How to Grow and Care For Lavender Scallops
Need help determining the best way to care for your Kalanchoe Fedtschenkoi? This popular succulent is low-maintenance and makes an excellent plant for beginners. In this article, gardening expert Melissa Strass walks you through the maintenance and care of Lavender Scallops!
If you’ve decided to welcome a new succulent into your garden, Kalanchoe Fedtschenkoi (also known as Lavender Scallops) is a low-maintenance succulent plant that’s perfect for novice houseplant owners, and expert gardeners alike. They look fantastic when planted next to other colorful houseplants, or as a focal point of your indoor or outdoor garden, all on their own.
But, as with all succulents, there are certain factors that can impact their growth. Lavender Scallops are no different, and need certain criteria to be met in order to grow to their fullest potential.
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about Lavender Scallops and their care!
Kalanchoe Fedtschenkoi Plant Overview
Plant Type Succulent
Pests Mealy Bug and Scale
Exposure Part Sun to Part Shade
Diseases No Serious Vulnerabilities
Plant Spacing 18”-24”
Planting Depth Surface Level
Soil Type Well Draining, Sandy
Native Area Madagascar
Height 12”-24” tall
Plant with Succulents, Palms, Cacti
Hardiness Zone 9-11
Watering Needs Low
Attracts Butterflies and Hummingbirds
About Lavender Scallops
Kalanchoe Fedtschenkoi, also known as Lavender Scallops, is a member of the kalanchoe genus of perennial, succulent plants. Originally endemic to the island of Madagascar, kalanchoe plants are now commonly found in gardens and as houseplants around the United States and other parts of the world.
The species is named for Russian plant pathologist and botanist Boris Fedtschenko, who spent much of his life working alongside his mother who was also a student of natural sciences. He had a prolific career in botanical studies and collection, although he has no material link to this species outside of its name.
K. Fedtschenkoi is prized for its attractive, colorful, variegated foliage and exceptional hardiness. It has very few pest and disease vulnerabilities, and it reproduces quickly, making it a wonderful container plant, but somewhat invasive when planted in the ground.
Primarily hardy in zones 9-11, Fedtschenkoi is not cold hardy, but it makes a nice houseplant outside of its hardiness zones. Its water needs are low and sun requirements are moderate.
K. Fedtschenkoi, formerly known as Bryophyllum Fedtschenkoi, is classified as part of the Kalanchoe genus. The Kalanchoe genus encompasses more than 250 species, which are primarily flowering, perennial succulents that are prized for their colorful and long-lasting blooms.
This species of kalanchoe is monocarpic, meaning that it flowers and sets seeds only once in its lifetime, and then the mother plant dies. This characteristic is not a hard and fast rule for all kalanchoe species, but it is not exclusive to this species either.
K. fedtschenkoi is a flowering species, but it takes several years to bloom. Once the plant flowers, the parent plant will die, and offsets will grow in its place. The species also has a variegated variety.
The main draw in growing K. fedtschenkoi is the attractive foliage. The plant gets its common name, Lavender Scallops, from its unique leaf formation and coloration. There are both variegated and non-variegated varieties of the species, all bearing the pretty, fleshy leaves with scalloped edges.
Leaves are narrow at the base and flare toward the ends. Non-variegated leaves are a lovely, blue-green color with purple edges, variegated plants have leaves that are blue-green splotched with white, also edged in purple.
All varieties have the characteristic of blushing in full sunlight. The more sunlight Fedtschenkoi receives, the more colorful the leaves become, taking on a pinkish-purple color. As a result, the leaves can range from their solid blue-green shade, all the way to a rainbow of different shades in a single leaf.
Lavender Scallops plants take several years to produce flowers, and as mentioned, the species is monocarpic, so each plant only blooms one time, then goes to seed and dies off. The rapid growth habit of these plants and ease of propagation makes certain that where one plant dies off, it won’t be long before others spring up to replace it.
In order to produce blooms, kalanchoe plants need to have 12-14 hours of daily darkness for several weeks. This imitates winter and lets them know that it is time to produce flower spikes. This process can be induced in a controlled environment.
