Chocolate Soldier Plant: Growing A Chocolate Soldier Kalanchoe

by johnah on November 5, 2020



How long does it take to grow?

It takes around two years for a small kalanchoe to reach maturity. There are different varieties of kalanchoes that mature at different times. They all have the same basic requirements, but they vary in size and shape depending on their age.


What kind of soil do I need to grow it?

You will need good quality potting mix, which contains lots of organic matter such as composted manure or peat moss. You may use a mixture of one part perlite with four parts sand. Mix well and then add water until the desired level is reached. If your soil is not very fertile, you may want to use a slightly looser mixture so that the roots can get enough moisture.


Can I grow it outside?

Yes, you can grow it outdoors if you keep the temperature between 60°F and 70°F (16–22 °C). Keep in mind that there is no guarantee that the plants will survive without protection from strong winds. For best results, make sure to provide plenty of light and air circulation during winter months. Also, be aware that some species of kalanchoes require higher temperatures than others. For these reasons, it is better to grow the plant indoors or in a greenhouse.


Can I grow it inside all year?

You can keep your kalanchoe inside for the winter if you choose. The trick is to slowly get it accustomed to reduced light over several weeks. Begin by growing it under the brightest light that it receives during the summer months. Try placing it an area that receives five to six hours of sunlight each day. Gradually reduce the amount of light that it receives daily over a period of three to four weeks. The plant should not be exposed to less than four hours of sunlight a day


In what kind of container can I grow it?

For best results, use a shallow container that has several holes in the bottom to allow for good air flow. Clay or plastic containers are ideal, but you can also use a porous wooden box as long as you drill several holes in the bottom.


How much water does it need?

Water the plant when the top few inches of soil become dry. You can also stick your finger in the soil to see if it is dry before watering. Do not allow the pot to stand in water. Instead, make sure that you drain off any excess water after watering.


What kind of fertilizer should I use?

During the growing season, fertilize your plant monthly with a weak liquid fertilizer. Any balanced fertilizer will do, such as 10-10-10 or similar. If you want, you can also add a small amount (1/2 teaspoon per gallon of water) of Epsom salt to your watering can to provide magnesium and sulfur. Do not apply fertilizer to the soil during the fall and winter months.


How can I get it to bloom?

Kalanchoes bloom best when they are receiving at least 12 hours of uninterrupted darkness each day. You can place your plant in a dark closet or under a large jar for 12 hours each night. When it begins to bloom, keep an eye on the buds. As soon as you notice color starting to show (usually at the base of the buds), move your plant back out into the light.

Chocolate Soldier Plant: Growing A Chocolate Soldier Kalanchoe -

For the highest success rate, start this procedure when the kalanchoe is less than 12 inches tall (30 cm). This will give the plant enough time to bloom before the growing season ends. Once your plant has been moved back into the light, monitor it closely and try to note the precise hours that it began to open.

If you begin to see the buds beginning to close again, move it back into the dark for a while.

The more a kalanchoe blooms, the more it tends to bloom in subsequent years. For this reason, it is best to move it into the dark for several days before your normal expected flowering time.


What Should I Do If My Kalanchoe Is Wilting?

It is important to keep an eye on your plant and catch any problems early. The most common problem that kalanchoes have is simply wilting due to lack of water. If you catch it early, simply watering it should perk it right up.

Other problems to watch for are:

Pests such as mealybugs and aphids. These are small, worm-like creatures that often cover the leaves and stems of your plant. You can either spray your plant with a strong jet of water to knock them off or use an appropriate pesticide.

Dry soil is another cause for wilting. Be sure to water your plant as needed.

Wilting caused by too much sunlight. If you move your plant from darkness into direct sunlight, the leaves may begin to wilt. Move it back into a darker place and the kalanchoe should perk up.

Dead plant tips are usually a sign of severe overwatering or fertilizer burn. In any case, cut off the dead portion and continue to care for the healthy sections of the plant.

Other signs of problems are blackened or rotting roots. This may occur due to prolonged droughts, water that has traveled through a leaking hose, or a container that is too large for the plant. Make sure that the plant’s roots stay moist, and if necessary, transplant it into a larger pot.

It may take a time for the plant to regrow its roots before it begins to perk up.


What Should I Do If My Kalanchoe Takes On A Weird Color?

Most kalanchoes change color slightly during the normal course of their growth. This is a natural process and is not normally cause for alarm.

Kalanchoes will often have brown or green leaves with red veins. These colors are natural for most kalanchoes and do not necessarily mean that there is anything wrong with your plant.

