Kalanchoe tomentosa, commonly known as Panda plant or Pussy ears, is a perennial succulent native to Madagascar. Panda plant is an attractive succulent with small gray-green leaves entirely covered in silver hairs. The edge of the leaves is chocolate brown, which results in a border-like appearance. Panda plant blooms tubular-shaped flowers in spring and summer.
How to Care Kalanchoe tomentosa?
Light and Temperature
Panda plant prefers at least 6 hours of sunlight a day. However, they can tolerate partial shade. If you grow Kalanchoe tomentosas indoors, you can place the pot on a sunny windowsill where it receives a few hours of shade in the morning or afternoon.
Regarding the Panda plant's temperature, 60℉ to 75℉(15℃-23℃) is ideal for optimum growth.
Like other succulents, Kalanchoe tomentosas does not need frequent watering. Water only when the soil is dried. A good rule of thumb is to check soil moisture by inserting a finger into the soil or using a moisture meter. If you feel the top 2 inches of soil are dried, the water otherwise, wait until soil moisture is gone. Watering an already moist plant will lead to root rot and may kill the plant.
Additionally, Dump the excess water flow from the pot after watering or in rainy days. All succulents don't like sitting in wet soil for a long time, which results in plant rot.
Good quality succulent soil is the key to a healthy and disease-free Panda plant as it is the growth medium providing support, nutrients, the moisture to the root. So, a well-draining cactus or succulent potting mix is ideal for Kalanchoe tomentosas. Using soil that retains moisture for a long time makes the roots vulnerable to rotting and invites pests.
For feeding the panda plants, we suggest you provide them with diluted fertilizer in spring and autumn. Because in the growing seasons, succulents can absorb nutrients quickly and effectively. If you are afraid to fertilize your succulents, you can repot them yearly with fresh organic succulent soil, providing enough nutrients they need. Most importantly, fertilize only mature plants as baby plants are good to grow without fertilizers.
Common Problems with Panda Plants
Compared to some succulents, Panda plant is not so easy to attract pests. However, that doesn't mean common pests won't occur, such as mealy bugs, aphids, spider mites, and more. So, keep an eye on the creeping creatures on leaves and immediately take action to control their growth.
Using insecticidal soap or diluted neem oil is the best solution for panda plants to get rid of pests.
Root rot is one of the most common problems of Panda plants resulting from overwatering or inadequate soil drainage. You must use a pot with a drainage hole and soil that encourages excellent drainage. For regular potting soil, you can improve the soil's drainage by adding some addition such as gritty rocks, perlite, pumice, and others.
If there are wilt and droppy leaves, check if the soil is too peaty and retains water for too long. They love gritty rock soil and prefer excellent drainage to thrive.
Leggy Panda plant
Lack of sunlight makes the plant grow thin; therefore, proper light is necessary to keep the plant growing in adequate shape. For indoor succulents, adding an artificial grow light may help your early leggy succulent restore the original.
However, if the succulents have already suffered from etiolation, they will only grow stronger and more compact at the tip, which can make the succulents top-heavy and topple over.
The only way to fix the excessive leggy or etiolation is propagation. Propagating Panda plant succulents is fairly easy through leaves and stem cuttings. Then you can resume normal succulent care regimes for the baby plants and get your succulents back to normal.