This succulent blooms in the spring on short flower spikes. The blooms are reddish-brown, and bell shaped, and are each about ¾ to an inch in length and hang in loose clusters at the top of each stem.
While flowers are not the reason most people grow these plants, they are rather pretty, and they attract a variety of butterflies and hummingbirds with their sweet nectar.
Kalanchoe are notoriously easy to propagate, with most species doing the heavy lifting on their own. There are, however, a couple of ways to propagate the plant by way of human intervention, and we will address these, as well.
The best way to propagate, producing the greatest number of plants, is by cuttings. Also called division, this involves cutting a leaf or leaves from the parent plant. When making any cuts, be sure to use a clean, sharp blade and cut the stem at a diagonal to devote the greatest surface area to growing new roots.
Leave the cuttings out in the sun or exposed to the air until the cut edges have dried completely. Using a rooting hormone isn’t necessary, but it may speed the process slightly. Avoiding rooting hormone will result in your plant being less dependent on outside factors and more reliant upon its own ability to send out roots and adapt to the new surroundings.
Use small pots and cactus planting mix to pot your cuttings. Mixing a bit of sand with the potting medium will help make it more permeable, and thus, create better drainage. Poke a shallow hole in the medium and place the stem of the cutting into the hole.
Gently secure in place and place in bright, indirect light, moistening the soil when it dries out. Your cutting should begin to root within a couple of weeks.
If you aren’t in a hurry, propagating from seeds works just as well. However, this method requires waiting until the plant flowers to harvest seeds, and you will end up with no plants for a period of time until the seeds sprout, whereas, when propagating by cuttings, you can have baby plants growing already when the parent plant dies off after flowering.
After the flowers have died, they will leave behind seed pods. Wait until the seed pods are dried and brown before attempting to harvest the seeds. Kalanchoe seeds are very small, you will need scissors and small forceps or tweezers to collect them.
Remove a dried flower and pull the petals apart. If the seed pod inside is green, lay it on a paper towel to dry. This can take a week or more depending on climate conditions.
Once the pod is dried, you should be able to pierce it with your thumb nail and see the seeds inside. Use the forceps or tweezers to pull the seeds out and place them in a paper towel or envelope for future use.
Growing kalanchoe from seed should be done in the summer to give them adequate heat and sun to germinate and grow. You will need the following items: Seeds, plastic Ziplock bags, soil mix, small pots, seed tray*, gloves* (*optional)
Place the seeds in a Ziplock bag and set in the sun for an entire day. Fill your small pots with potting medium. Cactus mix works well, or you can create your own potting mix with 2 parts soil, 1-part coarse sand and 1 part perlite. Moisten the soil in the pots.
Place the seeds on top of the potting mix, there is no need to cover them with soil. Cover the pot with a plastic bag to maintain moisture, and only water if soil feels dry. Place in bright indirect sunlight and allow nature to run its course.
Like many species of kalanchoe, Lavender Scallops produce tiny plantlets along the scalloped margins of its leaves. They drop these plantlets which easily take root where they land. In this way, kalanchoe have been known to become invasive when planted in the ground.
If you plant them in the ground and do not want them to spread, it is important to harvest the plantlets and not allow them to drop as they will grow where they fall.
Propagating with plantlets is simple and straightforward. Just as plantlets will simply take root where they fall on their own, all you need to do to grow them is to place them on top of potting mix and give them a bit of water. They will root quickly and before long you will have new baby plants.
How to Grow
In order to satisfy the growth needs of Lavender Scallops, there are a few important elements you’ll need to make sure you satisfy. They have potting needs, and specific needs for sunlight and water. Let’s take a deeper look at how to grow these popular succulents.
Planting Depth and Potting Needs
If you are growing from plantlets or seed, there is no digging involved in growing lavender scallops. Simply place the seeds or plantlets atop the soil, maintain moisture until they root and then water only when the soil is dry.
Plant a mature kalanchoe in a pot that is commensurate with its size or slightly larger. Kalanchoe like a lot of air circulation around the roots. Place the plant in a hole that is only as deep as its roots and fill loosely with potting mix.
When planting your Lavender Scallops, make sure to select a pot based upon the size you would like to limit your plant to at maturity. Whether planting a mature plant or tiny plantlet, choose a pot that it not overly large compared to the plant itself.
