

The most unique part of this plant is the tiny plantlets that grow along the edges of the leaves. These little plantlets will drop easily from the main plant, trying to take root wherever they land and find soil appropriate for growth.

For this reason, many gardeners think of the Mother of Thousands as a bit of a problem plant, with the little plantlets doing their best to grow and multiply in all types of soil alongside other plants.

You can easily see how the plant got its most common name – it’s the mother to thousands of other plants! When you’re growing Mother of Thousands indoors, you won’t have to worry too much about it propagating, although you may find that the little plantlets drop into any nearby plant pots where they can take root.

Mother Of Thousands Light Needs

Your Mother of Thousands needs plenty of light. In the hotter months, place the plant in indirect sunlight, otherwise its delicate leaves can easily be sunburned. In the cooler months from fall until early spring, when the sun isn’t as hot, you can place the plant in direct sunlight, so it gets enough light each day.

If you have an east facing window, your Mother of Thousands will thrive there. They love the direct sun in the morning, when even in the summer the sun isn’t yet that hot. North facing windows are often a poor choice of the Mother of Thousands – there won’t be enough hours of light for the plant when facing in this direction, even in summer months.

Keep in mind that from early June until late September, south and west facing windows will provide too much heat for your Mother of Thousands – consider finding another location for the plant in your home during the summer months.

You’ll know when your Mother of Thousands is getting just the right amount of light – the leaves will be a vivid green and have a beautiful outline of red to them.

When the plant isn’t getting enough light, it can become spindly and tall, shooting up in height. There will be large spaces between the leaves, making the plant look a little sparse and worse for wear.

Mother Of Thousands Temperature Needs

If possible, Mother of Thousands does best in temperatures of 65 to 75° Fahrenheit (16 to 24° Celsius). During the colder months, when you’re heating your home, keep the plant away from direct heat. Not only can the direct heat damage the leaves, it can dry the plant out too fast.

What’s The Best Pot For Growth And Drainage?

The roots of your Mother of Thousands are quite delicate and do best when air can circulate around them. The best choice is a terracotta pot that has holes at the bottom so that any excess water can easily drain out. You can improve the drainage system even more by putting some pebbles or a few small stones at the bottom of the pot.

Place the pot into a tray so the excess water can drain out – then make sure to empty the tray when water starts to collect.The plant doesn’t do well in soggy or damp conditions. If you let the Mother of Thousands stand in water, the roots may start to rot, causing damage to the plant.

Your Mother of Thousands likes to be planted in small pots. The larger the pot is, the bigger the leaves will grow and the taller the plant will get to be. For bushier plants, stick to planting each Mother of Thousands in a smaller pot, changing size as the plant gets bigger.

These plants aren’t always good at sharing space in pots with other plants – their little plantlets can quickly take over. Even if there’s enough room in the pot, avoid planting Mother of Thousands with a buddy plant. Otherwise you may find the Mother of Thousands taking over and the buddy plant isn’t able to thrive.

What Soil Is Best For Mother Of Thousands?

The Mother of Thousands does best in sandy soil that drains well. A potting mix designed for cacti is a good choice. If you don’t have a sandy potting soil, you can make your own. Just add some course sand to regular potting soil.

There are a few other things you can add to the soil so that it drains well:

  • Perlite – Perlite is crushed volcanic glass that is added to potting soil to keep it light and loose.
  • Pumice – Pumice rock helps to aerate the soil and keep it loose, so water drains well.
  • Vermiculite – Made from mica, vermiculite helps to retain some moisture in the soil while still allowing for good aeration.

Avoid using soil that has a mix of peat moss, humus, or loam. With any of these in the potting mix the soil will take too long to dry out, keeping too much moisture in the pot.

Mother Of Thousands Watering

Water the soil of your Mother of Thousands thoroughly. Before watering again let the plant dry out so that the top 2-inches of soil are completely dry.

When watering, always use water that is room temperature. The roots of the plant are extremely sensitive to temperature. Using water that is too cold or too hot can “shock” the roots and cause damage.

Another tip for watering your Mother of Thousands: water the soil only and avoid getting water on the leaves. The leaves of the plant are prone to rot when they get wet.

During the colder winter months, you can water the Mother of Thousands less frequently, providing just enough water so that the soil stays moist without becoming saturated. Don’t let the plant dry out completely, otherwise you may dry it out to the point where it can’t be rejuvenated!

Mother Of Thousands Pruning

Like any other house plants, your Mother of Thousands may need to be trimmed back now and then. If the plant starts to be wiry and spindly, pinch off the top of the plant directly above a large leaf. This will prompt the plant to start growing leaves further down on the stem.

Mother Of Thousands Propagation

With all the little plantlets, your Mother of Thousands is an easy houseplant to propagate. The first thing to do is pick two or three of the plantlets from one of the leaves. If you’re not going to plant them right away, place the plantlets into a plastic bag or seal in plastic wrap. You want to keep them moist until you’re ready to use them.

Take a small terracotta pot and add cactus soil. Don’t worry about finding a deep or big pot – the roots of the plantlets will take some time to grow big enough for a large pot.