Chocolate Soldier Plant: Growing A Chocolate Soldier Kalanchoe - Image

If your kalanchoe suddenly takes on a purple or red hue, you need not worry. This is a natural process for certain kalanchoes and will not harm the plant.

In addition, some kalanchoes will undergo a dark purple or reddish color change as they begin to bloom.

The most important thing to remember in all cases of strange color changes is to keep an eye on your plant. If the problem persists or seems severe, you may need to contact your local nursery or garden center for further advice.


How Do I Know When My Kalanchoe Is Going To Bloom?

Many people ask how they can tell when their kalanchoe is going to bloom. Unfortunately, there is no sure way to be sure of this as each kalanchoe has its own set of variables that will determine when and if it blooms.

Some kalanchoes will “head straight for the bloom finish line” and will start blooming in their first year. These are the lucky ones, but most kalanchoes take a bit longer to reach this goal. It is not unusual for kalanchoes to take 2-3 years before they bloom.

As it approaches maturity, your kalanchoe may start to display what appear to be flower buds. This is actually just the beginning of the blooming process. The buds may stay like this for weeks, months or even beyond the time you acquire it.

It all depends on your particular plant.

Kalanchoes are not like most other plants in that they do not actively grow flowers. Many plants will slowly grow leaves and then at some point a bud will appear and eventually blossom into a flower. This is called “cycling” and is how most plants grow flowers or fruit.

Kalanchoes are a bit different. They do not actively grow flower buds like most other plants. Kalanchoes will instead create a “flower bud” and then it remains in this stage until it is “pushed” to blossom by a particular stimuli.

This stimuli is often availability of light, warmth or simply maturity. There is some debate over what exactly it is, but most people believe light plays a large role.

The trick is to provide your kalanchoe with the perfect conditions to encourage it to bloom. There is no set way to do this, but there are steps you can take to increase your chances:

1) Find Out When The Plant Is Going To Bloom: As mentioned above, there is no way to really be sure when your kalanchoe is going to bloom.

They will often display signs of this years before they actually do it. You may be able to catch the signs of impending bloom and time your purchase so that it blooms around the same time.

2) Move It To A Brighter Location: Many people swear that moving their kalanchoes to a brighter location will help bring on the bloom.

There is evidence that this is related to light as many kalanchoes bloom just after they are given as gift (often these are dark locations, like the basement).

3) Give It A Winter Siesta: This is a risky procedure, but it has been known to help kalanchoes bloom.

Basically all you do is ensure your plant does not receive any light during the winter months (keep it in complete darkness). The theory is that after its used to this cycle for a few months, the plant will think that the winter season has ended and will bloom.

4) Move It To A Dark Location: This is the exact opposite of the above tip and is just as risky.

Many people believe that keeping their kalanchoe in complete darkness will force it to bloom. It is thought that this forces the plant to rely on its internal clock rather than available light (since there isn’t any).

5) Use An Incense: Some people have had luck with using incense around their kalanchoe.

The most common ones are ones that have an strong scent, such as nutmeg, cinnamon or even coffee. The idea is that the smell is simulating the plant getting ready to bloom and helps it over come its natural cycle.

6) Rubbing The Plant: There are people that swear that by rubbing the leaves of a kalanchoe hard, it will help bring on the bloom.

This often works best just after watering the plant.

Chocolate Soldier Plant: Growing A Chocolate Soldier Kalanchoe - Picture

7) Feed It Lots Of Fish Emulsion: This is the most risky technique, but some people swear by it.

To do this you over feed the plant with lots of high nitrogen substances (like fish emulsion). This should produce leaf growth that will then out weigh and cover the actual kalanchoe flower bud, thus masking it from sight and forcing it to bloom.

Why Do Kalanchoe Plants Have Those Weird Puffy Tubes?

(Kalanchoe Puffiness Photo)

These are actually called buds and they are a protective mechanism. They grow to protect the plant’s center and are made up of little fibers that intertwine to collectively become quite hard. When a kalanchoe is in danger, the tubes can swell to nearly 10 times their normal size.

As the plant gets older, these tubes can begin to protrude from the plant’s flesh.

Once they do this, you should be careful when moving the plant so that you do not damage them (which could cause them to die and the plant as well).

If the plant has been subjected to dryness, it may take a while for these puffs to return to normal size. They can shrink back down, but it may take weeks or even months.

Sources & references used in this article:

Kalanchoe by Z Akulova-Barlow – Cactus and Succulent Journal, 2009 – BioOne

An investigation of the cultivated Kalanchoe daigremontiana group, with a checklist of Kalanchoe cultivars by JMH Shaw – Hanburyana, 2008 –

A checklist of succulent plants of Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India by RM Patel, UM Qureshimatva… – Tropical Plant …, 2016 –



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