Make sure your pot or container has excellent drainage. Kalanchoe roots do not like to stay wet. Terracotta pots are excellent for wicking water away from the roots of a plant, while still maintaining some moisture. Placing some stones in the bottom of the pot will help improve drainage as well.
The amount of light you give your lavender scallops will vary based upon the color you wish to achieve. If you want to maintain that pretty, blue-green color, and maintain the white in a variegated variety, Lavender Scallops’ ideal light situation is bright, indirect sunlight for most of the day.
Part of the fun with this plant is experimenting with light to alter the color of the leaves. However, it is important to note that the blushing characteristic of this plant is a result of environmental stress and should be monitored and controlled to avoid burning the leaves.
If you desire to enhance the color of your Lavender Scallops plant, gradually move the plant in more sunlight until the desired result is achieved.
Remember that variegation is a result of a mutation in chlorophyll production. This means that variegated varieties will need more sun overall, as they are not able to produce photosynthesis in the same amount as non-variegated varieties.
Kalanchoe are succulents, so they thrive in dry, hot conditions. Your plant’s location and container will dictate how much water it needs to stay in a state of optimum health.
If you keep your plant indoors, and it is planted in succulent mix, you should be able to water once every week or two weeks during the growing season (summer) and reduce to every three weeks in the cooler months.
Water evaporates faster outdoors, so if your potted kalanchoe is outdoors, it will need water every 5-7 days in summer and then once every 1-2 weeks in cooler months. Most plants need less water when they are outside of their growing season.
Since they absorb less water, it is important to decrease watering at this time, or you place the plant at risk of root rot. This is especially true for succulents.
Kalanchoes need to be planted in soil with excellent drainage. If you prefer to purchase potting mixes that are specific to your plant choices, kalanchoe should be potted using cactus potting soil.
If you prefer to mix your own potting medium, the texture you want to achieve is one with loose particles and don’t hold or absorb a lot of water. A good combination for succulents is 2-parts regular potting soil, 1-part coarse sand and 1-part perlite.
This will provide the drainage your plant needs. Additionally, as mentioned, placing a layer of stones in the bottom of the pot will aide in good drainage.
Climate and Temperature
Lavender Scallops, like most species of kalanchoe, is hardy outdoors in zones 9-11. While some species hold up well to freezing temperatures, this is not one of them. If Lavender Scallops are exposed to temperatures below 40°F for an extended period, it will kill them.
The optimum temperature for Lavender Scallops is between 64° and 68°F, which is fairly close to the average room temperature. If the temperatures in your home fall below 61° for a long period of time, the plant’s growth will be stunted, and it will not produce flowers.
Kalanchoe plants prefer a dry climate. They can tolerate a moderately humid climate, but prolonged levels of high humidity can lead to issues with rot.
The ideal situation for a kalanchoe plant is to live outdoors during the warmer months of the year, placed in bright, indirect sun. Then when the temperature drops below 50°F, it is time to bring them inside. If they are given 12-14 hours of relative darkness during this time, there is a better chance of inducing your kalanchoe to set buds.
Lavender Scallops, like all kalanchoe, needs very little in the way of fertilization. If you do not fertilize them at all, they will be ok, as they are very efficient at utilizing nutrients.
If you decide to fertilize, use a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer diluted to ½ strength, and fertilize no more than 2-3 times per year, and only during the growing season. Lavender Scallops do not need to be fertilized at all in winter.
Pruning and Maintenance
Lavender Scallops plants do not need any regular pruning. In fact, aside from watering when the soil is dry, there is very little maintenance to take on at all. Fertilizing is optional, and repotting is only necessary if the plant overgrows its container, and you want to allow it to continue to spread.
Most species of kalanchoe drop their own flowers, and this one specifically only lives until just after it flowers, so deadheading is unnecessary. You can pinch off any damaged or dead leaves as they appear to keep your plant looking tidy.
The one exception is the event where a Lavender Scallops plant is kept in low light and begins to get leggy. If not given enough light, this plant will grow toward whatever light source is nearest. If your Lavender Scallops has gotten tall and leggy and you would like to thicken up the foliage, you can trim off the top just above a large leaf.