Put the plantlets directly onto the soil, making sure they’re at least a ½-inch apart. Spray the soil and the plantlets with water so they’re moist without being saturated. Then cover the pot with plastic wrap so that you’re creating your own little greenhouse.

Place the pot where it gets a lot of sun – then continue to keep the soil and plantlets moist, being careful not to overwater. If you give them too much water, they have a tendency to rot, making them unusable. Mother of Thousands doesn’t like a lot of humidity – this goes for the plantlets as well.

Keep an eye on the plantlets, watching as they start to grow. Adjust the plastic wrap so that it doesn’t crush the plants. You can place a toothpick in the soil and tent over the plastic wrap.

When they’re about an inch tall you can remove the plastic wrap, keeping them in the sun as they continue to grow. If you have a really green thumb, some of these new plants may flower for you, bursting with little pink/purple flowers.

When the plants are big enough you can separate them and plant them in their own pot. Keep in mind that the roots of these new plants are very tender and can be easily damaged. Make a wide cut into the soil when transplanting them to avoid making any cuts into the roots.

When and How Should You Repot?

When your Mother of Thousands becomes too big for the pot it’s in, you can repot to a bigger size. You’ll easily be able to tell if the plant needs more room to grow. The roots will become pot bound or they’ll start to grow out through the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot.

Plants that are too big for the pot they’re in will also start to dry out faster, even in cooler temperatures. Still another sign that your Mother of Thousands has outgrown the pot is if the leaves and stem have stopped growing or slowed down considerably.

Wait until the spring before transplanting to the larger pot. Spring is the ideal time – the increased daylight hours and the warmer temperatures will fuel the growth of the repotted roots.

Choose a new pot that’s the next size up from the one the plant is currently in. A good rule of thumb is to choose a pot that has a height and diameter about 2-inches more than the current pot.

Make sure the new pot also has sufficient drainage holes. Your Mother of Thousands will eventually grow into any pot size, but in the meantime, it will look unbalanced in pots that are too big.

When you’re ready to repot, fill the new pot one-third full of soil. Use cactus potting soil, or make your own mix of sandy soil, as I mentioned earlier. Tamp down the soil so that it settles a bit. Take your Mother of Thousands and put your palm down on the soil, spreading your fingers around the stem of the plant. Then turn the pot upside down, gently squeezing the sides of the pot so that it’s loosened from the roots. Carefully slide the plant out of the pot.

Remove any roots that are broken or that look dead. Also, trim back any roots that look mushy and rotted. Be very careful when handling the tender roots so you don’t break any of the healthy ones. If there are any long roots, you may have to trim them back, so they’ll fit into the new pot.

Carefully place your Mother of Thousands into the middle of the new pot, positioning the top of the roots about 1-inch below the top of the pot. Add about 2 to 3-inches of soil. Tamp down the soil to compact it a bit. Don’t fill the pot with too much soil.

Water slowly with room temperature water, giving the soil time to absorb the water. Water a couple more times to make sure the soil is evenly moist. Let the excess water drain out of the bottom of the pot. And you’re done! Your Mother of Thousands will be happy to have more room to grow and thrive.

Does Mother Of Thousands Flower?

When grown indoors as a house plant, the Mother of Thousands rarely flowers. When grown outside and kept in the garden, Mother of Thousands will flower if the conditions are right. The flowers are pink and tubular in shape, hanging gently over the main stalk of the plant.

They only bloom on plants that are mature and then only in the late fall and early winter if the temperature isn’t too cold. After blooming the plant dies, leaving behind its many plantlets to start sprouting in its place.

Growing Mother of Thousands in a Terrarium

Terrariums are very popular – they’re a great way to grow and display cacti and succulents. Mother of Thousands is a good plant choice for terrariums. As a succulent that prefers lots of indirect sunlight, Mother of Thousands can be grown very successfully in a terrarium or glass container.

However, it’s important to remember that this plant may be quite invasive when grown with other plants in the terrarium – when the small plantlets fall and take root, they can quickly take over.

You can control this by removing the plantlets from the terrarium before they root. This leaves only the main Mother of Thousands plant, which can look quite lovely in a glass container with its interesting leaves.

Is The Mother Of Thousands Plant Poisonous?

Mother of Thousands is a poisonous plant. The leaves, stem, and tiny plantlets are all toxic and could be fatal to small children and pets. If you have children and pets, be sure to keep the plant well out of reach.

Should I Pinch Off Dead Leaves?

The plant will typically prune itself if there’s damage to a leaf or if it becomes too dry. Go ahead and pinch off any dead and damaged leaves. Your plant will look healthier when these dead leaves are removed.

Should I Fertilize My Mother Of Thousands?

Fertilize the plant every three months, but only from March to September. During the fall and winter Mother of Thousands won’t grow as much so no fertilizer is necessary. Use a well balanced liquid fertilizer that’s been diluted by half.

Why Are My Mother Of Thousands Leaves Curling?

There are two reasons the leaves on your plant may be curling: 1) you’re overwatering, or 2) it’s not getting enough sunlight. Try giving it a bit less water and move it to a location in your home where it will get more hours of sunlight each day.

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