Then place the plant in a spot with a bit more light and care for as usual. New growth will appear where the old growth was removed, and this will help the plant to take on more of a branching habit.
There are two varieties of K. fedtschenkoi, standard and variegated. Below you’ll learn a little bit more about both.
Scientific Name: Kalanchoe fedtschenkoi Raym. -Hamet & H. Perrier
- Bloom Time: Spring
- Geographical Location: Madagascar
- Sun Exposure: Bright Indirect Light
- Plant Zone: 9-11
This is the standard variation of K. fedtschenkoi. The leaves are solid bluish green, and oval with a flared outer edge that is also scalloped.
The edges of the plant may be a reddish-purple color, which can deepen if exposed to a fair amount of direct sunlight. This is a desirable trait to some gardeners, but it is the plant’s reaction to stress which causes the discoloration. It is not typically harmful to allow some direct exposure to obtain this color.
This plant takes a few years to flower, and when it does, it flowers in the spring. Short flower spikes are topped with tubular, coral-colored flowers. When the plant finishes blooming, it will die.
Kalanchoe Fedtschenkoi Variegata
Scientific Name: Kalanchoe fedtschenkoi f. variegata
- Bloom Time: Spring
- Geographical Location: Madagascar
- Sun Exposure: Bright Indirect Light
- Plant Zone: 9-11
This is the variegated variety of K. fedtschenkoi, which is the same as the standard variety in all respects except for one. The plant is bred to have white splotches on its leaves creating a multicolored appearance.
The absence of green coloration on the leaves is actually caused by a lack of chlorophyll. This plant, and others like it, will need a bit more sun to make up for its lack of chlorophyll.
The upside is that this variety, too, blushes in direct sunlight. The effect of the sun coloration on a variegated K. fedtschenkoi is stunning, creating a rainbow effect.
Pests and Diseases
Lavender Scallops is a surprisingly hardy plant when it comes to pests and diseases. Although it is not completely without issues, there are very few. It is resistant to most insects and there are no particular diseases that pose a common threat to this plant.
The two pests that occasionally crop up are scales and mealy bugs. These insects are generally introduced on new plants, so it’s good to make a habit of inspecting new plants before you bring them into the house,
Scales are tiny brown insects that like to feed on the sap of plants, and particularly on tender, new growth. They are one of the most common plant eating insects and they spread easily. Fortunately, they can be eradicated quickly, to mitigate the damage they cause your plants.
If you look under the leaves of a plant that appears to be struggling, and see small brown or yellow insects, often clustered together, these are scale. Insecticidal oils, such as neem oil can be used to safely treat scale. The oil suffocates them, so it should be sprayed directly on the scale.
Scales can be tough to kill, so you may need to treat more than one time. As soon as you notice the infection, isolate the plant to keep these pests off of other plants.
Mealybugs are small insects that like to live in warm, moist climates. The also like to feed on the sap of plants, and succulents have those thick, fleshy leaves that are very appealing to these bugs.
These little guys are pale pink, almost white, and have a fuzzy appearance. You may see a cluster of them in the juncture of leaves, or on tender new growth. As they feed on the sap of the plant, they leave behind a sticky secretion called honeydew. This causes mold to grow on the plant, further exacerbating the damage.
Mealybugs are difficult to get rid of because the juveniles are small and can hide in spaces that can’t be reached by pesticides or water. If the infestation isn’t bad, you should be able to wash off a handful of these insects.
For a more involved infestation, a cotton swab soaked in alcohol can be used to wipe away the bugs and the mold left behind from their secretions.
As with any infestation, the best treatment is prevention. Not allowing infected plants into your environment is the best protection.
Lavender Scallops are a great plant for gardeners and houseplant enthusiasts looking for a low maintenance plant with lots of visual interest. Its beautiful colors and interesting habit of blushing in direct sun make this a fun plant to experiment with. Lavender Scallops is resistant to most pests and diseases as well, making it even more hardy and low maintenance.
Indoors and outdoors, Lavender Scallops is a great plant to own, and an easy plant to propagate and share. It’s sure to brighten up your succulent garden or a sunny windowsill with its beautiful, variable colors and sturdy foliage.